Whoa, it has been close to a year since my Japan trip! The persistent thought of my incomplete Tokyo travelogue has been lingering in my mind so here I am continuing where I left off in the first part. In this post, I will be documenting my activities during my final days in sushi-land. Since this trip happened last December, I may inadvertently leave out some details but I will try my best to recall to the best of my ability 😆
* * Day 2 * *
Taking cue from our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland the previous year, we allotted one full day for the magical kingdom. The morning sun had already peeked its bright rays through our curtains when we were woken up by our annoying alarm clock which we had previously set at 7.00 a.m. JST (1 hour ahead of SGT). The chilly and crisp winter air outside seeped into our tiny room (or so I felt), causing my reluctance to get out of my warm and cozy bed to snowball (no pun intended) exponentially. I admit that we kinda took our time because we had already purchased a two-day passport (eTicket, at ¥12,400 each) to Tokyo Disney Resort (which includes DisneySea), so we needn’t have to spend time queuing up to enter.
It took us about an hour to reach Maihama station from our hotel (10 minutes away from Higashi-Shinjuku station) and we had to transfer trains twice – once at Shinjuku-Sanchome station and another at Tokyo station. We had the impression that eating or drinking was allowed onboard due to the huge cluster of vending machines on the train platforms so before we hopped on to any train, we made sure we had a bottle of drink and a small packet of tidbit to keep us awake throughout the journey. Well, it turns out not to be the case… Oops. Eating or drinking on trains, although not prohibited by law, is likewise frowned upon in Japan. But I guess having a little nibble won’t kill, yes?! After all, we had left our hotel without having our breakfast 😦
One of the many vending machines we saw…
Brazen display of tobacco along the train platform
Inside the Tokyo station-bound train
Boarded the Maihama-bound train at Tokyo station
The trains are equipped with seats covered in comfy velvet which implies high level of self-discipline among the Japanese. Should such sofa seats be used in place of the hard plastic ones in our trains, they will probably lose their lustre and softness in no time because of recalcitrant passengers who eat and drink on board
The priority seats in red are separated from the rest and put in a corner next to the empty compartment between carriages where you can make urgent calls (be sure to shut the doors, though!). Talking on mobile phones in the seated areas of the train is a strict no-no. The Japanese values their peace and privacy a lot, so it’s not unusual to be commuting in stark silence.
Look, a convenience shop along the platform!
I was looking forward to visiting Tokyo Disneyland because friends had been raving to me about how much more breathtaking and enchanting it is from other Disneylands in the world. Upon further research, I discovered that Tokyo Disneyland is wholly owned by a local leisure and tourism corporation Oriental Land Company and not by Walt Disney Company, hence allowing for more flexibility in the imagineering and construction of the theme park. The innovation of the Japanese is apparent in the rides and even in the range of merchandise in the gift shops, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending more than budgeted.
Once we exited Maihama train station, we followed the (not-very-visible, in my opinion) directions to Disneyland. For the uninitiated, the way to Disneyland is on the right whereas the train to the Disneyland Hotel and DisneySea is on the left. It took us between 10 and 15 minutes to walk to our destination in the sunny but chilly weather.
There is a Disney gift shop right before this huge red arc for those who wish to buy some Disney merchandise without having to pay the entrance fee to the theme park. If I remember correctly, there was no difference in pricing and almost everything was stocked up there. I felt this was a nice gesture on the part of Tokyo Disneyland because not everyone can afford the expensive admission tickets.
Welcome to Tokyo Disneyland!
Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland is the first Disney Park built outside the United States and remains one of the world’s top theme park destinations. It spans over 114 acres on a reclaimed land which is about a 90-minute journey from Tokyo. Unless you forgo all the rides and go around the theme park on an e-scooter, it is almost impossible to explore every attraction within a day (or even two). It is humongous.
More whimsical sculptures..
A huge Christmas tree to commemorate the season
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!
Birds (geese?) like this one are aplenty at the theme park!
A must-visit place for the Pooh fanatic boyfriend..
This quote by Eeyore is so aww-worthy!
Boxes with a cushiony exterior shaped like Pooh’s head!
