Tokyo 2019 Day 2 – Tokyo, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi and more Themed restaurants

Day 2 started early, wasn’t sure if it was because I couldn’t sleep well in the pod or I was just terribly excited to go explore Tokyo. Googled to find out where I could get some good breakfast and was shown a result not too far in Shinjuku. Got out of bed and got ready to check out. Although I had another night here, I had to check out before 10am and check in again because they had to do some cleaning. However the locker was allowed for guests to be utilised so after taking out what I required and leaving the rest in the locker, I left for breakfast.

Lounge area at the capsule hotel
Good morning Tokyo!
Many parallel tracks in a complex network

Just a stop away, I got off the Shinjuku station and using the Google maps, I walked towards the Aaliya Cafe. The cafe itself was situated at the basement and upon arrival, there were already a few tables taken up by diners. An English menu was given and I made the order pretty quickly for a standard french toast. The food was served on pretty tray but that was nothing compared to the taste of this French toast, it was great! It was nothing like I have tasted before in a French Toast, the soft creamy middle was covered by slightly thin crispy exterior, coupled with the sweetness of the cream, I was loving every bite of the bread!

Aaliya Cafe
Like English breakfast

As soon as I had been served, I was done with breakfast, probably due to rapid devouring of the tasty bread. Paid the bill and complemented the staff for the Oishi breakfast before exploring the stores around. I came upon a Jeans Mate and was elated to find the Anello bags there. Did spend a bit of time considering what colours to get and what size and eventually decided on a dark blue medium size one, amongst the limited choices there. I was quite concerned that I may not find another store that carried this bag, from experience of that store in Shibuya, so I just bought it.

Jeans mate at Shinjuku
Anello bags

Then moving to a tall building that housed a departmental store Laox, I went to look for more thermal flasks, also briefly looking at the watches that were sold there. It was pretty surprising to find the G-shocks actually were costlier in Japan than in Singapore (at least that’s what I thought), and so were the other watches. Proceeding to the household items floor, there was yet again a shelf full of thermal flasks. Sent some photos to wifey back at home and left, knowing that I would probably be able to see another Laox elsewhere.

Laox entrance

Took the train to Tokyo station as I wanted to settle some shopping wishes first. This was for the Issey Miyake famous Baobao bag, and it was mentioned that the flagship store at Marunouchi would be good place to go while the other stores would normally be out of stock or lined with Chinese tourists. Disembarking at Tokyo station, I was in awe of the historical building of the Tokyo station and took a few pictures of it when I came up to the ground level. Then it was just a few minutes walk to the corner block of Issey Miyake.

Exit after at Tokyo station
Issey Miyake at Marunouchi

The staff was conversant in English and I had to carry out a live videochat with wifey to decide the type and colour of the bag that she wanted, as those identified earlier from the website were unavailable. Finally settled for a Y51k bag tax free after introduction of the different combos and even having the staff carried it for size comparisons. Opted to leave the bag at the store after paying as I knew there would be lots of walking around and shopping and it would not be a good idea to lug the bag around but with the commitment to return before 8pm closing time.

Was initially wanting to visit a Muji store but one of the big ones that used to be in Marunouchi was already closed down. Got back onto the train and next destination was IT heaven in Akihabara. Upon alighting at the Akihabara station, the Yodobashi Camera store just next to it and this was the place where I would be purchasing my Nintendo Switch. But before reaching that level, I was surprised to find the entire building selling all electronics and electrical appliances throughout the different levels! It was like a Harvey Norman on steroids. I made a brief walk on one of those levels and saw things like robotic vacuum cleaners but didn’t stay long as my interests were elsewhere. There were thermal flasks (again) which I managed to find the one that Wifey wanted (200ml bottle for Y1980, cheapest yet) and also checking if she wanted anything else. Then upon reaching the 6th floor, I entered, again, the heaven of toys and games. The entire floor had different toys, models like Gundam, arcade games, Gachapon (capsule tikum). There was another section that was security isolated from the rest of the floor, the games section where the Playstations and Nintendo Switches were.

