Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 5 (7 May) in Tokyo

My breakfast was the raspberry chai muffin and a glass of warm milo. I also was taking a tablespoon of Pipagao almost every day since I was just recovering from cough. I didn,t touch the cough mixture which spilled in my luggage. It causes drowsiness and I no longer needed to drink it but brought it along just in case.

We met Cousin at the Ginza station and she showed us around. We shopped at Uniqlo again where I bought another pair of jeans, a belt and some underwear. The staff put a "raincoat" over my Uniqlo paper bag as it was raining.

Lunch was at Mos Burger cafe where the cutlery is not disposable. I had the bun and soup set which made a hearty meal.

We continued shopping at H&M where I bought a skirt and scarf. After Ginza, we took the train to Asakusa to visit the Nakamise Dori Street and Sensoji Temple. I find the place quite touristy. We had some soft ice cream and when the shop lady asked us to go out by the back door, we just went through there and walked back to the main street. She actually walked to us and told us that we were not supposed to walk while eating and asked us to stay at the back of the shop to eat. Then we understood. But strangely, the other people who bought the ice cream were at the back alley. The shop lady must have only managed to "nab" us. Hee.

At Sensoji Temple, sis and I decide to put in 100 Yen each to shake some heavy metal rectangular container to get some stick with a number on it and open a drawer with the matching number to get a piece of paper about our fortune. Sis got a good one that said everything was good in terms of marriage, life and work. Mine was opposite. It said something along the line of "Marriage and work of any kind are bad". I just rolled the paper and tied it to some rack where the others had done so to the bad fortune they had received. Sis kept her. I'm not going to believe in that. I believe in taking charge of my own fate but it was fun to try that for fun :)

Next was Ueno where Cousin showed us the streets where stalls were selling mainly seafood. We went to another one where there were 2 shops selling Japanese snacks. I bought about $100 worth of them - they were good to give to friends, relatives and colleagues and also for our family.

We went back to Ginza to meet Cousin-in-Law at Midori Japanese Restaurant. We had
sashimi (front and back views) ,
salad ,
california roll , broiled fish sushi. They were delicious. Even Sis who doesn't really dare eat sashimi tried the tuna bits and liked them.

Look at the spread of food :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 4 (6 May) in Tokyo

This was one of the highlights of our trip - the Ghibli Museum. It was the day Sis and I explored Tokyo on our own without our Cousin accompanying us. It was very nice of her to bring us around Tokyo and Cousin-in-law also had dinner and a lunch with us. We talked about work, life in Japan, etc. Sis and I may have missed out some interesting places in Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Ueno and also the nice makan places, without them.

To get to Mitaka, we had to change to the JR Chuo line at Shinjuku. We took the Express train instead of the Rapid one and ended up paying about $10 when the conductor checked our tickets. Hee. Express train goes directly to Mitaka without stopping at the other stations between Shinjuku and Mitaka. Once outside of Mitaka Station, we managed to find the bus stop no. 9 easily, buy the bus tickets and board the bus.

We were excited when we reached Ghibli Museum. Both of us like the animes by Hayao Miyazaki such as Spirited away, Howl's Moving castle. Visitors are prohibited from taking photos inside the museum. When I visited it the first time, it was crowded but this second time, we were early and it wasn't packed yet. We leisurely admired the "exhibits". We watched the clay models spin at high speed and yet seem to be moving in slow motion due to strobe lights. There are 2 rooms showing sketches, pencil drawings, coloured pieces, storyboard of the various animes, a mock up of how Miyazaki created the animes from scratch, I think. Kids will probably feel inspired seeing all these and the coloured pencils and drawing stuff.

We then proceeded to the theatrette to watch a short anime clip. The little girl character, the cats (who don't look like normal cats since they are called Neko Basu, Cat Bus) and Totoro all look so adorable. I bought the CD for its soundtrack and also a medium size Neko Busu :) Sis got a small Neko Busu, a big Dustball and a little ghostly keychain.

After the visit to Ghibli Museum, our plan was to visit Kichijoji, a place I read that has interesting zakka shops. But when we went out of the train station, we don't know where to go. We went back inside and bought some cookies from Aunt Stella. We then decided to visit Shimo-kitazawa again and try to look for the interesting cafe, Deli & Baking Co. we read about.

It was still raining when we reached Shimo-kitazawa. We studied the map at the station and Sis kept a lookout at the unit number of the shops. We managed to find the area "29" where the cafe is located and after walking around, we found it. We were so happy. The cafe looked inviting. The waitresses were friendly and the cake display looked so good.

Cosy environment too.

I had a soy latte while sis a caffe latte. The stirrer is an ice cream stick.

The server understands some English, so we didn't have much problem ordering our food. I just asked whether they have "Sakana" or fish for one of their main dishes and she pointed to the Japanese characters on the menu. Sis order a Loco Moco Hamburger rice dish and I got the fish one. Mine may not look as interesting as Sis' but it was wholesome. I like the multigrain rice and the fish tasted fresh. I helped sis with some of her veggies too.

The meal was quite substantial that we didn't have any space for desserts. We agreed that we would be back at the cafe again before leaving Shimo-kitazawa to buy some cakes back.

We visited the interesting shops like T-Four and Communication Mania and discovered a few more interesting ones. We went back to Deli & Baking Co and got a muffin each. At Shibuya, we bought some sandwiches from the Andersan bakery at one of the department stores. On the way back to our hotel, we popped into Tokyo Hands, a departmental store and found a pet shop called Pets Living right on the upper floor. I remember in Odaiba there is a shop called Cats Living selling cat food and accessories and also has a space for visitors to mingle with their cats at a price. It is the same for the Pets Living too but Sis and I were more interested in the bags and cute stuff with cat designs. Hee.

