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.
And near it is another Kannon statue made for peace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.