It was impossible to miss those conspicuous yellow Pooh heads on the shelves because they were sold in virtually every gift shop! It’s certainly a must-have for all Pooh collectors. Each box contained a few individually packed honey sponge cakes moulded in the shape of Pooh’s head which were too cute to be eaten. I failed to notice that they had relatively short shelf life (like most Japanese snacks) so I had kept mine past their expiry date as I couldn’t bear to open the box. I took my first bite into the sponge cakes six months after their purported expiry date but voila! They were still saccharine and fresh – probably not as fresh as when I first bought them but still pretty much edible and salable. What do you know, the Japanese are such an overly cautious bunch… 😛
So don’t toss your expired (but still looking good) Japanese snacks away without first tasting them!
Disclaimer: The above is just an advice only ah.. please don’t blame me if you get diarrhoea after that Thank you.
Winnie the Pooh refillable and reusable popcorn bucket!
Popcorn pushcarts like the one above can be found at every corner of Disneyland! The design of the popcorn bucket (made with good quality and sturdy plastic) as well as the flavour of the popcorn vary, though. Boyfriend and I happened to find the one that sold Pooh buckets and, of course, honey-flavoured popcorn! 🐻 You can refill your bucket with popcorn of different flavours at any pushcart for a lower price 🙂
Joined the crowd to catch the parade!
Managed to get the perfect shot of Mickey 🙂
Donald and Daisy!
Cowgirl Jessie from Toy Story!
Jolly Pooh and Tigger!
Screen capture from my video.. because boyfriend insisted that I took videos instead of still photographs for his favourite Pooh segment -_-
Due to our ill-preparedness for this trip, we didn’t go around to collect all the FASTPASS tickets like what most travel bloggers had done before we embarked on our exploration of the theme park. It was our biggest mistake because all the tickets ran out by the time we wanted to take the rides. We had to give the more popular rides a miss because the regular queues were insanely long and could take up to two hours. Not wanting to waste most of our day lining up, we went to attractions that could accommodate more visitors at once with shorter waiting time, like Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 4-D film attraction featuring 3-D effects, scents and water, as well as a number of Disney characters in a 12-minute-long show. Initially, I had my qualms going there because I had the uninformed impression that it would be another 3-D show designed to please young children. But boy, was I so wrong. I was immersed throughout the screening!
You can’t see the visuals clearly without those 3-D glasses, but this part was on The Little Mermaid
The theatre is equipped with motion seats that will move in tandem with the movie action but there are also stationary seats for those do not want to watch the show with the vibration. During the show, small amounts of water would be squirted from the seat in front (I think) of every person to simulate the effect of rain or water splashing. Then, there would also be wind effect to mimic fog. I can’t recall what other 4-D effects there were but the whole experience was absolutely delightful. You won’t regret going there at all!
It was starting to get dark at 4 p.m…
The Gadget’s Go Coaster was one of the few rides we managed to take that day. No complaints – I LOVE roller coasters!
We then caught the second daytime parade in the afternoon at a confined space next to the parade gate where the performance concluded. Although we arrived at the venue late, we were lucky enough to find a spot that was still fairly close to the performers, and so were able to snap some good shots! The characters that made an appearance during this parade were pretty much the same as those who did in the earlier one.. with the exception of Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.
Frozen’s Elsa and Anna
Our appetite became especially ravenous after walking around the entire day in the freezing temperature, so time to grab a bite!
A cuppa hot tea to go with our pretzel!
The long wait did not deter us from joining the queue for the Grand Circuit Gateway
Like its Hong Kong counterpart (Autopia), the cars at the Grand Circuit Gateway operate along a guide rail and do not actually require any steering whenever they reach a turning point. The cars move when the gas pedal is being stepped on but will stall when another vehicle is detected in close proximity ahead of them to prevent collision.
Unfortunately, that would be our final time behind the wheels of the electric cars at Tokyo Disneyland because the Grand Circuit Gateway will be closed permanently in January next year to make way for newer attractions 😦
While waiting for the nighttime parade to begin, boyfriend went to buy dinner! Look at the Mickey-shaped egg yolk!
