The Ltd Exp Super Hitachi bound for Sendai. We got off at Mito station after a 70 minutes ride.
This was an unexpected find, the Mito bus 1 day free pass. But we were lucky to have bought it. Kairakuen was really not within walking distance from Mito station.
We started the day by taking a train to Ueno where we transferred to the Ltd Exp Super Hitachi to Mito. This would be the last day of our JR East Pass. Our purpose to Mito was to visit one of the three great gardens in Japan, Kairakuen. We had intended to walk from Mito station to Kairakuen, but we noticed two salesperson selling Mito Bus Free Pass at the Mito bus interchange. This pass was specially introduced during this time of the year because of the Plus Blossom Festival. Yes, Kairakuen is a famous plum trees garden. We decided to buy the free pass for 400 yen per person.
A bridge, a small river and plum blossoms along the sides. So tranquil.
A close up of the plum blossoms.
We managed to spot this trail in Kairakuen with pink and white overarching plum blossoms on both sides. It looked like a romantic scene in a Japanese movie.
The mixture of different shades of pink and greens creates a beautiful canopy. We were there a bit too early and the plum blossoms were not in full bloom yet, otherwise it would look even better.
We would spend the whole morning at Kairakuen. The scenery was spectacular. Both of us liked it a lot. The plum blossoms were not at full bloom yet but it was already showing the colours of spring.
The sudden heavy snow. The snow had already started to accumulate on the the roads and vegetation.
This is Izuei Honten at Ueno where we had quite an unforgettable unagi experience. We even printed out a discount coupon from the internet that allowed us to get a free beer or soft drink.
We headed back to Ueno in the early afternoon by the Ltd Exp Fresh Hitachi. It started snowing on our way back. This was the heaviest snow that we experienced in Japan. Within 30 minutes, the snow was heavy enough to accumulate on the ground and also on the vegetation. At Ueno, we decided to go for an early dinner at this Unagi specialty restaurant. Having two pieces of unagi on the rice *and* two more pieces of unagi below the rice was just heavenly.
This is the pond at Ueno Park. We still dunno what were those brown tall plants growing out of the pond. From a far, it looked like a padi field, but its definitely not.
We tried to visit the Ueno Park, but the weather was simply too cold to walk around outdoors. So we turned back towards Ameyoko to seek warmth in the narrow alleys. It was still too cold, so we decided to head back to Shinjuku to do some indoor shopping. We also bought our Disneyland tickets in advance at the Disney shop at Takashimaya Times Square. An interesting observation: tickets for 14 March (White Day) and 7 March (the Saturday before White Day) were sold out.
The Krispy Kreme conveyor belt. After eating about 6 different types of donuts, we found that the original glaze tasted the best!
We ate our first Krispy Kreme in Japan. The shop was about 2 minutes walk from our hotel. At the hotel at night, we decided to check out the weather for the day as it was really cold outside. Air temperature turned out to be a low of -5 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius. The wind temperature was lower than that. News described the day as a full fledged winter day. No wonder we were freezing.
We bought our Kamakura Enoshima Excursion ticket from the Shinjuku ticketing office. This pass will be worth its money if we took a train from Shinjuku to Kita Kamakura, a train from Kamakura to Hase, then Hase to Enoshima, a monorail from Enoshima to Ofuna, and finally a train from Ofuna back to Shinjuku.
We caught a glimpse of this large Buddha statue at Ofuna station. Not really sure about its history and significance though.
As usual, we woke up early. Luckily it was to be a bright sunny day. We bought our Kamakura Enoshima Excursion Ticket from the Shinjuku JR Office and set off to Kamakura. We manage to sight this large statue from Ofuna station where we were transferring to another train.
A nice day with good weather, best for our Kamakura walkaround. This is the steps leading to the Hachimangu Shrine, one of the few free entry shrines in Kamakura, and so it was very popular among locals and tourists alike.
The shopping street in one of the back alleys. Its called Shopping Town. You can also see the rickshaw trade off to the left side of the picture. The rickshaw pullers were generally young men.
The great Buddha. Truly quite majestic looking. In fact, the temple itself was destroy several times by earthquake and typhoon, but the Buddha statue survived through all these years.
