Japan

Tokyo Itinerary Part III: Harujuku and Shibuya; Tsukiji Fish Market; Imperial Palace and Akihabara

Also See:
Tokyo Itinerary Part I: Accommodation, Getting Around & Shinjuku
Tokyo Itinerary Part II: Ghibli Museum, Roppongi, Asakura, Ueno and Ginza

DAY FOUR: Suggested Itinerary for Harujuku and Shibuya

Tip: Visit Harujuku on Sundays.

Start the day with lunch after a night of partying on Saturday.

A bowl of ramen at Kyusyu Jangara (Jingumae 1-13-21, Shibuya-ku; 3404-5572; 10.45am-3am; JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku (Omote-sando exit), Chiyoda or Fukutoshin Line to Meiji-jingumae exit 3) sets you back at ¥700-¥1000 (S$10.50-$15). Sesame oil broth is reminiscent of Nissin noodles but much, much more savory, good till the last drop. The best thin noodles I ever had. Char siew (roasted pork) is silky and very flavorful. A pity about the egg–too hardboiled.

See facebook for more photos for restaurant and food.

DAY FOUR: Suggested Itinerary for Harujuku and Shibuya (continued)

Meiji-jingu (Meiji Shrine. Kami-zono-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku; 3379-5511; admission free; website)

Purify yourself before entering the Meiji shrine.

Write your wishes and hang it on a tree. Gods understand English too but too bad I don’t believe in gods anymore.

Takeshita-Dori (Street of teenage fashion)

Jingu-Bashi (Jingu Bridge where the cosplay people are on Sunday afternoons)

The Cosplay people weren’t around as it was the Gay Pride Weekend. Kinda the same isn’t it? This picture shows: If Power Rangers were gay.

Hot bear in leather and boa, contrasting texture, very cool. With Lady Gaga in the centre, singing, Papa, paparazzi…

Yoyogi-koen (Yoyogi Park where Tokyoites express their creativity by putting up dance and singing performances. Can park here for a picnic.)

Shopping at Harujuku

-The flagship stores of Japanese designers are all around this area so if you have cash to spare, visit Comme Des Garcons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Takeshita-Dori (Street of teenage fashion)

Chicago Thrift Store (6-31-21 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 3409-5017; website; 11am-8pm) for vintage clothing.

-Souvenirs at Oriental Bazaar (Jingumae 5-9-13, Shibuya-ku; 3400-3933; 10am-7pm)

Spiral Records (experimental music label. Minami-Aoyama 5-6-23, Minato-ku; 3498-1224; 11am-8pm)

Kiddyland (Jingumae 6-1-9, Shibuya-ku; 3409-3431; 10am-9pm): 6 levels of toys for kids and teens.

DAY FOUR: Suggested Itinerary for Harujuku and Shibuya (continued)

-After a day at Harujuku, travel to Shibuya at late afternoon or dusk. The Shibuya Crossing, featured in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, is probably the most famous intersections in the world, with people crossing in all directions. Although it may be quite bo-liao to see a crossing, the energy is rocking and infectious. You feel alive.

Muscle Theatre (Jinnan 2-1-1, Shibuya-ku; 3465-9903; website; ¥5800-9800 (S$90-150). Campy, exciting acrobatic performance.

Shopping at Shibuya

Shibuya 109 (Dogenzaka 2-29-1, Shibuya-ku; 3477-5111; 10am-9pm) – trendiest looks, especially for teenage girls. Jail bait heaven.

Tokyo Hands (Udagawacho 12-18, Shibuya-ku; 5489-5111; website; 10am-8.30pm) – similar to Mustafa in Singapore, it sells everything you ever need and not need.

Loft (Udagawacho 21-1, Shibuya-ku; 3462-3807; 10am-9pm): Like Mustafa catered to a younger, trendier crowd.

Ranking Ranqueen (2nd fl, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku; 3770-5480; 9am-11pm): Insane cosmetic products: teeth whitener, cellulite remover; lotion to make your face look smaller.

Noh Theatre at Shibuya

Kokuritsu No-Gakudo (Sendagaya 4-18-1, Shibuya-ku; 3423-1331; website; tickets from ¥2800-¥5600 (S$40-90)

Cerulean Tower No Theatre (Sakuragaokacho 26-1, Shibuya-ku; 3477-6412; website)

Kanze No-Gakudo (Shoto 1-16-4, Shibuya-ku; 3469-5241; website; tickets from ¥3150 (S$40)

What to Eat at Shibuya

Fugu is pufferfish (shown above), one of the most poisonous fish, eaten more for boasting rights than taste. Except for the tingling feeling on the tongue, fugu is tasteless. Don’t worry about the poison; Japan issues strict licenses to chefs who can deal with fugu, so it is relatively safe. Fugu is usually exorbitant but at this chain restaurant Torafugutei とらふぐ亭 (King Bldg. 1F, Maruyama-cho 5-6, Shibuya-ku; 03-3462-7929), a fugu set meal including fugu sashimi, hotpot and fried fugu costs ¥5000 (S$77) and if you add in the shirako (whale’s sperm, pictured above), the set meal costs ¥7000 (S$110). The restaurant gives you a private traditional Japanese room but I was disgruntled at the tasteless of fugu.

