24 February 2014, i woke up that morning like a champ! i had very deep sleep close to panda’s hibernating on a long northern winter. thanks to the firm bed my room has. Again, i can easily recommend this hotel just for its bed and pillow alone. you can read my review for the hotel at tripadvisor here.  The schedule is tight today, Asakusa Sensoji, Tokyo Cruise, Tsukiji, Hama Rikyu, Imperial Palace and Tokyo Government building.. and all were accomplished :D

my breakfast was provided by lawson next door, it was chicken katsu onigiri, priced at 180 yen. lawson was quite packed that morning, i discovered that many Japanese haves their breakfast from convenience store too such as bread with cream cheese filling, various bentos, onigiris, eggs, sandwich and etc.

i had booked a travel guide in advance from travelience.com, cost me 4000 Yen, and it doesn’t include public transportation cost and lunch (and you have to pay lunch for the guide as well). The trip starts point was at Asakusa tourism centre, so i headed there. It required a train line change before i arrived at Asakusa. There, Makoto-San was waving blue-flag with Travelience Logo on it, beside him was a board that says ‘Asakusa walking tour, 500 Yen’. Makoto said that he might be giving personal tour if no one else joining, yipee! Soon after that, Nao and Mae (founder of travelience) greeted me and hand me a notebook with culinary guide for Asakusa area. The book also point out which restaurant has english menu and english speaking staff. very helpful!.

Travelience Tokyo Tour

Posing with owner of Travelience Tokyo Tour. Left: Nao-San, right: Mae-Chan. Friendly folks they are :)

So my private tour began! it started from Kaminarimon paper lantern, the first gate of Sensoji Temple, an icon of Historical Tokyo. Its really made of paper which raised my curiosity and asked a silly question if people ever throw a rock and broke it, to which Makoto said ‘no, but it’s really a hard paper with solid construction’. Kaminarimon is the entrance, connected by Nakamise Dori to Hozomon Gate and the inner temple. Nakamise Dori is a street with various souvenir shops on its side. Most shops are selling knick knacks and rice crackers. I got to try some rice cracker sample and bought home a small one. I also tried Agemanju (deep fried and battered soft cake with hot filling). This link has nice info on what Japanese snack you can try along Nakamise Street

Kaminarimon Gate

The entrance to sensoji temple: Kaminarimon Gate, Fujin (god of wind) and Raijin (god of thunder), on left and right respectively. Pardon my touristy pose :)

Kaminarimon Lantern

The famous Kaminarimon Lantern, the letters mean ‘the thunder gate’. Very cool eh

Dragon Carving at the bottom of Kaminarimon paper lantern

Dragon Carving at the bottom of Kaminarimon paper lantern

Nakamise Dori at Sensoji Temple

Nakamise Dori at Sensoji Temple, various snacks and souvenirs shops on the sides

Rice crackers stall at Nakamise Dori

One of the rice crackers stall at Nakamise Dori, ask for sample, they taste really good (and salty)

Agemanju

My Agemanju (battered and deep fried soft cake) with vanilla filling. Taste great

Along the way, there are some painting that illustrate the history of the temple. Makoto briefly explained what story each illustration has. It was long long time ago when 2 fisherman, instead of netting a fish, they found a small golden statue of Buddha. Then the statue become talk of the town and people start praying to it. It’s been sacred generation to generation, until now, it’s kept safe and cared by the Monk at the Temple, although no one really ever see that Golden Buddha Statue

This is one of several picture to illustrate the history of SensoJi temple. The one here shows how people are praying to the tiny gold statue after it was found

This is one of several picture to illustrate the history of SensoJi temple. The one here shows how people are praying to the tiny gold statue after it was found

At the End of Nakamise Dori, i got to try Omikuji for a donation of Y100. Its a Japanese fortune telling where i should shake a metal hexagon box until a bamboo stick come out from a little hole. At the edge of the stick, there is a Japanese letter (number) that i should match to one of the many small drawers. Inside the drawer was my fortune paper awaited me, may it be super bad, bad, okay, common luck, great luck, or super luck. If you got a bad a one, you have to tied it into a pine trees branch so the bad luck doesn’t follow you home. But i pulled out a ‘great luck’ one so i brought it home :). read more about Omikuji here

Hanzomon Gate that leads to Sensoji Temple. Hozomon means 'Treasure House'

Hanzomon Gate that leads to Sensoji Temple. Hozomon means ‘Treasure House’. Two statues on left-right is ‘Nio’, Guardian Deity of Buddha

Five Storied Pagoda and its main hall which was built in 942

Five Storied Pagoda and its main hall which was built in 942

My Omikuji Paper

My Omikuji Fortune Paper.

