If you missed the last few posts, I'm recounting my first trip to Japan way back at the end of 2015!
Apologies for the abrupt ending in the previous post, but this one will definitely be the end of this trip; fitting for the end of the year as well!
So in the previous one, we travelled from Osaka back to Tokyo, then explored Akihabara, and started the next day with fresh sushi at the famous Tsukiji market! In this post, we'll be going around Ginza and Shibuya, and ending our trip at Haneda airport! Here we go!
5 January 2016. Tuesday.
So after our yummy lunch at Tsukiji, we exited the market and walked along the main street towards Ginza. We came across this quite high-class tea shop, where there was a fancy counter to sit and drink tea.
My dad wanted me to buy tea back for him so we went in to take a look. Unsurprisingly, it was all very expensive. There were also some other tourists talking to the staff about the various teas and their quality and stuff. Since I don't drink tea, I'm not familiar with the different nuances of tea so we just took a look around and left.
On the way to Ginza, we passed by this cool looking theatre, which I found is called Kabuki-za Theatre! It is the principal theater in Tokyo for the traditional kabuki drama form, and was originally opened by a Meiji era journalist, Fukuchi Gen'ichirō, who wrote kabuki dramas until he retired in 1903.
I really liked the architecture of this theatre, not only because it's so unique, but it also makes the building stand out amongst the other high-rise/modern-looking office buildings and hotels.
The theatre actually has quite a lot of history for why it looks so new despite being from the Meiji era. I read that the original building, built in 1889, was made of wood until it was destroyed in 1921 by an electrical fire. It was then reconstructed and designed to "be fireproof, yet carry traditional Japanese architectural styles" while using Western building materials and lighting equipment. Ironically, the reconstruction was not completed because it burned down again during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. It was finally completed in 1924, until it got destroyed once again by bombing during WWII. It was restored in 1950, and then demolished in 2010, rebuilding over the next 3 years, to make it more earthquake-proof and stuff.
Soon enough, we arrived at Ginza!
I'm sure everyone has heard of Ginza by now, but if you haven't, it is one of Tokyo's top shopping districts; packed with upmarket boutiques and ritzy cocktail and sushi bars.
Ginza is pretty much where you'll find all the big brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc. But there are also more budget-friendly stores like GU, Uniqlo, and GAP.
Ginza also has a crosswalk similar to Shibuya, but less crowded.
Since we're not really luxury shoppers, we didn't really visit any stores, and it was too crowded anyway. But we did see a Paradise Dynasty, so that was interesting.
Flying them Singaporean flags
Paradise Dynasty is one of my family's favourite Chinese restaurants back in Singapore. It's part of this big Paradise Group, which I just learnt is actually homegrown brand so good for them!
After that, we took a train to Shibuya and saw the famous Hachikō statue!
I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story behind this goodboi doggo. He's probably Tokyo's most famous dog! But if you've never watched the movie or heard the story, this Akita dog came to Shibuya Station every day to meet his master, a professor, returning from work. After the professor died in 1925, Hachikō continued to come to the station daily until his own death nearly 10 years later. The story became legendary and a small statue was erected in the dog’s memory in front of Shibuya Station.
The movie is actually really sad I don't think I can ever bring myself to watch it. 😖 So after taking a quick pic, we walked towards the main hub of Shibuya.
The famous crossing
Like most Top 10 Japan travel lists, I would say Shibuya is definitely a place to go on your first trip to Tokyo. Everything there is so quintessentially Japan; the people, scenery, (human) traffic, etc.
To dodge the crowds and kill some time before dinner, we went to play some games at the arcade!
I love Japanese arcades, because they have actual Nintendo arcade machines here! Like "real life" Mariokart and they had a new Luigi's Mansion machine! I've never seen it before but I've seen Luigi's Mansion playthroughs on Youtube so I'm familiar. Basically you play as Luigi and have to suck up ghosts in your vacuum cleaner à la ghostbusters. We decided to give it a shot.
The inside of the machine was so cool too, because you actually got to use the vacuum cleaners!
This picture is actually from a different trip but I didn't have a complete pic from this trip so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We didn't get very far unfortunately, but it was really fun!
After playing a few different games, we went back out in search of some food, while enjoying the nighttime Shibuya scene.
While walking along, we saw this place that had super thicc toasts in the window and decided to give it a try.
Turns out the place was actually a boutique hotel, and their restaurant had quite a substantial menu, with said thick toast. The restaurant itself was really nice and comfy!
When our toast arrived, we were blown away by how huge it really was!
It was a whole loaf of bread, with the inside hollowed out and filled with slightly toasted cubes of honey-glazed bread, topped with banana slices and vanilla ice cream, drizzled in chocolate sauce. And it was amazingly delicious! 😋 I'll probably write more about this thicc toast in a tasteem post one day, so just know it was sooo goood! And super filling too.
After that really full meal, we went shopping for stuff to bring back home, at our favourite store, Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ)!
We found this really long bag of Calbee chips! The bag actually says Super Long Bag which was pretty funny. 😆
After we were done with shopping, we headed back home to rest up for our flight the next day. We also bought funny facial masks to try! 😅
6 January 2016. Wednesday.
Our flight was around 4.30pm so we could leisurely pack up, check out and head to the airport. But we got to the airport too soon so we had to hang around before we could check in and drop our luggage off.
Even though Haneda lost out to Changi Airport for World's Best Airport , I really like Haneda a lot; the design is cool, there are quite a lot of things to see, and it definitely provides enough for tourists to kill time before their flights.
After we checked in, we went to grab some food for lunch and shared a baked rice.
After lunch, we explored the airport some more, and found this outdoor gallery area where you could see the different planes and stuff which was pretty cool.
Haneda airport also has this car racing section in one of their stores which was also really cool!
There are quite a few souvenir shops for people to do some last minute shopping at the airport.
And for us to take silly pictures 😅
There was even a fake cockpit so people could get the feel of being a pilot!
After that we got hungry and went to grab a snack at Mos Burger.
On the way to our gate, we saw this huuuge chocolate bar at the duty free shop!
And that's the end of our trip! Although it was really crowded and touristy, I enjoyed Japan a lot. Before this, I had only really travelled to Malaysia to visit my extended family there, so this was pretty much my first trip outside Southeast Asia. I'm so glad Sean took me to Japan and opened my eyes to everything Japanese. He helped grow my interest in Japan and now I've learnt so much about Japanese culture and it's become my all-time favourite travel destination!
I'll definitely be writing more about our subsequent trips to Japan, but the next one will be a different country, just to switch it up. Thank you for coming along on this trip down memory lane with me! It was so fun reliving that first trip, when I was much younger and knew nothing of Japan.
I hope you enjoyed this first Travel Japan series! Thank you so much for reading and Happy Holidays!
To find out more about me, check out my intro post here!
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