Historical Tokyo station building
Inside the building called Kitte
Inside Tokyo station
Direction to Electric Town
Entering Yodabashi
Sell all sorts of stuff, including thermal bottles
Games heaven
Rows of Gachapon
Lifesize armour
Pacific Rim
Gundam stuff

I was planning to get the Pokemon edition of the Nintendo Switch but it was sold out. Comparing the consoles, it was cheaper to get them in Japan, with the Tax refund. Games wise, whilst comparing with one of the more popular game store in Singapore, the games were comparable or even more expensive, except for the bundle Let’s Go together with the Pokeball. After much deliberation, I ended up getting the console (Y29980) and the bundle (Y9880) and left the games to be purchased in Singapore.

Nintendo switch packages
Huge Nintendo section

Before heading to lunch, I turned on my Pogo and found a raid that was about to begin. I made my way there to check out and experience the Pogo scene in Tokyo, after all, this was the birthplace of Pokemon. I waited for the 10mins or so and people started to stream in. I realised that there weren’t any much difference from what I experienced in Singapore, in terms of demographics of people playing and interactions.

I walked in the general direction towards one popular maid cafe called @Home for my lunch and as I sorta lost my bearings and found myself walking through the tiny street next to the building of @Home. Along this street, there were many girls in cosplay uniform handing out flyers to attract customers to their themed restaurants, something that I guess was extremely popular in this fantasy paradise of Akihabara. I didn’t want to change my plan and continued onwards to @Home. Entered the lift and realised that there were at least 5 floors of this cafe, and I didn’t know which to go. I decided to just go to the highest floor to see and when I exited, it was kinda crowded. So I took the stairs and head downwards and ended up on 5F, which looked relatively less crowded. Waited until one of the staff came over and explained the costs and duration and general instructions.

@Home entrance
5 levels of cafe

I was then led to the front row seats just in front of the stage. Thought there would be some sort of performance but there weren’t any as I found out later. The stage was a place where the polaroid pictures were taken. After making myself comfortable, I was shown a menu for the food with packages that included a photo opportunity with one of the maid of my choice. There was also something known as premium maids that would need additional costs if I chose that but I stuck to just one of them, someone by the name of Mai. There were also options of playing games with the maids, for additional costs, but I didn’t really have the time nor the money to experience that.

Then I was given a “Master” card (cos I was the Master?), something like a membership card that I supposed if you visit often enough, you get to upgrade?? The people around me were a mixture, like a group of 3 local guys there to celebrate birthday, a Japanese couple, a foreign tourist couple next to me and even a single lady. While the locals got more engagements with the maids as I supposed communications were much easier, the staff actually tried their best to carry out small talk with whatever Eigo they could manage.

When my omelette and matcha latte arrived, the maid serving asked for subject as a picture for them to put onto not just the latte, but also the omelette! I asked for a Pikachu which she promptly applied the green stuff onto the creamy latte top with ease. Then for the omelette, I asked for Ironman. “Ummm” then I asked for Mario and more “Ummm” and finally I said “Eevee” thinking that this would be just as popular a figure as Pikachu and it was still “Umm”…Took out my handphone to show her the picture and she proceeded to draw on the omelette with the ketchup bottle. Its tough being a maid, needing to do all this nonsense for customers, I thought.

Food pokemon sketches, the only photo that could be taken

Just before I could eat, the maid informed that I had to say some magical chants to make the food taste good. With clenched fists together at chest level, and moving from left to right to left, I had to chant “Moe Moe Kyun” with her. Could be embarrassing to those not used to doing cute stuff, but I guessed that’s just part of Japanese Kawaii culture. After my chant, I proceeded to munch down my lunch, the food wasn’t bad but it wasn’t something fantastic either (so much for the chant). The main point of the visit was really more to experience theme cafe then to have good food.

A few minutes later, I was being called to stage for the photo opportunity with my chosen maid. Had a few exchanges with her, who spoke pretty decent English. She seemed to look a little more caucasian then Japanese and she claimed that she did have some European blood in her. Then I had to choose a head gear that was either bunny ears or cat ears. Took the bunny ears and with the cutesy pose together with Mai, my polaroid was taken. Back at the seat, I waited for the bill and in between, there was one or two more short exchanges with other maids but nothing else more. Was given the polaroid in a nice card frame, another postcard with a message that I didn’t understand and a pair of chopsticks to take home as souvenirs. The experience though, I felt, didn’t really meet the Master-Maid relationship and merely superficial, such as being called a Master for the sake of it. A simple act of helping the master manage his coat would be nice but the lack of such service showed that the experience focus was more on the acting cute part but not on the service.


