{tokyo ed.o3} 私は東京を愛して

7:39 AM sians 0 Comments

our tokyo adventures continue.

btw the title translates to "i love tokyo", if there are any mistakes, it's google translates fault..haha.

day three started a little later since we were so exhausted from such a long day. since i was ready a little earlier than {rmc}, i volunteered to get us some light breakfast-to-go from a cafe downstairs. after exploring the available food places near the hotel, cafe excelsior was my place of choice. when i brought back our breakfast, {rmc} confessed that he wanted to try this cafe since the first day we got there.

it was a simple breakfast of shrimp-egg sandwich, cinnamon roll and a cup of latte. i didn't think much of it when i ordered it until i tasted it and thought, omg, this is a good way to start the day. the boiled egg - shrimp sandwich was fantastic where the chunky egg salad was lightly dressed and seasoned well, crowned with very fresh, sweet shrimp that was cooked just right and adorned with fresh crisp lettuce and plump sweet cherry tomatoes in between toasted bread.

the cinnamon roll, on the other hand, was not cloyingly sweet and the cream was a needed touch. yum! we liked it so much that we decided we were still a bit hungry and went to the shop for an encore of egg-shrimp salad sandwich to be shared before executing the plans of our day!

the cafe was packed, filled with working people, having a relaxed breakfast before heading to work. in fact, i've noticed it since the first morning we were here -- waves of people with briefcases on tokyo streets, all rushing to their breakfast place before heading to work in the morning. one thing i disliked was the fact that smoking is allowed in the shop so it was filled with cigarette smoke mingled with food which isn't a good combination. 

time to head off to to our next destination and we have to get to the tokyo station to head to... akihabara  - the home of anime and manga!

but first, i could not resist the temptation of trying out onigiri, rice ball patted into certain shapes (in this case triangle), wrapped in nori. i've noticed this onigiri kiosk that also offers ekiben bento boxes (which i have also wanted to try but can't find the belly space to) the past few days while walking towards our train. i just had to buy one and convinced {rmc} to share one with me since we will eventually be having lunch in a couple of hours.

i chose one with marinated salmon roe. the rice was seasoned well lightly with vinegar and salt, cooked just right where you can taste each grain individually wrapped in a savory nori. the marinated salmon roe had a salty yet seafood-y and gamey flavor to it. love it! yummylicious!

yup. happy belly :)

off we went to the popular area in tokyo where you can find naruto, bleach and one piece characters all in one place. when we arrived, honestly it feels surreal...almost feels like i am in an anime of some sort. lol

akihabara is not only the center of japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture -- so much so that there are many shops and establishment devoted to manga and anime -- it is also famous for its many electronics stores. if you've read manga and are curious about maid cafes, there are a couple in the area. if maids are not your thing and cats are, there is also a cat cafe where you can have a cup of tea/coffee while playing with cats ^^

info! to get there, akihabara is only 2 stations north of tokyo station by the jr yamanote/keihin tohoku line.

but geez, why is it so hard to find naruto related merchandise! it was rather difficult to find one. the ones that are most popular and readily available in most of the shops were characters from one piece. quite disappointing!

anywho, i found this rather amusing little pedestrian sign which is actually quite adorable! quite honestly, it made me stop and stare then a chuckle escaped from my lips :)

off we go to our next destination for lunch -- seryna in shinjuku. there are a couple of branches but we were interested in trying kobe beef since we were...well, in japan! i've tried researching to see what was the best way to savor those heavily marbled deliciousness and read that shabu-shabu was the recommended way. is it true? well you've gotta find out fro my dedicated seryna blog entry when i get to writing it :)

since we were in the shinjuku which is the central ward of tokyo, known as the metropolis second center, i thought we might do a little sightseeing. shinjuku is divided into two sides : the west side is where tokyo's skyscraper district soars and the east is devoted to shopping and night life including tokyo's largest red light district, kabukicho (golden gai).

next in our itinerary was the shinjuku gyoen, the national garden in the midst of the developed city. finding our way there was quite the challenge, probably had to do with just having the tiny map to guide us there but on the flip side, we managed to catch some interesting sights of the city.

thought this sign board was priceless --
"cockle doodle too, skewered grilled chicken and flying chicken house"

one of the alleyways in a nice neighborhood

so the story was this, it was about 3 pm when we rushed towards the national garden and we saw the fence to the garden. we followed along the fence to which we ended up walking around in a huge circle to reach the back entrance and it was close to 3:45pm. we were contemplating if we should pay entrance fee for such a short visit and much to our delight, we found out that 4pm is when the no longer allow for people to enter but the park only closes at 4:30pm.

