25 February 2014, Today trip is guided by Ryotaro, a guide from Tokyo Free Guide. He was kind enough to meet me at Kadoya hotel lobby. When he introduced himself, i could tell that he speaks little english but good enough to make a simple conversation, and he tried so hard to make sure i understand everything he said. plan today is even more packed than yesterday: finding knives and plastic food at Kappabashi, check out Harajuku, posing at Tokyo Tower, observation deck at Roppongi Hills, and get smoked at Omoide Yokocho while enjoying Yakitori!
As early as 10am (that sounds very late :p), we headed to Kappabashi, part of Asakusa, that is famous for plastic food, knives, and pottery. I initially wanted to buy a good quality knive for souvenir, but the hefty price tag surprise me, the smallest knife (3″) cost starts from yen5000! One of the store owner explained that each knive is individually crafted and can last long with good (and loving) care. There is different knive for chopping or slicing. Then there is different knives for skinning fish skin or slicing beef steak. Unless you are a fish-skinning mania, or a professional chef, those knives will not be worth it.
Since we have spent too much time strolling around, getting in and out from knives store, we only had visited one-two stores selling plastic food. While they are made to look like very real and detailed, they are bloody expensive. A small sushi keychain is priced at least 1000 yens, and no matter how real they look, it’s still a keychain, and a keychain does not deserve to live with 1000 yens price tag :|. Anw, we visited Asakusa Don Quijote and a Takoyaki Store.
We hopped into train going to Akihabara, the electronic and anime cities. The moment you head out of the station, you’ll see many stores selling electronic parts and anime figurine. After strolling a while at this colourful part of Tokyo, i stopped by a store that rent a small glass cabinet for those who want to sell their figurine to public. For an anime fans, going to that kind of store is like a hunter in hunting season. There are plenty of rare figurine and limited editions, buy they are not cheap either. I didn’t notice that there is a sign that says ‘no picture’ until one of the staff warned me :).
For lunch, Ryo recommended a restaurant that sells Beef bowl. I ordered mine with curry sauce and it came in an oval plate with huge portion, tender beef slices, thick and tasty curry sauce.
We checked out AKB48 theatre, it’s where famous japanese girl band doing their training regularly. Watching the performance will require one to pay a ticket and get in the *long* line of fanatics fans. Apparently, Indonesia’s counterpart of AKB48 = JKT48, is also quite famous at Tokyo! at least Ryo-san have heard about their name. Adjacent to AKB48 theatre are AKB48 cafe and Gundam cafe. Apart from the cute and pretty cashier (who refused to take photo with me ), AKB48 cafe is just a typical stores selling band’s gimmicks and accessories.
Gundam Cafe is more interesting, it’s decorated to look like the inside of a Gundam, and all the menus are named after Gundam Characters. We ordered two Gundam donuts, and while they looks awesome, they taste just okay. Then cool things happened, i went to the restroom, the toilet seat is coloured with Gundam themes, and there is this big red button that looks like it really need to get pushed :D. So i did, and the whole restroom turned pitch dark, after a while, a large Gundam eyes show up in the mirror, emiting faint yellow light, and then a ‘beng’ sound similar to the macbook startup song, slowly returning the light to its normal state. weird but cool :p
upon heading back to Akihabara station, i was randomly challenged by this troupe wearing weird costume. It’s RedBull campaign and they challenge me to throw a ball into a small target placed in one of their crew’s head. For about 10 meters, i hit the target on second try, and they rewarded me with a can of redbull and a photo! yay!. i gave the red bull to Ryo-san since i’m not much of an energy-drink-man.
We left Akihabara and took train to Shibakoen station which is close to Zojo-Ji temple, which is close to Tokyo tower. Since time was limited, we didn’t explore the Zojo-ji much. The temple complex consist of the gate, a statue of a goddess, Cemetery, and the temple itself with Tokyo tower at background view.
The cemetery is pretty interesting and unique. It’s occupied by plenty of mini ‘Jizo’ statues (one of buddhist monk). Jizo has been worshipped by Japanese people as the souls of unborn children due to misscariage or aborted fetus. Jizo help those souls to go to afterlife, since there are beliefs that says that unborn child will never find it’s way to afterlife. So, each of the statue represent one child who had no chance to be born on earth. Sad, scary but it yield strong beliefs and culture that Japanese still preserve.
A short walk north from Zojo-Ji temple lead to Tokyo Tower. After admiring the tower and took some photos, we left and i parted with Ryo-san. at this point, people will ask ‘wait you didn’t go up to the observatory deck?’.. not for me. What’s the point of admiring a city icon if you go on top of it and can’t see it anymore? :p
I rushed to the station and take a train to Roppongi. After quite a walk (i had to fast walk!), i reached the Roppongi Hills at around 5.30, the sun has set, i missed the golden photo moment :(. Roppongi hills is a building complex consist of office tower, malls, museum and restaurant. On top of the office tower (Mori Tower) is an obversation deck. at around 238 meter height, one of the highest in Tokyo.
I paid 2000 yen to go to the top floor. View from the top floor sucks, the glass is so thick with annoying lighting reflection, top top it all, there were people who camped at best spot with their full-sized tripod. The extra 500 yen ticket will bring you to the skydeck, it’s basically a helipad with 360 views of Tokyo! unobstructed!
Wind was chilling that evening but the view distance is clear and far. The view of red-orange lid Tokyo Tower among other building is amazing, it’s well worth the 2,500 yen entrance ticket.
I lost on my way back to the Roppongi station, Google help directed me to cross a street that is not crossable without crashing into fast moving car :S.
The plan for dinner was Yakitori. I had booked a local guide from meetrip who will show me good place to eat Yakitori. Hideaki-san is a typical salaryman working in network industry. We met infront of ABC mart shinjuku and he walked me to Omoide Yokocho. Omoide Yokocho is narrow alley filled with small eating shops. Each shops can only host 6-8 people. Menus are usually in Japanese although some cafes show signboard that says ‘english menu available’.
Hideaki-san guided me to one of the Yakitori shops and we ordered Yakitoris which is basically chicken parts other than the meat, on skewer. Those parts are skin, liver, soft bone. They can be served savory or sweet, and we ordered both flavour for each menu. They taste really good, the liver and soft bone are very juicy. I prefer the sweet version though. The total bill is a whopping 4,000 yen, i offered to pay the whole bill but hideaki refused, so we split. I really didn’t expect that it will be that expensive. While it taste good with authentic ambiance in the middle of busy Shinjuku, i think it’s an overpriced experience.
Hideaki-san was nice enough to give me brief tour of Kabukicho, a Tokyo Red-light district. He showed me which ‘massage’ gives what kind of ‘services’. He also suggested to not visiting any of this place unless you are Japanese, or accompanied by a Japanese.
Well that’s wrapped today packed and tiring journey!
Fitbit Stats: (i’ll add this later :p)