27 February 2014, last full day in Tokyo! which i dedicated for snacks and souvenirs hunt. i haven’t really spent any yen for bring-home-souvenirs on previous days. and yes, i do consider souvenirs and local snacks hunt as a must-do on every of my travel itinerary. the plan is to start at dephachika (food theme park) at Seibu Ikebukuro, then tokyo station, then ameyoko market at Ueno and daiso at Harujuku
After breakfasting with Lawson onigiri, I took yamanote line from Shinjuku to Ikebukuro and arrived at 9.30am. Seibu wasn’t opened until 10:00am. so i waited on the entrance and walked in the moment cheeky staff open the door for me.. only (yes there wasn’t anyone else from my entrance). apparently i entered from the perfume and cosmetics division at level 1, all staffs were standing on their stand and excitedly and sincerely greeted me by bowing down whenever i walked passed them and there were about 50 of them. that was.. awkward. for a minute i felt like a cruel LORD of middleearth. But that’s Japanese hospitality on its best!
I went straight to the Food store which located at Lower Ground of the mall. The entire floor is dedicated for stores selling mostly snacks, cakes, food, teas and etc. And.. everything looks so delicious! all stores showcase their product on a plastic model behind a glass counter. All the cakes are decorated in the most cheerful colour combination i’ve ever seen, topped with cherry, peach and other bright coloured fruit. Mochi cakes, with its melt filling, looks more delicious then it actually taste. Rice crackers boxes are organised carefully based on its flavour.
Azabu Karinto which famous for its karinto (fried dough coated with caramelised brown sugar), presented its product on gift paper packaging in various colour and pattern. When it comes to snack and food packaging.. hands down.. Japanese are on top of the league, it put Paris artisan to shame with those ultra-tempting plastic food model..
And to top it all, the staff will, without getting you annoyed, insist to let you try their abundant samples. Its okay to try! they’ll still say thanks cheerfully when you don’t buy! just know your limit!. and if you really see something interesting, don’t hesitate to ask for sample. You can eventually get full by just trying out samples. there it goes again Japanese hospitality!
Resisting to droll over those snacks, i tried to keep myself on my objective, which is Karinto and KitKat. Azabu Karinto is a famous brand that produce various flavour of Karinto. There is about 50 flavour such as original, strawberry, matcha, takoyaki, green apple, sour lemon and etc. there is sample box on every flavour so you know how everything taste. I purchase about 3 small bag for about 1,200 Yen.
Also in Seibu Snack Market, is a famous KitKat chocolatory. The store doesn’t sell your average KitKat flavour. It only sells premium KitKat which is made with ‘so-called’ better cocoa quality than average KitKat. the flavour, however, is limited to sakura green tea, chilli and dark chocolate. The hype of this store created a long queue of about 100 people when i joined the line. The line cleared fast though. a small box of KitKat of any flavour cost about 600 yen for about 4 small plastic pieces. Expensive? yes, very. but the chocolate taste is more rich and you can easily tell its taste quality improvement over regular kitakat. Worth it? yes, for once.
I exited mall at 1PM and headed back to hotel to drop the snacks. then continue the snack hunt to Ameyoko open-air market at Ueno. Special note to Ueno Station which is quite different than other station, it feels wider and more human with signpost, though not overwhelmed with humans.
I had late lunch at beef bowl restaurant, right across the Ueno Station. Ordered the beef bowl with egg on top (650 yen), the sliced seasoned beef is tender and a bit spicy, the egg yolk on top add nice gooey texture to the beef when mixed together. noticing that i’m a foreigner, the restaurant host offered me spoon and fork, how nice.
Anw, The market is just below the elevated train track and starts from the Ueno station. There are many stores selling fashion stuff, bags, i-love-tokyo shirts and shoes so cheap that i thought its probably knock-off. Imagine New Balance shoes priced at around 5,000 yen.
I visited one bigger confectionary shops at one of the intersection (i can’t remember which! just make sure you check every intersection). The shop sells CHEAP souvenir snacks such as rice crackers, nuts, pocky, regular flavour of kitkats and MANY others, all the things sold here are definitely cheaper than elsewhere in Tokyo. I ended up fill my backpack with 2,000 yen worth of snacks. :).
My final shopping destination was DAISO (100 yen store) at Takeshita Dori, Harajuku. Closest station is Yoyogi and the Takeshita Street is just right in front the exit. This DAISO store is the biggest in Tokyo, it has 4 levels of stuffs priced at 108 yen. It has almost everything from snacks, souvenirs, house cleaning equipment, party stuffs, dog toys, and etc. Being 100 yen store doesn’t always guarantee everything you see here is cheapest. For example, i saw Jagabee Potato Snack priced at 108 yen here while it could get it cheaper at the shop at Ameyoko Market. (like 84 yen or so..) But what amazed me the most is this colourful digital watch, priced at 108 yen! (still looking for the picture of the watch… lost somewhere on the harddisk)
I headed to the hotel early that evening to rest for morning flight tomorrow, and i have lots of things to pack. I purchased cardboard box from hotel receptionist and they lend me tape and scissors.
that’s pretty much for today!
28 February 2014, checked out early from hotel and headed to Airport Bus Station which is just 3 blocks away, but still, it wasn’t pleasure experience to drag a 20kg luggage with 20cm wide box. paid for the tickets i have booked yesterday for 3100 yen (expensive! why does Narita has to be at farfaraway?). The bus left exactly at 6:30 and reached Narita at 8:40.
Compare to Haneda, Narita airport is definitely alot bigger. Once passing thru immigration check, there are plenty of souvenir shops along the way to your departure gate, in fact, there is souvenir shop in every 50 meters, and they sell almost the same things.. ! i bought several Tokyo Banana and finished up my coins purchasing knick knacks. So practically, you can buy nothing at downtown Tokyo, and spend your entire souvenir budget at Narita Airport. Most things sold here, especially snacks, are not more expensive than the one you can find at downtown. But things like shirt, art and etc, are noticeably more expensive. Take note that all shops (and restaurant) closed at 8:30 pm.
After 7 hours flight and quick transit at Changi Airport, Singapore, my Singapore Airline flight arrived at Soekarno Hatta. Home sweet home :), but i missed Tokyo already.. anddd i came back 10 months later ;).. hows life been very nice treating me