Monday, December 7, 2009

Japan Day 2

The following day, after much fascination from the convenient stores (konbini's) populating every corner of Akasaka, we made an important decision. To have a convenient store breakfast!

I grabbed a mentaiko onigiri, a mochi mochi bun and a soft-as-bottom marshmallow! Believe me, one of the best breakfasts I had in Japan (the following days we were too early for breakfast shops). Mentaiko is now one of my favourite food in the world - spicy cod roe. I had it with Monjayaki the previous night and again in the morning with onigiri!

Our plan was Shibuya --> Harajuku --> Roppongi.

As soon as we exited Shibuya Station (I purposely chose the Hachiko Statue exit!), there it was . . . . a big commotion. Microphones, shouting politician-like guys, loud Japanese.

But right there at a corner, sitting quietly was Hachiko. In case you don't know the story behind Hachicko, the statue was built in April 1934 to honour a loyal dog called Hachiko. During his owner's lifetime, Hachiko would send him off to work and greet him at Shibuya Station after work every day. Unfortunately, his owner passed away while at work one day and never made it to Shibuya Station to meet him. Despite being sent to multiple masters after that, Hachiko always managed to escape and continued to wait for his owner for the next 10 years. In the end, Hachiko's faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty in Japan.

*Looks at Shiro eating dirt* Sigh.

Shibuya 109 of course was the highlight of the day for the girls. Shopping, shopping, shopping. I daresay Shibuya is 80% covered with female fashion. For Ray tried looking for a macho leather jacket but found them either for female or too colourful/glittery/glamorous for his liking.

Shibuya 109 has approximately 8 floors of female fashion retails including most of the brands you see in magazines like Vivi. Cecil McBee, Peach John, Dolce Rosa. I loved the fashion there for you can find just anything no matter how fashionable/daring/quirky you are. I can't say it is the cheapest place on earth to shop but definitely a cheaper alternative to departmental stores and there are bargains which you just need to find!

I did not buy anything there as they were all selling winter wear and Melbourne is going to be grilling hot soon . . . . . but I did go back on the last day of the trip and bought two winter coats! Haha, so much for the starting of this paragraph eh?

While we girls saw Shibuya as a shopping paradise, the guys definitely saw Shibuya as another kind of paradise. Just observe the pictures below - not much of a subject for photography, not much of an event taking place. So why were the pictures taken then?

Oh and of course, this little singing and dancing performance. *rolls eyes*

After Shibuya, we took a walk towards Yoyogi Park and stumbled upon an organic market. But most importantly, we stumbled upon a Taiyaki store! Taiyaki, the fish-shaped red bean-filled goodness. Jess wanted to eat it the way Shin Chan does, I even have photographic evidence but for the sake of our friendship I am retaining that.

Lunch was at Kujiraya, the whale restaurant located just at the base of Shibuya 109. Most of Kujiraya's menu is based on whale meat and when you go for lunch, it is almost 50% cheaper than for dinner. The restaurant is modeled to look like a traditional Japanese place. One thing we learnt from entering Kujiraya - if you see doors in Japan looking like automatic doors with a handle-like thing with some Japanese words on it, chances are you have to push it for the door to open automatically. If you ask me, automatic doors opening and closing because of people standing near it can be annoying.

Anyway, I chose the conservative Whale Steak Lunch Set. As pictured below, whale meat looks and feels like beef but does not have the beef-y taste or smell. If you ask me, they are pretty nice!

Ray chose the adventurous Whalemeat Sashimi set and voila.

The Whalemeat Sashimi were frozen and deep red in colour. Ray jumped into his amazing lunch and went on to describe how nice it was. So I tried as well. Mmmm-mmmm. It was rather tough and chewy but . . . it tasted rather refreshing. However, I still prefered my Whale Steak set, more gravy, more saltiness, more my style!

By the time we depart Shibuya to Harajuku it was freezing cold, oh ice-cream vending machine. Coins in, ice-cream out. Yum, what was I saying just now?

We stopped at Meiji-Jingumae Station which is literally in front of the Meiji Shrine so we weren't really quite expecting the sight below. How . . . shrine-y.

In fact we saw loads and loads of interesting people aroung Harajuku - the fairies, the lolitas (not related to me), the cowboys, the goths, the animes, the princesses - so much so that Ray was taking in everything which was quite weird as he usually complains about the crowd at Chadstone tiring him out. I guess it is different when you have fairies and princesses around you!
The entrance of Meiji shrine.

If I am not wrong, it was the Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) Festival when we were there. During this festival, boys aged 3 0r 5 and girls aged 3 or 7 are dressed up in traditional wear and brought to the shrine where they pray for the children's health and prosperity.

The kids were all uber cute and I couldn't resist being paparazzi just for once.

Inside the shrine's grounds, there was this display of votive boards where people write their personal wishes and hang it there. Loads of interesting wishes and some rather touching ones. How did I know, I read the English ones, okay? hmph.
Next we stepped into another dimension that is the Takeshitadori. A narrow street lined with fashion stores and the birthplace of most of Japan's fashion trends. Oh before that let me show you this.
We were suffering from a case of 'see-people-lining-up-go-line-up-for-whatever-they-are-selling-must-be-awesome'. Here you see Uncle Ray lining up for Crepes with teenagers. Hmm, he must have degraded the store's cool factor a bit.
Here, a better view of Takeshitadori.
We went to a few stores around Harajuku - most of them toy stores - and started unleashing our spending demons on unnecessary toys. Jess bought a toy called Stacking Sheep - which is literally what its name means - you stack up sheep figurines and try not to make them fall. Fuuuuuuunnnnnn.
For dinner we headed to Roppongi to find the restaurant we were vying for closed for the night :-( Not a loss at all as we came upon the cutest pet store ever! Japan has the smallest dogs in the world, literally, tea-cup sized. So so cute. And so so expensive. Let's just say that me and Ray's monetary power combined, we still can't afford one little Pomeranian.
Below here is a video of the pet store I went to.

Let's check out the useful stuff I bought for myself.

Good night!

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