Thursday, July 16, 2015

Japan trip during June 2015 holidays - Tokyo (Part 1)

I have been blogging about making bento since 2010 when my boy started his playgroup in a Preschool which does not prepare meals for the children.  Throughout the bento-ing journey, I learnt to cook Japanese dishes and meals which has also became my son's favourite.  Todate,  I have acquired quite a number of bento books/accessories/boxes mostly from Daiso - the $2 store, some from online shops and others from my hubby who travelled to Tokyo for work previously.  When my hubby popped the question of planning a family vacation in overseas during the June school holidays.  Naturally, Japan came into my mind! The birth place of bento and onigiri!  Of course,  I grabbed the opportunity to include Kyoto in our itinerary where the infamous Bento & Co located.  Kyoto is a beautiful place to visit and stay.  Less congested than Tokyo and Osaka. Beside Kyoto, our trip briefly covered Tokyo, Nara and Osaka prefectures.

5 June 2015  Haneda International Airport, Tokyo

On arrival at Haneda airport in Tokyo approximately around 4 pm, we took an airport transfer which has been paid for back in Singapore.  We just need to exchange the voucher with the bus tickets at the designated ticket and hotel reservation counter. We also bought 2 adults and 1 child suica card ((IC card  Afterwhich, we headed for the bus terminal 3 where we waited for the bus to bring us to Shinjuku Washington Hotel. 

Suica Card
Waiting for bus

It was a raining day and more than an hour bus ride with traffic jam on the way.  Unexpectedly, Shinjuku Washington Hotel does not has a bus unloading bay within the building like most hotels do.  Luckily, we brought only 2 luggages (1 large and 1 small) which Papa alone could managed it. Unprepared and armed with no umbrella, we dashed across a zebra crossing to the entrance of the hotel.  Another peculiar encounter was it took us a while to locate the hotel lobby/front desk at the 3rd level of the building.  There was a 7 Eleven store which sold variety of hot and cold meals and was very popular with locals and foreigners.  Microwaves also were provided outside the store too. Besides, most 7 Elevens have ATM machines.  (We only knew it much later when we ran out of cash.  Ironically, I took a picture of it at the airport not realising).   The buildings also housed several restaurants and eateries.  Since it was cold raining, we decided to have our dinner at a soba noodle shop where we tried our first experience of ordered and paid at the food vending machine.  Fascinating!

The night was still young after dinner.  We took a stroll around Shinjuku station which was connected to our hotel before we called it for a day.

Important to note

Food vending machine

6 June 2015 Shinjuku/Akihabara

The hotel room was small and with a low ceiling.  Nonetheless, we stayed comfortably enough for the three of us.  Except how I wish the double bed could be bigger to accommodate the three of us (my son was big for his age - 7 years).    This was the only hotel I knew using bean pillow instead of the soft fluffy ones.  Not too bad I thought.  We slept and woke up pretty late in the morning.  We had a Japanese style breakfast at the hotel.  It was a meal itself that consisted of a big bowl of rice, grilled salmon, onsen egg, fish cake, fermented bean, seaweed, pickles, vegetables, miso soup.  It was nice but we were not used to have such heavy meal in the morning. 

Japanese breakfast
To burn the calories, we explored the street level since it was a sunny day before heading to Uniqlo Shinjuku.  The discoveries of so many drink vending machines along the way got the man and boy so excited.  We spent about 10,000 yen to qualify for tax free purpose at Uniqlo.  Lugging a big bag of clothing (bad idea), we settled for a late lunch inside Shinjuku station.  It started to drizzle then.


Next stop was Akihabara, the central district that specialised in electronics.  That was where suica card came in handy at Shinjuku station. Walking around the already crowded Shinjuku station heightened our stress level.  With so many lines and exists (I read) certainly live up to its claim for the most busiest station.  Luckily, we have our navigator Papa to lead us.  I certainly would be lost there. It was at Akihabara that both father and son went hunting for Gacha Po (capsule toys) and could not stop.  The hunt began in Yodobashi electronic store.  Yodobashi was like a mega store that have everything under one roof from cameras, watches, electronics to cosmetics, toys...etc.  Surprisingly, they have quite a sizable capsule toys.  Adult and child alike, would all love to try their hands and luck for a Gacha Po.  The quest for gacha po was unbelievable so strong that we walked streets after streets for the little capsule toys. 

Dead tired and famished, we ended our day eating hot and cold food bought from 7 Eleven and it was really good!

At Yodoshiba Gacha Po section

Pokémon Gacha Po
Hot & cold food from 7 Eleven

7 June 2015 National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)/Shibuya

As usual, we had our Japanese breakfast in the hotel.  The highlight of today was a visit to National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) to check out Asimo, a Humanoid Robot.  Papa's must visit and see place!   First, we went to the Ticket Office to buy Nozomi Shinkasen, a faster train that took only 2 hours to reach Kyoto tomorrow afternoon.  We would be leaving Tokyo tomorrow and yet there was still a lot more about Tokyo we have not discovered. That would give us more reason to come back to Tokyo again!

At Miraikan, - 日本科学未来館 (translated as Hall of Future), we were blown away by Japanese technologies from the invention of humanoid robot 'Asimo' to therapeutic robot 'Paro''.  Ever thought of communicating with almost life like talking human androids! How these human androids would shape the future?  I could not imagine when that happens.  But children could first experience the lifestyle of Itookashi City, an imaginary city in 2050.  The star, of course, was none other than The Honda humanoid robot 'Asimo' which was a 10 minutes demonstration. We could easily spend the whole day at Miraikan.  Unfortunately, we had to move on to our destination.  After lunch at the museum, we left for Shibuya station.

Therapeutic robot - 'Paro'

At the Shibuya station, we stood at the subway exit watching the famous and most busiest pedestrian Shibuya crossing behind the glass panel. Gosh! All we can see was a sea of people moving slowly towards the intersection. Later, we braved the crowd and hastily walked across.  Oblivious of the people, we walked the streets, peeked into every display windows and shops for interesting finds.  And we noticed French establishments and eateries have gained a foot hold in Shibuya too. Apparently some of the best French patisseries were there too.  A pity we did not try any.

View from Shibuya Station
Shibuya crossing

Away from the jostling crowd, we somehow ended up at NHK studio but did not go in.  We felt at peace at Yoyoki Park where young and old gathered for a picnic, a game of Frisbee or kendama.  Passed  Harujuku station and quite disappointed that we did not spot any cosplay. As the dusk fell, we headed back to Shinjuku for dinner.  We had char siu ramen - cheap and good!

Harujuku station
Neon lights at Shinjuku

Since it was the last day in Tokyo, we went for more shopping at Tokyu hands Shinjuku.  Yeah, we all bought more things!

Stay tune for our one day Nara trip.........

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