My next destination was to go Maricar, the Go-kart that went viral because of its likeness to the awesome family game Super Mario kart with the track on the Tokyo street. It was a couple of blocks away, but along a small street. There was a staff there which I checked for any scheduled trip for the day but was disappointed to find them fully booked. Booked for the next day for a 1hr slot although he recommended a 2 hour drive instead. Paid Y5000 plus Y500 for insurance and borrowed the cable to charge my dying handphone and also to use their toilet that was decorated with disco coloured lighting.

Maricar office
Disco toilet

I decided to return to retrieve the bag that I bought in the morning at Tokyo and upon arrival at the station, I noticed my coat pocket had an unfamiliar ringtone coming out of it. When I reached for it, I was shocked to find not 1 but 2 phones, one of them did not belong to me! I couldn’t pick up the call but tried to call the number from the missed call on my own mobile, to find that the phone belonged to the owner of Maricar and somehow I must have taken it by mistake! Thankfully, he agreed to meet me at Tokyo station instead and concurrently, I went to pick up the bag and not too long after, I managed to hand over the phone to owner’s friend whom was helping him pick up.

AKB48 cake shop
Toys display near the station
Colourful Yodabashi at night
Xmas feels at Marunouchi
Tokyo station at night
Lighted buildings at Tokyo

From Tokyo, my next destination was to visit Ginza, another major but atas shopping area of Japan. I was supposed to get some Shiseido products and there was a Shiseido store in Ginza. As I walked along the streets of Ginza, I was amazed to see that each building was owned by one company, not just for the luxury brands but for any brand! Another interesting observation was that I had seen ladies wearing kimono walking down the street! Didn’t know why this was so but it seemed pretty normal to everyone else.

Sights while walking towards Ginza
Xmas lights still up
Tall Ginza buildings
Tall buildings everywhere
Shopping in a kimono

When I arrived at a red building that was named Shiseido, I went into the first floor and was surprised to find them selling pastries. I thought there was another pastry store named as Shiseido. Tried Google map and walked a few blocks to another Shiseido building and I found out from the security that I was at the corporate office and the red building was the right location, only that the one with the cosmetics were just across the road on the left! Feeling like an idiot, I made my way a few blocks back again and sure enough, another tall block belonging to Shiseido was there! Now I know Shiseido actually diversified into pastries as well.

Shiseido pastries building
Different levels but no cosmetics
Shiseido office

Went into the building that seemed to have an army of staff and showed the photo of what I needed but that was no longer available. What was available though, Wifey wasn’t interested and so I continued to walk towards Uniqlo. The store in Ginza was in one entire block, consisting of twelve floors! They had one entire floor just for heat tech products alone. Spent quite an amount of time getting stuff for the whole family and at the 11th floor where they had collaboration pieces, I bought myself two tees. Went up and down a couple of times when Wifey had “live” suggestions to buy some stuff so had to go to the different stores catering for men, women and kids.

Shiseido, the one with the cosmetics

Then it was time for dinner and another themed restaurant that I planned to visit was Ninja restaurant. While making my way to the subway, I bought myself a sweet potato from a makeshift lorry and as it was too hot, I left it in my bag. Boarded the train and headed towards Akasaka, and this was when I experienced the infamous train squeeze that the viral videos were showing. Somehow, even with what seemed like a packed train, the people on the platform could all still go into the train. Thankfully, it was a short ride for me and all my shopping bags and sweet potato remained intact.

Uniqlo in one tall building
12F of it
Huge shopping spaces
Past collaborations collections for sale
Sweet potato truck
I guessed it meant sweet potato for Y500

Ninja restaurant was part of a long building but the restaurant only had an entrance and no other windows, thus keeping the secrets of Ninja within its walls. I entered without a reservation and thankfully there was available seats (probably because it was late too, but they were opened to 1030pm, and each seating would take about 1.5hrs to 2hrs).

