Rushing Tokyo in 3 Days: Part II

This is the second part of my ‘rush’ Tokyo trip. You can find part 1 here! Quite contrast with the first part, the second part contains more city vibe of Tokyo, the usual tourist attractions. So straight to the point, let’s begin the journey!

Day 2

Day 2 started with me going to a place that I have been wanting to visit for a long time: Hama-rikyu Garden. It is by no means a very special garden like the Japanese garden in Kanazawa or Okayama, but Hama-rikyu Garden was one of the very first places I googled to find information about Tokyo when I was planning my first trip to Japan four years ago. I did not go there in  the end, so it became my Moby Dick.

And it did not disappoint me to finally visit the place. Hama-rikyu Garden is as big as you would see from Google Map. I came from Nakanogomon Gate after getting down the train in JR Shiodome station. Once I passed the gate I was straightaway treated by the vast landscape of the garden. It was greenery everywhere with Tokyo tall skyscrapers in the background. The stark contrast adds another layer of beauty to it.

There are quite a few ponds here, the biggest one has a tea house floating in the middle, connected by wooden bridge. During the Edo period, this garden was used as a duck hunting ground.  The remnants of the duck hunting era could still be seen throughout the garden, mainly in two of the ponds which house duck hunting blinds and moats to keep the ducks from fleeing. They were reconstructed though, not the original structures.

Visitors could also take water bus to or from Asakusa from the garden. The water bus platform lies in the side that faces the large canal linking to Hinode Pier. I found the view from the garden towards the seaside to be very relaxing. At times boats and yachts will pass by through the canal. I think in spring it will be especially beautiful due to the abundance of sakura trees in the grassy mounds overlooking the canal.

I spent a lot of time just watching the landscape and people here until my grumbling stomach prompted me to fetch for lunch. I decided to get cheap lunch then head to a place I never visited before: Midtown. I have been to Roppongi before but not Midtown, although they are actually side by side.

If Yanaka represents the traditional, intimate side of  Tokyo, Roppongi and Midtown represent the modernity and glamor of Tokyo as the biggest, most populous city in Japan. Nothing much I can say other than this is the super fancy part of the city. You’d love it if you’re a fan of big cities.

 

To be honest I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people here, especially on weekends. Finished with Roppongi, I took the train down south to Yokohama. It’s time to visit this second biggest city in Japan. I specifically went to Minato-mirai area just because I was told it was beautiful there at night. So the trip was to prove that suggestion.

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Event happening in Roppongi Hill.

To be honest I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people here, especially on weekends. Finished with Roppongi, I took the train down south to Yokohama. It’s time to visit this second biggest city in Japan. I specifically went to Minato-mirai area just because I was told it was beautiful there at night. So the trip was to prove that suggestion.

And it was not overrated at all. Yokohama’s Minato-mirai is indeed beautiful at night. It has a small theme park Cosmoworld nearby, a ramen museum, and even a sail ship anchored nearby. It reminds a lot of the bay area of Singapore, where the night is bright and vivid as well. On a side note I went to meet my friend here. We found Oktoberfest down the warehouse lane and chugged some to bask in the night. After we went to a garlic-themed restaurant. It was safe to say on that night no vampires could touch us at all!

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Slow exposure photography on an amusement park’s ride in Minato-mirai.
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Main building of Sensoji Temple at night.

After saying goodbye to my friend I went back to my hotel but not before I stopped by Asakusa and the nearby area. It was still majestic even at night. And the best of all, there was almost no people nearby. I was happy enough to capture some night shots with my camera.

Day 3

On the morning of day 3, I spent some time strolling down by the Sumida River, not so far from Asakusa. The river, even though located in the middle of the city, looked very clean to my standard. (Hint: I’m used to see rivers in South East Asian cities). You could see Tokyo Sky Tree from the distance here.

Before I got my lunch I decided to do a short stop at Akihabara, hailed as the otaku heaven of Japan. I had admit my  fascination with anime culture had faded away years ago, but even so I could still enjoy seeing things here and there in Akihabara. If I had extra money I would have spent it going to one of the many maid cafes there just for kicks!

After lunch it was time for me to head to Ueno. I have not been here previously so I was curious. There is a huge park right in front of Ueno station, in which lies Ueno Zoo. As it was Sunday, there were huge amount of people crowding the place unfortunately. Nevertheless I did enjoy going to the zoo. Though small and felt a bit cramped, it was pretty interesting.

In reality, exiting the zoo after encounter after encounter with zoo visitors made me a bit exhausted. Thankfully the park is so immense that there are plenty other things to see, such as small temples or museums. Seriously, there are many museums there that I kind of regretting not being able to stay there longer than I did. Although, I was delighted to find a group of locals clad in traditional kimonos practicing their dance at a remote corner of the park. It was strangely peaceful watching them dance.

In the last destination of day 3 itinerary, just as the night came crawling in I took the train down to Shinjuku. While waiting for my bus back to Sendai, I thought I ought to visit a little place not far from JR Shinjuku station called Golden Gai. This area is comprised of small, narrow alleys is a drinker’s haven. Golden Gai is basically what happened when you collect a number of pubs / bars and jam them all in a very tiny enclosed space. And it does attract a large number of people looking for a taste at the local watering hole.

Walking through the narrow alleys of Golden Gai you got a very bizarre feeling, as if you have traveled back in time to the olden days where Japan had a booming economic growth after the end of the war. If you happen to be a fan of old Akira Kurosawa‘s movies like me you would notice some bar scenes that are eerily similar with the same view you could see in Golden Gai. That is probably because the place has not changed much over the years, resistant to the modernization that affected the entire Shinjuku area.

It is probably fun to try drinking here, but from what I read not every establishment welcomes walk-in patrons as they only accepts regular customers. I saw many bars put ‘foreigner welcome’ on their signboard but I had yet to try. Best to check first to see what is the etiquette of visiting such premises. I was content just to walk around and see this piece of historical evidence.

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More than drinking I love seeing this kind of view.
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Feel like entering a labyrinth. Only liquors are the prizes awaiting at the end.

And with the night visit to Golden Gai, my trip to Tokyo was over. I am sure there are more places untouched in Tokyo, but I will leave that to next time.

——Bonus itinerary:——

The other day I went to Tokyo again to meet some friends. This time, thanks to my friend’s blog post I came to know about this wonderful railway museum in Saitama. So I went there and oh-my-god, it was awesome. The place is just so huge, there are so many trains there, so many things to see that you could literally spend the whole day there. Totally recommended if you have a spare day in Tokyo. Worth the visit!

Here are some the photos I took in the museum.

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New-liner train that connects Saitama station with the museum. I was lucky to capture this scene during a rare November snow.
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The beautiful stained glass inside the museum.

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4 thoughts on “Rushing Tokyo in 3 Days: Part II

  1. senpaaaaiiii…finally I am here !!!

    I do really love the photos (I know2…I’ve been saying this so many times haha), but I am serious. It is true that picture tells thousand words. It convince us as the reader of how much the patience, love and hard work you put into the works. So easy to connect the ”emotion” in the photo to our ownselves. Such a nice experience in the middle our busy life…to take a moment to ‘communicate’ ourselves through your photos

    Sorry really take time to land into your beautiful website again. Still need to adapt to the work life….heheh

    Miss you as always

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can somehow imagine how you’d speak those words in my head because I know well your speaking style lol.. From now on I will focus more on the beauty around me. There are so many things to explore here in Japan, especially Sendai and around — Tokyo is a special case. I’m always surprised to find out new spot that I didn’t know before. It’s just amazing.

      Miss you too as well! :)

      Like

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