Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One day in Tokyo

Here is a picture of my cousin and me in front of the Meiji Jingu, a Japanese Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo. I am here on a short four days business trip while my cousin has been here for the past year as a student.

I had lost touch with this cousin of mine and I would not have known that he is here if my auntie had not asked me to help bring some stuff over to him. But I'm really glad that I did get to meet up with him and both of us managed to squeeze some time out to catch up over some sight seeing.

We first started in Akihabara checking out the many hardware shops that lined the streets. We also went into Sega World to check out the Senjou no Kizuna, which I believe is the ultimate mech simulator in the world. But alas, I did not get to play as the section was closed at the time we visited.

We then went for lunch at a wacky meido cafe called "@home cafe" and were amused by their unique "moe" culture. I'm also pretty impressed with the brains behind @home cafe as they went beyond just operating a cosplay cafe to include setting up a fan club for their "maids" and selling memorabilia such as CDs, mugs and other items.

After lunch, we left Akihabara and took the train to Harajuku to check out the "Harajuku girls" along the Harajuku bridge. Unfortunately, we failed to spot even a single one of them and my cousin attributed this to the fact that it was a Tuesday afternoon hence these folks might be in school or at work.

Next up, we checked out the Meiji Jingu which has an entrance right next to bridge. The entire compound is an amazing 175 acres (considering how dense the population in Tokyo is) and the walk to the main shrine from the entrance is a good 15 minutes. I am also very impressed with staggering height and size of the Torii in front of the shrine, which also happens to be the tallest Myojin Torii in the whole of Japan.

We then walked along Takeshita Street and the neighbouring streets where my cousin brought me to this popular kids fashion boutique called bape kids. Even though the T-shirts are really pricey (more than S$60 a piece!), I found them really cute and couldn't resist buying two of them for my kids.

This was followed by yet alot more walking as we window shopped in Shibuya (Harajuku to Shibuya on foot is only about 15 mins) and then tried to get to Shinjuku on foot thinking that its the best way to see Tokyo. It turned out to be an extremely bad idea as it took us more than two hours to get there and we ended up having dinner very late. It took us that long not because we went the scenic route but rather, my cousin wasn't really sure of the way and we ended up making alot of wrong turns; even with the help of the GPS service on his mobile phone.

Dinner was at a Gyu-Kaku branch located in the seedy Kabukichō area. Yes, it was deliberate that we went there but no, we did not do anything more than just walking down the street. As with all my other yakiniku experiences [1][2], wagyu beef is a must and as always, it was absolutely delectable. We parted ways not long after dinner as it was already late and we both were really exhausted from all the walking we did in the day. Moreover, we need to be up early next morning for work/school respectively.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself and am doubly glad that I was able to bond closer with my cousin at the same time. Hopefully, I will stay in touch with him from now on and I will be sure to look him up the next time I come to Japan.

P/S: Looking at the picture, you probably won't be able to tell that he is only just 19 years old or that I'm already 32!

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