Back in the hotel room, we had our dinner of sandwiches. Sis ate her Oreo cream cheese muffin. I tried a bit and it tasted quite nice. I was saving my Raspberry Chai muffin for breakfast the next day.

Day 3 (5 May) in Tokyo

Our plan that day was to cover Shinjuku and Shibuya.

We girls managed to buy some clothes from the sales racks at Takashimaya, Shinjuku. I enjoy eating or yummy food, so I always look forward to my meals in Singapore. In Tokyo, it was the same feeling too. Lunch was set lunch at Harbs Cafe at Lumine Shinjuku. It comes with salad, pasta (about 4 types to choose from), a slice of cake (the waiter will let you know which types of cakes come under the set lunch promotion; more than 5 to choose from) and tea/coffee.

I remember taking photo of our pasta but not sure why it wasn't captured in the camera. Anyway, I had a tomato based one with prawns - slight spicy. Sis had a cream based one with bacon (I recall correctly).

I had a green tea cake and Cousin-in-law ordered a mille feuille crepe for us to share.
Layered between the crepes were seasonal fruits (such as strawberries). Yummy but the pasta was quite filling, so I couldn't eat much of the cake.

There were a few interesting small shops at Shinjuku. I also bought tops and a pair of jeans from Uniqlo. (The jeans is a steal as it was $38 after discount. When I bought another similar pair 2 days later in Ginza, it cost me $60. But it was still a good buy.)

Cousin brought us to Shibuya 109, a popular hangout by the Japanese fashionistas. Somehow, we couldn't really appreciate some of the clothes. The complex was crowded. We didn't get anything at all. But it was a good place to see some of the quirky fashion and also to do people watching.

Dinner was at this restaurant called MoMo Paradise at some building in Shibuya. We had shabu shabu and beef/pork sukiyaki. It was a hearty meal with us eating many thin slices of beef and vegetables.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 2 (4 May) in Tokyo

I visited Shimo-kitazawa a few years ago in my first trip in Japan and I like the place with its interesting shops and it's easy to move around. The cafes there look inviting too. Shimo-kitazawa was a place we had to visit while in Tokyo.

To get to Shimo-kitazawa, we took the JR train from Ikebukuro to Shibuya and switched to the Keio Inokashira line. After browsing around the shops, raving about the nice/cute stuff in some shops (such as T-Four) and buying them, we were hungry and started hunting for a place for our lunch. In the end, we settled for okonomiyaki. Our cousin ordered a beef one,
I had natto one

while sis had a pork cutlet and cheese version.

We found the servings huge and couldn't finish our food.

After lunch, we went in search for Cateriam, a cat cafe. I read about it in kuro.shiro.neko's blog and the cats sound adorable. We managed to find it at another side of the train station and it was above this shop called Jean-Mate. Cousin left her name and contact number with the Cateriam staff who would call her when there were available space for us. We browsed at another interesting shop we found (called Communication Mania) and Sis and I bought more stuff.

The entry fee to Cateriam is 1,000Yen per person for an hour, inclusive of a drink. We ordered ice tea and some fruit juices.

This cat was checking out the shoes, the toys before settling down in a clay bowl and dozing off.

Its sleeping companion :)

Other sleepy heads at different times during our visit were on the shelf,

on the comfy cushion,

under the table,

at the area where we the visitors are required to wash our hands before touching the cats,

in front of the book featuring the cat itself.

This girl looks adorable awake or sleeping.

There was a nice big black cat that Sis and I were attracted to. His name is Zero. I like his big eyes. One moment he was resting on Sis' bags and dozing off.

Then he was walking around or following the Cateriam staff. At one time, he was also high up at one corner of the cafe.

Next, he was briefly in a basket near our table. I like his eyes.

Only once were 2 of the cats curious about the drinks of the other visitors.

The staff would occasionally play with the cats and the cats would spring into action.
Some, like this cat, entertained themselves.

The visitors respected the cats and would quietly watch them play, play with them or take photos of them.

It was an interesting way to spend an afternoon in Tokyo. I felt myself missing my cats back home.

Cat cafes are popular in Tokyo as some of the Japanese who like cats could not keep cats/pets in their apartments. We saw another cat cafe in another part of Shimo-kitazawa. Peeping through the glass panels, Cateriam looks more appealing.

When we left Shimo-kitazawa for Jiyugaoka, I started to feel queasy. I wasn't sure if it was because the oily okonomiyaki didn't agree with me or I didn't get enough sleep the past 2 nights (1st was watching movie on plane and 2 hours of sleep and 2nd was cleaning my luggage due to leaking bottle of cough mixture and 4 hours of sleep). I didn't want to spoil the fun for Sis and Cousin, so I was hoping the sick feeling would go away. While Sis and Cousin did some shopping at Uniqlo at Jiyugaoka, I sat at the cushiony seat and closed my eyes. Cousin suggested resting at Sweet Forest, a place where cake/pastry shops come together and people can order any desserts they want (like our food court but this is a dessert paradise for dessert lovers). Once we reached there, I quickly went to the toilet to puke. I felt much better after that and had some oolong tea while they had strawberry tart and strawberry shortcake. I didn't take photos at that time, so I can't show you Sweet Forest and the cakes. At the same building, there was a interesting shop called Cuoco selling baking equipment and ingredients.

We didn't have dinner with Cousin and Cousin-in-law due to my condition. On the way back, we saw a statue with a cat on top of it at Ikebukuro station and people were taking photos and trying to touch it.

By then, I was well enough to check out the convenience stores near our hotel to get bread for breakfast the next day :)