Final 24 hours in Tokyo: sightseeing, shopping, internet tips
May 31st/June 1st, 2013. Diary format.
In retrospect I can say that I am very satisfied with our three months stay in Tokyo.
We have eaten deliciously, we have shopped delightfully, we have visited Kamakura and Nikko, two cities of beautiful temples close to Tokyo, we have met great people and enjoyed our everyday life in one of the most fabulous and advanced cities on Earth.
Our house was probably the best (and most expensive) place we have rented during our travels so far. And I have so gotten used to the life style of Japanese upper middle class. Time to let go.
This is a loooong post on a loooong last day in Tokyo, before we left for Seoul. Enjoy a beautiful Japanese temple and my last shopping recommendations.
Since we never watch TV – a shame, as it is a great way to learn the language. Japanese TV has most of it subtitled (in Japanese!). I decided to have a look at what’s on offer.
As expected in a futuristic society – humanoids on Japanese TV.
Education and repressive conformity make for a highly functional society. No crime, no misbehaviour, no aggression – one of the safest cities in the world.
Gorgeous Japanese school girls in what looked like unconventional school uniforms.
Time to eat all leftovers and empty the fridge. Four of these tomatoes cost me 550 yen at the green grocer but tasted like real, juicy, fleshy tomatoes. Seemingly simple things just work in Japan. Fruit and vegetables have taste. Showers have excellent water pressure.
After breakfast we met our host Asami and her son, who just came back from Canada where he studies chemistry.
Together we went to Hie Jinja temple to fill up our goshuin book with a unique seal stamp. Location: 2-10-5, Nagata-chō
And take in the beauty of Japanese culture.
Beautiful sake barrels in front of the temple. Asami pointed out which distillery was well known.
Inspecting goshuin books.
Inspecting going-to-be Sumo wrestler.
Inspecting our new seal.
This is such a unique souvenir. Every temple has a different seal and monks will skilfully draw them into your goshuin book.
The temple has many monkey imagines. Monkeys are patrons of harmonious marriage and safe childbirth. Some Japanese shrines are dedicated to a monkey deity, called the Sannō (mountain king). Sannō is the central deity, emblematic to the shrine’s ability to offer protection against the threat of miscarriage.
Monkey guardians at the temple. It is believed that the famous three monkeys – speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil – originated in Japan at another Hie Shrine near Kyoto.
The red toris made me think of the beauty of Kyoto’s temples we visited last year.
Spot the strangeness in this picture.
It is a nice place to find peace in Tokyo. There was a water mist sprinkler above the seating area.
Escalator at the ancient temple.
Arrows marking the year of the snake.
Monkey ema (Japanese wooden wishing plaques).
From all the gadgets Asami picked a lucky coin which is packed in paper and you are not allowed to open it, so as not to let your luck escape.
To get to the temple you got to climb many stairs. A great way to stay fit.
Remember never to walk right through the middle of the tori or stairs, as as sign of modesty to the gods.
Tokyo is so square and sparkling clean.
Apparently the brown ball that looks like a rolled up hedgehog is a sign for a sake place.
Tokyo’s house of parliament looks like an ancient temple from the middle east.
Before walking through the Aoyama district some more it was banana, peach and milk drink from the numerous vending machines. I will miss machines.
Spiral café and gallery with a wide ramp circulating into the round open.
Location: Spiral Bldg 1F, 5-6-23 Minami-Aoyama, Minato
There is a store with art and design, as well as baby clothes and cosmetics.
Everything you can use at home.
I liked this fan best. If you are a frequent blog reader, you know why.
This was interesting. Clothing for miniature paper figures.
Without clothes, they looked like this.
Aoyama is a fashionable district with posh designer stores.
At one gallery I came across this creepy hare for 80,000 yen. Aoyama has many arty stores, galleries and Japanese antique shops.
On our last day we ended up at a vegan eatery! Pure Café is part of the Aveda Spa building. Location: 5-5-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
They only had three dishes to choose from but they were very good (and expensive).
Banana cake and some yoghurty desert.
Framed tofu cakes. When it comes to cakes I do miss the cream and butter.
It looks like waterboarding but be assured that it is Asami’s son getting a haircut.
Well hidden in a nondescript building, a tiny hairdressers room who has been cutting the hair of Asami’s family before her son was born.
We sipped on some green macha latte, Asami had conjured out of nowhere while I watched how the hairstyle was slowly (over one hour for a trim!) forming on his head.
I did enjoy the view, too. It is amazing how quiet it is in one of the biggest cities in the world.
