Saturday, February 28, 2015

Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo Japan

They said these buildings are the face of Shinjuku's West side. This was the last in our itinerary for the day before we parted ways with the Miyashiro family. The cityscape is always better at night, because we say so. 


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There was a sign where one should proceed when entering the building premises from the ground floor. It was a huge yellow background poster with a huge black inked text that says, This Way. We were greeted by security officers checking bags from tourists lined up to get into the elevator. After the checking, we hopped in and took us all the way to the 45th floor which is 202-meter high.


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There is a souvenir store which I don't recommend. The souvenirs are always pricey when you buy it from the place itself. As to what I expect, the observation deck was a regular building. The ambiance was an old office, replaced with a barricaded restaurant and the other side is placed with souvenir stores.  Yet we saw another miniature-like buildings with those crazy lights beaming against the dark night. The best things in life are free, no entrance fee for this attraction so don't forget to add this on your To-go list.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo Japan

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Before sundown. Autumn. It was almost 4pm. And the sky was darker. We were in a hurry to get into the premise because the guard told us gates are closing in 15 minutes.

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In Shibuya lies the most famous Shinto shrine in Tokyo. We passed through 2 gates of 12-meter tall made of torii built from 1500 year old cypress trees. 


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Yuzu showed us to wash our hands from a communal water tank posted before the entrance gate to the temple. It was meant to cleanse your hands before you offer a prayer. No photos allowed beyond those boxes where you throw a couple of yen coins. And a signage that has instructions on how to say a prayer is bow your head twice, clap twice, and bow once again. We tried it and I must say it's just another prayer plus the hand gestures. :D


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There's another way to say your prayer. Write it in a flat wood made with a string in a hole where you can hang on the prayer wall. We were amazed with the messages hanging on the wall, interested reading a few makes you realize how people can be so positive and full of hope. Our curiosity was cut short when we saw people walking in trails but organised getting near where we stand. 


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Felt so excited when we realized it was a traditional Japanese wedding. We actually saw 3 pairs walking in coordination. It wasn't the whole nine yards but we're glad to see the part where the bride and groom walks under a Japanese umbrella or was it just another big parasol? Anyway, they were wearing Japanese kimono, brides in white and groom in black. A trailing party were also walking behind the couple.


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souvenir shops

It's a 200-acre park. There were closed restaurants since we arrived at almost closing time. Good thing we still made it. As we made it through the gates before closing. We saw a huge collection of barrels of sake called kazaridaru. It is said to be offered every year to enshrine the deities of Meiji Jingu Shrine.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Harajuku and Takeshita Street, Tokyo Japan

I've never seen enough girls in fashion in Shibuya. This is where some of them hanged out that day I guess. We did a lot of walking around this area. We headed out and passed by a lot of interesting structures especially this village-like shopping center. 
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According to Yuzu, Takeshita Street is built by young people investing their  money to build a name in the fashion industry. The street is filled with clothing shops. Local brands and foreign ones. Although the items you will get here are more expensive, considering the quality and the location. They rent for space and the interior is designed for convenient shopping. Remember when you buy something, you get what you pay for.

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What I love about this street is it has 2 sides, the other one is a village type where the buildings are made of modern houses but the other side are consists of tiangge-like stores Which is a good news for the thrifty out there.

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This tiangge side is your common market filled with stores of clothing lines beaming in colors. There have been more girls wearing cosplay-ish clothes here than in Shibuya. I saw a couple of lolita shops, Boot shops (too bad I didn't get any), metal shirts and the of course, restaurants. The stores are overwhelming especially the ones selling food. You will never get hungry provided you bring some yen with you. Japan can be expensive especially if you convert from peso but there are definitely cheap ones like Takeshita Street.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bugatumi Dining, Tokyo Japan

Bugatumi is where the high-end tonkatsu (deep dried pork cutlet) is housed in Japan. I didn't know this place until Marjorie tagged me in Instagram from one of a celebrity post. The photo is a nice looking tonkatsu captured, "the best tonkatsu I've had". I immediately checked it online and thought we could throw a little splurging for a night. Dine-in a grand ryotei! 


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Homey and traditional Japanese 

This is our Tokyo Tower night. Bugatumi is located in Roponggi, Minato-ku so we decided it's best to try and dine in. Estimated travel time from Tokyo tower was 16 minutes. 4 bus stops and a 2 minute-walk. Right! We probably doubled the travel time to 30 minutes. Understandably, we are not from this place but the good news is we found the place. 

I didn't see any photo from the website how the restaurant looks like so I kept thinking of a usual restaurant looking establishment. We finally found it and it is a two-storey with a wall ensemble of a half moon. We came through a traditional wooden sliding doors. A foreigner was on his way out, we totally looked like we had no idea what's in there but thanks to the white guy who jokingly said "Welcome!". 


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We were also welcomed by friendly Japanese chefs dressed in double-breasted jackets. The light in the ground floor is dimmed but the kitchen is an open area. There are desserts displayed inside a see-through fridge and the other one contains ample supply of the finest pork. The color of the meat is so inviting and cleanly cut.