Akasaka street
Ninja Restaurant

After confirmation of my dinner, I was asked to wait for a Ninja who would be coming to escort me. He appeared soon enough, dressed in all black, with only the eyes exposed (came with glasses which was funny) and he brought me through a hidden entrance. I had been informed not to take any photos as it was deemed dangerous for me, thus I just followed closely as we had to walk up and down, even had a wishing well to make a wish and saw a ninja activate a chained bridge to cross a broken bridge with his ninja chants before I arrived into the restaurant proper. I was brought to the Ninja village called “Durian” (or something in that pronunciation) and sat at a table, which was pretty dimly lit. The other tables all had customers but some were close to leaving. I was showed the menu, in the form of an ancient scroll, after handing over my jacket to the ninja (much better than the maid) and ordered the standard 8 course dinner with a non-alcoholic ninja cocktail that was part of a very famous incantations (for those familiar with such incantations especially from the movies in the 80s). As my phone was dying, with the cold sapping the battery faster than usual, I helped myself with the power supply nearby (luckily) as I plugged in my power charger that I brought along, as the ninja staff couldn’t help me find a charger that could charge my iPhone.

In the village
My dimly lit table
Village stuff display
临、兵、斗、者、皆、阵、列、前、行 drinks
My non-alcohol cocktail
My menu scroll

The dish was then served one at a time, just like fine dining, and I am very impressed with the quality of food! From the first dish of shuriken crackers to the last one, I enjoyed every one of them and they tasted really good! After the food, there was a magic show by the master ninja which was nice and she even thought me a trick so that I could bring it back to show to my family. Awesome experience! This wasn’t cheap though at a cost of Y7074 but I thought it was well worth it. After fulfilling my request to take a photo with one of the ninja, I was escorted out of ninja village, again with more drama, ninjitsu magic of extinguishing fire and even a final surprise in the form of a ninja showing me a scroll with a message to come visit again after I stepped out of the main entrance. Lots of effort there.

Shuriken cracker
Tasty cold soup
Goodies underneath
Soup into the wooden mixing bowl
Add a hot stone
Absolutely tasty vegetables soup
Cold noodles
Pork and veges
so soft and tender
Magic, card tricks and photo to bring home
Ninja pose
Final surprise!

As I tried to get to the subway for my final location of the day, I had a videochat with my family whom were about to go to bed. Had to find a place to finish the call before boarding, for fear of disturbing the other commuters on the train. Then to Roppongi I rode, purely for the sake of getting a Hard Rock Cafe Tee. Over in the distance, I took a photo of the orange Tokyo tower that stood out, amongst the street lights of Roppongi. It didn’t felt very different from what was I saw in Shinjuku or Shibuya. Had to get the clothes from the restaurant store as the merchandise store was already closed for the day. Didn’t spend much time before I was on my way back to 9 hours.

Tokyo tower in the distant
Hard Rock Tokyo

Once back, I checked in again, and spend quite some time to do some packing as I had bought quite a fair bit of stuff. Then it was bath time followed by a visit to 7-11 store to get a beer to eat with my sweet potato. Spent some time at the lounge surfing the internet and attempting to finish that massive potato but couldn’t and retired for the night, at about 2am.

Sweet Potato

Tokyo 2019 Day 1 – Flight and Arrival at Tokyo, Shibuya and Shinjuku and Themed restaurant

My Tokyo trip started late, both in terms of planning and the actual day itself! I only bought the tickets 6 days before flying which was good because JAL actually had prices compatible to the crazy Scoot prices, full flight vs budget with compatible flight times, it was a no brainer for me.

After spending the weekend with my family, I soon found myself on the way to the airport for my 220am red eye flight to Haneda airport, Dad gave me a ride to the revamped Changi Terminal 1 that was tied to the Jewel. Check in was quick since I was backpacking and then I was roaming within the transit areas. Had to draw out more cash to exchange for Yen as I found out late that cash was preferred mode of payment and also that one of my accommodation I had to pay at the hotel itself, which I had forgotten to cater for when I first exchanged the cash for a Y100:SGD125 rate. The airport rates were bad, but there weren’t other choices at that place and time.

