26 February 2014, Today i had another guided tour with a volunteer guide from TokyoFreeGuide. He is Kazu who had introduced himself through LINE (and sent his selfie so i can recognise him when we meet). Kazu works as a Network Support. The plan today is Shibuya, Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi park, and Half Day at Odaiba!
We setup our rendezvous spot at Hachiko Statue just outside Shibuya Station. Hachiko should be easy to locate since it has its own Station Exit! Wait.. if you don’t know who or what Hachiko Legend is, you should.. read it here.
Apart from Hachiko, Shibuya also famous for its busy crossing, ‘Shibuya Crossing’. If you’ve ever watched movies with Tokyo Setting, big chance you’ve seen Shibuya Crossing in one of the scene.
There are not much of Shibuya to my interest, there are just mall and large toy stores that i didn’t have time to check out. it may get more vibrant during night, but on the day, it’s just busy with salaryman doing their daily routine. So we took long walk headed to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park.
Meiji Shrine is the Shinto Shrine dedicated for Emperor Meiji and his wife. The area around the shrine is huge and densely populated with trees like forest. A giant Torii marked the entrance, and a long wide path covered with gravel will eventually lead to the Shrine (tips: watch for a board that show the map, getting lost is sucks in an area this huge) . Unlike Sensoji Temple which is always busy and crowded, Meiji Shrine is more quiet, calm, shady and relaxing, good for evening walk.
At the shrine, i bought a blank Ema (Y500), small wooden plaques where Shinto prayers write their wishes and hang it at the Shrine so the God would receive them. I wrote my wishes and had Kazu to translate it into Japanese (Kanji Letters) for me, maybe then Shinto God will understand my wish :).
Then we walked back to the entrance and went to yoyogi park which is located adjacent to the Meiji Shrine. Maybe because it wasn’t weekend, Yoyogi Park wasn’t busy. There were some teen group practicing modern dance, and some boys play pretend with what seems to be a real sword. Kazu said there are more weirdness happening on weekend.
For lunch, i requested Okonomiyaki to Kazu, and he located a nice Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki shop at Shibuya, Jyaken! (http://jyaken-nou.com/). My seafood okonomiyaki (Y1200) was made of huge portion of noodle mixed with lots of veggies (like cabbage), shrimp, squid and sliced beef, stirred fry and sautéed with its secret Okonomiyaki sauce and topped with omelette, you can add more okonomiyaki and mayonaise sauce to your liking as well. the taste? PERFECTION. the portion? GODLY.
With full stomach, the Journey continue to Odaiba! Odaiba is a man-made island, entertainment district of a modern city filled with malls, touristy spots and other thing that is not-so-Japanese. The only train that goes to Odaoba is ‘yurikamome line’ which depart from Shimbashi and Shiodome. We hopped off the train at Odaiba station after passing thru the river, right below the rainbow bridge.
It was late afternoon already that i later regretted and wish i could come sooner as Odaiba has a lot to see, and it definitely deserve one day trip. I started with taking a walk on the bay side, on the side of decks and aquacity. Took a typical tourist photo with fake liberty statue and rainbow bridge background. I think the view beat San Fransisco’s golden bridge, simply because of the addition of liberty statue.
Then we entered Decks and Aquacity, both are just ordinary mall selling branded stuff. At decks, there are actually a lot more to see and do such as Madame Tussaud wax museum, Legoland, trick art museum, and sega joypolis only if i had more time. Out of those options, i chose to enter Sega Joypolis as it only exist in Japan. Paid 1600 yen (need to check) for a promo ticket which include entrance fee and 2 rides.
