Japan 2017 – Day 6

Today I leave for Nagoya to meet up with 2 friends from FFXIV, B and Z, whom which we have never seen each other in real life before.

I managed to get a reserved seat on the left side of the train so I could see Mount Fuji during the ride.

But unfortunately due to bad weather, I couldn’t see it.

It didn’t take me long enough to identify the both of them based on the descriptions they gave in our LINE group. We had 味噌煮込みうどん (Google translate calls it Miso-stewed udon) for lunch and headed of to the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park. Sort of like a train museum.

Entering the exhibition area, there are 3 trains displayed. This is probably one of the earliest trains.

Followed by the bullet train.

And then the new magnetic levitation train which I don’t think is in service yet.

We went into the maglev train simulator which simulates what you see outside the window and how it feels like riding on one as it transitions from running on wheels to floating in the air.

Too bad the computer-generated window view simulation didn’t have a view of Mount Fuji.

There is a room which houses a huge diorama and has lots of trains running on it.

The main area of the museum houses lots of carriages from the old days. Some of them, you can go in and look around.

I especially love the wooden ones.

And also the fonts on the exterior.

After a short break here, we walked over to Maker’s Pier nearby. It’s like a small shopping district with lots of interesting shops. I was expecting more hand-made stuff but most of what I saw were definitely mass-produced products.

But still it’s a nice place for a short walk.

We stopped by Oasis 21 for a short while before heading to Sekai no Yamachan, main branch for dinner and beer!

Japan 2017 – Day 5

The main highlight of today was to see and ride the monorail train in Chiba.

Took it to Chiba zoo to see how foreign zoos are compared to Singapore’s. I think Singapore’s has more variety but there are also some species in Chiba’s that Singapore’s does not have.

Anyway, the first exhibit I see is this guy taking a nap.

Then I went on to see other monkey species, birds, land animals. But the most important one of all is the red panda. The world needs more red pandas.

After an hour of walking through all the exhibits, on my way out, I dropped by to check on that guy.

Still napping.

Then I headed off to Odaiba to checkout the Unicorn Gundam.

Went in to Diver City for dinner and window shopping until the next transformation show.

Pretty neat!

After the show, I went to this Oedo Onsen Monogatari place where the characters in the Genshiken manga visited. It’s an onsen theme-park set in the Oedo period.

Lots of tourists here.

And I suspect it’s because there’s so many tourists, the onsen isn’t as hot enough as the other ones I’ve been to.

But besides that, it’s amazing inside. Izakayas and lots of different food places. Huge area with reclining chairs where you can watch TV and take a nap.

Definitely a place I’d like to go again.

From here, I took a free shuttle bus to Tokyo station and then back to my hotel.

Japan 2017 – Day 4

Today I head off to Utsunomiya to meet a long time JP friend from my FFXI days, Z.

The first time we met was during my first trip to Japan in 2007 in Akihabara. Then again in 2010 were we went to Shizuoka with a few other FFXI friends and all of us spent the night in a hotel in Atami, drinking away.

When I compare the level of Japanese I spoke back then and now, I could tell there was a great deal of improvement.

Z now owns a car and offered to drive me around. I googled up some places in Utsunomiya and chose the Ooya Shiryokan 大谷資料館.

It’s a huge underground cavern where people use to extract rocks from. It’s now mostly used to store wine, hold exhibitions and as a filming location for local dramas and movies.

Next we walked to Ooya Kannon temple nearby.

The Gardens behind the Ooya Kannon Temple

And near it is another Kannon statue made for peace.

27 meters tall statue of the Peace Kannon

Z then drove me back to his quiet little hometown for a little tour before we had dinner and then sending me back to the station where I took the Shinkansen back.

Japan 2017 – Day 3

Today I set off to explore what is supposed to be a part of Tokyo that still has old buildings. Following the directions mentioned in a post I came across on Tofugu, I set off to Kayaba Coffee.

While the closest station is Uguisudani on the Yamanote Line,  it is still a very long walk. About 30 minutes?

Arriving at the coffee place, I requested to be seated on the second floor which has tatami floors and windows that rattle when there’s wind outside.

I ordered the morning set and chose egg sandwich with coffee and it also comes with what I think is a small cup of onion soup.

Then I walked through the cemetery.

Visited a few shrines/temples along the way until I end up at Yanaka Ginza.

Had a donut called “cat’s tail” simply because it has a long shape like a cat’s tail.

Next location was the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

The observation decks are open on Sundays. Tried to see Fuji Mountain from here but it was too hazy.

Then finally, the Kiyosumi gardens where the focus of this garden is on rocks.

Ended the day having drinks at Maid Bar Maple in Akihabara. I find this place more enjoyable than the other maid cafes in the area.

Japan 2017 – Day 2

I started the day searching for the Heavensward PS Vita again. No luck.

Eventually bought a brand new one from BicCamera Tax Free, and getting another 5% discount by paying with a credit card.

It’s weird to get discounts by paying with a credit card instead of cash. In Singapore, quite a few places charge you an extra fee for making your payment with a credit card. Take our taxis for example. You have to pay an extra $1 “admin fee” if you wish to pay using a credit card.

This is because credit card companies charge businesses a transaction fee. While businesses are not allowed to pass on this fee to the customer, they could just call it something else like “admin fee” and claim that it has nothing to do with the credit card transaction.

Anyway, back to Japan.

Tried to get tickets for the Ghibli Museum but they were all sold out. It was a last minute decision to go there so I didn’t buy them online in advance. Next trip perhaps.

In my second trip, a friend brought me to Cat Street in Shibuya and I absolutely love the environment there. No tall buildings. Rows of shops. I can’t describe it well but I love this place.

So I went there again seeking a restaurant for dinner. I got off from Harajuku station and it was drizzling lightly and the skies began to darken. Perhaps I should’ve come here earlier then search for my PS Vita at night.

I found a nice little restaurant, Creperie, which… sells crepes. But really good crepes.

I ordered a course meal (or was it a set meal?) that served this.

Then this for dessert.

A glass of tea was included. It was all delicious.

From there, I walked to Shibuya station, stopping by to check out this alley of very small izakayas, before returning to my hotel room.