Sunday 20 December 2015

Tokyo Day 2: Asakusa & Harajuku

We woke up this morning to a chilly breeze coming through the opened window of our hotel room. Ahh free air-conditioning! Why should we kill the Earth by switching on the heater/air-conditioning of our room when it is provided by nature for free? =)

I know what you might be thinking, "what about your kids? Aren't they cold?"

For some reason, although the kids tend to catch a chill pretty easily in Singapore, they were perfectly fine in Tokyo! No coughing, no running nose, nothing! I can only conclude that the air must be fresher in Japan!

That morning we also had breakfast at our hotel's restaurant on the 3rd floor. It was a simple spread of the usual western-style bread, eggs and sausages as well as traditional Japanese favourites such as Miso soup, Japanese hot pot, curry rice, etc.

Clockwise from left: Kids get their own set of plastic utensils;
Hubby getting food for Baby Boy;
The bread section.

What was lacking in quantity was made up for in quality! The food was very delicious. We loved the french toast, runny Japanese-style scrambled eggs and of course, the curry rice! We ate them everyday and were not tired of it =)

In case you're wondering what my baby ate, Baby Boy ate a bowl of porridge, a bit of bread, some scrambled eggs and basically whatever that is soft and tasty every morning. He's not very fussy and has an amazingly big appetite!

After breakfast we headed out to Shinjuku Station to take a subway to our first destination.

The subway entrance nearest to our hotel

There are many of such entrances that will lead you to the subway stations. However, they are mostly made up of stairs so if you have a stroller, look for a departmental store with subway access. Then you can take a lift down to the basement rather than carry your stroller down the stairs.

Underground shopping street

We arrived at the Tokyo Metro office and bought the Tokyo Metro 1-Day Open Ticket for unlimited train rides in one day. It's cheaper and we don't have to keep buying a ticket every time we needed to take the train.

Tokyo Metro Office

Do note that the pass we bought is only applicable for rides on the Tokyo Metro and not Toei Subway (indicated by a green fan logo) or the Japan Rail. You can buy the Common 1-Day Ticket that can be used for both the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway but that's more expensive. Since there are 9 Tokyo Metro lines (and you will therefore be easily connected to most of the attractions in Tokyo), the one we bought will suffice. Make sure you arm yourself with the Tokyo Subway Map and check that the lines that you are taking fall under the Tokyo Metro lines.

Unique gantries only close if you didn't pay
Travelling on the Tokyo Metro

To get to our destination, Asakusa, we took the Marunouchi Line (Red) from Shinjuku Station to Akasaka-Mitsuke Station before transferring to the Ginza Line (Orange) to Asakusa Station.

After emerging from the station, we really had no idea as to which direction that we had to walk in order to arrive at the famous Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street. As I was just about to check Google Maps, I spotted a group of tourists crossing the road with their tour guide waving a red flag.

"Follow them!" I exclaimed, "they confirm guarantee plus chop going where we want to go!"

And sure enough, they did! =)

Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street
Clockwise from top left: Extremely crowded street with a lot of tourists;
Sister and mum on a less crowded street;
 Lots and and lots of people!

Most of the stalls here require you to consume their food within their stall premise so as not to dirty the street or inconvenience other stalls. This includes street food such as mochi, pastries and even ice-cream.

Very famous mochi stall
(There are so many people queuing up that I couldn't take a decent picture.
Don't ask me the name of the stall too cos I don't read Japanese)
Mochi on a stick with brown soy powder. Super yummy! =)
So many flavours of ice-cream! *slurps*
I'm holding the green tea flavour but we highly recommend the black seseme!
(Oh and try the food from the Obasan at the back. It's right next to the ice-cream stall and just as good!)
Stall selling pastries at the end of the street. Lots of people crowding around to buy it.
Super yummy! The kids liked it so much we bought more =P

The souvenirs and toys sold here are not expensive too so you might want to grab some as momentos or presents for your kids. Rule of thumb: if you like what you see, buy it! If it's food, buy and eat it! *laughs*

At the end of the shopping street, you'd find the Asakusa Kannon Temple also known as Sensoji.


