Started day 3 early despite sleeping late the night before. For breakfast, I had planned to have that at the famous Tsukiji Market. Although the inner market where the auction for the giant tunas used to take place had moved to Toyosu Market, the external market was still intact. I didn’t know what time the market would be opened but couldn’t wake up earlier than 8am, I quickly packed my bags and checked out with all my baggage.
Headed to the subway Shinjuku-Sanchome to dump all the bags into a locker since that was the nearest location to my next accommodation and took the train to Tsukiji. It was a 20mins ride and I proceeded to walk in the general direction according to the Google maps. After walking for a while, I realised I overshot and had to track back. Apparently the markets were not very obvious from the main roads. Then as I took one of the smaller street in, I found it lined with seafood restaurants, some of them still not opened at 8plus in the morning. Resisted the temptation to just go into any restaurant, I walked onto a street that was marked as the Tsukiji Outer Market and was surprised to see not many stores opened. I thought I was in the wrong place and proceeded to walk South East but there was nothing. I went back to the few stores where there were also a couple of customers around and started to order some food.
There was a brightly lit store that had urchin for sale, and ordered one dish of seared urchin to start. The urchin placed on a wooden plate of sorts and the lady used mobile flame torch to go over the top of the urchin, giving a slightly charred texture. Didn’t had time to take any photos of the process because my camera didn’t work as it was too cold and by the time I took out my phone after fiddling (and cursing) the camera, she handed me the delicious urchin, for Y1000. Took my time (of course need to take photo) with this delicacy that tasted slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and it was quite a huge portion! Satisfied with the first dish, I proceeded on to the next stall where there were more people gathered around a stall with a couple of seafood choices on display and a makeshift bbq stove.
Y1000 yet again for pointing at one of the scallop that the staff went ahead to cook with 2 mini flamethrowers. Then adding some soya sauce and cutting up the scallop into bite size pieces, I was handed a plate of steaming hot and delicious scallop! After the scallop, I went on to one of the corner shops that seemed to have just open for business. The chefs were busy cutting up slices of sashimi and packing them, while another was making sushi. On the signboard overhead was a Otoro sushi, 3 pieces for Y1500. I didn’t hesitate, having heard from a colleague previously that that was the best part of the tuna, hence the price so I had to try it. Immediately the chef got down to preparing the sushi, skilfully slicing 3 pieces of tuna of the same dimensions and pressing them onto the rice. I had the opportunity to see the size of a giant tuna head that was placed in one of the fridge while waiting for my sushi to be done.
The sushi looked different, not the usual plain red tuna sushi that I was used to. The taste of the sushi was unexpectedly different too! I couldn’t get a hint of the usual tuna taste at all, and it was really platable. Very quickly, I gobbled up the 3 pieces, dipping into the soy sauce that was available there and yearned for more. Having already spent Y4500, I thought I should stop.
I visited the tamago store last, and spent Y100 for a solid piece of tamago, soft and warm and delicious too. During this time, people were already starting to stream in and other stores were also starting business. I explored the area a bit more and found out that the little alleys from the street into the buildings actually led to more restaurants inside, and I could have spent my time there to have a sushi breakfast, in front of the chef but I am already full (and spent my money) so I left for the station soon after.
My first visit today was to Ueno park and then to Nezu Shrine, a shrine with many of the red wooden gates known as Torii. Upon arrival at Ueno station, I proceeded to walk into the giant park. Winter wasn’t the best time to visit the park since it did just looked normal to me. The freezing temperature was wreaking havoc on my camera and it couldn’t be operated most of the time. Frustrated, I depended on my iPhone to take the pictures but had to minimise for fear of it running out of battery before the end of the day.
Within the park, I found myself walking into a Toshogu shrine, an old shrine that was dedicated to the founder of Tokugawa shogunate. Not a big place to explore but definitely one that had historical significance. After walking out, I followed along the path and went past the Ueno zoo that was housed within the park. I decided to exit the park (and there were quite a couple of museums within the park itself but I hadn’t plan to visit it) and walk to Nezu Shrine.
