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Tokyo, Japan Summer 2013 – Part 3

Monday May 19th, 2014 at 3:23 am

Finally getting around to finishing my Japan trip from last year. Continuing after we left the Meiji Shrine…

I made sure I had ramen at least once before I left. We found this ramen shop somewhere near the Meiji Shrine. We left the shrine at a different place than where we entered so we got lost trying to find Harajuku. There was a map but it was no help at all. A lady passing by overheard us and was nice enough to stop and ask us (in English) if we needed help. People in Japan are so nice to tourists ;_; This was not the only time we experienced Japanese hospitality.

Anyhoo, the ramen shop was decent. I don’t know how this place compares to others but I liked it. Ramen in Japan is soooo affordable. You can eat here as low as 300 yen (approx. $3)! More expensive items on the menu ran you close to $7-8 only. I see myself eating ramen for lunch everyday once I move.

Takeshita Street is right in front of Harajuku station, you can’t miss it. It’s known for its variety of fashion shops, cafes, and restaurants. Most of the shops here are independently owned and feature a wide variety of styles, so even if you aren’t into some of the crazy Harajuku styles, you can definitely still find something. Most of my money was spent here. :x

A lot of people think everything in Japan is more expensive but it’s not true. It’s pretty affordable even in a popular place like Harajuku. Just to give an idea…there are stores with tons of cute jewelry that won’t cost more than a few dollars. Clothing can run you on average $10-$30 depending on what you buy. There was a shoe shop with shoes for $20 or less! Obviously, there are plenty of things that will run you more. Takeshita Street also has plenty of shops for gift shopping and anime lovers.

I really like these machines! You pay for what you want (like a vending machine) and take the ticket inside the restaurant. It takes out having to order. It sucks if you can’t read but the pictures are good enough. I had a hard time trying to figure out what was different among the many different tonkatsu options but whatever random ones I ended up picking gave me what I wanted.

I’m pretty sure I snapped this picture cause of his shirt. I wonder if he knew what it said or how true it was ;)

SHIBUYA! Shibuya crossing is very popular and has been featured in many movies. Being a nerd, I think I crossed the street 3-4 times before moving on!

We had a hard time finding this area of Shibuya too. I’m not sure why, either we exited at the wrong location or misread the directions (I honestly have no sense of direction). After wandering around for a bit, we took a taxi.

Shibuya is a mixture of big department stores and small, independent shops. Prices here aren’t too expensive either unless you walk into large shops (such as Zara), department stores, or just want to buy expensive clothing. I wish I did more research before coming here. I’m not even sure if we checked out Shibuya 109 and missed out on the Liz Lisa shop :( I will definitely be back during my week of training in Tokyo. We also found a HUGE 100 yen shop in one of the buildings. You could buy everything in here, including really cute bowls for just 100 yen! 100 yen shops change their products based on the season so these bowls, cups, etc were strawberry.

Tokyo tower was the last destination. We tried to go one night but it was too late. The tower was closed but we took a quick taxi ride to it to take a look. For a fee, you can ride up the Tokyo Tower to get a 360 view of the city. It’s absolutely amazing! I recommend going early in the morning to avoid large crowds. For a bit more, you can go even higher on the tower but we didn’t.

Such amazing views of the city. I absolutely love this city.

There’s a lot of information about the Tokyo Tower up in the observatory. There’s also a gift shop once you’re done viewing. I need to remember to start taking pictures of everything >_<

Last meal at the airport (gosh, that sounds so depressing). When I got to the airport, I realized the entire time I was there, I didn’t eat inari! Luckily for me, you could order it at the airport and it was delicious. I kept up the tradition of tonkatsu everyday, I really could eat it everyday @_@

I want to ride this plan so bad, I think it’s the Hello Kitty plane? I’m not sure if the design was just a design or it was the actual Hello Kitty plane.

That’s it for that adventure! I hope to have many more to come :)

As for everything else, I’m still very much in limbo land. I’m not sure when I’ll be getting my COE. June is looking to be a very fun but busy month.

Posted Under: Japan, Japan: Travel
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Tokyo, Japan Summer 2013 – Part 2

Wednesday May 14th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Part 2 of my Tokyo trip last June! Part 1 can be found here. The weather was mostly cloudy with a little rain, but nothing that kept us inside.