We started our walk from Kita Kamakura and walked all the way to Kamakura station while visiting shrines along the way. At Kamakura central area, we stumble upon this interesting shopping alley crowded with people as oppose to the relatively quiet main street. We had lunch at a curry house in the alley. We explored Kamakura until late afternoon, visiting the Great Buddha and also the beach.
The famous Tokyo Tower at night. We didn’t take the lift up to the observatory, we just admire it from the foot of the tower.
A major junction at Roppongi with Roppongi Hills on one of the sides. Roppongi Hills was very much like Lan Kwai Fong in Hongkong. Lots of pubs, lots of foreigners.
We returned to Shinjuku by the transferring from Shonan Monorail to JR lines. In the evening, we visited the Tokyo Tower and walked to Roppongi to visit Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. A letdown of the day was that we saw a lot of ang mohs today, both at Kamakura and Roppongi. It made us suddenly feel very touristy and not the kind of blend-in-with-the-locals feeling we had earlier in the trip.
Akihabara! There were so many of such buildings there that we became confused pretty quickly. We had intended to look for the Ishimaru building but then we realized there were not less than seven Ishimaru branches in Akihabara.
The @home maid cafe at Donki that we visited. It cost 700 yen just to sit down in the cafe, and there was a time limit of 90 minutes. No photography was allowed inside so I had to take this photo from a bit further out.
The first stop of the day was Akihabara. There were indeed a lot of electronic shops there but I was rather surprised by the lesser number of anime and manga shops. Perhaps this really is Electric Town and not Manga Town. Anyway, the main street was not opened to pedestrians after the Akihabara incident and somehow the atmosphere just wasn’t as lively as seen in the many Youtube videos. We also dropped by a maid cafe to enjoy being “masters” for an hour.
Takeshita-dori where lots and lots of young people gathered. This place was filled with small shop selling young fashion, much like the kind of shopping we have over at Bugis 3rd floor and Hereen 4th floor. The difference is that Japanese fashion was much more cool and stylish looking.
The famous Prada building at Omotesando. Even in the picture, it looked like some kind of bubble building. Very unique indeed.
The afternoon brought us to the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku area. We had a Tokyo local food, monja–yaki, for lunch and spent our time along Takeshita–dori and Omotesando. Somehow, Omotesando was rather boring for us.
The famous junction at Shibuya with the 109 building as the backdrop. We crossed this street quite a number of times, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, just to experience the Japanese crowd. We even tried crossing the road when the green man was flashing and had to hastily run across the road together with the locals. :D
In the evening, we visited Hachiko at Shibuya station and enjoyed ourselves crossing the famous Shibuya pedestrian junction many many times. So many people, so many people. After hours of shopping, we retired to our hotel early to rest for a long day the next day.
The live fish auction at Tsukiji market. The fish auction area was out of bounds for tourist so we had to watch this from the carpark. The workers there were also handling dangerous looking hooks to transport the tuna around. Its really quite a harzardous place for so many tourists to be around and being an obstruction to these working people.
Alarm clock rang at 4am in the morning and there was only one place we need to go this early, Tsukiji Fish Market. Luckily, the subway was just at our hotel entrance and we took the subway to Tsukijishijo. The market was a bit confusing and I think we got lost a few times. We walked all the way inside to catch a glimpse at the live fish auctions. Dear1 initially wanted to hug the giant tuna for a photo but it was precisely for that reason that tourists are banned from entering the auction area, too bad for Dear1. ;P
The famous row of fresh sushi breakfast restaurants. We ate our share of fresh sashimi from the most famous of them all, Sushi Dai. It was also the only stall that had a queue that day.
We had breakfast at Sushi Dai after a 20-30 minutes queue and then set off to our next destination for the day, Disneyland.
The castle at Tokyo Disneyland. Definitely much much grander than the one at HK Disneyland. And we had nice weather for the day too!
There was an afternoon parade in celebration of Tokyo Disney’s 25th anniversary. Mickey rode the last car of the parade.
This was one of the many many story displays at the Winnie the Pooh ride. We queue about 20 minute just to get the Fastpass for this ride at about 9.30am and the timing we got was 1.20pm. Definitely one of the more popular rides in Disneyland.
Then there was the regular night electric parade. We can’t really see the Disney mascots at night because it was too dark, so its more of seeing the parade car displays.