It was my first time on JAL and once onboard, I was immediately drawn to the dark red and black colours combination. Comfort wise, there weren’t much difference I thought compared to SQ etc. The entertainment system wasn’t fantastic though and there weren’t much choices (maybe there weren’t any good movies that were converted to free airlines movies during this period). Anyhow, I was off to sleep almost immediately, saving my energy for Tokyo rather than the movies on the plane.


Some 5hrs into the flight, I was already awake couldn’t really sleep comfortably. There was sunlight in the horizon and breakfast was about to be served. I realised that I was not at a great seat, my seat view was blocked by the wing of then plane. Furthermore, looking at the flight path, I wouldn’t be able to see Mt. Fuji from my seat since I was on the right side while the plane would past Mt. Fuji on the right side too.

Sunrise blocked

Breakfast inflight was pretty good I thought and I cleaned it up as soon as it was served. The rest of the journey was spent dozing on and off till the plane landed in Tokyo smoothly. While taxiing, the view of Mt. Fuji could be seen from Haneda Airport, an amazing sight.

Mt Fuji from the Airport

I took off quickly in a bid to start my exploration as soon as possible. Upon reaching the immigrations, I went to take the immigrations form declarations to fill in as I wasn’t given one on the plane, suspected that I might have been skipped as they assumed I was Japanese. But it wasn’t a big problem and I proceeded to the immigrations quickly. There was a queue but people were moving fast with the help of a staff directing people to the counters. I cleared in a couple of minutes.

Since I didn’t have to wait for a luggage, I walked towards the customs where I saw people handing paper forms to the customs officer which got me stumped for a moment but I still tried my luck. While approaching, the officer asked for the form in which I showed that I didn’t have one and he immediately pointed me towards one of the walls with the empty forms, no other way about it. Quickly I filled up this second form and went through customs without any issues.

One of my first task upon arrival was to go pick up my 72hrs subway ticket that I have purchased on Klook. The instructions that accompanied the ticket was pretty simple, turned left upon exit of the arrival, and sure enough the counter was there. There weren’t anyone queuing there and I received my subway ticket quickly and a subway map and left, not being sure of what the subway ticket allow in terms of ridership even after the staff explained to me.

Counter to pick up the tickets from Klook
72 hours subway ticket

Walked towards the monorail and purchased the tickets to Yoyogi (which looked the closest on the map), as I wanted to visit Meiji Jingu Shrine first since it was still early and the accommodation will not be ready for check in. The ticketing machines had English options but there was a staff nearby that helped me with the first ticket purchase. She verbally guided me through the options so that I could help myself another time. Then it was a short train ride to Hamamatsucho. Made a transfer there to another line with the help with a very important website,, I was able to tell which was the ride train to board based on time schedule. Even so, it took a while to understand, which I learnt at Hamamatsucho.

Direction to ticketing and train
First train ticket on JR
Train schedule with different stoppages
Haneda train station
View from the station
Train arrived
View taken from the train

At this station, there were 2 ways to get there, one by subway and one by JR. What I saw on Hyperdia was that I would need to take the JR line to Yoyogi, not realising that I have paid for the full tickets price to Yoyogi via subway and that JR and subway tickets were not interchangeable! As a result, I paid another ticket on the JR line instead because when I tried the 72hrs subway ticket on JR, I was denied entry too! (and was thinking that it was a bad idea to get the tickets that didn’t allow me to utilise it) Confusing at first but not so after getting used to.

Subway entrance
JR entrance
JR train
Do not disturb others on the train while using your phone

From Yoyogi station, I walked towards the shrine following the directions on my Google map, data enabled. The shrine was within a big park and it took a while to walk there. There was an amazing number of visitors to the park considering that it was a Monday morning and the closer I got to the shrine, the more I people I saw. And these were locals visiting and not tourists! Upon arrival at the gate, I was surprised to see many people and there seemed to be some sort of event going on, with lines of people queuing and staff in their traditional costumes guiding people to the shrine for prayers. Later I realised that it could be because it was still the first week of the new year and many locals may be renewing their prayers at the shrine, as I saw collection stations outside the shrines for old amulets to be disposed before entering the shrine. There were also signages on entry points for wishes and offerings and I couldn’t make out the rest.

