Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our fourth day - Nakamise, Sensoji Temple, Ginza, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Tokyo Tower

Due to Golden Week festival we opted to visit Sensoji Temple and Nakamise as early as possible. Using JR Yamanote line we traveled from Harajuku to Kanda station then transferred to Ginza subway. We disembarked at the last (Asakusa) station and walked around the block to reach Nakamise.

We arrived at 8:30 am and surveyed the place. We started searching for souvenir items such as katanas and ref magnets but many shops were still closed. Nakamise is simply a narrow road leading to Sensoji Temple entrance. What makes this road prominent to tourists are the shops lined-up on both sides selling local souvenirs items, pastries and delicacies and other tourist knick-knacks.

Nakamise

expensive crispy rice cakes with free taste

kimonos

some masks

expensive katanas

some ref magnets

We loitered for an hour before proceeding to the temple. To be honest, after visiting some of the magnificent Buddhist temples in Bangkok in our previous trips, we realized that there was nothing spectacular here at Sensoji Temple if I may say so. Anyway, we had some photo-ops and bought 6 pieces of Takoyaki Balls for 500 Yen. Their Takoyaki balls were relatively huge compared to Takoyaki Balls being sold in Philippines.

food shop - Takoyaki balls

huge Takoyaki balls

Soon afterwards we decided to leave the temple and strolled back to Nakamise. We bought several custard flavored Mochi Balls and noticed that all the shops have opened. We checked for the price of katanas and found them too pricey thus I opted for mini-katanas for 3,800 Yen while the wife bought a yellow lucky cat ceramic figurine and several ref magnets for her collection.


entrance to Sesoji Temple

Sesoji Temple


with wife and cherry blossom

Rickshaws near Nakamise

The crowds started to thicken at 10 am. It was pretty difficult even to cross the road and accompany my wife on the other side. Due to suffocating crowds we decided that it was time to leave the place. I don't know how this place can hold this sea of tourists and devotees. In fact when we reached the subway station, trains were still arriving full of passengers. Fortunately we were ahead of the packs.

Uniqlo at Ginza
From here we traveled on the same subway line until Ginza station. Upon reaching Ginza we searched for the biggest Uniqlo store in the world. Yes, we were there to satisfy our curiosity on how huge was Uniqlo and didn't bother to waste our time to drool at signature brands around that area. Armed with pocket wifi from the apartment we followed the GPS tracking until we saw a medium size building. It was twelve floors full of men, children and ladies apparels. We have seen plenty of new models not yet released in Philippines and a lot cheaper. We bought several pieces since these were the only items we can afford at Ginza, LOL. Famished, we left Ginza for Shibuya since we found it difficult to find cheap restaurants in that area. Most food shops and restaurants in Ginza obviously cater to high-end brands shoppers. Nevertheless, we found it strange that this part of the city was almost deserted considering it was Sunday and Golden Week. Perhaps due to astronomical price of global brands being sold in this area mainstream tourists found this place uninteresting.


the price of these coats are cheaper by at least 500 pesos from Uniqlo Philippines - I know because I bought the same model at Uniqlo SM North EDSA

cheaper UT collections
entrance
Surely, prices at Uniqlo Ginza are lower than Uniqlo Philippines.

We traveled back to Kanda station and transferred to JR Yamanote line back to Shibuya station. We dined at an unknown generic restaurant inside Tokyo Plaza. I asked for rice omelet while the family settled for something "foreign." They asked for Spaghetti Bolognese and burger Japanese style.

The Famous Shibuya Crossing

STOP

GO

with Hachicko

they really love Hello Kitty

After a filling meal we explored Shibuya and searched for the famous Hachiko statue. We watched as well the pedestrians at the famous Shibuya crossing. We didn't explore the surrounding area since we need to conserve our energy for Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park. In addition, Shibuya seemed like Causeway Bay of Hong Kong thus we lost interest in exploring the place.

Yoyogi Park entrance
From Shibuya we traveled to Yoyogi station using the same Yamanote line. In no time at all we were searching for the way to Meiji Shrine. We got lost but again due to ever dependable pocket wifi we found the correct way to Meiji Shrine. It was a very long and tedious walk for the wife and daughter while for us boys it was enjoyable especially due to cool weather.

A shrine is a shrine, no more no less though its architecture is somewhat similar to a Buddhist temple. In addition, it was fascinating to see a dense and huge park right in the middle of Tokyo. Interestingly, we saw an on-going local ceremony which seemed to be a wedding ceremony where all the participants were draped in local dress or kimonos. It was a great photo-ops for us. We spent an hour here resting and enjoying the crisp and cool air.

Meiji Shrine entrance

local wedding (?)

Meiji Shrine

After an hour we decided to go back to our apartment. We trekked back to Yoyogi station and traveled back to Harajuku station. Upon leaving Harajuku station we passed at Takeshita Street. Since it was Sunday, the place was full of tourists, cosplayers and Japanese ladies looking for bargain. You can buy here anime costumes, cheap ladies clothes and accessories among others. All food shops and restaurants were full while some shops were even limiting their patrons to avoid overcrowding. The place is like a first world flea market targeting young ladies. It even boasts a large Daiso where you can buy everything for 100 Yen. Earlier, we bought from here some toothbrushes since the kids forgot theirs.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street near Harajuku station

crowds at Takeshita Street during Sunday

Hello Kitty cosplayer
jampacked street



ice cream cakes from mini-stop


After reaching its end we walked back to our apartment which was a short distance down the main road. On our way we bought some ice cream cake for snack. We were all dead tired upon reaching our apartment.

Tokyo tower from Shiba Park







While resting, the family agreed to visit Tokyo tower after dinner. Having rested we left our apartment at around 6 pm and traveled from Harajuku station to Hamamatsucho station through JR Yamanote line. We found a Yoshinoya branch just outside Hamamatsucho station. We ordered rice toppings. Right after dinner we strolled towards Tokyo tower which was at the back side of Shiba Park. Tokyo tower was indeed awesome during night time due to its bright lamps that adorned its structures.













entrance ticket

view from the main observatory deck

entrance

Tokyo tower viewed from ground level

We bought a ticket at the ground floor for 820 Yen each for main observatory deck which was 150 meters high. There is a special observatory at 250 meters high but the ticket is too pricey. We enjoyed the night view of Tokyo city and had a family picture taken at lower level of the main observatory deck.

raw family pic


After an hour we called it a day and retraced our steps back to Hamamatsucho station and traveled back to our apartment in Harajuku.

It was another chilly night and though we were all tired there was a pang of sadness because that was our last night in Japan. We would be flying back to Manila the next day. It was truly a remarkably wonderful and memorable visit to the land of the rising sun for all of us.








Our Tokyo Journals:

Practical tips for Filipinos applying for Japan visa in Philippines
Does your flight lands at Narita airport T1 or T2?
Our first day - Arrival and explore Harajuku & Odaiba
Our second day - Tokyo Disneyland
Our third day - Tokyo Disneysea & explore Akihabara
Our fourth day - Nakamise, Sensoji Temple, Ginza, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku & Tokyo Tower
Our fifth day - Sayonara Tokyo!
Baffled by Tokyo's rail network? Try Suica card.
Big apartment near JR Harajuku Station