We arrived at Disneyland just before its 9am opening. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw so many people at Disneyland at 9am in the morning on a weekday. Can’t imagine what its like for it to be sold out on White Day. We would spend the whole day in Disneyland. Luckily, it was a sunny day, but the winds were chilly. There were two parades (one day and one night) and one fireworks show. This was our second fireworks of this trip. We attended all the live shows for the day but only managed to take 2 Fast Pass rides because we didn’t know how to fully exploit the system. In total, we managed to take 13 rides and 7 shows at Disneyland. We left Disneyland around 9.30pm and headed back to our hotel after a long but enjoyable day.
The Imperial East Gardens. Well, we actually found it rather unimpressive. Maybe we should have signed up for the free guided tour that would bring us into the Imperial Palace itself.
Another famous landmark, Kaminarimon at Asakusa. Truly impressive lantern, but there was another bigger and grander one inside, at the entrance of Sensoji Temple. Surprisingly, there were quite many Japanese school girls at this temple place.
The first stop of the day was the Imperial Palace East Gardens. After a brief walk, we took the subway to Asakusa where we visited the Kaminarimon, Nakamise and Sensoji Temple.
We took the Sumida river cruise from Asakusa that would bring us down the river and also cruise pass no less than 10 bridges. The ceiling of the boat was also transparent so that the passengers and look a closer look at all the unique bridges along the river.
Another unexpected find, a large flower bed in Hamarikyu. Really looked like those in the movies. Its actually not to vast like those in the countrysides, but it was really a nice surprise to be able to see so many flowers and this vibrate yellow. Brightens up our day.
After lunch, we walk to Sumida Park and took a river cruise bus to Hamarikyu. At Hamarikyu, there was also several plum trees but we were most surprised to find a flower bed there. It was surreal, such a large flower bed in the backdrop of modern skyscrapers. It was a pity part of the garden was under renovation and there were construction vehicles everywhere, spoiling the scenery.
The futuristic Fuji television building in Odaiba. We took about 30 seconds to admire it, really nothing much, overrated.
The night view of the Replica of Liberty in the backdrop of the Rainbow bridge. This was easily one of the best views of Odaiba.
We walked to Shiodome station and transferred to the Yurikamome to Odaiba. We then had both our lunch and dinner at Aquacity where there was a ramen competition going on. We had a chance to try different styles of ramen from different parts of the country there. On the whole, we found Odaiba rather lonely and deserted. And one thing that irks me was that there were a lot of Mandarin speaking sales staff in Odaiba, and a lot of Mandarin speaking tourists as well. Not my cup of tea.
No, I didn’t take this photo from a helicopter. Lol. This was a scale model of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building found in the North Observatory. The night was too rainy to see very far and the photos turned out bad, so I took a photo of this scale model instead.
On our way back to the hotel, we dropped by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to visit the free observatory. But it was a rainy day and visibility was very very poor, we couldn’t see much of the night scenery. Moments before we reached our hotel, it started snowing again.
The morning at a Kabukicho bus stop. Kabukicho is a famous red light district in Tokyo, and just like any red light district, there are great entertainment and food here, but the problem was, they open only after 7pm.
It was to be our last day here and the flight was 5.45pm. Taking into account the check in time and travel to Narita, we only have a morning left in Tokyo city. We decided to stay in Shinjuku and explore the east Shinjuku area as well as Kabukicho in the morning.
We took the Keisei line back to Narita airport. There’s a choice between Sky Liner of Ltd Exp. Sky Liner is about 10-15 minutes faster but cost roughly twice at much. We took the Ltd Exp. If boarding the train at Ueno station, its almost confirmed got seats.
Needless to say, Kabukicho was quiet with nothing much going on. We did our last minute shopping at Odakyu before heading to Ueno to catch the Keisei Ltd Exp back to the airport.
Our plane home. :(
At the airport, we ate our last ekiben in Japan while shopping for goodies to bring back for our friends and family. We bought 5 boxes of Shiroikoibito and also Tokyo Banana amongst others. We bid farewell to Japan and eagerly started to plan our next visit to this great place.
The end of our trip, we miss Japan. *Sob*
We arrived at Changi Airport around 12.30am and had to take an expensive midnight cab home. -_-” Remember to factor this in as part of the air ticket prices if you want to fly by Northwest Airlines.