Entrance from Yoyogi station
Short walk through a forest
One of the gates of the shrine
Washing of hands before praying
Information about making wishes in the shrine

I walked the few gates and snapped pictures of the washing stations and the surrounding and skipping the visit to the shrine (since I didn’t know how to make an offering or wished to queue up in the horrendously long line) and left towards my next destination, Harajuku.

Panoramic view of the area with one of the gate
Another entrance
Sake barrels

From the shrine, I walked towards Harajuku station and it was almost as long a walk to Yoyogi. Then I left my backpack inside the lockers, with an automated locker computer that had a choice of English instructions. Y300 later I was walking towards the young generation street of Harajuku, in search of an Owl Village.

Receipt to open locker
Lots of lockers available at station

Owl Village was an cafe that had owls in there and it wasn’t immediately visible where this cafe was situated as it was on the 4th floor of the building. I took the elevator up to the 4th floor and was briefed at the counter for the different packages available to choose from. I took the cheapest one with a drink (I thought that I could get lunch there but they didn’t have food) with an hour time to spend with the hours for Y1500 and another Y500 so that I could feed the owls. There was already another couple there and they were within a isolated compound with the owls while I sat at the drinking area to have my green tea. I had to wait for some time to elapse which I didn’t really know why, before I could go and check out the owls.

Harajuku station
4F Owl cafe
Owls cafe entrance
Cafe area
Owls area

The staff that led me around introducing the owls by their names, and how to pet them. There were at least 6 types of owls and I couldn’t remember a single one of their names unfortunately but I sure damn well remember how to pet them, for fear of losing one finger at the start of my trip. It wasn’t my first time petting an owl but it was still amusing nonetheless, though why the owls were awake (but looking tired) at this time did bother me a little. Took many photos, and videos and then had a feeding session to feed almost all the birds with miserably small amount of meat (but at least the birds seemed to become more awake with the food). While doing so, I could get one of the owl to stand on my arm (with the leather glove of course) by instructing them to fly onto the arm with the food. Picture moment there and also amazed at their flight back to their stand upon dropping of my arm. A while later, another big owl was brought in and as the staff played with the 2 big owls, attracting them with toys to lure them into stomping on the toy, I also had fun doing the same thing with them. Before leaving, I was given a badge with a choice of photos of a pair of the owls as mementos, For those who had not experience close contact with owls, this was one experience worth trying.

White owls
Standing on one foot
Feeding with a tweezer
Close up shot
Holding up a huge bird

As much as it was fun, I hadn’t fulfil my hunger since the cafe didn’t offer anything substantial for lunch. A quick Google for recommended places for lunch churned up a rather interesting result, Kawaii Monster Cafe. Had seen some mixed reviews about this monster themed cafe and thought that I am as well experience it myself, since I am here for pop culture experience, right? A quick walk through the quirky street of Harajuku and I found myself in a building on the escalator upwards to the 4th floor. Right at the entrance was a colourful sign of the cafe with a staff standing behind a rostrum.

Takeshita street entrance
Colourful Harajuku street
Calbee store?
Line store
Huge Line bear
Kawaii Monster Cafe sign

Had no reservations (many online recommended to do so) as I was trying my luck anyways and I was allowed in after explanation of the duration of stay and the entry costs of Y500. Then as the door opened, I was led in by the staff dressed up as a monster and was welcome into a realm consisting of a myriad of lights and colours and giant oversized cake. Swiftly we walked to my table and I couldn’t really comprehend what I saw. Sat down on a 2 seater table and the waitress (who wasn’t dressed up in the same exaggerated fashion) explained to me first in Japanese (then I asked for Eigo, first of the many to come) and she tried in English and then left me to decide on what I wanted. Settled on ordering the colourful spaghetti with the blue drink with popcorns for Y1300 and Y900 and then looked around at the design of the area – facing giant lips. Just to my left I could see giant milk bottles hanging from the ceiling. Interesting little place.

Giant cake
Milk bottles

Food came and I was surprised that the food wasn’t bad (maybe I was hungry), and the drinks was expectedly sweet. The different sauces plus the colourful pasta made the dish looked like a paint palette! I took my time to enjoy the meal before going around to explore the other parts of this cafe. Apparently it was not so crowded at this point in time and so I managed to see the other sections that had distinctly different monstrous designs including the toilet that was full of bling as well! Settled the bill at the table and before leaving, I asked for a selfie and a photo of the cast, before passing through the gift shop and back down to the ground floor.

