Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Clouds from the plane
We are back in Melbourne after our fantastic holiday! We were a little stoned out yesterday as we hardly got any sleep in the plane at night and when we went to the Boxing Day sales, we were not in any real mood to shop. Anyway, the prices will go lower in a while so there was not much point in rushing with everyone else.
We went back to work today as well. Hardly anyone was in the office as expected. Had the opportunity to clear out the emails (130+ of them) - luckily there were no major things to deal with :D. Have a few more days of peace and quiet in the office before the busy period next year!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Cute Small Bunny
Here's a cute picture of Small Bunny. Got to spend some time playing with him now that I am in Singapore. This round he has been a really good boy! We managed to trim his nails and clean his tail and he just remained quite still. He used to struggle when we cut his nails previously but now he has grown to be a clever bunny :D
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Tried to get up early to see the activities at the Tsukiji fish market but we weren't early enough to see the main bulk of fish coming through and being sold. Got there at around 9+. Still, there were some activities going on - electric carts zipping in all directions, people queuing for fresh sushi and stalls selling all kinds of seafood. The fresh food market nearby was also fun to walk around in. There are also a couple of shops in the area selling Japanese crockery.
Tsukiji fish market
We went back to the Asakusa area again as we had not yet visited Kappabashi-dori (or "Kitchen Street") where lots of kitchen-related items are sold as well as the fake plastic food displayed in most restaurants. Nothing much for us to buy here, but we got some nice Japanese tea tins.
Went to Nakamise-dori again as that was one of our favourite areas.
Lots of souvenirs!
DAY 9 - Marunouchi & departure
Our last day! We had to contemplate carefully where to spend the last few hours we had after checking out of the hotel as the flight was in the evening. Decided to go to the area around Tokyo station as we had not even been there and it is the centre of Tokyo and actually where the Imperial Palace is.
The area is very much a CBD area - lots of office buildings but we found underground shopping arcades at Tokyo station. Lots more things to see here but we did not have time to go through them all. This will have to be revisited. Hehehe!
Food delivery on a bike!
Headed back to the hotel to get our luggage at about 1.30pm and made our way to the airport. We had a tiring but really good time in Tokyo.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Reached Omotesando at around 10am but the shops do not open that early here (actually most places in general :P). Luckily there was a large souvenir shop, Oriental Bazaar that opens earlier so we spent some time there first.
Omotesando is another high-end shopping area but there are some interesting small shops in the streets behind the Omotesando Hills shopping centre. We walked around there and headed to Harajuku's Takeshita Street where the Tokyo teenagers hang out at. Being a Monday though, we didn't get to see the cosplay kids dressed up. Noted lots of crepe shops here.
After lunch we walked to Shibuya - all this walking is done with the help of my trusty book of maps.
More shopping in this place! And as always lots of people everywhere. We also got to the famed crossing and the Hachiko statue. I actually remembered the location of Hachiko because of the Amazing Race! Hehehe!
When we returned to our hotel, we had shifted to a Japanese-style room (would have got this for the full period of our stay but it was not available sometime in between). This was fantastic! The room was huge compared to the other one. It had a separate toilet and bath, a traditional Japanese living room and a bedroom with another sitting area.
The bedroom with a sitting area
DAY 7 - Shinjuku
A second visit to Shinjuku as our last visit was only for a short time at night. Went quickly through the giant Isetan there and some of the shops and game arcades around.
Buildings in Shinjuku
Went in search of the Lupicia tea shop in Sendagaya next. This is one of my favourite tea shops in Melbourne so thought I should visit the big store in Tokyo.
Favourite tea shop
Headed to Kichijoji but stopped by Asakusabashi as we needed to change trains. Went to take a look at some of the traditional Japanese dolls at Kyugetsu. We passed by here the previous day while getting to Ryogoku but did not realise that this was the area with the doll shops. Anyway, they are really expensive but the shop allowed us to take photos.
Headed to Kichijoji next where there is a nice park - Inokashira park. Read that there were performers and flea market stalls that might appear in the park on weekends but we didn't see any except for a balloon twisting performer. In any case, the park was quite pretty with its large lake where you can rent a boat or paddle a swan boat and beautiful autumn coloured trees. We walked around a bit and then headed to the shops on the other side of the station (there were lots!).
Stopped by Shinjuku on the way back. The crowds at the station are massive! There are hordes of people going in all directions! We just went up into the first shopping centre exit we could find to avoid getting lost.
Shinjuku station crowds
DAY 5 - Ginza
Woke up a little later as we were worn out from the day before. Spent the day at Ginza where all the famous brands would have their own buildings each. Looked like you'd be a lost cause not having a shop here. Lots of rich looking shoppers here but not our kind of shopping. We also visited the Sony building here.
Shoppers at Ginza
Monday, December 11, 2006
DAY 1 - Arrival and Nihombashi
The tiny toilet in our hotel room
We checked into our hotel and found that the room was of a decent size but the toilet was tiny but amazingly functional. There was also a little basket of stationery (stapler, scissors and tape) in the room. The hotel also had a library where you could borrow books and videos (all in Japanese though). On the whole, although the room was quite worn, the attention to details more than made up for it. We dropped the luggage and headed to Nihombashi which was one station away.
Mitsukoshi dept store in Nihombashi
DAY 2 - Akihabara & Ueno
The coveted item
Visited Akihabara, the famed electronics district in Tokyo. We spotted this Vaio laptop that was really very pretty and not more expensive than other Sony laptops. Alas, we could not buy it because it is operating on a Japanese OS. The other half of the day was spent at Ueno, where there was Ameyoko market. All kinds of stuff are sold here. There are food items, shoes and clothing.
Ameyoko market in Ueno
DAY 3 - Ryogoku & Asakusa
Sumo stadium in Ryogoku
Visited Ryogoku, aka sumo town in the hope of finding some sumo souvenirs. There are no matches on at this time of the year though. We found a bag sale in one of the function room in the sumo stadium instead with many ladies rummaging frantically for great bag buys. Did not manage to find many souvenir shops but we did spot one sumo walking around.
Headed next to Asakusa where there is Nakamise-dori, a street leading to the popular Senso-ji temple which is lined with shops selling rice crackers, Japanese souvenirs, toys, Japanese boxed confectionery - we like this place! :D
Kaminarimon, start of Nakamise dori
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Contrary to much we have heard about Japan being really expensive, we found it not that bad after all. Perhaps we were travelling at budget level but in any case, we always had decent good food, a great location to stay in and great amounts of shopping done.
Shopping is fantastic! There are shops everywhere you turn. You just have to be in an area with shops and there will be surprises at every corner. There were so many instances where I felt so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to see in each store. I wonder how one could ever finish visiting all the shops.
Food is also really easily found for whatever your budget might be. In most cases, our meals cost about $10 per person which was OK compared to what we usually had in Melbourne.
The only thing I wished that could have gone better was if we knew a little Japanese. Most people there hardly speak any English and sometimes it got a little frustrating trying to get what you saying across the language barrier. However, in most cases, they are quite patient and we eventually manage get our messages across to each other.
We definitely will go back to Japan again. For me, it was the best trip we have had and is one of my dreams fulfilled :D