Sunday, September 3, 2017

Hokuriku Tour Part 4 - Tokyo!

Tokyo 1st day
Back to Tokyo... been to Tokyo too many times to feel excited about the places we were going to visit but to the 3 guys most of the places were new to them as they only ever got to visit where the tour bus would bring them. I figured the Tokyo Skytree would have been a great place to bring them since I've never been upstairs myself~

From the top everything looked pretty small and I was glad the weather was kind to us.
One could really see how urbanised Tokyo is yet there is a sense of neatness in how the buildings are actually lined up.

We opted for lunch below the Skytree, within the massive shopping centre which serves as the base of the tower. Cold udon was the choice of the day considering the summer weather~

After lunch we made our way to the train station to make our way to Asakusa. It is only one station from the Tobu Skytree station to the Asakusa station, and from there its a 10-minute walk to the Asakusa Kannon Template (Senso-ji 浅草寺)

For me, Asakusa is one of the most visited sites. Whenever I bring first-timers to Tokyo, Asakusa will more likely than not be in the itinerary. I guess its because it gives a sense of traditional Japan within the urban landscape which makes it such a treasure...

After Asakusa, my uncle told me he wanted a new electronic blood pressure monitor, and so I brought him to Akihabara. Where else can you find such a massive array of electronics and entertain shops in one area?

In the end we decided to visit Yodobashi Akiba (short for Akihabara 秋葉原). Massive building of electronics, gadgets, toys and restaurants. A techie-geek paradise. A disneyland for old kids...

After that I had to leave the 3 guys to their own exploration as I had a dinner appointment with Japanese colleagues. Its one of those yakitori shops under the train tracks along Shimbashi station. It was great having cheap and good Japanese good while enjoying great conversation with colleagues based in both Europe and Japan.

Tokyo 2nd day
Rise and shine~ senior citizens really wake up early.. most of them wake up by 6am and I feel a bit ashamed to sleep later than 7am as it felt like they are all just waiting for me to wake up before they can start their adventure for the day...

By 8am we were already at Ebisu. Unfortunately, by 8am most of the shops weren't even opened! I thought of having breakfast in one of the nice restaurants lining the streets of Ebisu but they weren't opening till 10-11am! A short walk around Ebisu and some photo-taking later we made our way to Omotesando 表参道.

Still too early but Omotesando offered nice tree-lined streets and nice buildings which offered the guys a chance to use their cameras. We settled for a quick breakfast before making our way towards Meiji Jingu Shrine.

JR Harajuku Station

The Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 is another one of those places in Tokyo which showcases the traditional Japan. Unlike the various temples and castles all over Japan, the history of this place isn't much of a story but the environment makes for a good break from urban Tokyo. The fact that it is right beside JR Harajuku station makes for a very convenient place to visit whenever one is in Tokyo. Unfortunately the place is too crowded with tourists thus a bit of the splendor of the place has been diminished by the shoutings and pushings....

Exiting Meiji Jingu, I brought the seniors to Harajuku Takeshita Dori. I know its not really a place for old men but... been there done that, next stop Shibuya!

We were in Shibuya basically for lunch and a photo opportunity with Hachiko. No trip to Shibuya will be complete without either i) taking a picture of/with Hachiko and ii) taking a picture of Shibuya crossing. Checked both off from the to-do list and we also managed to grab a bowl of ramen.

After lunch it was swiftly over to Shinjuku. Too early in the day but showed them Kabukicho 歌舞伎町. A quick visit in one of the few duty-free stores. And then we had cakes and coffee in one of the many cafes in Shinjuku~

Spot the Godzilla!!!

4 guys having afternoon tea... surrounded by Japanese tai-tais...
We had sometime before our dinner appointment so we roamed around Ginza and Nihonbashi area...

Dinner was at Isomaru Suisan 磯丸水産.  

Isomaru's sort of a chain restaurant. Instead of selling you fried chicken or burgers, it offers Japanese seafood~ I wasn't looking after the seniors' health but they weren't complaining. In fact they really looked forward to this meal as they had a pretty plain dinner the night before as they couldn't speak the language and settled for simple food.

They thoroughly enjoyed their last dinner of the trip as that also marked the end of a remarkable journey. The next morning we took the N'EX train which took us to Narita airport.

All in all, the trip was an interesting one for me. I cannot remember the last time I took a trip overseas with my uncle. And this time I had to play tour guide to him and 2 of his friends as well. Of course they left pretty much everything to me to decide so that made it alot easier for me. And they could walk way more than I could, so that made it easier (yet harder) for me as well...

Last I heard from my sister was they are talking about asking me to organize another trip to Japan again... I got to check if I can fit something into my schedule...

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