With plans to head to Tsukiji Fish Market, we woke up extra early this Monday morning. Wilson would be flying in later this afternoon so till then it was more shopping ahead. With Tsukiji and Ginza a mere street away, we could cover both areas in the morning and early afternoon.
The free Metro pass had to be used on 2 consecutive days, so today was the second they which we had to travel by the underground Tokyo Metro lines. Selective places were more accessible by their lines with Tsukiji and Ginza being some. Unfortunately, Metro and Toei were both subways. Travelling underground isn’t quite as interesting as the open air JR lines.
Unlike the JR station, which was just under the market, the Tsukiji Metro station was a short walk away. Since I had never been to Tsukiji or Ginza before, MJ lead the way this morning. We passed through the front streets filled with food stalls and grocers, all of which were closed!
The Tsukiji market is closed on Sundays and today was a Monday. It didn’t cross our mind that it would be closed on a public holiday though. It was Spring Equinox this past two days.
By the side of the market was a large bridge. The morning cast nice shadows on the bridge and the view was nice so we decided to check it out. Traffic was slow this morning and there weren’t many pedestrians.
We walked back in the direction of Tsukiji since Ginza was that way. Passing by, some of the grocers and food stalls had started to open. The only audience they had were a few elderly folk and other clueless tourists. Their awful accent easily gave them away as Singaporeans so we kept our mouths shut as we passed by. Most of the only stores open sold veggies and dried foodstuffs.
Back along the main road, some of the food stalls started opening. Despite knowing full well we weren’t to find any fresh catches today, we decided to get an early brunch here before heading to Ginza. Didn’t have any prior experience with any of the stalls here. MJ opted for the first stall along the line, the one with a giant tuna banner. It was the cheapest store here and there was an elderly local couple so it couldn’t be all bad.
The meal turned out to be lackluster and wasn’t worth the 800 and 1000 yen we paid. As expected since there was no catch this morning, the fish wasn’t fresh. The rice was also poorly cooked. Seeing us eat there, we harmed another tourist into eating there as well. The only saving grace of the stall was this stove the woman there provided. She put it between our stools to keep us warm.
Afterwards, we headed back across the road for Ginza. MJ complained that he felt sick from the meal. We made plans to come back for our revenge another day.
The road from Tsukiji lead directly in front of the landmark clock at Wako. The clock struck 10 times loudly when we reached there. Most of the boutiques had yet to open. People queued up outside the stores.
MJ’s goal was to find the main road where the main stores were. Despite Ginza having the most organized layout of all places we’ve been so far, we ended up walking in circles. We ended up navigating the area by gauging our distance from one of the streets lined with Japan flags.
Even after losing and finding back our way, it was only about 11 am. Boutiques were stilled closed but the larger departmental stores had started to open. We entered the Mitsukoshi shopping mall opposite the Wako building.
I felt more depressed about the jacket I had purchased days earlier at Shibuya 109-2 after I saw that you could get Fred Perry jackets here at a fraction of the cost. At the Takeo Kikichu store on the 6th floor, we saw a nice bag that could double as both a sling and pouch. These were very popular back a couple of years in Japan. MJ saw someone using one of these for the first time on the way to the station from our hotel and felt like getting one too. It cost only about 5000 yen despite being made of leather so was quite a steal, he didn’t get it however. Instead, we entered the adjacent Burberry Black Label store.
In addition to the normal line, Japan has two local brands under the Burberry name, Black Label and Blue Label. Both feature more contemporary designs as compared to the British label. The Black Label features the brand’s upper end designs, while the Blue Label is a low budget commercial line consisting of canvas designs. I too was considering getting a bag since I didn’t have one. The shop assistant urged me to try out the bags so I did. At only about 25000 yen (or SGD$400) each, it was certainly tempting to get one. Normal Burberry bags cost at least $1000 back in Singapore. I eventually resisted the urge, though I considered returning again later. The assisted helped MJ put on 3 of the jackets and one of the bags, all of which he suddenly felt like buying.
We decided to wait and check out the main Burberry store first. Stepping out of the building, we were surprise to find people sitting in the middle of the road.
Turns out that during weekends and public holidays the government block off the streets of Ginza to allow shoppers to freely roam the streets. While we were inside the departmental store, benches had been placed in the middle of the road.
We headed for the flagship Burberry store which just on the same street as Mitsukoshi. Accordign to MJ, the toilets here bore their signature tartan pattern as well.
MJ couldn’t decide upon purchasing anything so we headed to the basement where the Blue Label stuff were kept. The only customers here were hordes of tourists with identifiably Hong Kong and Singaporean accents. Wanting a piece of the Burberry name for themselves, they snatched up whatever they could afford. Burberry Blue Label…no class.
We exited hurriedly back to the main street with our “I don’t know them” faces. I stopped by the adjacent toy store to look at possible souvenirs. We then ended up at a cafe near the Ginza station. On the premise that having tea at an overpriced cafe at Ginza was a once in a lifetime experience we decided to enter.