The curry don was disappointing. The curry sauce was decent and there were barely any meat in the dish. The dish above wasn’t satisfying either. Since I wasn’t the one who bought dinner, I’m not sure how much they cost. But knowing Disneyland, they definitely wouldn’t be affordable. I expected better from Tokyo Disneyland
Grateful to have hot tea to keep me warm *brrr*
The nighttime parade was, nevertheless, stunning with all the bright neon lights adorning the shimmering floats but I personally feel that it was not in any way more magnificent than the one I witnessed in Hong Kong. In fact, I thought the nighttime parade at Hong Kong Disneyland was more memorable. Sounds absurd, I know. Either my expectations were pegged too high or the novelty of it had worn off from me. I just didn’t feel the magic as much as others had claimed to experience.
Or perhaps, the weather was just too cold for me to bear (because, well, my outfit wasn’t thick enough to keep a barrier between the cold and my frail body) that I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the trip. All I wanted to do was to head back to the hotel and tuck myself beneath the comforter 😥
To spare you the agony of loading more pictures on your phone (trust me, it’s more or less the same as those I took in Hong Kong), I’m excluding the photographs (or rather, videos) I took at the nighttime parade from this travelogue.
Following the parade was a short light show and fireworks display at the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. We weren’t lucky enough to get the front spot as the viewing area was immensely crowded. There was a 15 minute (or more) interval between both shows which was strangely not mentioned on the park map, so we left after waiting meaninglessly for 10 minutes. We should have guessed when the crowd refused to budged. I spied the person behind us literally exclaiming in delight and promptly moving forward the moment we vacated our spot ¬_¬ Not long after we got out of the crowd, the fireworks finale began 🙄
Only at Tokyo Disneyland
Although bummed out that we missed the fireworks show, boyfriend was quick to realise that most of the rides would be less packed at that time. Hence, we took the golden opportunity to visit the nearest ride before we called it a day. True enough, the queue at Ride & Go Seek was relatively shorter.
The only picture I could take of this ride because photography is forbidden inside (I did take some shots secretly but they turned out blurry)
Night view! Beautiful 🙂 How I wish I could stay in one of those lighted houses permanently *lol*
By the time we left Tokyo Disneyland, our belly had already digested the miserable dinner we had earlier on and we were deliberating if we should hunt for places to eat or have supper at Sushizanmai instead. In the end, we decided against both ideas as we didn’t want to dip further into our depleting funds and simply shared a bowl of instant noodles we bought from the convenience store near our hotel. The meal was complete with several kinds of warm soup we bought from vending machines along our journey to our hotel. #goodenough
A vending machine with touchscreen! It doesn’t just dispense drinks but hot canned soups as well
We went around different vending machines to collect all the available soup flavours. I love the clam soup! It didn’t taste preserved at all!
* * Day 3 * *
There seemed to be no amount of alarm clocks that could unearth either one of us from our cocoon of blankets. Having gone through the same routine in Hong Kong, we knew it would be near-impossible to wake us up with a single annoying alarm tone, so we had set two the night before – one on my phone and the other on boyfriend’s. Still, the plan failed and it was not until noon that we finally crawled out of bed. The fatigue from the previous day’s event had certainly gotten the better of us. So much time had been wasted on grabbing that few more winks of sleep that we probably wouldn’t even have time to explore half of DisneySea.
But we couldn’t abort our plans because we had already paid for the tickets So off we went with a mild feeling of dread because our legs were not ready for the long travel ahead of us to Maihama station. Mind you, it’s Japan we’re talking about.. which involves a lot of walking. Even transferring from one train line to another at a particular train station could take us up to 20 minutes of brisk walking. I’m always up for long-distance walks. Just.. not that day ∪_∪
Upon arrival at Maihama station which, by then had been all too familiar, we headed directly to the light rail station and waited for the train bound for Tokyo DisneySea.
Zero sense of urgency: Late but we were still able to fork out a little time for photo-taking 😛
Comfy seats and Mickey-shaped windows
And we’re here!
This place has got that USS vibes..
Busy Mickey greeting his little fans at the entrance!
..which reminds me, I didn’t get the chance to take any pictures with the mascots at Tokyo Disneyland (and DisneySea). How devastating 😦
It was here we heard a performance of some sort going on and were trying to trace the source of the sounds…
But first, a wefie! (And check out my Mickey headgear – yay!)
Oh, so this was where the sounds were coming from! Look, it’s Goofy and his entourage!
