On my second day in Tokyo (well, technically, first, because I’d arrived at 10pm the night before), I had to discover the country on my own because C still had a full day’s work ahead of her. So I took the photos I stored on my phone the night before and headed out.
We stayed Sotetsu Fresa Inn in Tamachi, a block away from the train station. Like I said in a previous post, walking to and from home was something I looked forward to every day. There was something about the cool breeze, the beautiful bright sunshine, the existence of an actual sidewalk, the lack of pollution and the beautiful sights that really drew me in.
They say that Tokyo has the most complicated metro rail system in the world. But that day, I was only taking one line so I didn’t really feel it. The rest of the trip, I let C and FN sweat over the directions. C has been living there six months and she still needed her Google to help find her way. I guess it’s the same as it is here. I’ve lived here over a decade and I still get lost. One thing I didn’t like about the trip was that it was so nice and cold outside, but they went and heated up the trains and the establishments. So I constantly had to take off and put on my jacket and scarf when deemed fit.
Cute mommy and daughter dates.
Where was I headed? To Ueno, of course! It’s kind of like the Divisoria of Tokyo, only C said that everything was legit (no fake or knock-offs), cleaner, and not stinky at all. What I really loved about the Japanese is that they are soooo friendly and polite. Some words I definitely put to good use were:
Sumimasen – Excuse Me/Sorry
Gomenasai – Sorry
Ikura desu ka? – How much?
Arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you
Ohayou gozaimasu – Good morning
Konnichi wa – Good day
Konban wa – Good evening
My most favorite store was this precious find just beyond the block where the slot machines are. It’s called the Garakuta Boeki. There were so many kawaii (cute) trinkets like cow-themed bottle openers, funky figurines, panda robes, and all sorts of random cuteness.
There were also all sorts of clothes.
I just went up and down, up down for like 8 whole hours, trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And sure, enough, there were some stores that I didn’t notice the first time around and realized were must-gos.
Look at this cute panda bus!
I was weaving in and out of the indoor bazaar, wondering where I would eat and how to tackle the language barrier, when I came out of an alley and stumbled upon this:
Sort of like a carenderia or sidewalk food stalls, this was just on the side of the street. I saw sashimi and immediately fell in line.
The man takes your order and gives you a waiting number.
I take a seat and wait for my food.
While you wait, you’re free to help yourself to unlimited cold tea. It’s a good thing I knew how to count in Japanese because someone came out and yelled out, “Juu san hachi!”. If I hadn’t know that that was 38, he would’ve stood there trying to figure out who the order belonged to. I ordered the salmon and maki chirashidon. And although it doesn’t look so great here, it was sublime! It tasted so sweet and flavourful that I barely even needed the soy sauce. And the rice! Oh, the rice! It was so nice and round and had the perfect level of sweet and sour (sushi rice is made with rice vinegar and sugar and a dash of salt).
After which, I walked around some more and visited more shops. One of which was of this cute little store that sold authentic Japanese items like the head band that the karate kid wore in the Karate Kid, kimonos, geta (traditional Japanese slippers), oriental-themed wallets, and even a cute earwax remover with a little charm dangling from the end. I went back to that store twice, because I was trying to stop myself from buying too much stuff, but ended up wanting to buy it anyway.Here’s a snap of the entrance, and a landmark for readers’ perusal, in case anyone wants to check it out.
Towards the front of the whole area, there was a department store with a Gap and The Loft. The Loft is the place to go for all sorts of funky and kawaii trinkets, as the Japanese are known for. I think I may have spent an hour there, and then another hour at an area towards the back of The Loft, which was filled with anime, San Rio products and other totally random stuff. I even found this clip-on mustache things for my sister, who loves mustaches. She can clip them onto her shoes to give them a bit of an oomph.