Sensoji Inner Temple

Sensoji Inner Temple. Some monks can be seen working here

Painting of Ceiling at Sensoji Inner Temple

Painting of Ceiling at Sensoji Inner Temple

Buddha Swastika

This is NOT a Nazi Logo. It’s Buddha Swastika

Sensoji Temple and Its Pagoda

Sensoji Temple and Its Pagoda

Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa Shrine. Remember, when you see a Torii Gate, its a Shinto Shrine

Asakusa Shrine Inner

Asakusa Shrine Inner building. Looks quieter than its neighbour (Sensoji Temple)

Next stop was Tokyo Cruise which starts from Asakusa, it basically cruise through Sumida river and pass several bridges. The guide at the boat seems to explain the name of the bridge and the area that is passed by, but its in Japanese so i couldn’t understand. They just look like regular bridge anyway. But observing Tokyo from riverside is quite interesting as it looks very quiet with riverside jogging track, some expensive condos by the river and also a very calm river. The cruise sail off at Asakusa and stop at Hama Rikyu Garden.

Asahi Beer Headquarter

See that golden Poo Statue? It’s actually ‘Asahi Flame’ on top of Asahi Beer Headquarter. Still, Japanese people call them ‘Unko-Biru’, Poo Building

Tokyo Cruise Seats

Empty Seats at Tokyo Cruise.

Small Lighthouse by the river

Small Lighthouse by the river

Hama Rikyu Garden was originally built during Edo Period (1603 – 1867) for a Duck Hunting ground by some feudal Lord’s (yes, they hunted duck). At the entrance of Hama Rikyu Garden was some Ume (plum) blossom trees, although it wasn’t as beautiful as Cherry blossom, but it sure looks good for Micro Photography!. At the garden, there are couple small ponds, different species of trees and a tea house. Inside the tea house, you can enjoy quick Japanese tea ceremony for small fees. Being at the centre of business area, i’m sure salaryman can enjoy to take a stroll here to relieve some stress.

Ume (Plum) Flower at Hama Rikyu are blooming in Late February

Ume (Plum) Flower at Hama Rikyu are blooming in Late February

Blooming Ume (Plum) Flower

Blooming Ume (Plum) Flower

Blooming Ume (Plum) Flower

Blooming Ume (Plum) Flower

Wooden Bridge to Tea House

Wooden Bridge to Tea House

The Hama Rikyu Tea House by the lake

The Hama Rikyu Tea House by the lake

Old Pine Tree

300 year old pine tree at Hama Rikyu Otemon Gate. Look how it branches widely

Then  we walked to Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world biggest Fish and other sea resource exporter. unfortunately, at 13:30, the inner market activity was pretty much ended. We had sushi at one of many Sushi Bar around Tsukiji Market, each with their own long line. Sushi bar here is well known for serving only the freshest ingredients, catch of yesterday.

Tsujiki Fish Market Entrance Sign

Tsujiki Fish Market Entrance Sign

People Lining up for a seat at Sushi Restaurant

People Lining up for a seat at Sushi Restaurant. I heard the line is a lot longer in the morning

Well it isn’t overrated. I had great time enjoying the sushi. Although i was a bit skeptical on how a ‘freshness’ can be significantly improve the taste of Sushi, particularly Sashimi, compare to what i usually have at Indonesia. God i was wrong, i ordered a sashimi set that has 10 pieces of mixed sushi in it (Y2500). And although not all of its taste fits my appetite, the freshness does have significant different. Here’s what i had

Lean Tuna (great)

Medium Fatty Tuna (omg great! taste so strong)

Salmon (okay)

White snapper (isn’t very tasty, maybe because my Tuna taste was too overwhelming)

Squid (chewy in the beginning then it start to melt in my mouth, taste more squid this way compare when it’s battered fried)

Shrimp (great, very sweet)

Sea Urchin (the first and last time i tried it, the strong fish taste quickly overwhelm my entire mouth while it slowly melted). Sea urchin is usually very expensive as well

A friendly Sushi Bar Crew

A Friendly Sushi Bar Crew in his camera-ready mode when this pic was taken!