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One of the waiters led us to its second floor. The restaurant is small. Upstairs, there were cubicles with a center table. There are areas where you could sit in a traditional Japanese seiza -- sitting on the floor and not on the chair and there other area is where you could sit on a chair. Both areas are almost full. Two vacant cubicles at the seiza side so we chose this for an authentic Japanese tonkatsu experience. Aja!


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They probably look the same but they're of different variety. LG G3 photo

I forgot what we chose from the menu but they had at least a dozen of variety of pork. Although the menu is quite comprehensive with an English ingredients underneath one menu. It was Japanese so I forgot. We ordered 2 different varieties and a Sapporo beer. Truly the best tasting tonkatsu! What makes it the best is the texture of the crumbs perfect for the tendered pork. The heavenly sliced pork were served with sauces, mustard and the sweet black sauce and not to forget the appetizer, it looked and tasted like kamoteng-kahoy. The meal is complete with the miso soup, a weird looking pickles, and a pile of fresh crunchy cabbage accompanied with steaming rice.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Shibuya Tokyo, Japan

Your Tokyo trip will never be complete without Shibuya on your list. We visited the place on our second day in Tokyo. We were also set to meet a friend with her family, we thought Shibuya would be the best since they came from Yokohama. Our metro train tickets was still valid for 3 days as long as its within the Tokyo Metro line. For 3 nights, we stayed at the Toyocho line. According to google maps I saved, it took roughly 43 minutes for 1 transfer with 12 stations.

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It was broad daylight when we reached Shibuya from Hanzomon line. The busiest street is surrounded by giant digital screens, billboards and colorful banners. The place is consists of busy people in suits and office attires, friends chatting, workers, teenagers in high boots and cosplay-ish fashionable dresses and all types of commuters. I didn't realize we were there until I saw the people lined up in each direction, attempting to cross the famous crossing all at the same time. Yes, when its green, it means go. Each of the street lights reflects all the same color at the same time.


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This is the Moyai Statue, a spot where its famous for rendezvous. It is a Polynesian ensemble that served as a gift by the Nijima Village that means "work together". 

I think we crossed the street for more than 10x times that morning. While we wait for Miyashiro family to arrive, we went to see Hachiko. Jr was pretty much excited to see this statue for the love of dogs. He took a couple of photos of the statue and even from Hachiko's eyeview (his own words). This city is also dubbed as the fashion capital of Japan. As you can see, even Hachiko was wearing a fashionable jacket.


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Assumed to be Hachiko's eye perspective.

We have circled the area full of stores, big and small and of ramen restaurants, bakeries, mochis, candies, rice crackers and onigiri (Japanese rice balls). They also have a street called Supeinzaka which referred to a Spanish hill filled with  posh shops within its short street, by short it means not more than 100 meters. 


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  Japanese Arcades - we went inside and discovered these establishments are not only for the   young   generation. Adults are the majority of its customers and you can smoke inside.


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We didn't eat yet, we waited for Ana, Yuzu and baby Sakura to take us to a good restaurant. One whom a local will recommend for its deli food. 

One of the best things in Japan, you could never go wrong with the food, all restaurants pretty much serve delicious food. It was almost true until we had a bad experience before I went back to Singapore, we tried the green soba noodles at the airport and it was bland. The most tasteless edible that touched the ground of my tongue. Taas ng standards eh noh? Lol. It was the only one disgusting food we tasted in Japan. 

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Yuzu took us to this Tokyo Tonteki, Tonteki means pork loin steak cooked with a punch. The food is not local but instead from Mie Perfecture. We loved everything they served. Since the menu is written in Japanese, we just pointed at the delicious-looking photos. We ordered that ground pork that looks like a burger patty, only larger topped on a steamed rice with sauce. Orders comes with the famous miso soup and that super crunchy cabbage salad. I didn't take a photo of the food, sometimes I do not want people to look at me like some lunatic who takes a picture of everything she sees. The food was all good, has and has big serving. I won't forget the avocado salad, I loved it! I still remember how to eat that cold tofu.

Although we pretty much saw all of Shibuya, I think we missed one place, the Love Hotel hill which offers hotel rooms for couples. It wasn't the reason why I want to see it, I could've seen some amazing street arts painted on some of the hotel's walls.

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famous anime school girls uniform

We visited the Metropolitan Government Building, Takeshita Street and Meiji Shrine, which I will feature in my future entries. To end the day, I wanted to see a view of the busy intersection from the top of the building but the highest one possible is only at the 2nd floor of Starbucks in the Tsutaya building. Funny we ordered a green tea frap from the Starbucks card we bought for Mike and finished it outside of the cafe. As soon as were done, we decided to go inside to take a couple of photos.


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The Gap band, char!


Thank you Miyashiro Family for the fun and guide for one day! See you when we go back. Long post! I hope I filled your eyes with decent images to reflect how Shibuya looks like.

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