We stationed ourselves behind the existing crowd but were subsequently ushered to a corner by the wardens to allow for a wider walking area ¬_¬
*squeals* HELLO CHIP AND DALE!
But the view from our new spot was so poor, we could only see the side profile of the performers. We gave up and proceeded to have our lunch at Cafe Portofino, just in front of the park. It is a counter service buffeteria that offers Italian food options set in a spacious and warmly-decorated hall that instantly places you in the renaissance era.
Outside Cafe Portofino
Not sure about you but I find the interior truly breathtaking!
Standing in line to get our food..
We added a Paradiso set (a bowl of soup and one soft drink) to one of our main dishes (“Piatti”) for an additional ¥570. The portion size was reasonable and was able to keep our hunger cues in check for quite a long time.
I can’t remember what this was.. Maybe vegetable soup.
Rotisserie Chicken (half portion), ¥1,420
The half-sized Rotisserie Chicken was roasted through but still retained adequate moisture to keep the meat succulent. The seasoning was fine but nothing to write home about. I felt that the plating of this dish could be done better. Don’t you think it’s too.. bare? I’m not demanding expensive sides. Perhaps, y’know, some fries or mashed potatoes would be able to fill those empty spaces around the chicken.
Linguine Pomodoro with Italian Meatballs, ¥1,260
This was boyfriend’s main course which he gobbled down in a heartbeat. The decently cooked pasta was bathed in creamy marinara sauce and topped with limited number of meatballs. Boyfriend had no complaints about the taste but it was clearly too small a portion to satisfy his hunger.
It had started to drizzle when we exited the restaurant but it was light enough to continue exploring without any rain gear. Armed with a copy of the DisneySea map, we went from attraction to attraction only to find that many of them were either closed or had too long a queue. In addition, the next shows at theatres were hours away so we were left with no choice but to join whichever queue was available to us.
This place sells really appetising sandwiches!
The crowd on a weekday
Feels like the streets of New York
The Tower of Terror houses DisneySea’s most exciting attraction – a thrilling, free fall-style ride. It looks scarier at night. As expected, the queue for this was LONG but even if it wasn’t, boyfriend would still be too timid to take it. Hence, I was forced to give this a miss..
Restrooms adjacent to the Tower of Terror
Just a few distance away lies Toy Story Mania! and a snaking queue meandering around barricades positioned outside the entrance. There was a signage indicating the estimated waiting time of two hours placed at the end of the queue. Still, we went ahead and join the line knowing that the wait would be equally long at other attractions. Now let me stress how important portable WiFi routers and a reliable mobile charger are especially in times like this because time crawls at a sloth’s pace without them
I don’t know about you but entering the attraction through Woody’s mouth seems a little horror-esque..
The tram led us to a 3-D shooting gallery where we toss eggs, pop balloons, throw rings and play other games
Our shooting device!
My score on the left and boyfriend’s on the right. I lost. I’m just not good at games :<
More games at the Carnival Corral (within the Toy Story Mania!) which didn’t have any queue..
We couldn’t help but feel hungry after spending most of the afternoon touring a large area of DisneySea and queuing hours for a ride that lasted less than 10 minutes.. So we treated ourselves to a good ol’ hot dog bun! I liked how the condiments came packed in fold-and-squeeze wrappers so we didn’t have to dirty our hands!
Soon, it was time for the nighttime water show at the Mediterranean Harbour. In order to get a good view, we arrived at the venue about half an hour before but was surprised to find almost all spots taken up by then. Sadly, it wasn’t the best day to be outdoors as well because the rain had been in drizzles on and off throughout the day, wetting the ground. But the Japanese seemed to be well-prepared for that (or perhaps because cleanliness is imbibed in their culture) as we noticed literally everyone around us seated on mats.
The only weirdos seated on the ground without a mat
The huge water screens transformed into a gigantic Christmas tree during the performance
The rain persisted throughout the show and finally transitioned into heavy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning when it ended. Everyone instantly sought shelter in the Emporio store nearby. Not long after, an announcement came on that the fireworks display would be cancelled due to the bad weather 😐 Ah, bummer…
We remained in Emporio until the rain lightened. Since there was still more than an hour to closing time (Tokyo Disneyland closes a lot later than Hong Kong’s), we went deeper into the theme park to find Mysterious Island and Mermaid Lagoon. Perhaps due to the late hour (coupled with the wet weather), we did not have to queue for any of the attractions we set foot in.