Then, it was time to shop for me!!! I went to The Gap not expecting much because The Gap is soooo expensive here, although I know it’s fairly affordable in the States. There were people shaking boxes with holes at me, and I ignored them because I was too tired to try and converse with them by this time. So I went and made a bee-line for the clearance racks and found this top for only Php500. I went to Japan at a perfect time because they were just entering the fall season and getting rid of summer wear. When I lined up to pay for these, the man at the cashier asked if I was able to grab a discount coupon. Turns out, those were the things the staff was shaking at me when I first entered the store. You could grab a coupon for 10, 20 or 50 off. I got the 50% off coupon! So I ended up taking this baby home for only Php250! What a steal.
Oh, a funny experience was that at the fitting room, the staff handed me this white cloth. Perplexed, I was like, “What’s this for?” To which he replied, “Put over your face.”. Ahhh! So as not to stain the clothes with my makeup. Ingenious!
By the time 4pm hit, I was so exhausted and my feet were just battered. So, I sat down and had a cold drink even if it was freezing outside. I could’ve opted for something else, but we don’t have Baskin Robbins in the Philippines so i had to take advantage!
Iced coffee something to perk me up and energize me.
Pitting my Singapore pensive photo (right) alongside this one. My view was better in Singapore. Couldn’t find any parks in Ueno this day. Only to find out during my flight home that there was a pretty suuweet one nearby. Night is falling and yet, I’m still in the Ueno marketplace! I tried walking to Akihabara, Tokyo’s gadget central, but I kept getting this feeling that I should walk around the market some more.
Just when I didn’t think I could possibly find anything else, I chanced upon this tea store!!!
Here’s a land mark in case you want to find it.
This is where I found my lovely sakura spoon.
The kind owner kept offering different kinds of tea for taste testing that by the time I walked away, I was literally all jittery from the caffeine. Those tea variants are strong! I bought genmaisha (rice tea), which was soooo divine and fragrant, and green tea for my dad. I felt like the real deal, sipping tea from a cup nestled in both my hands.
Passed by this cute panda while browsing.
It was only 5-something and it was already so dark. At this point I needed to refuel to gain some strength for the long night ahead. When in Japan, your go to snack is an onigiri. This wonderful little triangle snack is packed with rice wrapped in nori, with different filling choices. It can be bought at basically any convenience store. I heard that they have this in the Family Mart here and I hope the rumor is true!
One thing that I didn’t enjoy though, were these men. I believe they were Afrikaans, based on their accents. I’m not racist or anything – I actually love black men – but these were so aggressive, going as far as grasping your arm as you pass by. I think they were trying to sell me something. If you smile at them, like I do to everyone when I’m in a different country, it encourages them and they get aggressive. So there came a point when I would literally feel my heart pound every time I’d see one of them. I’d resorted to keeping my eyes downcast and pretending to be busy on my phone. I finally decided to leave Ueno and meet C at Ginza.
I thought it’d be important to note how everyone is so dressed up in Japan. I love how everyone still wears suits and ties there. And how the ladies are so fashionable and well-groomed.
I now have photos of myself because C was there to take it.
H&M baby! Because they were transitioning into colder wear, they had so many sleeveless shirts on sale! Php 44 to 350 baybeh!
I’m obviously a huge H&M fan.Oh, and something else I noticed, humility aside, the climate did wonders for my skin. I was just telling my best friend that I felt that I looked fresher, even if I didn’t really do anything different from when I was in the Philippines. I was just as sleep-deprived as I was in the Philippines.
The apple store in Ginza looks so sleek!
Walking blocks and blocks to find dinner.
Finally we settled on this resto pub somewhere I don’t remember, grab some Japanese beer, which I did not enjoy, and some ramen, which C did not think was good. But, it was better tasting to my buds than the ramen here, and that’s saying alot because I ain’t a ramen fan.
Seared tuna and salmon and octopus or squid or something. Portions were too small for the price.
I liked the ramen’s funky taste. C tells me it wasn’t good at all.
C treats me to some desert we bought at the convenience store at the corner where our hotel ws located. C is helping me carry the loads of stuff I bought. I can still remember to this day the way that the biting cold would nip at my cheeks. I miss it so!!
And so, with painful feet and happy tummies, we trek back to our beautifully lit hotel.
Great choice C!
P.S. I find it fitting that I’m posting this Friday night adventure exactly a week after. Oh how I wish I were still in Japan.