Shibuya

Today we went to the Shibuya district of Tokyo. At Shibuya station is the famous statue of Hachiko. The faithful Akita who met his master every day at the train station and who continued to wait there over 9 years following his passing.

Shibuya is also where the famous scramble crossing is. A crosswalk that connects several points. All directions of traffic are stopped and pedestrians can process to cross in several directions. We crossed there today but pictures don’t do justice. There were millions of people there today, as per usual.

The area is very commercial with high end stores, department stores, arcades, coffee shops and hosts large video boards and lights.

Samurai Museum

Today we visited the Samurai Museum in Shinjuku. It’s about a 15min walk from Shinjuku station. There’s a fee of 1800 yen and they offer frequent tours in English. Our tour guide covered the samurai eras, the gear worn, the differences in gear hierarchy, swords, guns and the tour ended with a demonstration. Overall it was very educational. While the demo at the end showed techniques, it’s presentation was a tad corny. There’s a nice gift shop by the front desk. Here’s a sampling of today’s tour.

Crowds

While at Remy we saw the subway platform at Gotanda station. Hundreds and hundreds of Japanese workers making their way home. A bit of a glare as I took the pic through the patterned glass of the elevator.

Remy

On Friday we explored Remy department store. I’m not usually fond of shopping but Japanese department stores are different and with different products, can be interesting. For starters, Japanese department stores are quite different from western department stores. Here in Japan they’re multi-level often around 8 floors. In a typical layout you will find restaurants on the top floor, housewares on another, women’s clothing on a couple floors, men’s clothing on another, furniture, souvenirs, kids stuff all on their own floors and food on the lower levels. Ground level you may find pre-packaged prepared foods. One floor down desserts and bottom floor will be a supermarket. At Remy the food floors are the Tokyu Store. This is yet another example of where working Japanese puck up their meals on the way home from work. It’s also another great option for picking up affordable food.

There’s also a stretch of bulk fried and grilled foods like yakitori (skewered meats), gyoza (dumplings), counters of various types of noodles, pasta and sandwiches. There’s also a pastry area as well as liquor, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Prices are all quite cheap. Some areas were too crowded for me to take any pictures but was able to get the sushi area.

We made our way up and did a little souvenir shopping then made our way to the top floor. There are five restaurants to choose from. There were lineups at a couple so we chose another place called Yasaiya-Mei. I chose a seasonal tempura plate. Came with miso soup, salad, some little side dishes, rice cooked with ginger, mushroom, tako (octopus) and carrots. On the side was vegetable tempura with various vegetables cut like match sticks and fried together in a block. Quite delicious.

I know I have covered a lot of food. Reason is that Tokyo has a reputation of being expensive. It doesn’t have to be. I’ve been trying to show how to come to Tokyo and find cheap but good affordable food. Also where to find affordable merchandise. Likewise with items if you shop in touristy areas like Asakusa you will pay more for souvenirs than at local discount stores like Daiso and Miniso. You won’t necessarily find every souvenir you’re looking for but it’s a good place to start.

After lunch we made our way down through the floors to check out the stuff. One floor had the lifestyle store Muji. We have one back home at Square One in Mississauga. But the prices were much lower here. Everything has a price tag containing its cost around the world. It is much cheaper to buy here as the converted amount ended up being about 60% of the Canadian price. I picked up a light jacket as it is warmer here than I anticipated. Luckily I tend to fit into clothes a bit better here and incredibly I’m a L or XL here (S or M at home).

We are just winging it so not sure what our weekend plans are yet but I’ll be sharing whatever we do.

Another Budget Dinner

After enjoying the day at Mount Fuji we were pretty tired and looking for something a little different but still “pick up” style. On our way through Shinagawa train station there’s a big food court. But this food court is not like the kind we Westerners are used to in shopping malls. This type is commonly found here in the basements of department stores. They are vendors selling packaged foods and desserts for commuters to purchase and take home. After looking around we chose a place selling a salmon dinner with rice and vegetables. At 950 yen (approx $10 Cdn) this was great!

Places here, including convenience stores always supply you with any essential cutlery. In this case we each received a hashi (chopstick) and a wet nap. Here, the wet nap is to be used before eating to cleanse your hands prior to your meal. You can use it again afterwards if needed.

We also found a vendor selling some manju and dessert items. I selected a package of these little pancake like sandwiches with red bean paste inside (doriyaki). Also chose three different manju, one with chestnut, another with strawberry and one with dark beans. Manju is a delicious dessert where the outside is pounded rice (mochi) and fill the inside with various items. It’s also coated with corn starch to be able to handle it as it would be pretty sticky. These were nice and soft. The below and a package of about eight small little doriyaki was actually more expensive than our dinners, at 2058 yen (approx $21 Cdn).

Everything here in Japan is packaged so nicely. Oishii desu (it’s delicious)!

Shinkansen

Shinkansen is also known as “Bullet train”. It travels at a top speed of 300km/h. Shinkansen do not necessarily stop at every station. Here’s what it looks like when a Shinkansen passes through your train station. Hold on!!