Asakusa Shrine is one of the most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo. It’s also a HUGE tourist attraction and if you walk through it, it’s easy to see why. The shrine honors the three men who established and constructed the Sens?-ji.

Before you get to the shrine, there are rows upon rows of shops and snack vendors. If you’re looking to buy souvenirs for family and friends back home or cute/neat stuff for the house, this is the place to find them. I ended up buying a much better umbrella here. Some of the prices can be a bit steep since it’s a tourist trap, but most of it is pretty affordable and shouldn’t run your pockets empty too fast. There are also restaurants if you’re looking to grab more than a snack to eat.

Lighting some incense, mine unfortunately toppled over when I placed it into the pot (I have no idea what it’s called). I hope that doesn’t mean anything bad!

Finally made it to the shrine!

I still have no idea what my fortune means but I guess success and a horse are always a good thing.

I still can’t get over how clean and beautiful everything in Japan is.

I love these displays. A lot of restaurants have fake food displays outside so you can see what they offer and they all look so amazingly made.

Akihabara! A gamer’s, otaku’s, anime lover’s, nerd’s, electronics junkies’, etc paradise!

Manga shops are always stacked to the brim!

Akihabara is also known for it’s infamous maid cafe’s. They’re not too hard to find, just look for girls dressed in maid outfits standing around. They will take you to the one they work for.

Unless you like watching girls in maid outfits sing/dance around and flirt with you, maid cafe’s are overpriced for what they offer. Still, the desserts are cute, the girls are nice, and the experience is decent if you’ve never been to one. Personally, I wouldn’t spend money going back…I’m not exactly their target audience.

I squealed. When I was first looking for the Gundam Cafe, I only found the one in Odaiba. This is another one of my lucky moments when I happened to stumble across it on my iPad. I’m not really sure how we missed it given it’s right by the train station.

I LOVE Gundam Wing so it’s no surprise I was really excited to see their menu based off of the series.

For food, I ordered Trowa’s and for a drink I believe I ordered Relena’s. All of the menu items are based off the characters one way or another and Trowa was the only one that had something along the lines of a dessert. I wasn’t really looking to eat a whole meal. The drink was amazing but the food was decent.

There’s also a small gift shop inside but I didn’t snap any good photos.

Oh Japan.

Quick snack in a cafe near Harajuku. We stumbled upon this one while trying to find the Meiji Shrine.

Meiji Shrine is located literally right beside Harajuku station. We unfortunately made a wrong turn (went left instead of right) but it’s really not hard to find.

Artist selling cute art right outside of the shrine.

(I’m so tiny!)

After the emperor’s death in 1912, a shrine was built to honor the Emperor’s role in the Meiji Restoration. The location ended up being an iris garden where Emperor Meiji and Empress Sh?ken often visited. The original building was unfortunately destroyed during World War II but reconstructed during the late 1950s. The Shrine is located in a forest that covers an area of 175 acres. You can find up to 365 different species of trees here!

Time for some Meiji Shrine picture spam. I couldn’t help it, this place is absolutely beautiful. Unlike Asakusa Shrine, you won’t find any tourist shops or food stands outside of some charms. You basically exchange the hustle and bustle of Asakusa for the gorgeous, serene landscaping of the Meiji Shrine. Also, unlike Asakusa, to see the Meiji Shrine in its entirety, there is a small fee of ¥500 (approx. $4.89) which goes to the restoration and caring of the Meiji Shrine…totally worth it.

So much talent…I took a picture of what he was painting down below.

Time to wash hands and mouth before entering the temple.

There was also a Shinto wedding going on while we were there. You couldn’t enter (of course) but the doors were open and you could watch if you like.

What little I have left will be up in part 3 shortly. I also officially booked (well, my dad booked..) my one way ticket for Japan leaving July 1st :)

Posted Under: Japan, Japan: Travel
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Tokyo, Japan Summer 2013 – Part 1

Tuesday May 6th, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Highlights of my trip to Tokyo, Japan last June! Unfortunately, I wasn’t actively blogging at the time. I can’t get my mind off of Japan right now, especially with all this down time in between getting things ready. I’m still waiting for my certificate of eligibility for my visa and it doesn’t seem like I’ll get anywhere with apartments until June.

I was only in Tokyo for 3 days. It’s definitely not enough so I’m glad I’ll be able to go back and visit some more this year. I have so many places I want to see!! I know I’m not being fair to China, given I spent 2 weeks there and Tokyo was a pit stop on the way back. I love you and miss you too China! I’ll have a post one of these days and I’ll definitely be back to visit within the next year or two (hopefully).