Paint palette of pasta
Popcorn drink
Bling bling toilet
Monster staff

With renewed energy, it was time for shopping. Before the trip, I had identified the locations of the Japanese brands that I wanted to visit to see if I could get a made-in-Japan fashion piece home. Not too far from my lunch place was a street called Omotesando, also known as the Champ Elysees of Tokyo, were 3 of the Japanese brands. My first stop was at Onitsuka Tiger.

Onitsuka Tiger store

The store was not along the main road but on a really quiet street. There were actually 2 buildings for this sneaker store, one being the store that sold standard stuff and the other more made in Japan stuff. Looked around the large varieties of colours and had a check on the price. The shoes were going at Y8000 for the normal designed one and those that were made in Japan were costing in excess of SGD300. I wasn’t ready to pay that amount for a pair of shoes so after being brought over by one of the staff, I excused myself after a while.

Walking along the same street, I soon came upon the Bathing Ape store, a Japanese street wear brand that was horrendously expensive everywhere else. This standalone 3 storey building did not really have a lot of designs to choose from and were still expensive though definitely cheaper comparatively. I went up to the top most floor and chose a tee for Y6800, the cheapest of the lot. Paid for the tee without tax (same amount since that number was before tax) as tax refund was immediate. What I found weird was that they had stapled the receipt onto one page of my passport. Tried to ask why but couldn’t figure out his English and thus left.

Bathing Ape store

Last but not least, across the road, and also at one of the branch roads, I found Porter. This store was 2 storey but huge. There were quite a variety of goods with the 1st level on a variety of bags and the 2nd level mostly bigger leather products. There were also collaborated pieces which was definitely out of my league and I contemplated for a while on what to buy after exploring the 2 floors since the prices here should be cheaper though not dirt cheap to just buy without thinking. I had initially thought that I would get a boston bag to carry all the goodies that I have purchased in Japan but these would cost more than a hundred in SGD and it did not make sense if the bag was only used for this one time and end up spending most of its life in the storage. So I left empty handed.

Omotesando street from overhead bridge
Another view of the shopping street
Porter store
Inside the Porter store

I returned to Harajuku to take the JR down to Shibuya. Upon arrival, my first visit was to the Hachiko statue, the famous loyal dog. Then it was a walk to the Shibuya famous scramble crossing for a quick photo (thought I wanted to get a better view on 2nd floor of Starbucks but the line for coffee was excessive, probably many doing the same) and then a walk to the Mandarake. Mandarake according to forums online, was a heaven for people looking for toys, comics and collectibles, new or 2nd hand and it was real! Going down 2 flights of stairs to a large basement, I entered a world filled with shelves and shelves of comics and toys! There were also many display cabinets with toys in poses and these brought back childhood memories of what I used to read about, or watch on TV or play. Head on to a small section of Transformers (less popular compared to Japanese originated toys) and managed to snag a Bumblebee SS-18 toy for Y2200 to play, cheaper than what I could get elsewhere because the package was deemed slightly damaged. After spending enough time to roam the walkways, I left with my prized possession.

Train to Shibuya
Hachiko Statue at Shibuya
Shibuya scramble crossing
Shibuya shopping street
Mandarake entrance
Shelves of toys
Different aisles of products

Next I popped into Tokyu Hands to shop. This was one huge store, unlike the Singapore’s branch, consisting of up to 9 floors, and each floor with a sub floor, and they sold a lot of lifestyle products. Earlier on at Harajuku, I was searching for Anello bags that were said to be available in store Jeans Mate, but there weren’t any at the branch in Harajuku. Tokyu Hands in Singapore offered these bags but upon arrival at the bags section, I was disappointed yet again. Still there were other items that were on offer such as thermal flasks from Tiger and Zojirushi that were sold here much cheaper (like half price?) than those in Singapore. Couldn’t get any since the particular design was sold out so I ended up only getting 2 ink stamps (they do stamps customisation for names but need advance engagements) after scaling the 9 floors.