See facebook for more photos for restaurant and food.

To me, Go Go Curry (Basement, 12-12 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku; 03-6231-5534; website) epitomizes the kitschy, make-believe world of Japan. The jingle played continually while we were there. A vending machine ticketing style. There was a helpful server who speaks Mandarin. About ¥700 (S$10). Average but we didn’t come to Tokyo to eat average.

Just beside Go Go Curry is a crepe shop that sells crepes made on the spot. Average too.

Facebook for more food and restaurant photos of Go Go Curry and crepe shop.

DAY Five: Final day, Suggested Itinerary

Tsukiji Fish Market (website; closed 2nd and 4th Wed of the month, Sun and PH). #1 tourist spot for Tokyo. The auction only allows 100 viewers a day. Head to the office by 4.30am. But when we were there at 4.30am, the auction was already over that day. Visitors can explore the market after 9am.

After Tsukiji Fish Market, tradition calls for a sushi breakfast. You have to walk behind the market through the dangerous thoroughfares where mini-vehicles use to carry fish may knock you down at any moment. Be careful.

There are two sushi restaurants, side-by-side, to choose from Sushi Daiwa (大和. Bldg 6, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Chuo-ku; 3547-6807; 5.30am-1.30pm M-Sat) and Sushi Dai (大.  , 6-21-2 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku; 3541 3738; 5am-1pm). Sushi Daiwa has a bigger restaurant so the queue moves faster–takes about 2 hours of queue–but it also has more tourists queuing up. Sushi Dai has more Japanese queueing but takes 4 hours for your turn. We opted for Sushi Dai.

This was the queue at 4.40am:

We got in 1 hour 45 minutes later.

It was worth the waiting time. Every single second of it. The sushi is spectacular and the rice is warm and  My eating partner unconsciously closed his eyes and gave an orgasmic look on his face, like he were on one of those Taiwanese TV eating show. He said he felt so happy after the meal and he didn’t want to eat anything else to taint the memory of the sushi.

See Facebook for complete list of sushi and restaurant photos.

DAY Five: Final day, Suggested Itinerary (Continued)

After the sushi, now puke it out with the Sumida River Cruise (starts at 9.45am).

Imperial Palace. Limited visitors a day. Apply at the website.  Worth a visit.

The gate to the Imperial Palace reminds me of a Kurosawa movie. I was in awe as I entered.

Family crest at the gate of the Imperial Palace–no disrespect–but I adore how anti-climax and simple the crest is. Like, “Hey enemies, never see my crest? Then you die, not my pa-sar (problem). Archers, shoot.”

Yasunkuni-jinja (Kudankita 3-1-1, Chiyoda-ku; 3261-8326, website; 9am-5pm) is the temple/museum that started the worldwide protest against Japan whitewashing their role in World War II.

-Akihabara Electric Town where you find anime, electronic gadgets and otaku. You can sit at a Maids’ Cafe where the waitresses dress up in cosplay French maid uniform, and you pretend you’re the master. But many of these cafes don’t allow photo-taking so we didn’t go in. What’s the point?

Where to Eat Near Imperial Palace

We couldn’t find any recommendations online for any eateries near Imperial Palace but we were starving so we headed to Shin-Marunouchi Building (Marunouchi 1-5-1, Chiyoda-ku; 3-5218-5100; Website), just 5 minutes’ walk from the Palace. The building looks very chichi but the plethora of restaurants makes pricing very competitive! There are certainly high-end restaurants such as Salt by Luke Morgan (read my review of the Singapore branch here) but we went to Soba Kichi (7th Floor; 5222-5133), which is only about ¥1500 (S$22), including a beer, soba and tempura. Very decent tempura but the soba is a clear winner. I had the curry soba, and I relished every drop that I drained the curry after I finished the soba. The dessert, brown sugar ice cream in red bean paste, is not to be missed either. I described it to my friend, “The dessert is giving a middle finger to diabetes.” Although it is sweet, it is palatable till the last drop, like the curry. Service is shaky. Shout “sumimasen” to get server’s attention.

The restaurant also offers a fantastic view of the historical Tokyo Station.

See Facebook for more food and restaurant photos.

That’s the end of Tokyo 5-day itinerary!

Don’t forget to buy some snacks for your friends and colleagues at the airport terminal. I spent S$200 on snacks!! Tip: There are three shops at Terminal 1, don’t spend all your money on one shop alone! I highly recommend: sesame mochi; banana cookie; and all flavors of kitkat, such as orange, sakura, strawberry, green tea, brown sugaretc. They are very fragrant!

Categories: Japan, Tokyo

22 replies »

  1. Thanks so much! I’m going to Japan in March next year and was wondering what time I should head to Tsukiji fish market for the auction. Looks like 4am might be a safer bet than 4.30am! Will print and keep your suggested itineraries for the trip :)

    Like

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