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Monday, March 15, 2010

Japan trip - day six - Tokyo

Woke up at 8:45am, fortunately, had set my alarm at 7:30am, so was already roused from sleep then. Had packed most of my things last night, and just needed to pack my toiletries and backpack. Still had some time before 10am check-out, so ate the bun I had bought yesterday (for a snack during the sumo tournament).

Already had my shinkansen ticket for 1:30pm, so thought I'd kill time by taking a peek at Osaka Castle. According to the map, it's supposed to be just at the next block. But as Peter MacIntosh had said, Japanese maps aren't drawn to scale. At the next block, still couldn't see any sign of the castle. So took the subway to Shin-Osaka.

Thank goodness for the rail pass, I obtained another ticket to Tokyo, this time at 11:13am. It was only 10:50am, so browsed the stores and bought a Japanese snack souvenir. Then went up to train platform to wait for the shinkansen.
JR Shin-Osaka in OsakaShinkansen arriving at JR Shin-Osaka in Osaka

Random thought while at JR Shin-Osaka: I can see myself living and working in Japan due to the seeming politeness and harmony that I've witnessed so far. Of course, that would also mean that I have to wear a white-and-black suit every working day!

After arriving in Tokyo, for a moment, I was disoriented because I thought I needed to exit the station before boarding a JR train for the Tokyo metro. Turns out that I could just go straight on, so I did, and went to Ikebukuro station. From there, I headed straight for Sakura Hotel. There were some other people checking in, so I browsed the available tourist brochures. Found one that mentioned the Akihabara Electric Town, thought that might be the more famous electrical appliance area rather than the one I had wanted to go to at Shinjuku on my first day.

But first, I wanted to get a ticket to visit the Ghibli Museum. The last admission for the day was at 4pm, and by the time I had entered my room, it was 3:30pm already. Checked the website and found that the last entry time was 4:30pm. Next challenge was to find a Lawson's store to buy the ticket. Found the nearest one through Google Map and headed there.

As I went in search of it, found a lot of "girls bars" and other nightspots. Then I saw some "casual hotels" offering a 3-hour "rest" for 4,000 yen. Wow, I didn't know my hotel was just two blocks away from this nightlife! I swear that I didn't know this when making the booking, my concern then was to get a cheap hotel that was near a Japan Rail station.

Found the Lawson's store and proceeded to get my ticket. Alas, all tickets for the day had been sold out. Bought a sushi snack and chocolate milk, since I hadn't eaten since the bun in the morning, then walked around the sort-of red light area while eating, and also because I got lost finding the main road.

Since I couldn't enter Ghibli Museum, the least that I could do was take a look at it from outside. I'm not a big fan of Miyazaki, though I've seen some of his films, so this wasn't a big loss. Took the train to Mitaka, about half hour away, then took the local, yellow-coloured bus to the museum. Arrived at 4:45pm, so even if I had bought my ticket, I never would've entered anyway, and then it would be 1,000 yen down the drain.
Bus sign for Ghibli bus at Mitaka in TokyoGhibli bus in Mitaka in TokyoDown a road in Mitaka in TokyoMap of Ghibli Museum in TokyoGhibli Museum entrance in TokyoGhibli Museum attendees in TokyoGhibli Museum exit at TokyoFigurine outside Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Turns out the museum is just a small building surrounded by a residential area, a school and a huge park. Went around taking pictures of the museum, then went to explore the park. Realised that it's more of a dog park, where locals (residents?) bring their dogs to run and play.
Park outside Ghibli Museum in TokyoDog park outside Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Finished walking around the museum building in under 10 minutes. By then, was about 5:30pm already and sun was setting. Not much else to do in Tokyo. So first, I went to Shibuya, apparently the fashion area where teenagers and women go to shop. I'm not a shopper, so this was really just a chance to see what Shibuya is all about. But there wasn't much eye candy, mostly office workers going home for the day. And only a handful of schoolgirls. Maybe I had gone on the wrong day and time.
Shibuya at night in TokyoHachinko mural at Shibuya in Tokyo

Next stop was Akihabara to see what was so great about Electric Town. About 7:30pm by the time I arrived and some shops were closing already. Saw that almost all of the small shops were selling security cameras, even the small "spycam" type. But as I progressed further out to the main roads, the stores were selling pretty much the usual computer stuff, i.e. hard disks, blank DVD-R discs, USB accessories, etc. Not very exciting to me since this was all available in Singapore, except probably for the USB AC charger. After this experience, I don't see why people say you can find strange electronics in Akihabara.
Akihabara at night in TokyoAn inner road at Akihabara at night in TokyoAlong the road at Akihabara at night in TokyoSome stores along Akihabara at night in Tokyo

Also saw a lot of girls in maid costumes announcing some service and giving out leaflets. There were quite a few in the area. Took a leaflet from one girl, who then proceeded to tell me something in Japanese. I couldn't understand her, unfortunately, so just smiled, shook my head, and walked on.

By 8:45pm, even the bigger shops were closing already. Went in search of dinner and ended up at a ramen place. Hot soup on a cold evening, yummy!
Pork slice and egg ramen

Started drizzling, the first rain I'd had here, though rain had been forecast for the whole week. Before heading back to Sakura Hotel, made another walk around the bar area. Found a lot of well dressed men in their white-and-black suits who were the bar promoters/touts. Only one approached me, think the rest ignored me because I'm not Japanese. Anyway, couldn't see much action anywhere, so just headed back to my room for the night.
Guests' countries at Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro in TokyoHotel room at Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro in TokyoBathroom in hotel room at Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro in Tokyo



Chu Yeow said...

I had to comment even though it's an old post - I think the ramen you had might have been Jangara Ramen, one of my favorite ramen in Tokyo :)

Akihabara is my favorite place in Tokyo, but I don't go there for electronics - I go for the anime-related stuff and it's an anime otaku's wet dream ;)

Yuhui said...

I didn't know Akihabara is the anime capital!

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