Along the path leading to the Mysterious Island
The iconic Mount Prometheus in the background
One of the more conspicuous attractions at Mysterious Island – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This is the main entrance to a downward spiral to the ride
As we walked down the slope, I spotted this weird-looking structure..
Water filled the bottom of the attraction because we were about to take a “submarine ride”!
Boyfriend insisted on wearing that Pooh tag around his neck… I guess it’s true that Disneyland brings out the kid in all of us
The attraction is based on a spin-off from a novel of the same name by Jules Verne and does not actually move underwater. Suspended from an overhead track (the yellow structure depicted above), the submarine is equipped with “double pane glass dome windows that contain water and bubbles to create the illusion of … diving deep into the ocean”. It’s a very simple dark ride where you have to occasionally flash the torch light to see things. I don’t remember having to complete any mission so it wasn’t as fun and interactive as I thought it would be.
Each side of the submarine, if my memory doesn’t fail me, can accommodate up to 6 people so boyfriend and I had to share a cabin with other visitors. Some may find the inside of the cabin sweltering with no air-conditioning but it felt like a warm haven, a quick refuge from the cold to me 😆 I tried taking some shots in the cabin but the shutter speed of my camera was too slow to capture the fast-moving objects.
With under an hour remaining before the shutters came down, we headed towards the wholly-sheltered Mermaid Lagoon to ride whatever was available. We were able to take most, if not all, of the rides because they were largely vacant. Lucky us!
Spotted King Triton on his sleigh drawn by.. dolphins?
The inside of a whale is a gift shop! Look how the ceiling is designed to resemble the roof of the mouth – so cool!
Blowfish Balloon Race
It’s some sort of a carousel, I guess.. The merry-go-round effect made me rather queasy after that lol
Mermaid Lagoon Theatre! We were just in time for the final show of the day
Inside the theatre before the live performance began.. It was a truly captivating one with lots of acrobatic elements. Photography is forbidden in the theatre
Took another ride – the Jumpin’ Jellyfish! The rides in this area are mostly kids-friendly and family-oriented, lacking the thrill factor as you can tell
Can’t remember where the stairs lead to..
Thereafter, the closing announcement came on and throngs of visitors including boyfriend and me proceeded to take the light rail back to Maihama station. The platform was so crowded that we barely made it to the first train that arrived. Thankfully, the journey home was comfortably seamless and we managed to take the weight off our feet and catch forty winks! Looking back, we were really daring to have slept on a train in a foreign land..
* * Day 4 * *
(Tsukiji Fish Market, 海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant, Pokémon Center)
Sadly, our shallow pockets meant that we could only afford to tour a city with a high standard of living for a maximum of four full days. As this trip drew to a close, reality started to bite again. On the one hand I dreaded getting back to the grind of my Final Year Project but on the other hand I was psyched about the final full day because the highlights of the trip were left to this day. For the first time during the trip, I was already up and about at 8.30 a.m. JST (that’s 7.30 a.m. SGT), all set for the first destination of the day – Tsukiji Fish Market!
But first, let me parade my haul from a vending machine along a train station platform ^_^
Any travel guides would recommend viewing of the tuna auctions as it is a must-do in Tsukiji Fish Market. Auctions begin at 5.25 a.m. JST and only a maximum of 120 visitors are allowed to view per day. We had initially planned to see the auctions but were not disciplined enough to wake up at an unearthly hour for it. Moreover, since public transport only starts at 5 a.m., we would need to hire a cab to get there. Mind you, Tokyo holds the title of having the most expensive cab fares in the world and we’re obviously too broke for that by the second last day of our vacation. Our journey would probably rack up hundreds of dollars in cab fare because Tsukiji Fish Market is quite a distance from our hotel. We didn’t want to risk being denied entry into the market due to reaching capacity after having gone through so much trouble either!
Our train ride to to Tsukiji Shijo station lasted about an hour. We read from some travel blogs that the station is just directly below the market but somehow or other we got lost and had to walk a bit.