From the map, there was a Nezu subway station that was closer but I thought I could just walk from Ueno park since it looked near on the map. After some good 15 mins of walking, that brought me past many small streets of residential places, I finally find myself at the shrine. There were already many visitors there, including a bunch of school kids that were out there on excursion. I took my time to appreciate the buildings taking photos and such before heading to the long footpath of Torii. And this place would be the best instagram worthy place to get that shot with the Torii all lining up behind. It was here that I splurged on some charms for my family, including for health, studies and happiness, at Y500 each.
I was done with visiting and proceeded to the train station to get to Naka-Okachimachi station. From there I took a walk to one of my favorite Japanese brands, Evisu. I was expecting something really flashy but I was surprised to find the store in a rather quiet part of the street and the entrance was dull. I would missed it if not for the recognising the godly faces on the doors. After entering the store, I was awed by the large variety of products that was available for sale! The staff approached me and asked if I was looking for anything (again with Japanese before switching to Eigo) and I was brought to the 2nd level that catered for jeans. I also found out that the store only has number 1 and number 2 jeans, those that were extremely costly in Singapore.
I had to get something since I was already here and she helped with giving me some sizes to try on. I was shocked that I had to wear a 36″ waist (normal 30″) due to the extreme shrinkage after wash and was assured that no further shrinking will happen. The number 1 was made in the traditional method of sewing and I was able to customised what I wanted to have on my butt pockets. All in, I paid a hefty sum of Y41k (no tax rebate available), but I guessed its something I was willing to spend on which would last me for years plus it was customised!
As I went back to the station to proceed to Akihabara for my 2pm Go Kart experience, I stumbled upon the Ameyoko street. Curious what was being sold there, I stepped into one of the store specialising in cosmetics and found the bunch of products that Wifey wanted, including the Shiseido products! I knew this was going to be the place where I would settle the shopping for family back home. Walked on to another store and found one (Silk Road Cosmetics) that sold SK-II items, where the initial store did not carry. The price was pretty decent (compared to online) and had tax refund so I just went ahead to buy it. I was informed by the store staff that the pharmacies would carry the rest of the other items that I was looking for but I was trying to get to Maricar and left for the train ride to Akihabara station.
For the ride, I had to proceed to another building for the drive off but it was a pretty short walk from Akihabara station. Upon reaching, I found 2 other people already suit up in costumes. Settled the administration with the staff, found myself a spongy spiderman suit and I was suited up too. There was a locker available to place my bag, so I only carried a phone and my camera with me. The staff pushed the 4 go carts onto the street and after the briefing, we mounted onto our rides and then it was a freezing one hour roundtrip to Asakusa and Skytree before going back. It was kinda fun riding a go Kart on the street and in a silly costume sometimes drawing attention of the pedestrians. After downloading all the photos from FB messenger, and a hardcopy souvenir photo, I boarded the train to return to Ameyoko for the rest of the shopping.
Sticking to the advice given by the Silk Road Cosmetics staff, I walked further to a pharmacy named Matsumoto Kiyoshi store to get the rest of the items. The store had 2 floors full of cosmetics related stuff and there were staff that could speak various languages, catered for tourists. With the photos given by Wifey, I managed to check off all except one which was some horse oil face mask of a particular brand. I even got myself some hand cream to apply on my cracked fingers (due to dryness of the weather) which I thought worked really well.
It was past 4pm and I was racing against the setting sun to go visit the Asakusa Senso-ji Shrine. This was the one with the famous huge lantern and upon arrival at the station, I made a beeline to the Shrine after walking past a sheltered walkway. There were just a lot of people, granted the popularity of this tourist attraction. Made my way into the main temple to pray, the Japanese method (throw coin – bow bow – clap clap – bow) and also tried to get myself a Omikuji, the one that one uses a container of sticks with numbers and shaking one out to get the fortune read. Unfortunately, I scored a bad fortune and ended up leaving this paper onto the rail that so as not to bring it home.