Giant Tokyu Hands store
Motivation to climb steps

The day became night quickly and I made my way back to the Shibuya train station and got up to one of the passageway at the 2nd level where I could take a picture of the scramble crossing before my train back to Harajuku. Claimed my bag from the lockers and then it was a ride to Shinjuku Sanchome. As I trekked towards my accommodation, I realised that I was on a street of love hotels (noticeable by boards showing rates for short stays) and double-checked my phone and found that I was at the wrong accommodation which was meant for the last 2 nights in Tokyo! Luckily Shinjuku was largely walkable and the freezing cold did make the walk to my capsule hotel easier, plus brightly lit stores along the way, I was there in no time. Bad thing though was the phone batteries were sapped almost 25% faster and I found myself at risk of not being able to access my phone due to the dying battery (I didn’t print hardcopies for bookings or maps). I saw the 9hours sign on a building along a street that seemed like a Korean town because there were quite a bit of Korean brands there, and entered the minimalist designed lift lobby.

Shibuya Scramble crossing at night
Korean town in Shinjuku?
9h capsule hotel lift

Checked in was done rather smoothly with a staff with excellent English and I was handed a paper with instructions and a bag with towers, PJs and toothbrush, and a QR card for the lockers. Taking the gender specific lifts down to the gender specific pods, I stored all my stuff into the locker and went into my pod to charge my handphone and catch some winks while at it. After napping a quick 30mins, I went up to the next floor where the main shower was to take a shower, which had all the bathing amenities within the shower itself. I was also in awe when I entered the toilet cubicle and had the toilet seat automatically opened upon my entry. Mind blown by the toilet technology!

Instructions and locker key
Accessories bag
Lockers for storage
Sleep pods
Double deck
My space for the night

Returning to the pod to retrieve my barely charged phone, I returned to the streets in search of dinner. My initial plan was to visit another themed restaurant, known as Robot restaurant to get some dinner and watch their show (even though many online recommended to get dinner outside as the food was not going to be tasty). I had missed the earlier show and the last one was at 945pm, which was very late. Since I wanted to call back Singapore to talk to my family at around 11pm, which was 10pm in Singapore, I wouldn’t be able to make it as the show was about 1.5hrs. I left in search for a proper dining place.

As I was in the infamous red light district of Tokyo, known as Kabukicho, I was frequently approached by touts on the streets, asking if I was interested in visiting their soaps (brothels). They could be very persistent if there’s any slight interest was shown and even had photographs on phones to show so as to get some arrangements going. So to reduce such interactions, I would just excused myself with “wife’s waiting for me at dinner”. I found it interesting though that in the area of Kabukicho, it was not an all men area, because it was also a place where ladies could look for male company as well! Of course walking through that area, I wouldn’t get pestered but touts were going for the ladies instead.

Kabukicho area with male hostess
Robot restaurant signages
Godzilla road
Don Quijote which is Don Don Donki store

Google gave a recommended area near Kabukicho for good ramen and in a couple of minutes, I found myself at Takahashi Ramen as I couldn’t find Ramen Jiro and settled with that for dinner. The restaurant was pretty high tech, with ordering through iPads, and thankfully with whatever Eigo that the staff can offered, I got myself a upsized version (as I was hungry) of salt ramen with flying fish stock and some green tea and soon was I slurping away to a satisfied dinner. Paid on a automated paying machine and left.

Takahashi Ramen Store
Chose this
The actual stuff, yummy
Automated payment

Before leaving for the hotel, I went into one of the buildings with a Sega sign to find out what’s in there, since this was a brand name that I was familiar with when young. It was actually a place full of UFO machines and with the Y100 per try, I was tempted to try my luck in getting a huge size Eevee. After 4 attempts, I gave up on the flimsy claws as I couldn’t find a way around, even though a few times Eevee was lifted up only to slip and fall back quickly. Fun though.

Sega arcades
Couldn’t get the giant Eevee

Back at the hotel, I stayed at the lounge to call back home, excited to share the tiring but fulfilling first day I had in Tokyo. While I wished to have done that in bed, it was not possible as the pods were not noise insulated and using of phone there was therefore prohibited. Nonetheless, the lounge had powerpoint for my charger to keep my phone alive and free wifi for video calls. Then it was sleep, as I pulled down the blind to the entrance of my pod, and switched off the light. First experience and not too bad.