Apr 21, 2014

Autumn Japan Day 5: Meiji Shrine, Akihabara & Monjayakki!

Day 5 of my trip marks the end of my itinerary with CoFesta as a CoFesta Ambassador. That means I'm on my own ! Had to check out by 11 am so I spent a lot of time packing the night before x.x

I was invited to Japan last October as one of CoFesta's overseas Influencer Ambassador due to my continuous work on the Social Media in promoting Japanese related content. I extended my trip for 9 more days and it totalled to 13 days and 12 nights trip in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.



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Decided to brew myself a cup of Japanese coffee!

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The coffee itself is average but the packaging design is level ; Japanese lol!! While I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the designer, the scrounge in me couldn't help having doubtful opinions lol. 
 
Left my luggage at the counter and embark on my solo adventure! I was so excited to be venturing out alone by myself *_*.  Though the bane called the Japanese trains did try to stop me.
 
I know I sound so silly but I barely did any train system research prior to the trip.  There was so much other things to plan for so I kinda just missed this out.  I was expecting to walk to the train station, look at the overall Tokyo map then decide my route , pay for my fare and board it.
 
But things were not as simple as i thought! I went to Shiodome, the nearest train station and was dumbfounded to find no "Shibuya" on the station map. In fact, non of the stations looked familiar ! I loitered suspiciously around the station for a while trying to figure things out and look for any station maps but to no avail! I asked the only train staff managing the counter for a station map (we have that in Singapore, it's a small folded map that lists all the train station lines in Singapore) and the guy begrudgingly passed me a locality map =_=;; I freaked out mentally and with the time ticking by (I'm running late for an appointment!) I finally got my act together and ran back to the hotel to get free wifi.
 
THANK God for free wifi !!!! So after some Googlefu-ing I managed to find out that Shiodome station is actually a Railway Station ( kinda like Singapore's LRT) and I have to take a train to another station to transfer to the JR Yamanote line to reach Harajuku.

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Then I successfully met Nikki and Lunaru in Shibuya!!! we then went to Meiji Shrine XD Hisashiburi! Read about my previous Meiji shrine experience here.

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Onigiri that Nikki made xD I exchanged my chocolate croissants with them I think ahhaha.
 
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When we were there it was some festival for kids and we saw so many cute little kids wearing their traditional costumes. They looked sooooooo cuteeeee kyaaaa>\\\\< !

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It seemed like such a sweet family event too as the entire family also seemed to be there. Some even had what seemed like a professional photographer to shoot the kids!

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Doe anyone know what the exact festival was? I had initially thought it was the Shichi-Go-San festival but it was 1 month too early.
“ Shichi-Go-San (七五三?, lit. "Seven-Five-Three") is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend. “
It seemed like a really holy day that day as we also chanced upon 2 couples getting married!

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The Shinto Priests and Shrine Maiden (miko) leading the way. On a totally unrelated note, the female photographer in fitting black blazer and yellow armband at the back looks hot :X

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The wedding couple along with their family members and relatives toddling along behind. The entire walk was a very slow and quiet.

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The Priests and Shrine Maiden bowed in sequence to the wedding couple and turned around to make their way back. After this , another guy in modern black suit came in front of the couple and greeted them. I’m guessing the guy was probably one of the organiser or solemniser who came to tell them that this concludes the wedding and they are now “Husband and Wife”!
 
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After our spiritual trip, we crossed the street and went to the  famous Takeshita Street; the world reknown street filled with fashion for young adults.
“ Takeshita Street (竹下通り Takeshita-dōri?) is a pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants in Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan. Stores on Takeshita Street include major chains such as The Body Shop, McDonald's and 7-Eleven, but most of the businesses are small independent shops that carry an array of styles. The shops on this street are often a bellwether for broader fads, and some are known as "antenna shops," which manufacturers seed with prototypes for test-marketing.
Takeshita Street was a reliable place to go and purchase fake Japanese and American street brand goods from the early 1990s to 2004. Since 2004, a stronger metropolitan government stance on counterfeit merchandise has led to a decrease of such items being available to the public.
Located directly across from the exit of JR East's Harajuku Station, Takeshita Street is very popular with young teenagers, particularly those visiting Tokyo on school trips, or local young people shopping for small "cute" goods at weekends. “

I’ve been to Japan 3 times but this is only my 2nd time at Harajuku. I honestly find it hard to shop here as everything tends to be on the pricey side. If you are travelling on a  shoestring budget, I’d say go to Harajuku  just to experience the hype and eat the lovely Japanese crepes!
 

 

 
My favourite crepe is the Strawberry cheesecake with whipped cream one ^w^ I bought this from Angels Heart (the shop in the photo above) for 450 yen ( CAA: 2011) . Not exactly cheap but it’s filling enough to be a meal for me.

Crepes at the end
 
Harajuku area is also famous for being a place to see people dress up or Cosplay. And for the first time, I saw someone all dressed up in harajuku!

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And it’s a very over-the-top electric Goth punk hehe! Maybe because Halloween was around the weekend, this was the first time I actually saw so many people dressed up in costumes.  I even saw a guy dressed in full batman gear coming out from the train xD I couldn't keep my jaws shut xD
We walked the entire Takeshita street and then crossed the road to this other street that seemed to cater to a more matured audience. I wish I had taken better notice of the area name but alas, I did not so I can’t share that with you guys.
 
