Monday, June 27, 2016

Japan Trip June 2016 - Part 2 Tokyo City Tour

Our first morning in Japan was nice and warm. We started the day early as we had a city tour booked. The Hato Bus was recommended by my friend and it turned out that JCB had a discount for their tour. It had to be booked in advance through JCB Plaza (with toll free number) and paid on the tour day by JCB card. We were meeting my friend MF at the bus station, so we stopped at Mark City Mall about 2 minutes from the apartment to have breakfast.

Mark City Mall
Excelsior Coffee seems to be very common in Tokyo but we found that the locations were different from one another. Some allow smoking, some don't. Some sell croissants, some don't. In fact, they are so different that I wasn't sure they were even related. They had proper latte but limited pastries. For breakfast, they have sets that are much cheaper than buying food and coffee separately.

We took the train from Shibuya Station to Hamamatsucho Station and walked to the bus station. My friend was already there waiting for us. It didn't take us long to register and got on the bus. Gotta love the Japanese punctuality! 

Our first stop was the Meiji Shrine. The shrine was built to commemorate Meiji Emperor's role in Meiji Restoration. This make me think about Rurouni Kenshin. Fufufufu.... 

The shrine was built by an Iris Garden in Tokyo's Shibuya area. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to visit the garden that day. It was a pity as they were in season at that time. There were barrels of sake on display on the way, they were donated to the shrine. We also saw barrels of wine on display, also donated to the shrine.

Barrels of sake

Meiji Jingu Torii Gate

The Meiji shrine is a popular spot for weddings on weekend, so we were fortunate to see not just one but two wedding couples during our visit. One was doing a traditional photo session, and the other was doing a procession into the shrine.

Wedding Photoshoot

Below are some pictures from the wedding procession. According to my friend, black and gold are considered the most formal colours and that is why the closest family members wore black and gold kimonos for this procession.

Near the parking area, there were tents set up. They were showing the making of a Japanese cake. Apparently this was a rare occasion so good thing we went that day!

Since our arrival, Miss Kiki had been very impressed with how organized Japan was. I taught her how to sort and separate the garbage, and to clean up after herself. She really enjoyed it and said that she wanted to continue it in Jakarta and be a good example to other people here. In the bus, there were plastic bags in each of the seat pocket. Apparently this was your personal garbage bag. So you put all your trash into this small bag and it will be collected at the end of the tour. Had my friend not been with me at that time, I wouldn't have known what it was for!


Our next stop was the Imperial Palace ground. It was an extremely large complex in a very expensive area. We were told that each square meter around the area costs around US $ 360.000. But this was not the most expensive in Tokyo!

The Imperial Palace is still used by the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. We were told that Empress Michiko was the first Empress that came from a commoner and thus she became very popular among the Japanese people. The Imperial couple met at the tennis court making the sport extremely popular at that time.  The whole ground was clean and very well maintained, with large garden/park areas.

From the palace, we moved on to the Asakusa area. It was hustling and bustling with many vendors and tourists, and there we saw many tourists wearing Kimonos walking around. At the end of Asakusa Street Market, stood the Sensoji Temple, or also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple. Kannon is Buddhist god of mercy and apparently the Canon camera company was named after her. By this time Miss Kiki was getting sleepy and tired, because she went to bed really late the night before and had to get up early.

On the way to lunch, she fell asleep on the bus so I had to give her a piggy back ride up to the restaurant.

After lunch, we went to a pier to go on a cruise around the Tokyo Bay. There we met Pepper, a new robot they just  'hired' to inform the guests about the area. Unfortunately he only spoke in Japanese, so I had to get translations from my friend.

Miss Kiki had a lot of fun on the ship, we went around for about half an hour and it was relaxing. We were able to go under the Rainbow Bridge to get a bottom to top view.

Photo courtesy of MF

Our last stop was to Odaiba. This time we crossed the Rainbow Bridge to get there. The bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the Shibaura Pier to Odaiba Island. Fun fact: There was a big Toshiba building in Shibaura area. Apparently this is where the company started, thus the name Tokyo-Shibaura --> Toshiba.

Odaiba Island is a reclaimed island and is home to several buildings with advance architecture, one of which is the Fuji TV Building. One day if I were to go with my dad we should check it out. It is also where you can find a large Gundam statue. At one point a man paid an average full-year salary for a Japanese to sit on the Gundam's palm and took a picture on it. Anyhow, we made a stop at Aquacity mall where they have the largest Daiso (100 Yen store) in Tokyo. We have Daiso in Indonesia too, but this one was BIG! Well we only spent a little bit of time there because we didn't have enough time and we were tired...

A picture with the mini statue of Liberty...

Teabags for a whole bottle

After the tour dismissal, we took the train from Tokyo Station to Shibuya Station. Inside the Tokyo Station we bought some Tokyo Banana and Tokyo Milk Cheese. Then we had Korean BBQ for dinner, and we parted ways with MF. It was a great day to have spent it together and it was really good to have seen her again.

 In the evening we did a load of laundry. Another convenience in renting an apartment... as long as you can read the instructions. Luckily our AirBnb host gave very good instructions on how to operate it.

And that was the end of Part 2... stay tuned for the next one!