After exploring the surroundings, I took the main walk path back to the main gate that was on the main road, passing through rows of shops selling souvenirs and food. Got myself a little red lantern souvenir before ending up at the main gate, where there was another huge lantern (There were actually 3 in total which I didn’t know!).
I walked in the general direction to try to get to the subway for my next destination, the Tokyo Skytree. However, I got lost where I was able to see the surroundings of Asakusa, mostly more shopping. A quick check of the Google map and I was back on track to the station. Hopped onto the Skytree train and walked directly to the ticketing counter with my Klook QR code. At the ticketing counter, they printed out the tickets for me to proceed to the observatory deck.
Again, this was a busy place as it was another popular tourist attraction. We entered the lift and as with other tallest buildings around, the elevator climbed quickly causing the ears to get blocked once in a while. I took the option of only accessing the lower observatory but had more than an eyeful of Tokyo city all lighted up at the 360 degrees observation deck. There were a lot of people but enough space to get close to the windows for photos. There were also multiple displays with professional photography service as well which I avoided. One of the highlights of the visit was a 10min video presentation of a game Kingdom Hearts above the windows as it went all the way around the floor. There were various cartoon characters showcased, many of them from Disney and familiar to all.
While on the way back to ground level, I had to go a floor down to take the lift where there was more viewing space then the one above. There was also a cafe at this floor and a small section with a see-through glass floor for those daredevils to look down. A short queue for the lift and soon I was back at ground level.
There was an integrated shopping mall called Solamachi with retail and restaurants but I was interested in only one of the store, the Pokemon Center. At the Pokemon Center, which I needed to google to find out its location, was a store with tons of Pokemon soft toys and merchandise. I couldn’t decide whether to get a sleeping Eevee or a sitting one and eventually chose the sleeping one to encourage my boy to sleep. Also go him a pair of Pikachu socks, cos he liked both Pokemon but I couldn’t get both soft toys since he had too many soft toys at home. There was also the HelloPika toy that he was interested in but it was selling about the same price back in Singapore so I decided against buying it.
During my search for the Pokemon Center, I noticed a familiar name that I had googled before that had a pillow that my mother was looking for. It was in another mall across Solamachi so I just walked over to Nitori at Central Square Life to find the pillow and sure enough, it was available. Asked the staff for assistance to retrieve the pillow and paid before heading back to Solamachi in search for dinner.
There was a food court available amongst the many other restaurants and I ended up with having Ramen from Ippudo Express for Y1030 to ease the hunger from the lack of lunch all the way to dinner time. Then it was a long way back with all the goods that I bought to Shinjuku-Sanchome station.
Picked up my bags from the station lockers and I headed to my accommodation for the next 2 nights, Hotel & Spa An. It was a love hotel which I only realised it after the first day in Tokyo (should have known when it’s mentioned adults only!) when I mistakenly walked to the accommodation which offered rest rates (a couple of hours). The reception was behind a counter where I could only see the hands but checking in wasn’t difficult as they got one of the staff to meet me and inform about the details of the room, which when described, I was in awe – It had a sauna, a jacuzzi and KTV!
With the keys, I went up to the top floor on the 6th and the first impression I had was that it felt more like a suite then anything else! (A massive space upgrade from the capsule that I had for the 2 previous nights) Upon entering, I see a luxuriously designed room, lots of space, a big bathroom with the said facilities, totally happy that I made a good choice staying here. And it didn’t felt like a love hotel (thought it would looked be simple dingy rooms in Singapore context) at all.
The only complaint I had was the lack of storage space though it had a small locker for important items. I spent some time on the KTV that was amazingly updated with new songs (but not on the original MTV) before having a video call with the family back home using the wifi. Then it was soaking in the Jacuzzi before checking out what was on TV (there was free VOD movies, and lots of porn on VOD or normal TV) and then to sleep on the huge bed.