The Japan Journal - Day 4

T O K Y O Districts Covered: Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza 15/12/15 Today's itinerary was planned by yours truly again. I tried to pl...


Districts Covered: Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza


Today's itinerary was planned by yours truly again. I tried to plan it in a way where we only would cover two metro lines, which were the Ginza line and the Hibiya line. Since these two lines were part of the Tokyo Metro Line, we purchased the Tokyo Metro Day Pass which only costs 600 yen per person. From Shibuya, we took the Ginza line straight to Ueno. 

Our first stop was Ueno Park, designated in 1873 as the first park in Japan. Ueno Park consists of a zoo, an art gallery, museums, a school and many more attractions such as the Toshogu Shrine. For the animal lovers, the zoo is closed on Mondays so keep that in mind if you were planning to visit! The huge grounds are famous for viewing cherry blossoms in Spring. However, the winter season meant that there were no flowers in sight. Fortunately, there were still lingering colours of autumn so the park was filled with the many different shades of a sunset. 

There was also this mini shinto-shrine that resembled the main Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. 

I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this, not because I found it fascinating or anything, but mainly because his writing was so neat and perfectly printed. From the basic Chinese I know, it looks like this man is writing down different dates in the year for the first 6 months. For what the reason is, I'm not too sure.

After our eyes had feasted on the beautiful scenery, we walked towards Ameyoko Shopping Street or Ameya Yokocho Market which was only 5mins from Ueno Park and is located right outside Ueno subway station. 

This shopping street has everything. From souvenirs to limited edition kicks, I could stay there for hours. There is an eclectic mix of stalls, ranging from small market shops to a 4 storey shoe shop. 

What I love most about this shopping area is that you don't expect to find the things you do. I walked into a the roadside market stall because they had some sneakers. I was surprised to see some Nike Racers on display, especially of the latest release (the one at the bottom in the photo). But sadly, the largest size they had left was a size 4... oh how I wish I was blessed with such small and dainty feet. Plus, they were only 14800 yen (180AUD), which is still about $50 cheaper than retail price in Australia (if you  even manage to find a pair).  

Countless rows of stalls will keep you company. Just when you think you've made it halfway through the markets, you will encounter a cross section where more shops lay ahead at every angle you turn. 

I was craving for some Oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl) which to my surprise, is pretty rare in Japan. For the longest time, I always thought "chicken katsudon" was a chicken cooked in a certain style, as if the breadcrumbed chicken was steamed with egg or something. I had this idea because in Japanese restaurants that I've visited in Malaysia or Sydney whose menu has been somewhat 'westernised', "chicken katsudon" is on the menu. Little did I know that 'katsu' means pork. So "chicken pork rice bowl" doesn't actually make sense. By right, if a restaurant is selling the slightly bread-crumbed chicken with egg on top of a bed of rice, it should be called oyakodon. My mind was slightly blown.

After all this realisation, we also realised the restaurant we went to didn't actually have Oyakodon. They only served Katsudon... I was a pretty disappointed potato. But me being me, I was satisfied when the food came because I was getting hungry anyway. My dad, brother, and I ordered the Katsudon with tempura, which tasted as good as it looked. The crispiness of the crumbed katsu and tempura was satisfying to bite into, and the best part was that it didn't taste that oily.

Mum was the only one who ordered something different. It was a breadcrumbed katsu in a soupy gravy with a half cooked egg, rice, and lots of spring onions. The gravy was a little towards the salty side, and tasted like they used some wine. As long as you ate the dish with your rice, the saltiness would not be as intense. 

After lunch, we took the subway down to Akihabara via the Hibiya line. Akihabara is said to be the 'electronics haven'. So I added this into our itinerary today mainly for dad to browse around since he is evidently the electronic-savvy one in the family. 

Messages in Japanese are being screened on electronic banners, and it felt like a scene from Blade Runner, Akihabara edition. We also visited mAAch which is a commercial facility that was completed in September 2013, so it is a relatively new establishment.

mAAch is surrounded by waters, embodying the picturesque canals of Venice. 

Inside the structure, beautiful brick arches separate each establishment (i.e specialty shops and cafes). You will be able to find cute little knick-knacks, jewellery, traditional Japanese souvenirs, and much more. It is a nice place to just take a stroll through the arches which never seem to end. 

It was only about 4:45pm when the sun started to set, and the paddlepop sky consisted of blotchy cottonwool like clouds. 

We sat and had a drink at Starbucks before heading towards Ginza. We took the subway to Naka-okachimachi then to Ueno-hirokohi which is only one stop away from Akihabara, and swapped to the Ginza line which would take us straight to Ginza (7 stops). 

If you had to choose between visiting Ginza in the day or in the night, choose the latter. Ginza has stores of luxury boutiques and popular shops that appear one after the other and has the last fashion trends. At night, you see each boutique boast their classy and unique architecture that is enhanced by the illuminating of light from the building itself. 

I can't remember what building this was, but it had a cafe on the road level and I was drawn into it as I was walking past. The big glass panels allowed me to see the elegant interior, and I just had to go in to take a photo. 

Welcome to Uniqlo ~

As you take a stroll along Ginza St, look out for Hakuhinkan Toy Park which is a huge toy store. Even if you are not looking to buy any toys, it is worth checking it out as you will be amazed at what you can find.

I mean, look at this big ass race track

For dinner, my friend suggested that we try Kagari Ramen located near Ginza station. We spent a good 20mins trying to find its exact location because it was tucked away in the corner of a street and Google maps kept leading me to the wrong place. After asking countless people who tried to direct us to the restaurant, we spotted a long queue and asked those in line what the line for this was. Of course, it had to be Kagari Ramen. We were so tired and hungry, so we decided to skip out on the ramen and looked for whichever restaurant looked good.

We stumbled upon this tempura store on Suzuran Street which is near Ginza station as well. You wouldn't be able to miss the bright blue sign, of course. Everything in Ginza seems to be lit up. 

The restaurant was a small shop called Casual Tempura Restaurant. The display food on the window looked decent so we decided to try it, mainly because we were just too tired from walking around and wanted to settle our butts down on a chair to give our feet a rest.

The food came fast and we were so grateful for their efficient service because our tummies were rumbling. The food tasted as good as it looked; in fact, it tasted better. Even the onsen egg was deep fried, but the yolk was still runny. Ah it was the perfect meal.

I would definitely come here again if I had the chance to. Maybe the food tasted extra good because we were just hungry. But to me, it was a 10/10. 

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