Japan: Day 8 – Tokyo

Day 8 was the day I bid good-bye to my friend and moved to occupy a hotel for my last two nights in Japan. (This was because she was initially supposed to go off on a business trip, and I wasn’t too comfortable with occupying her place while she wasn’t there, especially since I was to leave before she returned from her trip. In the end, though, her trip got postponed but oh well.)

But before that, we headed to Harajuku.

Harajuku station. Quite pretty.

Takeshita-dori, right opposite the Harajuku Station exit. Takeshita-dori is “a pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants.”

Going down Takeshita-dori…

Still the same area…

Lots of pink everywhere.

Down some quieter streets…

… to a bunny cafe! It’s called “Ra.a.g.f.” That stands for “Rabbit and grow fat.” Really. Check the website.

It’s a really tiny place on a second or third floor of an apartment. There are just three small tables for guests, and a number of caged rabbits. Not all are “staff” bunnies, though – some are just there whilst their owners are away, I think. We weren’t the only ones there; there was a lady with her small daughter as well. (The girl with short brown hair in the picture above is one of the cafe staff; not sure if she’s the owner though.)

This is what they give you if you say you want to feed the bunnies. (You have to pay extra for this. Otherwise you just pay for your drinks and/or snacks.) It’s some lettuce leaves, carrot slices and apple bits.

The cafe girl brought out two small white baby bunnies. And because of those baby bunnies, I couldn’t have any other rabbit out. Apparently the adult bunnies would go after the baby ones if there were out at the same time. :(

I could, however, open some of the upper cages and pet the bunnies. “Staff” bunnies have labels on their cages. This one is called Ushi. That means “cow.” hahahahahahah But it was cute. And it liked me. The other rabbits didn’t really seem to like me. *sad* So I ended up feeding Ushi a lot.

The baby bunnies occasionally hopped by for food, though they were mostly terrified and spent a lot of the time huddled in corners and staying away from us. *sadder*

Oh, and you know how people say rabbits like carrots? Not these baby bunnies. They like apple best.

Another lady with her daughter came in later. The white baby bunnies were exchanged for black ones… which were just as timid. Sigh.

All in all, the rabbit cafe was a disappointment. The butler cafe was much more entertaining, though more awkward. haha


A pretty manhole cover.

After the bunny cafe, we went to the Johnny’s Store, which was in the same area, Harajuku. This was planned for Saturday, but as I’d opted to sleep in on Saturday morning we didn’t manage to go then. I didn’t think we’d get around to it on Sunday either, but my friend S insisted that I have to go there – so we did. (Why did I have to go there? Because we’re both pretty big fans of some of the boybands under the Johnny’s label, and the Johnny’s store is where you find official photographs and such. Yes, yes, there are boybands I like. Though I’m not as crazy about them right now as I was maybe two or three years ago.)

Just getting into the store was a rather tedious process, involving taking slips of paper with a specific entry time noted, then coming back at the specified time and queuing up and waiting for a staff member to come and escort everyone to the store… And more queuing. And then squeezing into a relatively small space with other girls to stare at hundreds of photos to pick the ones you want before lining up again just to go up to the cashier section. Once there, you line up again. Gosh. I’m never going back there. 8D

I did get a bunch of photos – for myself, and some for friends – but I don’t think I really want to go through all that again. But it was an experience, for sure.

Following that, we went to retrieve my luggage which we’d put into a locker at one of the stations (I forgot which one), and then made our way to my hotel to deposit the stuff.

This was my hotel room at the Ryumeikan. Yes, it was expensive. Four-star hotel, right opposite Tokyo Station’s north exit.

It was expensive, but I figured that the convenience was worth the expense. I foresaw that I would hate to be dragging my luggage up and down stairs, through station after station, and so after much thought, decided that since it was just for 2 nights, I had better spend a little more money on a place that would be the most convenient. Tokyo Station is the nearest to Narita Airport on the Narita Express line, and I decided that in order to minimise stress especially when I was departing, Tokyo Station would be the most ideal. So after some hunting, I decided on the Ryumeikan and it was so convenient. Three minutes walk from the north exit, and there was a 24/7 convenience store right next door. Awesome.

I had not foreseen that I would be sick after Kyoto, and that my feet would be screaming with every step I took. So as it was, I was extremely grateful for a room of my own in which I didn’t have to worry about disturbing other people with my coughing, and in which I could regulate the air-conditioning as I wished. Money well-spent.