MJ had the waffle with chocolate and banana, I had the wild berry waffle. A waffle set accompanied with tea or coffee cost about 1000 yen. The waffles were toasted to a nice crisp. While we enjoyed the waffles, we observed the clothing of the people walking by and considered upon what we wanted to buy.
We left the waffle cafe feeling all high class-like with consolidated thoughts.
Observing the locals made MJ more intent on getting better clothes so we returned to the Mitsukoshi mall’s Takeo Kikichu and Burberry outlets. He changed his mind when we reached there so we didn’t buy anything in the end. I returned to the toy shop from earlier to get something before we made our way back to the station.
Wilson had already landed and checked into the hotel. He would meet us at our next destination, Kamiyacho.
With a long queue building up at the counters below, it was too late for us to make it in time for the sunset. Instead we met Wilson outside the Tokyo Curry Lab where we would have out dinner. MJ wanted to try out this place because Morning Musume ate here during the Hello Morning variety show.
Tokyo Curry Lab was a tacky establishment on the 2nd floor of Tokyo Tower. After sitting down at the white counter, we were handed the menu. A 1000 yen for curry seemed cheap. It turned out though, you had to order the meat separately. So we had the most expensive curry we had ever eaten.
MJ and Wilson had mild chicken curry with pork cutlets. I had the spicy pork curry also with a katsu. It turned out to be decent, though nothing particularly special. The salad side had the exact same sauce as the Mos Burger salads. The screens in front of each counter seat alternatively played Finding Nemo and some other show. Probably to make us feel glad that we didn’t have sashimi instead. After dinner, we joined the queue downstairs to get our tickets up the tower.
One of Japan’s most prominent landmarks, Tokyo Tower stands at over 330 meters tall. Tickets up to the main observatory at 150m cost 800 yen. From this area you could purchase a separate more expensive pass to the private observatory at 250m. They were really cashing in.
The main observatory wasn’t as high as I expected. But it provided a beautiful view of Tokyo. At night the highways are lighted up really brightly forming long stretches of lighted strips. The architecture in Japan is coordinated well both in the day and night. We saw a plane flying in the night sky. All the buildings had red antennas above to alert the passing planes. While Wilson and I had intentions to go up even higher, the queue to get up there was a ridiculous 90 minutes long.
There was a mini-shrine up here in the tower as well.
While the lifts took us to the main observatory, there are actually two floors to the observatory. The more clueless tourists didn’t know this so we went to the much quieter lower floor. We got some commemorative coins here. I took a long time deciding between the Hello Kitty and holographic design.
The lower floor had panels on the floor that allowed you to look straight down at the ground. Lots of people were fascinated by them. They were covered with footprints so I couldn’t see the view clearly.
There was a nice cafe here to simply chill out. A great date spot I presume. MJ didn’t care that a sign by the exit said customers only. He climbed up to the seats and sat there for the longest time.
We took the lift back down the tower, to shops selling touristy stuff. Nothing worth buying. There was this rack of cards of tourist destinations. People could grab them for their addresses and contact information. How thoughtful! They were all in Japanese.
After considering, I had wanted to get a Tokyo Tower model a shop on the same floor at the Tokyo Curry Labs. However, it was closed by the time we got down from the tower. Back on the ground, there was a Hello Kitty tour bus parked at the base of the tower.
Headed back to the Metro station for Ebisu Garden Place. Spotted a Dragon Ball bike on the way to the station. While MJ and I had been to Ebisu two days ago, the place was famous for being beautifully lighted at night. After having seen some amazing photographs of the place online. We hoped to be able to capture some spectacular shots as well.
We arrived for the first time at the Metro station at Ebisu. My instincts told me the large escalator in one department store lead to the long stretch of travelators that connected the station to the Garden Place. However after taking a quick peak as to what was upstairs I doubted myself so we ended up taking the long way on foot, uphill.
It seemed that there was some construction going on site this night though. Most of the place had been cordoned off and trucks were passing through. Upon closer inspection, they were actually dismantling a set. Some sort of concert or event had just finished in the evening. The lights were also not as spectacular as during major holidays. Disappointed, we headed over to Tsutaya where Wilson wanted to get a DVD of Ayaka’s recent concert.
Tsutaya specialized in renting out CDs and DVDs and their selection of titles that they actually sold were limited so Wilson didn’t manage to get the DVD. Wilson mentioned that he saw the fabled “line of trees with lights” at an intersection back at the Garden Place so we decided to head that way.
The “line of trees with lights” that we had previously seen online, did not exist this season. Instead the lights came from a group of cafes and restaurants across the street from Ebisu. The high-end establishments were still open at this hour.
We took the opportunity to take some shots of the cafe before heading back to the station. This time we took the travelators back to the station. It turns out, the escalator I lead them to earlier was headed in the right direction after all as it connected the Metro to the JR station. It took less than 20 minutes to return to our hotel on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line so we arrived back at the hotel fairly early. I took this opportunity to do my laundry. I was fearful of having to walk out to 7-11 in the cold to get detergent. Fortunately the hotel counter had some so I could stay indoors till the morning comes.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.