Sunday morning, we had some plans for this afternoon but the evening was once again free. While I wanted to, we couldn’t visit any particularly touristy places because Wilson would only arrive tomorrow and he too wanted to. A large flaw in our planning was trying to accommodate this case, leaving shopping the only option for the past few days. The problem was we were not quite sure what exactly we wanted to shop for.
Since we would be stopping by lots of random places today, I felt it would be a good idea to use our two day Metro starting today. This morning, we headed for the Hongo-Sanchome station for the Tokyo Metro line. It was just one street behind our hotel.
There was a gourmet onigiri shop outside the train station but the prices were surprisingly cheap at about 100 yen a piece. We had just had our breakfast though so we took note to come back some other time. An elegant woman left her Shiba inu outside the shop while she went in to purchase some.
Our first stop was back to the Morning Musume concert hall at Shinjuku. MJ had to get even more stuff for the forum members and after looking at the shiny hologram cover we were enticed into purchasing the concert photobook for ourselves too. Thankfully, the Tokyo Metro had closer stations to the hall than the JR lines so we didn’t have to walk far.
My skin had been peeling badly the past few days so I dropped by a pharmacy to get some face wash for my sensitive skin. It cost about $15. Similar products cost between $30-$70 back in Singapore. I also got some conditioner since the Kao shampoo from the hotel dispenser totally damaged and tangled my hair.
MJ went on ahead to queue for the merchandise. It was 10.30 and sales hadn’t started yet. Despite me urging to wait another 30 minutes he insisted that we come back again later.
It turned out there was an even nearer station to the hall. We crossed the overhead bridge to head. The station offered direct service to Yoyogi, our next destination. Unfortunately the line turned out to be a Toei Subway line, Metro’s sister line. Despite both Metro and Toei sharing a connecting network, our free pass didn’t cover the Toei lines so we had to pay the fare.
We arrived at Yoyogi station, behind the large park. Compared to where the shrine was it was quite empty here. Instead of following the common road to the Meiji Shrine we took the side path for the park.
It seemed that there wasn’t anything going on at the park yet so we continued on. One of the side roads returned to where the Meiji shrine was so we passed through there. We waited outside the main square since there was another wedding going on today and they were bowing to the gates again.
On the way out, yet another couple wedding couple had finished and were taking wedding photos. Took a quick shot from far away but otherwise felt it wasn’t too polite to be disturbing them. This Caucasian guy didn’t feel any sympathy for the couple though as he proceeded to slowly urge his camp closer and closer to the couple.
We returned to the upper streets of Harajuku where we chanced upon a small cafe serving pasta. It had nice window seats and the prices were affordable so we had our lunch here while people watching.
The anchovy pasta I had was good. I had a lot of pasta my last time round, when I realized the standard of pasta in Japan is really good. The pasta is almost always al dente. Even after trying out various restaurants in Singapore, I must say that there is no competition. The pasta back there is most often overcooked and soggy.
We watched fashionable people walk by one after the other. Tourists stood out easily in their mismatched outfits. It was fun just watching people pass by in the comfort of our cafe. A young woman got out of a small van and proceeded to run from store to store delivering flowers. After lunch, we headed towards Omotesando.
We entered the famous Omotesando Hills. Built by the famous architect that built the Church of the Light, the beautiful Omotesando Hills is home to a hundred different boutiques, all of which were out of our league.
The crowds were building up, so we presumed that the activities at Yoyogi park should had commenced. We followed the busy roads back to the park behind the shrine.
On Sundays, the Rockabillies danced at Yoyogi Park. Another unique experience to be found in Tokyo. It’s worth seeing if you got a little time to spare. We will be posting videos we took there soon.
They were broken up into clans, which left me wondering if they were in any way affiliated to Yakuza. They played music on their radio and members from different groups would enter the clearing to dance. An elderly man in red sat on a folding stool looking important. He seemed to be their organizer.
Interestingly, their families also matched the theme. Their wives wore vintage dresses with leather biker jackets and their teenage daughters adorned varsity jackets. One of the girls even joined in the dancing, though somewhat reluctantly.
The greasers stopped for a break and we decided to explore the rest of the park. In somewhat of a culture shock, the entire park was filled with people doing completely random stuff.
We passed by groups of people scattered throughout the park, each of them found their own spot and went about their own business. Some of them did stuff we would expect, others tasks that we as Singaporeans normally do at home. We had people playing various musical instruments, some singing and others practicing their dancing. There were also people skipping in the middle of the road, doing pushups and drawing. One Caucasian guy fixed branches on his head to look like antlers.