Also, always amazing. Japanese model, singer and teen icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Japanese architecture is mainly earthquake safe and functional but some buildings have neat details.
Japan has very little commercial boards which is why this over-dimensional Lexus advertisement caught my eye.
This caught my attention due to its sleek 1920s art deco style.
If you are looking for one place to get all Japanese souvenir variety, I recommend this place for visitors with time constraints. Looks a bit cheesy but is very popular with tourists. The Oriental Bazaar. Location: 5-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Samurai swords, lacquer ware…
Big dolls and Kokeshi dolls…
Just remember not to remove the pants at the store.
Final glimpse over Omotesando which was hooded by an amazing violet sky.
You might come across a massive queue with people holding menus, right at the station’s exit.
If you are the patient kind, please tell me if Garrett’s Popcorn place is worth the wait. Location: 1-13-18 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
A final visit at the one-stop for all electronics that probably do exist in this world, called LABI.Location: 3-23-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku
They also have all the beauty appliances and you can get your mobile phone personally decorated. Awesome. Need to take more time to do that next time.
INTERNET IN JAPAN is basically non existent for tourists (unless in their hotel rooms). You need a Japanese contract to use their Wifi system. Or, a Japanese person who is willing to lend you their WiMAX – smaller than a smartphone and super powerful to give you internet all around Japan. We carried that little internet supplier with us all the time. A life and time saver in Tokyo.
Get a dog’s perspective.
If you are looking for Japanese clothing for a good price, try UNIQLO. There are many branches. UNIQLO and BIC CAMERA have recently opened their newest ‘BICQLO’ joint venture concept. Location: East Exit Store, 3-29-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Time for supper. We went to a soba noodle place adjacent to Shinjuku Station. It doesn’t really matter which noodle restaurant you will end up at – all will be good in Tokyo.
Fishcake with soy sauce.
My bento combo with soba noodles and fish.
Soba noodles with fried rice cake.
Soba noodles and shrimp tempura.
Soba noodle soup and sashimi.
View from the restaurant onto Shinjuku Station, hence all the tracks.
Say itadakimasu before the meal!
A karaoke palace seven stories tall.
I will miss the brightness of Tokyo’s entertainment areas.
I will miss Family Mart for convenience and construction sites for full blown safety.
Saying goodbye to the king of Japanese discount shopping paradise – the Donki.
Tokyo is not only shopping heaven but more so a culinary world of goodness. Buildings hide all the great restaurants.
Our last nomihodai at a Japanese izakaya. Because of a general low alcohol tolerance of Japanese people, the all you can drink offers are always a very good deal (particularly) for westerners. It was 1,000 yen per person at one of those Japanese bars.
In Tokyo, trains and the metro only run till about 1 am which means that you are screwed if you don’t make your last train. But there are always bars that are prepared for late customers. While Alex is embarrassed to admit using wet tissues, Okubo who is in the Japanese commercial tissues industry provided us with various soft and moist wipes.
Japanese hospitality is grand. After the owner of the bar (in the middle) had found out that it was our last day, he generously offered free beer! Arigato gozaimasu!
A chance to met new people and see how well I have mastered Japanese posing habits. With gorgeous Rio.
Vanity is a socially totally acceptable notion in Japan. Carrying big mirrors, checking and touching up in public is as sign that you do your best to take care of your looks.
So. We got home at around 5 am, went to bed an hour later, the alarm went off at 8.30 and no one remembers how it got dismissed. I woke up at quarter to 10.00, we seriously managed to pack (as in throw our stuff into our bags) in about 20 minutes and our helpful hosts Asami and Akira gave us a ride to the station.
Due to slight time constraints, we could not take the cheaper train option from Ueno for 1,000 yen to Narita Airport but had to go from Nippori Station taking the Keisei Skyliner for 2,400 yen.
But there is always time for a drink at the vending machine.
Narita airport. Hangover and sleepy but we made it just in time for check in and a radiation check with our neglected Geiger.
We had a limit of 20 kg per bag, but a total of 6 kg overweight amounted to an extra 10,500 yen to be paid at the counter. About as much as one flight ticket (we paid 24, 758 yen for two Tokyo to Seoul tickets). We were sorta prepared and had just exchanged some money with Alex on the train. Phew.
Japan isn’t the cheapest country but it is hard to leave.
My last duty free souvenir purchase in Japan. Clinique’s massive midnight eyeshadow stick for 1,600 yen. I was happy and sad at the same time.
What a day!!! I hope yours was great, too! See you in Seoul!