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Nikki and Lunaru had to rush off after this so I ventured on towards Akihabara alone! Going to Akihabara from Harajuku was a piece of cake! Just take the JR Yamanote Line from Harajuku to Akihabara.
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In Akihabara, it seems like the night never sleeps.

My biggest objective in going to Akihabara was to get myself a Data Sim Card. I had read online that Data sim card IS possible in Japan and that I could find them easily at large electronic stores. I went to a minimum of 4 electronic stores and all told me it's not possible . Either that or I'd have to sign up with some company and pay a hefty subscription fee to get things going =_=; 

(I did eventually find my data sim card the next day, Shall be dedicating an entire blog entry to that next time!)

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I was getting pretty frustrated and desperate since I was supposed to acquire a Data sim card to communicate with Amanda whom I was bunking with for the next two nights.  I really wonder how people in the past managed to get by without a cell phone, seemed like such a faraway situation to our wired generation lol.  So throughout my Akihabara journey, I was desperately looking for free wifi… which i must tell you is very difficult to find in Japan!!!

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I found this shop in Akiba that wrote that it has free wifi on the pillar. I tried my best to connect to it but failed. So I approached the staff and asked about Data Sim card. They recommended something to me which I vaguely remembered was very expensive and unsuitable for me.

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The staff who happened to be Chinese, then kindly gave me this card. The ID and password on the card will allow me to connect to the free wifi whenever signal is near. I however, never found luck with it -_-; I’ll blog about the Anime, Manga and Game stuffs I spotted at Akihabara at my Cosplay Blog so here I’ll just share everything else ahaha.

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Fake lash galore at a random drug store! Dolly Wink was going for 1260 yen each ! There’s so much brands to choose from it can be overwhelming sometimes @_@;;

Drug store or maybe I should call them Beauty store, in Japan are super cool. There’s such an array of Japanese products in Japan! In Singapore, we have 4 series of Hada Labo products (Hydrating care, Whitening care, Lifting + Firming care, AHA/BHA Exfoliating care) but over in Japan, I think they have at least 7 or 8 Hada Labo series.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion eye drops and colognes spotted at Kiyoshi matsumoto (Japanese franchise beauty/drug store). And right underneath these eye drops were….

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Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan’s collaboration beauty product!!! I think it is also some sort of eye drop or contact lens solution. Did you notice Okita at the bottom right hand corner xD??

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I also found SailorMoon cosmetics! Liquid and pencil eyeliners! The display is so kira kira (sparkly) !!!

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Here’s a pic of the entire display ehhee. If you’re wondering did I buy any of the eyeliners then my answer is …no.

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Why? Because they didn’t pass the trial test. I found them to be a little too diluted for my style. I’m not going to buy something just because they stuck an anime character’s face on it….well, maybe if they did Shana I might =X

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Another prove that Japan has the queerest snack flavours. This is Yuzu (a type of citrus) and green peppers flavoured potato sticks (sometimes also referred to as fries).  It tasted really good though :DD~

After my solo Akihabara adventure, I went back to my hotel in Shiodome, picked up my luggage and went off to meet the super awesome Amanda! Was bunking over at her place that night XD We went to this family restaurant around her place for Monjayakki dinner!
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“ Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き?) (often called simply "monja") is a type of Japanese pan-fried batterwith various ingredients. It is similar to okonomiyaki but monjayaki, a specialty of the Kantō region, is made with a dough more liquid than is okonomiyaki. The ingredients are finely chopped and mixed into the batter before frying. The mixture is far runnier than okonomiyaki, and it has a consistency comparable to a pool of melted cheese when cooked. It is then eaten directly off the grill using a small spatula. Many monjayaki restaurants can be found in theTsukishima district of Tokyo, where the dish is said to have originated. ”
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The Monjayakki came in a bowl filled to the brim with chopped vegetables. The batter is right at the bottom of the ingredient heap and you have to cook it yourself. I honestly cannot remember what flavour we ordered but it was good =) I think Monjayaki and Okonomiyaki are probably the best source of fibre for people who hates vegetables hahaha

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Another enjoyable thing about Monjayakki is the cooking experience.  I’m not sure if this is how Monjayakki is served everywhere, but at this particular restaurant that we went to, Monjayaki is cooked by the patrons themselves. Cooking a heap of vegetables, meat and batter over a sizzling hot pan after a long day at work can be surprisingly relaxing and fun. Of course, you have to be careful not to burn your dinner hahah.

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According to Amanda, the correct way of eating Monjayaki is to use the tiny steel spatula given to scrap the sides of the cooking Monjayaki .

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If the batter is cooked, it should stick perfectly to your spatula and you can deliver it to your mouth instantly.

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We also ordered an egg omelette and another cooked okonomiyaki. We didn’t have to cook these two, that’s why they look so much better ahhahaha!

It was a good dinner and we found it very easy to start talking around the hot pan. Because you have to cook the Monjayaki yourself, you kinda end up having a lot of time to talk to your friend. Even after finishing the food, we entertained ourselves by slowly scrapping the hot pan clean with our tiny steel spatula while rambling on and on about life.


Spending of the day:

  Price Item description: Date
1 1480 Hada labo moisturiser 1 24/10/13
2 609 Canmake lip concealer 25/10/13
3 88 calbee yuzu snack 25/10/13
4 1260 Tattoo eyeliner 25/10/13
5 609 Canmake lipstick 25/10/13
6 1000 suica top up 25/10/13
7 1995 face masks 50 pc 25/10/13
8 ??? monjayakki dinner 25/10/13

 

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