day 2: tokyo, japan

On our second day, we headed to Takeshita Street in Harajuku where most of the restaurants and shops weren’t open yet sadly.

We found a place to eat besides McDonalds called NOA CAFE. I suppose their popular for their waffles, and it was pretty delicious. I normally don’t even like waffles either. And apparently melon soda is very popular in Japan so I gave it a go. Not bad, but this is coming from a person that doesn’t normally indulge in soda either. It was just a little too carbonated for my liking.

From Takeshita Street we walked to Meiji Shrine; it was a short stroll to the entrance, but the actual walk to the shrine lends some distance through a forest. I would say it’s a casual stroll at the very most. The Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Once you walk through the torii at the entrance, there are  barrels of sake that were donated to the shrine along the pathway.

I assume it is tradition to wash your hands, rinse your face and mouth before entering the shrine because they had an area for visitors to do this. The water was very, very cold, but I’m sure it feels rather nice if only the weather was way warmer.

Once we entered the shrine, there is a wishing tree of sorts where people pray, write notes of fortune, and hang it on the tree. I think since it’s sort of the beginning of a new year, there were a lot of people partaking in this action.

Afterwards we walked to the NHK Studio Park; I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’re with Japanese children. Ha. Everything was written in Japanese and sadly they did not have a large domo-con collection, which is why we wanted to go there in the first place.

For lunch we had ramen at Kyushu Jangara ramen which was recommended by a high school friend of mine. Their ramen is well know for their kyushu-style ramen noodles, which of course I had to try. It was probably the best ramen I had out of the 4 times I ended up eating ramen during my Japan trip. Haha

After filling our tummies, we went to LaForet Harajuku (I didn’t take any photos there, but basically it has 100 shops of lolita fashion), and Tokyu Plaza Omotesando/Harajuku (pictured below). The cool thing about this mall besides the small boutiques is that at the rooftop, there’s a really nice Starbucks. Yes, how American of me to say this, but seriously, the patio was nicely designed and we got a great view of the cityscape.

Afterwards we went to Kiddyland. For children and people like me, this is heaven! Actually, it was real overwhelming to see floors and floors of cutesy things to play with, touch, and what not. I felt like I was at a puppy store (okay, not as great…). I saw these weird dolls (pictured below), and was tempted to buy one of them as a souvenir, but thought they were way too odd.

Next up, Tokyo Tower where I found it real difficult to take pictures from their observations deck. You don’t even get to go outside, sadly. I did manage to get a few shots though…one of them being the starfish. Admittedly, I didn’t even know it was called the starfish till someone pointed it out to me on my Instagram. Ha!!

We had dinner at FREY’s Famous Pizzeria which is this petite restaurant on a quiet corner in Roppongi. I had read about this on Tokyo Eats, this food blogger I started following months before I went to Japan. She raved about it, and I had to go and try it out for myself. Is it as delicious as pizza in San Francisco (not that San Francisco is the most famous place for pizza anyway…)? Maybe…We had the thin-crusted, bianca pizza and it was pretty darn good. If I’m ever back in Tokyo again, I wouldn’t mind going back to try their other pizzas.

We ended our evening taking a stroll through Roppongi and rested our feet at a bookstore (which I forgot the name of). The good thing about going in January was that some of the streets still were decorated with holiday lights. So festive!

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day 1: tokyo, japan

We headed to the San Jose Airport at around 5am for our 6:40am flight out. Thank god for my odd sleeping schedule because waking up at that time wasn’t an issue at all! We had a short layover in Los Angeles before we landed at Narita International Airport. As soon as we go through customs, we got our JR Pass to ride the rail to Tokyo Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku.

After checking into our hotel and taking a quick break, we made our way to Tokyu Hands’ flagship store before it closed! The dyi/hobbies store was crazy big; I can’t quite recall, but there must have been at least 7 floors to explore. This place would be heaven for the artsy, crafty people.

Afterwards we went to the Tokyu Food Show where Brian felt extremely overwhelmed! Lots of food and lots of people! We picked up dinner there and then realized there was no place to eat it! It’s not common in Tokyo for people to eat on the streets.

To end our evening, we went to check out the infamous Shibuya Crossing. Was it as amazing as it has been portrayed in movies like Lost in Translation? I would say so, but I can imagine it being crazier if there were more people. Hence this photo will come later in my entries.

When we got back to our hotel, there was this couple having sex across the way from our hotel. Ha! I thought we were staying next to a love hotel for a second there, but alas it was just a couple having sex.