En route to Tsukiji Fish Market
It was reported in that Tsukiji Fish Market would be relocated to a much bigger and newer site at Toyosu, Koto but the move has since been delayed over cost and health concerns.
In a high-tech country like Japan, deliveries from aisles to aisles in wet markets are done on motorised carts
Dried goods for sale
A corridor of eateries!
The sashimi restaurants inside and outside Tsukiji Fish Market are undoubtedly your best bet when it comes to quality and fresh seafood since all the sashimi are delivered fresh from a stone’s throw away. Every alley is lined with such small and cramped restaurants which draw throngs of hungry people from all over the world and the queues may even stretch for hours. Boyfriend and I were seriously spoilt for choice so we chose the one that had one of the longest queues (typical Singaporean behaviour) as well as enticing menu display. Orders are taken in advance so that they can be served promptly the moment customers take their seats in the restaurant.
The lunchtime crowd!
Sashimi restaurants had the longest queues..
海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant – our choice of restaurant
It was a challenge to move into the inner seats and we barely had space for our bulky backpacks
Once seated, we were served a bowl (?) of hot green tea, pickles and miso soup (not pictured)
One of the many sashimi platters on the menu (¥2700)
P don served with my favourite uni (sea urchin) (¥2400). Boyfriend and I ordered the same dish!
Never underestimate the tiny restaurants at Tsukiji Fish Market (or any eatery in Japan, as a matter of fact). They may seem small but their prices are comparable to that of notable Japanese restaurants in Singapore. The total damage from our sashimi feast (just those few dishes pictured above) reached close to a whopping S$100 which had well exceeded our budget for this meal. But it was money well-spent. The food was truly remarkable – those firm, thick slices of sashimi were laced with fatty marble and had a slight briny tang. And I had never felt so satisfied eating that huge slab of uni!
I can’t remember if the restaurant accepts credit cards so do bring enough cash along before heading to Tsukiji Fish Market for your breakfast or lunch.
海鮮丼 大江户 Kaisen-don Ōedo Restaurant
8-Go, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture
Operating hours: 4.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
After our lunch, we tried to find our way back to the JR station and chanced upon shops like these along the way. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) to hear some of these salespeople conversing to tourists in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese etc.) because many of them actually come from China!
More dried snacks.. not very cheap, eh?
We finally saw fish for sale at the fame fish market :B
Some tamago-looking food… To this day, I still have no idea what this is X)
Finger foods like this were aplenty near Tsukiji Fish Market. I don’t know what this whole street of makeshift street food stalls is called but it seems to be quite a touristy place. (note: after some Googling, I conclude that this could be Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market)
Damn, these BBQ food looked really good! But I was urged by boyfriend to control my spending 😥 Ok bye.. I will come back to you next time!
With the help of our life-saving Google Maps app, we managed to locate the nearest JR station from where we were wandering along and take the next train down to Ikebukuro station! 😀 *prances around*
Alright, I’m going to be honest here. The main crux of this trip wasn’t the amusement parks nor the shopping malls but the Pokémon Center (although the abundance supply of fresh sashimi we could eat was also another major deciding factor for boyfriend). As a diehard Pokémon fanatic since my childhood days (yes, for the uninformed, Pokémon has been around since the late 90’s and not only recently with the launch of PokémonGO), it has been my absolute dream to visit the specialist store because I’ve been wanting to start my own collection of (preferably official) Pokémon merchandise.
Knowing that I would wipe out the Yen we had and possibly max out my credit card there (which did happen eventually), boyfriend wittingly pushed the Pokémon Centre back to the last day on our impromptu itinerary so that we didn’t have to starve on our final days in Japan 😆
Display taken at Ikebukuro station which misled us into thinking that Sunshine City (where Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo store is) was just nearby. We didn’t expect to a 25-minute walk to get there -_-
A barricaded smoking corner! Can Singapore please adopt something similar so that all the second-hand smoke can be confined within the area?
We’re here! All the lethargy from commuting and walking the entire day instantly dissipated when I saw the huge Pokémon sign greeting me!
