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.

Japan 2017 – Day 1

This marks my fifth visit to Japan and 10 years since my first visit, 2 years since my fourth.

It is now my custom to have ramen with beer on my first day. I wish they had draft beer instead of canned ones.

Hakata Furyu's Tonkotsu Ramen
Hakata Furyu’s Tonkotsu Ramen

Once again I’ve chosen to stay at Remm Akihabara because of it’s close distance to the train station and it’s in Akihabara! Haven for people like myself. It makes shopping easy as I can unload stuff I bought and then head out for another round of treasure hunting.

The only peaceful place on Earth

I quickly began searching for a used PS Vita Heavensward Edition and ended up with sore feet on the first day. Not good. I should get some shoes comfortable for walking long distances.

Never found the Vita I wanted and began considering getting a new one instead.

Another custom of mine is to visit Shibuya and order coffee from the Starbucks there that has a good view of the famous Shibuya Crossing.

It might be a waste of valuable vacation time but I enjoy it.

Things I look forward to

Everyday I look forward to my morning cup of coffee.

Every week I look forward to the weekends where I can relax.

Every month I look forward to meeting up with my friends.

Every 6 months I look forward to traveling overseas.

Every year I look forward to looking back on all the things I’ve achieved.