Nearer the pond, most of the groups were simply there enjoying the fresh air. Families and friends threw open ground sheets and chatted while eating spring snacks. A rare occurrence in Singapore. Despite everyone walking over the carpet grass, the ground wasn’t bare. Beneath the grass, plastic grids were installed in the soil to keep the grass roots firmly in place. In Singapore we have patches of dirt carved out the fields. Everywhere in Japan, attention to small details kept things working smoothly.
At one end of the park, dog pens had been set up for people with dogs. The park didn’t want dogs running around the park. According to signs, their reason being little kids ate here on the ground. MJ suggested that maybe they had kids eating the feces before. It probably had more to do with generally keeping the picnic grounds free from dog poop.
There were different pens for different sized dogs. We didn’t see any particularly large dogs and most of the pens were filled with scrawny poodles and chihuahuas.
We returned to the Metro to take a different line back to Shinjuku that was covered by our pass. The underground tracks weren’t sealed off like in Singapore so passing trains created a vacuum of freezing wind.
Back at Shinjuku, we returned to Wel City for my 4th (MJ’s 5th) time to get Morning Musume merchandise. It was then time for dinner.
MJ didn’t bring the list of restaurant addresses that I compiled so we were left searching for a place to eat. The temperature ranges between 1 to 10 degrees during this season but it was particularly cold this evening. Strong winds were blowing from all directions despite us being in the urban Shinjuku area.
After a long search, I finally found what I was looking for, a branch of the Tengu Izakaya chain. Izakaya are establishments where people go to drink and smoke while having their meals. An after-work spot for the Japanese salaryman. Meals here are usually cheaper to catered to their tight budgets.
The Tengu chain of Izakaya are reputed for offering great dishes at affordable prices. Large menus with attractive pictures were provided so we ended up ordering quite a bit.
MJ refused to eat the octopus. So far he has also refused to try various sashimi, squid, escargot, clams, oysters, mussels and a whole list of other delicacies. What is he is doing in Japan?
We each ordered a set of rice, miso and cucumbers for 200 yen each and shared a variety of dishes. I ordered some sashimi as appetizers. The garlic steak arrived on a sizzling hot pan, the beef was really tender. What came next was the bacon pizza, one of their new menu items.
Wide strips of salted bacon covered the thin of the pizza. Glistening oil from the fats coated the meat. It was the single greatest pizza I had eaten in my life.
Left wanting more, we ordered their lemon steak and an omelet. The lemon steak was similar to their diced garlic steak we ordered earlier but this time the sauce came in a separate bowl. The waiter laid down the pan and poured the sauce over the sizzling steak at our table. The sauce was a zesty combination of soy, syrup and lemon. Completely awesome.
We were well satisfied. Despite ordering so much, our combined bill amounted to only about 3000 yen or SGD$45. I made a mental note to definitely visit Tengu again.
Stuffed from the dinner, we left for Shibuya. MJ had to get yet even more Morning Musume merchandise from the Hello Project store at the basement of 109-2 again.
I left MJ to his otaku stuff at the Hello Project store. The fortune tellers were still open at the basement. The Caucasian guru was here today along with another local middle aged psychic woman. Both didn’t have any customers this evening though. MJ wanted to do some shopping but was dissuaded by the Sunday crowds so we boarded the Metro back to Hongo-Sanchome.
Back at the station, all of the shops had already closed. MJ lead the way back to the hotel so we ended up lost. He insisted we were going the correct way because he remembered seeing the petrol station on the way here.
While our hotel was just one street away, we soon realized that we had somehow ended up at Ochanomizu which I had visited last night.
We had gone the complete opposite direction. Thankfully, it was a straight (but long) path back to Suidobashi along the river. We ended up filming videos of the roads leading back to our hotel.
The past two days were my least productive days yet so I’m feeling rather crappy this night. I can’t help but feel that putting shopping on the first few days turned out to be quite a mistake. Spirits were low since we were pretty tired from all the walking and we didn’t really get anything other than the jackets from 109-2 (which I regretted buying).
We could have easily fit something more today instead of our failed attempt to shop and I’ve even missed out on some touristy spots that I wanted to visit. Considering that it cost us each both more than $100 daily to be in Japan, I was rather irritated by the Morning Musume errands MJ was running at our combined expense.
Disappointed in how accommodating I had been till now. MJ was satisfied with just being able to share Morning Musume with people we have never even met before. Me, I didn’t even get the least thanks from any of the forum members.
Hopefully with Wilson arriving tomorrow, we will be injected with some new positive energy.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.