Sega Joypolis has a lot of arcade games and indoor rides that are based on Sega Video game titles. I used two free rides ticket on ‘Veil of the Dark’ and ‘Halfpipe Tokyo’, both are the most expensive rides (individually cost yen800 if you only purchase entrance ticket). The first one is basically a (very short and dissapointing) roller coaster with arcade games where you have shoot monsters on screen with a two directional joystick attached on your ride. The ‘halfpipe tokyo’ is more fun and challenging, you and your friend stand on a pad that will swing left and right and rotate, 180 degrees. When your pad in the middle of the swing, you have to press the pedal on your foot. Its all about timing, you score best for hitting the pedal right at the middle of the swing. Your score will be competed with 4 other player on different swinging pad. However, it was easier said than done! Me and Kazu scored 2nd best with 6600 score, good one for first timer ;).
After those shaky rides, i paid yen600 for Sadako 3D (a popular japanese horror movie where a white-dressed girl with emo style hair crippling out of old well and your tv). Its similar to haunted house on disneyland during halloween, only a bit different. There is a guide that will lead and direct you to different rooms, each with different settings such as hospital, grave, bedroom and etc. there will be few actors with sadako costume (and emo long hair) trying to scare you by popping out of nowhere. You’ll be equipped with a digital camera to capture images of the room, later when the scary tour emdsSadly, the guide narrates only in japanese, and Kazu-san couldnt keep up translating everything to me. So this Sadako 3D attraction is not recommended unless you speak Japanese. Sega Joypolis is actually fun IF you are a couple, understand Japanese. Its one of the attraction in Tokyo that is not Solo-Traveller friendly. you’ve been warned
nearing sunset, the odaiba trip continue to Diver City with its famous actual scale of Gundam Robot. It looks mega awesome!
After parted with Kazu, i walked from Divers City to Oedo Onsen Monogotari. Its far and boring at evening, i should’ve taken the train from Daiba and drop off at Telecom Center. Oedo Onsen claimed itself as ‘The first and only Edo Era Onsen Theme Park’. Its public bath are filled by natural hot springs pumped from 1,400m underground, so there is still benefit of healthy minerals Onsen usually contain, such as sodium and chlorine. Read here for different kind of healthy and healing minerals you can find at Onsen (http://www.hitou.or.jp/en/spateaching/spateaching02.html). Oedo Onsen is probably the most foreigner-friendly Onsen you can find in Tokyo.
At the entrance, you have to take off your shoes into a locker and walk to the reception, i paid yen1480for admission after 6pm . They will give you a wristband with an ID tag that acts as payment method inside Oedo Onsen, such as purchasing food or souvenir, you pay with real money later when you quit. Then you choose a Yukata (japanese casual dress), continue to a locker where you strip off, leave your shorts only or wear nothing, and change into Yukata outfit, if you don’t know how, there is a large poster that explain how to wear yukata, its pretty simple.
Next, you enter the main area, that is beautifully decorated like Edo Era, where you can find souvenir shops, food-court, Japanese traditional games (for kids!) and some table where people enjoying their food or simply chatting. I headed directly to the Onsen. Before entering the bath area, you’ll be given a Big and Small towel and proceed to the locker area. Find an empty locker and get undressed, bring the Small Tower to cover your body part that you don’t want anyone else to see :p. since i’m not used to get naked in front of everyone (who does?), i always try to keep in mind that everyone else is also naked and nobody really cares. You have to take a shower bath with the provided liquid soap and shampoo before entering the Hot Bath, this is to keep the Onsen clean and hygiene.
There were different temperature baths, from 38-42 degrees, and another one at 20 degrees. Outdoor bath was the best since it was very cold outside, bathing in Onsen at such weather feels very relaxing.I saw lots of nude body, and it wasn’t common view for my eyes, but i got used to it anyway, makes me think this is what it was to live in pre-historic era, adam and eve era, when shirts were ridiculous to wear, and nudity doesn’t attract perverts thinking :p. i stayed and relaxed for about 20min. Then i got out the pool, took a bath and return to civilisation where people are wearing shirts :p.
I strolled around the area for a while, bought mediocre Takoyaki for dinner. There are some souvenirs shops that sells knick knacks, teas, bathing and spas amenities. Then i got out the place, and hopped to the train back to Hotel.
I love Onsen, it really rejuvenate and relax your body and mind! it cure tired muscle as well.