Day 4 was our last day in Tokyo. But since we had a late flight, there was still time to go around after hotel check out. We wandered back to Nakamise Street, Sensoji Temple, then back to Sumida Park, enjoying our last full view of the sakura. There was an aptly called Sakura Plaza, an elevated area where you can sit and enjoy the view of the trees and the blooms, the river, and the people around you–grandpas in their bikes, mothers and daughters out for a Sunday morning stroll, friends picnicking under the spring sun. Continue Reading
Day 3. I cannot not go back to Tsukiji Market. I know Tokyo had awesome sushi everywhere, but after last year’s market experience, I just had to have it again. So I led the way back to Tsukiji for a late second breakfast, finding Iwasa Sushi, the same restaurant where Hazel and I ate last year. I like that place because the line was forgiving unlike the more popular shops. We waited for only 20 minutes. Their sushi was heaven, even their free refillable green tea and miso soup were so good. Also the staff there are very nice. The okasan staff for one so kindly gave me a small sealed jar that was apparently a seaweed paste that you mix with steaming rice (thank you Ryn for explaining haha). Continue Reading
Day 2 of my first ever spring in Tokyo had us running around Harujuku and Shibuya in search for sneakers, because the day before’s rainy trek destroyed my friend’s old pair. We found the Onitsuka Tiger flagship store and the Nike flagship store, both in Harajuku near Takeshita-dori. Then we got on the train to Shibuya and found Hachiko. He was corded off–I think there was an event–so I only got to wave at him.
We participated in the Shibuya crossing, and spent the afternoon going up and down the streets, whiling hours away inside Muji, Tokyu Hands and Tower Records. Tower Records was something I really had to see. It’s been so long since I saw so many CDs in the Philippines. And even then, record stores didn’t go as high as 6-7 floors. Japanese CDs are expensive though. I bought the Arctic Monkeys AM album and tried to check for gold slivers inside. I found none. But it’s okay, because Alex Turner <3
Before the sun set, we headed back to the hotel for some rest for our tita bones. Then we walked a good 20 minutes to the nearest hanami venue, Sumida Park. On the way, we passed Sensoji Temple, lured towards it by the bright red lights. It was deserted, as was Nakamise Street, so it was a good time to go around and take pictures of the shrine, the temple, and the famed bells of the Kaminari Gate.
When we finally reached Sumida, we found cherry blossoms lit up with garlands of fairy lights. Under the trees, in full view of the water buses floating along the river, the locals celebrated the end of the week. There were couples on dates eating from disposable wares, side by side the salarymen who were guzzling their beers with chips and yakitori. TGIF indeed. Kanpai!
All photos belong to me.
It started when my old Economics professor said, “I’m taking my EcoDev class to Tokyo this spring. Do you want to tag along?” The answer to an invitation like that is always “yes.” But when the date started crawling closer, I was trying to squirm out of the trip, moved to do so by a long list of excuses. My professor was the type who marked words though, so my “yes” remained. The plane ticket was booked, hotel reservations were made, the visa was approved (barely made it!), and sooner than I could pack, it was time to meet and greet those famed cherry blossoms.
They say spring is the best season to travel to a place like Japan. Surely my summer trip there was hardly ideal thanks to the stifling heat and humidity. Spring weather had sunny mornings that transitioned to cold afternoons and evenings. But the day could turn frigid when it rains. I still like autumn the most, though. I like that it’s dependably cold all hours of the day. You’re sure you’ll need that heavy coat and that you’re never going to sweat under your thermals.
But spring wins with its aesthetic; there is nothing quite like it. Bright, colorful flowers, towering, green trees, and of course, the white-pink sakura blooms–all these line the streets and fill the parks. Life and nature everywhere you turn. It’s a breathtaking sight, not at all anything I could get over with.
Day 1 had our little party of four struggling to get to our hotels. It was raining, as the very accurate weather predictions have warned us. Also I’ve forgotten that when the Japanese (and Koreans too, for that matter) say that the hotel is a 12 minute-walk away, the Filipino pacing for that is actually 20 minutes minimum. After a long trudge in the rain, we finally found Toyoko Inn Asakusa Senzobu Tsukuba Express. I reserved direct from their website and paid cash upon check in. Check in was late (4 pm!) but it’s an affordable chain inn and it’s easily my most favorite one of all. Super clean, and though small it’s a manageable space, specially since I booked a single room. Also they serve free breakfast (Onigiri! Soup, natto, coffee and bread!) and they lend you free jammies (!!!). Once we’ve deposited our luggage, it was time for our Tokyo Stock Exchange field trip, then after a couple of hours of legitimate learning, it was off to Ginza to reunite with all the pretty cafes and shops (hello again 12 floors of Uniqlo).
All photos belong to me.