On our way back, we stumbled onto this Taiyaki store that had a super long queue. As the typical Singaporeans that we are, we joined the queue (but of course!). Besides, Taiyaki was one of my girl's favourite food.

Chef making the super thick Taiyaki! Bigger than those we see in Singapore!
See the long queue behind? Hubby very happy to have bought a few =)

Baby Boy was actually sleeping when we were buying the Taiyaki and for some reason, he woke up while we were eating it. When he saw that we were enjoying the food without him, he looked angry and demanded that we feed him. Of course he ended up loving it and ate about half a Taiyaki!

We crossed the road from the shopping street to the Asakusa Visitor Centre so that we can use the toilets as well as enjoy the view from the roof (free of charge).

Visitor Information Counter
Left: Get tourist information on both the first and the second floor. Restrooms at the basement.
Right: Baby Boy feeling a bit cold at the roof of the building.
Selfie with the Sister
Left: Bird's eye view of the Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street, Thunder Gate and Sensoji
Right: Nice view of the Tokyo Sky Tree

We sat on the nice benches provided and rested our feet while taking the beautiful skyline of Asakusa. After we felt that we had rested enough, we decided to head to Harajuku.

To get there from Asakusa, take the Ginza Line (orange) to Shibuya Station and transfer to the Fukutoshin Line (brown) to Meiji-jingumae (aka Harajuku) Station.

One of the road junctions at Harajuku
(Note the beautiful sunset in the background even though it was only 4pm)

We decided to pop by Yoyogi Park since it was nearby. Ahh, the feeling of walking in a park and not sweat! Amazing =)

Yoyogi Park
(Address: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0052, Japan)
Harajuku gate
Girl kicking fallen leaves under a "Christmas tree"
Map of Yoyogi Park
People strolling through the park while some buskers performed
Underneath a withered wreath

We decided to leave before it got dark and started walking to the biggest Daiso in Tokyo (at least according to Google).

Love these autumn leaves we passed by along the way. Couldn't help but stop for some pictures =)

When we reached the entrance of Takeshita Street, we spotted Yoshinoya! Yoshinoya in Japan is an actual restaurant, not just a fast food outlet, and is a lot tastier than the Yoshinoya in Singapore so it was at the top of our "To Eat in Tokyo" list.

The Yoshinoya beside the Takeshita Street entrance
Eating what they are famous for: Beef Rice!

We were not disappointed. The beef bowl was better than expected and very delicious! I recently had Yoshinoya's beef bowl in Singapore and man, it is world's apart from the one we had in Tokyo! =(

After dinner, we finally made it to Diaso (Harajuku) located just 5 minutes from the entrance of the Takeshita Street (walk through the entrance and down the street until you see Daiso). It's a 4-storey building so it should be hard for you to miss it.

Daiso, Harajuku

Skip the typical stuff that can be found in Singapore (even though it is cheaper) and head straight for the original Sanrio products that can only be found in Daiso Japan. Imagine authentic Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars and My Melody merchandise for just 100 yen each! We also bought a bunch of other stuff that I had never seen in Daiso Singapore. I think we made sure that we covered every floor and did not miss out on a good deal =)

After shopping, we passed by Calbee Plus on our way back to the subway station and stopped to buy boxes of snacks as well as Calbee's famous Jagabee (fries) *yum*

Calbee Plus, Harajuku
Inside the Calbee Plus store
Eating freshly fried-on-premise Jagabee. Soooo goood!

And with our stomachs full of food, our bags full of shopping and our hearts full of happiness, we left funky Harajuku and returned to Shinjuku.

Group photos with the decorated trees lining the streets of Harajuku

A lovely end to a lovely day! =)

Continue to >> Tokyo Day 3: Hakone & Mount Fuji
<< Back to Tokyo Day 1: Shinjuku


Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Tokyo, Japan 
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