Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 3 Shinjuku & Shibuya

Good thing about traveling on our own; we need not follow a packed schedule provided by tour guide. And, we get to take our own sweet time getting up and ready. After traveling to various places, I learnt not to be greeady and try to squeeze as many tourist attractions and places as possible into my itinerary. I used to do it that way and forgot to eat as Ken and I hastily hop to one place to another.  On the ensuing days, we usually ended up with sore feet haha. So, it was a really bad idea!

For my trip to Tokyo, I created my itinerary by referring to :) 

Our first destination for day 3 was Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuky Garden). It was around 15 to 20 minutes walk from our hotel. Throughout the trip, Ken and I had a keep-calm-and-do-not-be-grumpy-rule since getting lost was almost inevitable. Indeed, we were lost everyday. While we were searching for the way to Shinjuku Gyoen, we saw Starbucks so we went in, grabbed some drinks and asked for the direction. Each time we travel, we will definitely visit Starbucks and McDonald's. Guess it feels at home? haha

Ken and I had Capuccino and Iced Chocolate respectively. 

As instructed by the staff of Starbucks, we headed off towards west. On our way, we saw a young mummy trying to lift a pram and bring it down to the bottom of a staircase so we stopped by and lend our hands. Speaking of young mummies in Japan, majority of them look very young and pretty. Men, now you know where to look for pretty wife! haha

Along the sidewalks, there were tall trees on my left and the streets were empty, it felt serene hehe. Still looking for Shinjuku Gyoen by the way..

And then, we saw a poster somewhere near a primary school. I wondered if the kids will be terrified when they see this? :/

Upon entering Shinjuku Gyoen, we were a little confused since most of the trees were as bald as a coot. To some extent, it felt eerie just like how a horror movie should be haha. That is me posing with trees. 

After walking deeper into Shinjuku Gyoen, we saw more non-balding trees and some flowers too! We had a cute discovery; we found a lot of professional-looking elderly people bringing huge-ass DSLR camera in the park taking close-up shots of Narcissus 'Paper White'.

So, I decided to take one too. haha

For Ken and I, the attractions of the park were Shinjuku Gyoen Goryō-tei and the Old Imperial Western-style Rest House.

Shinjuku Gyoen Goryō-tei was presented by voluntary Japanese in Taiwan in commemoration of the Imperial wedding ceremony of the Crown Prince (later the Emperor Shoōwa) early in the Shoōwa era. It displays the architectual style (the Minnan style architecture of the southern China) which had previaled in Taiwan since the middle period of the Ch'ing dysnasty, showing a swastika pattern in the plan of the former retiring room.
resource from: the descriptive plaque provided near the entrance of Shinjuku Gyoen Goryō-tei.

The Old Imperial Western-style Rest House was built in 1896 for a rest place which was used when Emperor and Imperial family came to admire plants at greenhouse in Shinjuku Gyoen. The House was designed by the Bureau of Construction in the Ministry of the Imperial Household and built based on the style of architecture called Stick Style which was popular centered in housing around the U.S.  
resource from: the pamphelt provided upon entering the rest house.
Regarding the greenhouse mentioned in the description above, it was located just 1 to 2 minutes walking distance from the resthouse. Ken and I did not spend much time lingering inside the greenhouse as all the plants in it can be found back in Malaysia. 

We actually spent about 90 minutes in the park and it was not all thoroughly discovered lol. Anyhow, we headed to Takashimaya Department Store and went to Tamazushi for lunch. Upon entering the restaurant, there were people assisting us to to take off our winter coat and hung it. We then sat at the sushi bar. The chef recommended us to have ebi (prawn), freshly delivered from Hokkaido, for lunch. Additionally, we had Omakase (Chef's recommendation) and a sake named 'Akai Akari' (if I am not wrong).

Spot the bigger ebi in the middle of the plate! That's the one from Hokkaido! It was really different from those I ate in KL. The ebi was really fresh and juicy.

After lunch, due to the after-effect of sake, my face turned red and I felt a little tipsy but it was not too bad. I was able to walk but Ken forbid me from drinking any sake thereafter. :/ ohwells.

 At noon, we rode on the train to Shibuya. Next stop, Shibuya crossing! Each train station in Japan has numeral exits that lead to different side of the town (like north, west, south, east). Without fail, we got lost again. On the brighter side, we got to see other parts of Shibuya before arriving at the right exit to Shibuya Crossing. The picture below are restaurants located under a flyover. That fascinated me since we do not have that in KL. Do you see the bicycles in the picture? Japanese often travel around the town on bicycle. :)  

Just realized that I did not capture much pictures in Shibuya as I was too caught up in shopping and sightseeing. Anyway, I snapped this picture when I was standing at the crossroad of Shibuya Crossing. :)

Ken and I went to 109 Men's, Marui, and Parco (shopping malls) and eventually got bored with it. Ken is more of a fan of Nike and Adidas so he is not interested in anything less or beyond that. As for me, I bought two sweaters and a winter coat (if I had not mentioned it already, I did not have any winter coat since day 1 as I could not find any in KL)! We continued wandering around Shibuya and suddenly, we came across this cute truck that reminded me of Kiki's Delivery Service haha.

I am not sure if it is a trend in Tokyo or all over Japan, but I noticed a lot of dessert shops around town! And, they all looked really nice. After looking around, we both settled at a dessert shop inside Parco.  I had a chestnut chocolate cream cake and Ken had a black tea sponge cake.

This is my favourite place in Shibuya; the Spain Slope! This slope is lined by boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Additional to that, the shops are in different size and structure: one-storey, three-storeys, and some even have basement! In KL (at least at the place I live), the structure of buildings and shops are rather monotonous hence I got really excited as I walked on the slope. I actually walked up and down on the same slope for twice (that showed how excited I was lol). 

On the side of the slope, we discovered Tsukada Farm which serves chicken (mainly chicken since they has a farm in Hokkaido and chickens are freshly delivered across Japan). The waiter in Tsukada Farm named Yasu was really friendly. He actually briefed us through the origin of Tsukada Farm before taking our order. We had salmon served with avocado, charcoal-grilled chicken and soft-boiled eggs.

Before leaving the restaurant, Yasu gave us a surprise. He presented us a 'pan' of rice fried with chicken oil obtained from the charcoal grilled chicken we had earlier, that explains the blackish-colored rice.  

Then, a note on the plate, some yoghurt-like food in the spoon and stickers of Tsukada Farm (This restaurant has its own sticker. How cool!) haha. Last but not least, when we left the restaurant (for real), he ran out of the restaurant and gave us two mini bags of soy sauce as gift. Haha I am not sure about the custom of giving soy sauce but Ken and I really appreciated the warm welcome. 

After a plentiful meal, we took the train back to Shinjuku. We decided to visit Kabukichō, a famous red-light district located in Shinjuku before heading back to the hotel. As usual, I had to ask people for direction haha. So, I was asking this man, who probably just got off from his work, for direction to Kabukichō, he was trying equally as hard to reply me in English (he found out that I am a foreigner since I spoke awkward Japanese) just like how I tried to ask him for directions in Japanese and that was really funny haha.  

The entrance to Kabukichō.

For men's pleasure, I saw various types of services being offered here. Some of which I spotted were: massage, a date out with a girl you picked,  and private room for viewing porn. This was a real eye-opener!



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