We stayed in Shinjuku, I picked it because it was very central to all of the places we planned on visiting. I don’t think anywhere was more than a 15-20 minute train ride. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The staff was super nice and it was maybe only a 5-7 minute walk to the train station. Course, later we find out the hotel has a shuttle that takes you to the station :/ could have avoided getting lost a few times.

This is on the way to the train station, I think NYC has one too?

Only I get happy about 100 Yen shops, I think they’re really cool. This one is small but still had a lot of neat stuff. I later came across a much bigger one in Shibuya that you could probably buy your entire household goods from. We picked up a couple snacks and umbrellas cause the weather was supposed to continue raining the entire time we were there. I don’t recommend buying umbrellas from 100 Yen shops though. Ours didn’t last us a day before it broke. In the umbrella’s defense, the wind was pretty strong.

My first dessert in Japan! I don’t know how people in Japan stop eating. There’s just so many yummy desserts, drinks, and foods everywhere you go.

I LOVE the train system in Japan. Maybe it’s cause I don’t have to ride it everyday yet and I didn’t have to deal with crazy Tokyo rush hour but I think they’re fun and so efficient. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for the next train to come.

Inside a mall in Odaiba, Hello Kitty pastries! I didn’t try one unfortunately.

And of course a Hello Kitty store right next door. If I could have taken her home with me, I probably would have.

Main reason for the mall? Gundam Front Tokyo! It’s located on the top floor of the mall, the 7th floor I believe. It’s a Gundam lover’s paradise. The museum is small but still a good walk through. They don’t allow photos of inside the museum but there’s opportunities for photos before you enter and in the gift shop. There’s a lot of neat concept drawings and the creation of the anime/series.

I WANTED THEM ALL! Strangely, I couldn’t find a kit of Deathscythe Hell or Deathscythe Hell custom :( If you love Gundam models, this is the place to be.

You’ll have to go back outside to see the Gundam. I think it’s actually in front of the mall but we entered through the side/back so never saw it walking in. There’s also a mini Gundam Cafe nearby but the actual Gundam Cafe is in Akihabara.

This hot spring was a super lucky find and I highly recommend visiting Ooedo Onsen Monogatari to anyone in Tokyo. Website and information can be found here. One place I knew I had to visit was a hot spring as I’ve always wanted to go to one. I found this place online and it had really good reviews as well as an actual English website with information. I wanted to visit here the first night we arrived in Tokyo but it was too late and the trains had stopped running. When we were chilling inside the Odaiba Mall, I was randomly looking on my iPad to see what else we could do that didn’t involve us being outside in the rain. Long story short, I ran across this hot spring and was like “wait a minute, that’s the one I was trying to go to!” and it just happened to be in the vicinity. We hopped on a taxi and spent nearly the rest of the day there.

The rates are pretty affordable but I think with everything I did/ate there, I ended up spending over 60,000 yen!

The interior is designed to look like an old, quiet Japanese town. It’s so relaxing.

Lots of games and cute stuff as well, of course it all costs extra.

More yummy foods!

This is the outdoor foot bath, there’s stones at the bottom that’s supposed to help your feet relax and massage them as you walk through. I couldn’t do it though, it hurt my feet way too much D:

This was one of the best experiences I had! For a little bit extra money, you can soak your feet in this pool for 15 or 30 minutes and the fish will come up and eat the dead skin off of your feet. It sounds weird, I know. Once I finally got over how ticklish the fish were, it was really amazing and felt so nice. My feet had never felt smoother. I would love to do this again.

Next up…GINZA! I’m sad some of the pictures turned out blurry. Clearly, I need to work on my night taking shots while attempting to walk fast.

Can you believe it? This is a wedding dress.

We passed Ginza on the way back to Shinjuku and the pretty lights were an instant attraction. Unfortunately, by this time it was around 10 PM and most of the stores were closing if not already closed. Ginza is popular for all of the higher end stores that you can find in Tokyo.

I think I had tonkatsu every day, no joke. I love this stuff.

How cute are these? They almost look too pretty to eat.

More pictures later, I’m trying to not to super spam with pictures. I took so many, yet at the same time I feel like I didn’t take enough. :love:

Posted Under: Japan, Japan: Travel
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