Day 1 & 2: Tokyo Part 1


Posted on March 15th, by joanna in Uncover, Unexplored. 1 Comment

Day 1 & 2: Tokyo Part 1

Flying past Mount Fuji

 

Initially we wanted to spend less time in Tokyo and more time in Kyoto/Osaka, but after researching and speaking to friends, it seemed that Tokyo was really full of interesting spots, good food and activities.

My must-do list included: Tsukiji fish market, sushi sushi sushi, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, hunting for special Japanese Kit Kat flavours, Owl Cafe
His must-do list included: Yodobashi Akiba Megastore, Bicycle store

Tokyo Day One

Area stayed in: Hamamatsucho
Hotel: Hotel MyStays Hamamatsucho , S$100 per night

Getting from Haneda (HND) airport to the hotel was easy. HND is well connected to the city by monorails and other trains.

 

Haneda Monorail IMG_3723

 

We arrived in the middle of February and it was freezing cold in the city’s wind tunnels for us tropical folk. Thankfully, every building had fantastic heating down to the toilet seats

Hotel rooms in Tokyo can be painfully small, and a double room could have a bed that is a wee bit smaller than what is expected for a queen sized bed.

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From the agoda website, our room looked exactly as showed. When they say 14sqm, they aren’t lying. They’ve managed to squeeze everything in there including a small tub in the toilet

Tiny room but there was a view of the Tokyo Tower from my bed.

Tiny room but there was a view of the Tokyo Tower from my bed.

This area was quiet on a Sunday, so when we walked out on the streets for dinner we were practically alone. Dinner was at Coco Ichibanya, which is a famous chain serving Japanese curry on rice with fried meats and seafood. The menu and taste was slightly different from what we have in their outlet in Singapore. They do have some english explanation on their menu, and we found out that the way to order and pay for food in most establishments is this:
1. Enter and tell the staff how many people in your group. They will seat you.
2. The staff will take your order at your table
3. After the meal, you should walk up to the cashier to pay, they do not bring the bill to your table.

Crab croquettes served with omelette-covered rice, and curry. In the back, curry stew which we don't get here in Singapore.

Crab croquettes served with omelette-covered rice, and curry. In the back, curry stew which we don’t get here in Singapore.

 

We went to Tomod’s, a health and beauty store with a pharmacy, for a quick fix of shopping. They sell everything from makeup and skincare, snacks, health supplies, toiletries, clothes washing detergents (?!?!), pre-packed meals, supplements and vitamins.

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 Tokyo Day Two

Area stayed in: Hamamatsucho
Hotel: Hotel MyStays Hamamatsucho , S$100 per night

A big reason why we chose to stay in this area was so that we could walk to Tsukiji Fish Market in the wee hours of the morning. That DID NOT happen on these two days. Tip: you need to be so disciplined to get up at 2.30am and walk or cab over in single-digit temperatures if you’re there in winter.

Many of the fashion or department stores in Tokyo open around 11am, but since he wanted to shop electronics, we started the day with Yodobashi Akiba, a megastore at Akihabara station which opens from 9.30am till 10pm daily if you want to start shopping early.

 

IMG_3747
After wandering around with him looking at gadgets, cameras and other electronics, I stumbled across a girl’s/makeup artist’s dream – a huge section of curling irons, straightening irons, beauty gadgets (think firming devices for the face, home facial systems), makeup, beauty supplies, hairstyling products.. woot! So if you’re travelling as a couple or group, you know there’s something for everyone here. Look out for the universal voltage section if you’re planning to buy electricals, and remember to bring your passport with you if you’ll like to get tax back on your items.
In Japan they do tax back on the spot – you queue up at a special Tax Free counter (usually overflowing with tourists from China, and taken care of by chinese speaking staff), show your passport and they process it for you. The minimum spend for tax back is ¥5400 on consumables (think small items that you’ll use right there and then like beauty products, snacks), and ¥10,800 for other items.

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Yodobashi Akiba also has restaurants but we were headed to Yabu Soba, the oldest soba shop in Tokyo for lunch.

IMG_3760  Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 4.34.47 PM

 

After the original restaurant was burnt down in a fire, a new one was rebuilt, retaining the atmosphere, menu and waitresses who sing out your orders. It sits amidst much larger and taller office buildings, you’ll spot it in an instant.
We had the Ten-seiro soba, cold buckwheat noodles with a shrimp pancake. Their shrimp tempura is different from what you may have eaten at other soba places, instead of large battered shrimps, these are smaller ones in a crispy tempura pancake. Ask for the English menu. This meal cost us around 1800Yen each, and also came with Soba Yu, the hot broth from boiling soba for drinking.

 

A short walking distance away is Gion, where we visited the 12 story Uniqlo flagship store along side other international brands. Tax free shopping applies here too, and they have a dedicated floor for Uniqlo collaboration tee shirts, and another to display the special seasonal collection.
IMG_3777 IMG_3775

It was a little late to drop by the Shiseido flagship store just a few buildings away, we were getting hungry and walked to Sushi Midori which is located at the Ginza Corridor – a hot spot of restaurants and bars. You must take a queue number, it gets crowded at mealtimes.
We ordered the Chef’s Special set costing ¥2800 for 14 pieces, and the Ultimate set for a good price of ¥2000 for 10 piece. To try to explain the value of these, each of the sets came with premium toppings like agano (eel), Uni (sea urchin), crab leg, fatty tuna, salmon roe, and the freshness and quality of the ingredients was really top notch. The larger Chef’s special set also came with a small dessert, and they both had an appetiser served which isn’t shown here. Sushi Midori sees many non-Japanese visiting, so some staff speak English.

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I’ll be uploading the next part of our trip, Kyoto/Osaka and back to Tokyo again, very soon.
In the meantime, you can see an overview of the trip here

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