Visiting Japan: Days 4, 5 and 6

Here we go, a few more adventures in Japan! If you want to read about part one, click here.

Day 4

We set out early this morning to go to Shibuya with the rest of the family. It was the last day of the year and it was sunny, but cold. First stop was Shibuya 109. We got the lift up to the last floor and slowly made our way down the shops. I must say, my boyfriend was incredibly patient with me! Not that I actually looked at that many shops, as most things were either too cute or too short for my taste, but I did spend quite a bit of time around some new Gudetama gashapon machines and looking at Sanrio socks.

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We then walked towards Harajuku, stopping in Tower Records on the way (huge music store), where I didn’t buy anything because CDs in Japan are expensive! We also ended up having ramen on the way , where you had to first buy your order on a vending machine. It did have pictures, so it was easy to choose. However, when the waitress arrived with our order no one knew what they had asked for in the first place.

At some point we got separated and me and my boyfriend walked towards Harajuku, as I’ve always wanted to check out the lolita fashion stores and stuff. It was quite difficult to find, as Harajuku is the name of the area, not of the famous street. It’s called Takeshita-dori and it was packed!

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First thing we did was purikura! I saw a pink sign announcing it and I dragged my boyfriend inside, not knowing what I was about to see. It was an underground corridor full of different purikura machines, each of a different style or advertised by different celebraties. There were only young girls down there, and there were even dressing rooms!

And, of course, there were queues for the most popular machines. So we just got into the one that didn’t have a queue. We didn’t know that you had a time limit when making the million choices you need to do before actually taking the pictures, but it was so much fun.

After that we walked down the street and found some really cute sweaters. Maybe I’ll show you some pictures of my Japan haul after, if anyone is interested (please say in the comments!). Although all the food is gone by now…

We went back home, had dinner and waited for the time to go to the temple for New Year’s. It was cold and we walked all the way. Unfortunately, we miscalculated the time and spent midnight near a 7Eleven on the way to the temple.

When we got there we decided to go to the smaller shrine and rang the bell to make our wishes. We also got fortunes and mine was one of the worst! So, of course, I had to go and tie it up in the main temple so this year wouldn’t suck as much. My boyfriend’s mom told us that the luckiest coin to throw in when praying is the 5 yen coin.20160101_000435

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Sorry about the blurry picture, but my phone doesn’t do well at night…

The temple was packed and the air smelled of incense and sweet sake. I had heard of amazake (sweet sake) so I just had to try some. What I didn’t know was that it’s actually warm rice porridge, and I don’t really like porridge. It was sweet though.

We also had some takoyaki and some kusamochi (which are green, grass flavoured mochi with a sweet bean filling called anko), which was so tasty and warm. There were different shops around the temple as well, most of them selling little Chinese zodiac figurines.

After a while, we walked back home, stopping at the same 7Eleven to get some warm drinks, as it was quite cold.

Day 5

Obviously, we all slept in. It was the first day of the year and so we had a huge meal with the whole family. It was so delicious! But people eat so much and so fast! It took me so long to eat the mochi soup (ozoni), so much so that my boyfriend’s mom asked me if I had grown tired of it!

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Everything was delicious though, and after that we headed to Parco, a big department store in Chofu, and had a look at the New Year’s Day sales in Uniqlo. I had a matcha latte in Starbucks (so expensive!) and ordered it myself (I was very proud).

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I spent ages looking around the big book shop and checking the Fujifilm Instax camera film prices. In the end we were hungry and I tried some kare pan (fried bread with a curry filling) which I loved and had again and again throughout the rest of the trip. I swear, when I get back in September, one of the things I’ll eat first will be kare pan.

Day 6

This was a great day. In the morning, my boyfriend and I set out to Ueno zoo, but it was also the day he told me about how all the different JR stations had their own stamps and how people collect them. So, of course, we spent a bit of time inside the station looking for a suitable notebook in the shops and then looking for the stamp itself, which was right next to where we had to get our JR National Passes from.

If you’re planning on going to Japan and travelling around a bit, I really recommend getting the JR Pass. We used it all the time and it ended up saving us a lot of money. You have to ask for it before you actually travel to Japan though, so plan ahead!

Anyway, we went to Ueno Zoo, which was a lot of fun. There were pandas, although we were only able to see their butts, and otters and red pandas, and all sorts of other animals. It was a bit full, because it was a holiday, but it was worth it and cheap (only 600 yen!).

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After a few hours in the zoo, we got the train to Ikebukuro and found the Pokemon Centre! For some reason, though, I thought that the Pokemon Cafe was in Ikebukuro, so we were reallly hungry and expecting Pokemon themed meals and were met by a poster of the meals, but no actual café…

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Sad times, but it was still cool, and I got myself some Pokemon merchandise, which included a hand towel, as Japanese public toilets don’t usually have anything for you to dry your hands with but toilet paper. At the moment I’m using it as a face cloth, but it’ll always be in my purse when I move.

To ease our hunger, we decided to have some fancy cake, and I just had to go for the classic strawberry shortcake that I’ve seen so often in anime and manga. It was really tasty, and strangely similar to a cake my grandmother used to make for my birthday parties.

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To finish up our day, we met up with his family and his mother’s friend Yokko, who was an amazing lady who enjoyed diving and wore a leather jacket and took us to an amazing Okinawa style restaurant in Shinjuku. One of the best meals I had during this trip. We had a lot of beer, ate peanut flavoured tofu, sea grapes and squid ink rice. Delicious.

Alright, I guess this post is long enough! Don’t worry, there’s a lot more to come, as we started using our JR Pass the very next day!

Please comment! I love hearing back from you guys!

Click here for part 3.

Until next time,

Inês

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