To prep our wallet for this day, we watched videos taken at the Pokémon Centre on YouTube to know what items were stocked up in that season. Using the videos as a guide, we came up with a shopping list but was dismayed to learn that what we wanted were already sold out and replaced with some other designs 😥 So, lesson learnt: don’t rely too much on YouTube videos for the latest products at the Pokémon Centre because almost everything sold is seasonal. When we were there, we witnessed how crazily fast the stocks come and go. It’s not unusual to see shelves once filled with stuff become empty and replenished again. The staff are that efficient!
I wanted to sweep everything off the shelves but my luggage only had this much space! 😦
Towels, shower caps, T-shirts and other wearables!
Stationery. This drives me NUTS
Snacks that come in adorable packaging! Bought a few mainly because of the (metal) boxes..
Pikachu plushies and keychains
Look at the topmost shelf! Almost empty!
Pokémon toy vending machine! Look what I got 😀
3DS casings and covers!
MORE snacks! Do take note of their short shelf life too!
Our haul! We had more bags after this picture because we went back in to shop again… Total damage came up to about S$300 u__u Thank God it was already our final day in Japan LOL
Unless you aren’t a Pokémon fan, you must be prepared to spend a least S$100 at the Pokémon Centre (credit cards are accepted) because the product selection there is massive. We deliberately emptied our backpack prior to heading out of our hotel that morning because we knew we were going to buy a lot of things at the Pokémon Centre. Still, we had to lug a few bags of our purchases back to our hotel because there wasn’t enough space in our backpack! 😳
Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
2F Sunshine City Special Shops Alba, Toshima 170-6002, Tokyo Prefecture
Operating hours: 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Nearest JR station: Ikebukuro
On our way back to the JR station, we stopped by a huge arcade with many toy catcher machines. Boyfriend tried his luck at one and successfully got a mid-sized Gudetama after several tries lol
This is the actual size! It’s bigger than my head
We spotted this and were enticed by the fragrance of the takoyaki~ We were cash strapped after all the shopping and had to trade money at a nearby money changer to buy dinner
YUMZ. Actually, nothing quite different from the takoyaki we had at the ION Orchard (already closed, by the way) but the experience of having a Japanese snack in Japan felt more authentic…?
Trying to explore other parts of Tokyo with so many shopping bags in tow can be a real pain in the arse (besides, we were already penniless and the value in our PASMO card wouldn’t be able to take us anywhere farther..) so we returned to our hotel to pack our baggage and have an early rest.
* * Day 5 * *
With a heavy heart, it was time to bid Tokyo goodbye. Our evening flight meant that we could sleep in and have plenty of time to do a final round of shopping at the airport (and not forgetting our final visit to Sushizanmai for lunch. God, we miss that place) after returning our Wi-Fi router. We used our two-way NEX ticket to bring us back to Narita Airport. It was a smooth ride and we slept throughout the journey.
I love Narita Airport and this is one reason why
Just when I thought I could leave Tokyo without having to dig deep into my pockets again on my final day, lo and behold, another Pokémon store in the airport! ARGHHHHH STOP TAKING MY MONEY!
Of course, what other attire can Pikachu be donning in the airport?!
If I ever strike it rich one day, I’m going to start collecting Pikachu plushies and have a room in my house just to display my collection!
Snacks and cup noodles… ~_~ I can’t take this anymore..
Found this (the authentic ones) at S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa outside the Pokémon Research Exhibition so it’s not so exclusive to Japan. For people who can’t afford it (or don’t see the need to buy the authentic ones), you can find the replica at shops that rent out lockers to merchants to sell products
DS cartridge holder and 3DS covers! Boyfriend bought the Pikachu cartridge holder on the bottom left
I miraculously managed to refrain myself from spending a single cent at this Pokémon store mainly because I didn’t have any to spare LOL. A life-sized Pikachu mascot would also make an appearance on certain days. Sadly, we missed it 😥
Pokémon Store Narita Airport
Narita International Airport
Narita, Chiba 282-0004. Terminal 2 Main Bldg. 4th Floor
Operating hours: 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
We had always wanted to try McDonald’s at every country we visit so we decided to have our early dinner here!
Menu looks very similar to what we have back at home..
..except for the Ebi Filet-O burger which has been highly raved online! Gotta try it to believe how good it is!