All sashimi are prepared only by order

All sushi are prepared only by order

Sushi Menu, a bit pricey. but worth every yen

Sushi Menu, a bit pricey. but worth every yen

My Sushi Plate. Left to Right: Lean Tuna, Red Snapper, Medium Fatty Tuna, Squid, Sardine, Fluke, Shrimp. The Tuna are beyond words..

My Sushi Plate. Left to Right: Lean Tuna, Red Snapper, Medium Fatty Tuna, Squid, Sardine, Fluke, Shrimp. The Tuna are beyond words..

My Other Sushi plate: Salmon and Sea Urchin.

My Other Sushi plate: Salmon and Sea Urchin.

Stomach full of sushi goodness, we strolled around Tsukiji Outer Market where many shops, scattered in several blocks, are selling cooked sea product in plastic packaging. Walking with local such as Makoto sure has its advantage, the shop staffs often offered me sample of their product whenever Makoto mentioned that i came from Indonesia. I ended up buying a packaged diced tuna soaked in wijen and soyu sauce (Y1000). Most of the foods they offer there are cooked the same way.

Cooked Seafood at Tsukiji Outer Market

Cooked Seafood at Tsukiji Outer Market

Those scallops looks.. juicy.

Those scallops looks.. juicy.

we took the train and long walk to reach the Imperial Palace, where the emperor and his family lives, generation to generation. The area cover  3.41 square kilometres, and comprise of gardens, small rivers and lake,  hall for celebrations, music hall and etc. Makoto explained how it was planned and constructed as one of the strongest stronghold in Japan, so the attacker will find layers and layers of defence point before reaching the Emperor building. We entered from south gate (sakurada) and admired the Nijubashi Bridge (double bridge) before leaving (very tight schedule!). You have to apply for a tour appointment if you want to see the inside of the palace.

Nijubashi Bridge, the double bridge that lead to  the main building of Imperial Palace.

Nijubashi Bridge, the double bridge that lead to the main building of Imperial Palace.

With Makoto-San

With Makoto-San

My travelience ‘personal’ tour ended at Tokyo station (which is quite a long walk from Imperial Palace), where Makoto showed me JR line to reach back to Shinjuku station. Thank you Makoto-San! it was very full, tiring and amazing day!. Anw, Tokyo station has beautiful architecture that reminds me of Amsterdam Centraal.

Tokyo Station. Its architecture reminiscence Amsterdam Centraal Station

Tokyo Station. Its architecture reminiscence Amsterdam Centraal Station

Artistic Ceiling of Tokyo Tower

Artistic Ceiling of Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Central Station

Tokyo Central Station. Those numbers are platform number.

having rested 10 minutes at the hotel, i quickly headed out to Tokyo Metropolitan Building, behind Keio Plaza Hotel, hoping to get sunset and night view from the free observatory deck at floor 45 (that’s 202 meter high). The view was excellent and there wasn’t many people! The only hate was for the lamp which create reflection on the glass.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Evening View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor

Evening View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor

View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor

View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor

View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor

View from Tokyo Government Building Observation Floor. really hate the lamp reflection..

i bought a ‘Sakura White Chocolate’ at Starbucks on the way back to the hotel. It tasted like strawberry and vanilla milk with sprinkle of pink coloured sugar icing on top. This is a seasonal and country-specific Starbucks menu, so you won’t find it at any other countries. It’s quite good! thats it for the day!

Starbucks Sakura White Chocolate

Sakura White Chocolate for celebrating Cherry Blossom Season. Its basically white chocolate with sprinkle of pink colored sugar icing.

Today total expenses: (should add this later)

My Fitbit Stats: (should add this later)