Anyway, it was then that I parted with my friend and headed back into Tokyo Station to find the Gin no Suzu (“Silver Bell”), which is literally a silver bell that marks a main meeting point somewhere in the station. (Tokyo Station is huge. Really. London’s stations are nothing in comparison.) I was supposed to meet Ohtawa-san and Shioko-san, an elderly Japanese couple whom I’d met sometime earlier this year when my parents’ friends brought them to visit Penang. He’d told me to meet them at the Gin no Suzu. That was tricky.

I asked my friend where the Gin no Suzu was but she had no idea since she doesn’t usually meet people at Tokyo Station. I looked it up on the internet but couldn’t seem to find any convenient directions to it. Then as I was exiting Tokyo Station to go to my hotel, I’d seen a signboard that pointed towards the Gin no Suzu and made a mental note of it. So after saying bye to my friend, I went back to the signboard and followed the arrows. I wasn’t too worried – at worst I could just call Ohtawa-san and ask if they could meet me elsewhere in the station. Or I could attempt to practice some Japanese and ask someone where the bell was. Happily, the arrows pointed me in the right direction and I soon found them. (Just in time too – it had occurred to Ohtawa-san that I wouldn’t know how to find the bell and he called me to see where I was just about a minute before I reached the bell.)

They were great. They took me to Ueno, where we stopped at a sushi place so I could have a (rather late) lunch.

A variety of sushi that Ohtawa-san ordered for me. I took one look and was thankful that they looked innocuous enough – fish, prawn, eel and something that looked eggy (the yellow pieces on the left). It wasn’t live octopus or something bizarre. haha

I’m not a big fan of Japanese food, so all I can say about it is that they all tasted pretty good. Except for the yellow eggy thing. I didn’t care much for that. I did like how you didn’t have to keep asking for a refill of your tea. If you chose to drink tea, regular green tea in powder form was ready in a little container on the counter, and there was a small tap there, from which came hot water. So you basically just make the tea yourself. Simple.

We walked down the streets, which were full of people. Very much a market/shopping area, Ueno. Ohtawa-san and his wife told me charming stories, like how their first date was in this area and how they’d nearly missed each other because they were standing on opposite sides of the same pillar. awww ♥

Ameyoko. Apparently after WWII this area was a black market district for American products.

This is Murasaki Sports, the original store of one of the biggest sporting goods chain in Japan. The owner is a Christian, it seems, and does a lot of charity work.

There are a lot of pink and red signboards in Japan…

Gaudy signboards. A far cry from the minimalist wabi-sabi sense of style most of us associate with Japan.

We took another train to Asakusa and strolled a short way to the famous Sensoji, or Asakusa Kannon Temple.

People, people, people.

Ice-cream sandwiched in between two biscuits. *chomp*

Stopped a bit to observe someone making biscuits of some sort.

Close-up of the food-in-progress.

Approaching the temple itself…

The new Tokyo Sky Tree is visible from Asakusa.

Tourists and locals buying 100-yen omikuji.

…I am trying very hard to remember what I had for dinner. Teriyaki? Something like that I think. But we ate in this restaurant nearby Sensoji. Oh man, my memory of this dinner is so vague. I ate. But what did I eat?

Clearly food is not something important to me on trips like this. haha

I went back to my hotel pretty early because my feet were really tired and I simply could not walk much though I badly wanted to. I probably got back to the Ryumeikan at about 6-ish in the evening. I discovered pretty origami paper was part of the stationery in the room. A nice touch!

Ended up soaking in the bathtub for a good long time. It was such a relief.

I also trotted downstairs to the convenience store to grab some food and drink for dinner and just random snacks (curry buns, onigiri, potato chips and chocolate as well as some water and some lemonade). I didn’t actually have to get drinks from the store – there was a vending machine on my floor in the hotel – but there was more choice in the store.

The view from my window later that night. There was a full moon out but I only managed to get a blurry white blob instead of a nice crisp circle in the picture.

Another angle – Tokyo by night.

I really relished the ability to rest my feet that night. I sat on the bed, ate dinner, surfed the internet (yay for my portable wifi), and watched TV. Really just relaxing.

I also took the opportunity to ponder what I’d do the next day since it was to be my full day alone in Japan. I debated Disneyland for a long time. It was either that, or go wandering around Tokyo. I weighed my options and my preferences…. And my deep-rooted love for Disney won out. haha I also thought that it would be one of the safest and simplest things I could do. I couldn’t get lost in Disneyland. If I needed help, I was much more likely to run into English-speaking staff members in Disneyland. Finding food (and ordering food) wouldn’t be a problem. If I needed to stop and sit down (which was highly probable, given how much my feet hurt), that wouldn’t be a problem either. So Disneyland it would be!

So you will now be subjected to at least 5 blog posts on Disneyland alone. :D

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