My final verdict: It’s not too bad! The kitchen probably prepared it in a haste to serve the crowd so I didn’t feel it was exceptionally better than the Ebi burger in Singapore
When at Narita Airport, one must never forgo the souvenirs and leave the shops empty-handed. As broke as we were, we could still squeeze out a few thousands of Yen on credit. I’m not kidding when I say that it was our poorest time of our lives together..
A not-so-popular choice among the tourists (no doubt the shape is cute though) but I guess if the Japanese made it, it must be nice as well!
Airport-exclusive KitKats! The matcha-flavoured one is pretty common and can already be bought at my local supermarkets but not for other flavours like strawberry, sakura, etc. WAAAAH SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!
And THIS is what I have been searching high and low for in Tokyo. I tried finding it at Harajuku and other touristy places but to no avail! It seems to be exclusively sold inside the departure hall only!
Another popular Japanese snack which expires as fast as a loaf of bread is the Tokyo Banana! Boyfriend bought a few boxes for himself because he LOVES Tokyo Bananas!
Interesting toilet design! The black figures on the wall are moving shadows, not of the actual toilet users, of course!
Look how SPARKLING clean the toilet is! I wonder how much effort is put in on a regular basis to keep the toilets this white! Even the walls of brand new HDB flats are not as white as this okay lol
A personal sink and hand dryer for introverts like moi? Truly appreciate that thought, Japan!
Our meal onboard our Don Muang Airport-bound AirAsia flight! I can’t remember what the exact name of this chicken rice is is called but it wasn’t disappointing 🙂
We landed at Don Muang Airport at Bangkok past midnight on a Sunday with about five hours to go before our next boarding time. It was our longest and most miserable five hours yet because most shops in that dimly-lit dilapidated airport were closed at that time (no offence, Thai readers, but I would stick to landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport next time) and getting free Wi-Fi access (without having to register myself with the service provider over and over again after 30 minutes or so – no thanks) is more impossible than getting connected in the busiest Capitaland mall on a freakin’ public holiday. It truly felt like a budget terminal but yeah, I know I can’t complain because I chose to fly budget, yadda yadda.
That’s it, another lesson learnt. No more transfers at Don Muang Airport ever again!
And now, I shall unveil the colossal amount of purchases I made over my 5-day stay in Tokyo. Brace yourself, especially if you’re a Pokémon fanatic.
Japanese snacks from Narita Airport! ALL ARE SUPER NICE. I will buy an air ticket to Narita Airport just to buy more of these!
From Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea!
Snacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!
Universal handphone flip cover with slots for cards (left) and porcelain plate from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo! Pikachu socks from one of the shops at Harajuku
We didn’t have money to collect plushies but we were able to afford plastic folders and files! So we went around collecting different designs at Harajuku and Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo! 😛
Nanoblocks (waaaay cheaper in Japan!), pouch, stickers, sticky tape roll – all from Harajuku!
Sleeping Pikachu plushie (now my bed companion) and Pikachu backpacks from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo
Pikachu headgear, notebooks, cartridge holder, card holder, Pikachu T-shirt, miniature Mew plushie (which ran out of stock really fast!) and more sticky tape rolls from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo!
And that’s about it! I sincerely apologise for the long interval between the previous and this part of the travelogue (if anybody was waiting for it at all) because I’ve since entered the workforce and I’m usually too tired to blog when I get home. You won’t believe how many MONTHS I took to complete this final instalment because I kept dozing off at my desk 😄 But blogging helps me to remember key events which I would otherwise forget so I know I had to do it. My terribly poor memory is why I tend to be really detailed in my writing. Sometimes my brows would furrow in anxiety and my jaws drop in disbelief when I reread my archives because I don’t remember what I wrote 😄
But despite the sky-high cost of living in Japan, we appreciate how much importance is placed in the freshness of their food.. and we miss their delicacies (*cough*fresh sashimi*cough*). The Japanese are very friendly and helpful – no doubt about that! We had met security officers who wouldn’t hesitate to temporarily leave their post just to bring us to the nearest washroom because we couldn’t understand a word of Japanese they were saying. Tokyo is definitely worth another visit but I’ll be sure to go back in my thickest winter coat next time with more than sufficient cash 😆 !
Thanks for reading, everyone! 🙂
Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun (PART 1)