we hastened our steps and enjoyed the national garden which is also the locals and tourists' favorite spot during the peak of spring when the beautiful pink cherry blossoms takes center stage.

the park was quiet and full of greenery. leaving behind the bustling sounds of the city, the only sounds that filled the air were chirps of the birds performing duets with the insects.  it was quite a change of pace considering it is smacked right in the middle of the city -- almost disjointed. but this was the great aspect of it all, that you can find an escape from the city to  have your own quiet and relaxed time, just for yourself.

after a couple of final announcements that the park was closing, we found the entrance that we were supposed to be at in the first place and took the shorter way back to the train station. i spotted something that had me intrigued as a foodie which has been a fad for a few years now -- the french macarons and i've heard that there is the competition between two renown french macaron patisserie -- ladurée and pierre hermé. and i spotted one of them from afar.

this would be another separate entry highlighting the two french macaron makers - each with their own following. :)

we had a jam packed schedule and the next location is a must-go on my list since forever -- the famous large intersection in front of the station's hachiko exit, the five-way "scramble crossing" under the giant video screen. often featured on japanese shows/dramas/movies, this is a very prominent landmark in the center of youth fashion and culture, that is shibuya.

to take a photograph to do it justice was not easy. we spotted a starbucks on the second floor of tower records building where we quickly decided to get ourselves a drink while our main aim is to find a spot on the second floor to attempt to capture the busy-ness and awesomeness of this intersection. we managed to these before the starbucks staff told us that photography was not allowed. >.<

while we weren't allowed to take anymore photographs, {rmc} and i plotted a plan to take a photo in the middle of those intersections - or close, just to be photographed in the masses of people, crossing the street to their destinations as if like clockwork. we found a perfect spot, strategized our plan of attack and went for it!

turned out pretty well, i have to say :)

another view, another angle
fashion is huge in shibuya - so are the prices. we looked around a couple of shops and noticed that the price were astronomically high that we ended up window shopping very briefly.

info! i'd advise to come closer to late evening so you could enjoy both the day time and the night lights at the same spot. :)

tokyu food show happened to be in the area and i was excited to take a look at the depachika (department store basement food court) where it sells many varieties of japanese cuisine, most of them looked very delectable and fresh. we were tempted to get some but since i've already mapped out our dinner plans, we only bought a snack -- takoyaki or lovingly known as "octopus ball"

well, the sign says no.1 which i am hoping it is translates to number 1 seller / top shop selling takoyaki! we ordered a box of six and we were treated to a wonderful performance by the happy, friendly chef as he made the takoyaki so i could take pictures of the process. :) A+ for customer service!

the friendly chef poses with the octopus for a picture ^^

flip a couple of time (actually, it may be just once),  let it cook and voila -- you get these!

we took it back to our hotel to eat and boy, oh boy.. it was messily delicious!

here's the thing, from the picture, the takoyaki looks as if heavily sauced, but it isn't -- in fact, the sauce makes it while the katsuobushi or better known as bonito flakes tops the octopus balls, adding more savoriness to it. light batter, savory, sweet, seafood-y and you could taste the huge chunk of octopus cooked just right. this made it to my one of the best things i've tasted in japan that i've had a craving for more when it was finished. so please try it when you are in tokyo! ^^

thought we might rest for a bit but soon realized it was a bad idea. as soon as we went back to the hotel, my adrenaline drained and i was feeling exhausted to the point that i had to drag myself around. after i showered, all the dinner plans i had in store went out the window. we decided to have dinner somewhere close - in fact, we had a repeat ramen experience at the same ramen shop since we enjoyed it so much the night before.

we explored all the the little shops in tokyo station itself and lo and behold, found us a very cool naruto figurine! it was uber expensive though. besides a couple of anime/manga establishment, there were a ton of shops selling an assortment of things,  ranging from food, souvenirs, tv merchandise, etc. it was a good way  entertain ourselves for an hour or two without having to go very far before calling it a day. 

when we got back to our hotel room, we did some luggage packing in anticipation of leaving the next day. sad panda... but i wasn't gonna let that dampen my spirits since there is still a day planned ahead the rest of the day before our flight late in the evening the next day.

the fourth and final day of this tokyo trip entry is coming up soon. :) so please wait for it!

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.