Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 13 (Friday 5/27)- Off to Tokyo, Day #1...

We are coming back to the last leg of our 1-week trip. We took the 9am shuttle and headed back down to Gamagori station. After a few train transfers, we got to Shinjuku station around 12:30pm. The Park Hyatt Hotel offers free shuttle near Shinjuku station, but this area is so crazy busy, we ended up taking a bus (only paid ¥100 pp) that took us directly to the hotel.

We checked into the hotel, and Darin was still tired so he decided to rest for a few hours in the afternoon while I explored the Shinjuku area on my own. It was really rainy today! Definitely not how I wanted to explore all over Tokyo. Apparently a typhoon was coming into Japan (but diverted before it came to Tokyo), but we definitely were feeling the after effects from it.

I took the free shuttle from the hotel back to Shinjuku station where there are a ton of eateries, cafes, shops, and department stores. Shinjuku station is CRAZY busy. The volume of traffic that comes here can make even me feel dizzy. Luckily, there are a lot of signs, so as long as you stay focused, you'll get through just fine.

Here are some of the stores that caught my attention this afternoon. A Sanrio Gift Gate, fully of Sanrio products, complete with a huge Hello Kitty to greet you as you enter

The stuff was so cute, it was difficult to resist buying something

I almost bought her

... until I found out she cost ¥1470 ($18)- yikes!

A bedazzled Hello Kitty iPhone cover

They even had lunchbox bentos, thermoses, etc

I also had to go into Muji, one of my new favorite stores

This Muji even had a cafe inside

There were lots of department stores within walking distances from Shinjuku station. I couldn't find my way back to the department stores, so as I was leaving Muji store, I asked an elderly lady where one of the department stores were located. She said it wasn't far, and she led me to it. How sweet of her. We talked the entire way in Japanese (it was only 5-7 minutes away), and she walked me to Mitsukoshi department store. I thanked her profusely. Definitely can't beat Japanese hospitality here.

(There was also a Takashimaya department store, but forgot to take a picture of it)

Here is a picture of the street

Many stores offer umbrella holders (those umbrella plastic bags), and some stores offer this "device", where you place your umbrella inside and then twirl it quickly to eliminate the rain and water

It is completely normal to have 12-14 floors in a department store. Here, there are 8 floors and 4 basement floors

Um, wow- even a hot yoga studio inside this department store

The basement floor tend to have lots of eateries, and I wanted a small snack so I headed down there.

I saw a bread bakery, and got 2 bread- Spicy Cheese Onion roll and a Chocolate Croissant at Johan Boulangier

Here is my onion roll- it was good. Kind of bland, but I chose it because because I saw the baker just bring it out fresh from the oven so it was so warm

My chocolate croissant- Totally had better at Choco Cro. They really skimped on the chocolate!

Satiated, I walked over to Isetan department store, and saw this gadget store. It had so many interesting and cute things. For instance, this "Cupmen", who can hold down your coffee/tea/ramen lid

Can be construed as being a bit sexual looking, but I thought it was funny

Portable chopstick holder with a chopstick rest

Banana door stoppers

Why have regular paper clips when you can have smiley ones?

Again, why have regular thumb tacks when you can have ones that are cute? (Here, it resmebles grass)

Paper holder

Here, you can dress up an average water bottle cap with a heart-shaped one

After perusing through department stores, I headed back to the hotel shuttle stop. On my way, I saw this promotional truck- why can't we have cute trucks like this in the US?

I came home just as Darin was waking up. We both took a shower, and then headed out for dinner. Darin skipped lunch so he was pretty hungry by dinnertime. We wanted to go to Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane), where they were known to have excellent yakitori (Japanese chicken kebobs). It was very close to Shinjuku station (West exit), so we headed out there.

Omoide Yokocho was a narrow alley filled with various eateries, specializing in yakitori and lots of bars. Most had counter seating that could seat 6-10 people max.

Mmmm, yakitori

Since we got there around 8pm, it was completely packed- it was difficult to find open spaces. We decided to leave and try another restaurant. As we were leaving, Darin noticed these. Can you guess what it is?

These are metal lightpoles taped with bubble wrap. We can only assume that people can get so drunk and tumble into the lightpoles (hence the bubble wrap around it to "ease" the pain)?

We decided to hop on the train and head over to Shibuya (another district in Tokyo) to look for dinner options. We decided to go to Tokyu department store and head to one of the floors with various restaurants. We ran into Maisen Katsu, which is known as Japan's #2 tonkatsu restaurant. We both love tonkatsu, so we happily went in.

Check out the storefront plastic food display

I mean, really- doesn't it look real?

When we sat down, we had a tray of sauces sitting at our table- a spicier katsu sauce, a sweeter katsu sauce, and some soy sauce

I ordered the meal set that included (2) crab cream croquettes and a shrimp fry. Each meal set includes a bowl of rice, shredded cabbage side, Japanese pickled vegetables, and a bowl of miso soup

Darin ordered a tonkatsu (Japanese breaded and deep-fried pork chops) meal set

The miso soup was good

His pork was so tender, juicy, and well-breaded

My cream crab croquettes were outstanding- so creamy and warm inside

Mine also came with a small tonkatsu

... and a large, tall piece of breaded shrimp

Our meal was delicious (albeit close to $50 with no drinks), but completely worth it.

We hopped on the train, was able to catch the last hotel shuttle back to the hotel, and walked up to our room. It had only been just 3 hours, but we came back to a freshly made bed, new set of all towels (we both took a shower when we initially got into the hotel so towels were just laying on the floor before), and bottled water and a cup waiting on each bedside on the nightstand. The clock on my nightstand was pulled out and faced the bed so we could see the time. We left our curtains open when we left, and when we came back, the curtains were drawn as well. What a nice touch. (Note: I will be doing a separate post of the Park Hyatt Hotel.)

As we were getting ready to go to bed, I was flipping the channels and what did I see? Glee dubbed in Japanese! Luckily, the songs were still sung in English.

Oyasumi (Good night)!


jacqui + erik said...

i am SO EXCITED to explore more department stores when we go next time. we had so much to do the first time we went, we didnt go into very many at all! and luckily since we will be there in the summer we will probably go into a lot of them to get some breaks from the heat and humidity outside! haha ;)

ohhh and that tonkatsu looked AMAZING! i am drooling over all the amazing food!!! cannot wait for it! and i'm excited for your park hyatt blog post too! :D

KikiBelle said...

crab croquettes....mmmmmmmmmm