Day 2 - Ueno Park, Harajuku, and Akihabara
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 3 of 8 › view all entries
First thing we did was go straight to the 99Yen store for breakfast! You can't beat 3 kolaches for 99Yen! Then we went to Ueno Park. It was already packed with locals and tourists since it was a national holiday. The park is the home of several museums and a zoo. We walked around the park and saw some locals doing tai chi. Gabs wanted to go to the zoo, but it wasn't open yet, so we headed north outside the park to some temple (where we saw more locals doing their morning karate exercise) and Jyoyein Temple (sp?). We also visited Yanaka Cemetary where the Tokugawa shogun family was buried.
We headed back to the park and bought tickets to the zoo.
Around 10, we headed over to Harajuku station. It was Sunday, the popular day that the Harajuku girls hang out outside the station. The Frommer's guide mentioned that the number of Harajuku girls hanging out there have dwindled, but we were able to see several there. I think now, those who do hangout is mostly there for photo opps for the tourists, not so much for hanging out. I thought we would see a lot more, but we saw more tourists than harajuku girls. And there were some girls that even carried signs, "Free hugs and kisses!" But at least we got to see them! And i guess they change their "outfits" throughout the day because they carry small suitcases with them!
After that, we headed to Meiji Jingu, the Shinto Shrine dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife.
Continued on to Takeshita-dori, the street filled with shops, restaurants, cafes. I thought the prices were expensive for clothes, at least similar to US shops so didn't buy anything there. They even have wolfgang pucks and Mcdonald's at the entrance of the street. We browsed through, saw several shops for Harajuku outfits, which are comparable to Montrose shops that sell used clothes from the past. I couldn't imagine spending 5000-10000Y for outrageous looking outfits that will look STRANGE in the US.
From Takeshita-dori, we turned right to some other street that led us to Omotesando-dori, another street full of shops. These are the more high-end shops like LV and Gucci. Obviously, we weren't going to check those out. LOL We went to the Oriental Bazaar shop that sells Japanese souvenirs. There was just TONS of people on a Sunday afternoon going shopping. It was nuts.
We ate lunch at Jonathan's restaurant. There was a short wait, so I had to write my name in the wait list.
So after lunch, we continued on looking around the area. We walked on Omotesando and arrived at Oriental Bazaar, one of the area's popular souvenir store.
After Omotesando, we went to Akihabara. This is the area that sells electronics goodies. As I mentioned on my first entry, the prices were comparable to U.S. prices on goods. We also decided not to get anything here so we're better off buying sale prices back at home. LAOX is one of the popular stores there. I think the 7th floor had the souvenir stuff. I did want to buy a geisha doll to sit next to my chinese empress doll at home, but decided to wait til we got back to Tokyo from Kyoto so I wouldn't have to lug our goodies around.
So we were out pretty much the entire day. We were so exhausted and we took the JR back. We still didn't eat dinner, so when we arrived at Ueno Station, we looked around for some place to eat. The nice sitdown restaurants in the station were like $10+. We really didn't want to spend that much on dinner, we just wanted the simple, eat-n-go meals. Then we saw a guy ordering a meal from a vending machine. We watched him put his coins in, push a button of the meal he wanted, grabbed the ticket that printed out, went into the lil restaurant, handed the ticket to the cook, cook handed him the meal, man took his meal to a counter-like table and stood there to eat his dinner. All this took no more than 3 min, including the time he ate his dinner!! AMAZING. Ant and I were like OMG we're doing this! The vending machine meal items displayed the picture of the meal but some kanji characters. So we pretty much just looked at the picture and picked out whatever looked good. The meals were udon or soba (buckwheat noodle) soup with different types of meat choices. The meals were less than $5. I chose soba soup with a clump of fried shrimp, onion, and not sure what else was in it. Ant ordered I think beef and udon noodle. So I got my ticket from the machine, walked in the lil restaurant and handed her my little ticket. In 10 seconds, she gave me my dinner! For like a second I stood there waiting for her to tell me how much. I FORGOT I already paid at the vending machine. I'm a dork. So we ate our dinner there, wow, I really learned how to use chopsticks fast... that or I was starving!!!! Man it was delicious@!
Gabby doesn't like soup so she went to a nearby small shop that sold packaged dimsum, I think it was $5. She just took it back to the hotel and ate it there.
Since we were leaving to Fuji-Five-Lakes the next day, we did a head start on packing that nite. We really didn't want to bring mine and Anthony's suitcase so we were lucky that the hotel let us leave a luggage in the lobby's back room. As long as we were coming back for our last two night's in Tokyo, it was ok.