5th Day in Japan is a HAS Day – Hamarikyu, Akihabara & Shibuya

January 30 was a beautiful day in Tokyo. As we stepped out of our hotel at about 9am to begin our fifth day in Japan, we could see that it was a sunny day with blue skies. We went to Coffee Room Renoir Ginza not far from our hotel for breakfast.

Outside our hotel ready to begin a new day of sightseeing

Outside our hotel ready to begin a new day of sightseeing

Coffee Room Renoir Ginza

Coffee Room Renoir Ginza

Inside Coffee Room Renoir Ginza

Inside Coffee Room Renoir Ginza

After breakfast, we walked to Daimon Station where we took the subway to Tsukijishijo Station. From Tsukijishijo Station, we walked to Hamarikyu Gardens.  On the way, we passed through by lot of skyscrapers in the Shiodome district of Tokyo.

Daimon Station

Daimon Station

skyscrapers in the Shiodome district

Skyscrapers in the Shiodome district

skyscrapers in the Shiodome district

Skyscrapers in the Shiodome district

A van peddlar

A van peddlar

Hama Rikyu is a large, attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hama Rikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides. The genteel 17th century garden stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district.

Welcome to Hamarikyu Gardens

Welcome to Hamarikyu Gardens

Opened on April 1, 1946 Hamarikyu Gardens is located at the mouth of the Sumida River. It is a 250,165 m² landscaped garden surrounding the huge Shioiri-no-ike Pond (incoming tide pond), Tokyo’s sole remaining saltwater pond. A sluice gate regulates the water level with the rise and fall of the tides.

The park itself is surrounded by a seawater moat filled by Tokyo Bay. The garden has served many purposes over the centuries. It was originally built as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), but later served as a strolling garden and as an imperial detached palace before eventually being opened to the public in its current form.

Moat surrounding Hamarikyu

Moat surrounding Hamarikyu

The garden is beautifully landscaped.

Lovely garden

Lovely view

Lovely landscape

Lovely landscape

Lovely view

Lovely view

Lovely view

Lovely view

Lovely view

Lovely view

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

Posing near a beautiful tree

Posing near a beautiful tree

A group photo

A group photo

A group photo

A group photo

Amanda & Clarence

Amanda & Clarence

The wooden walkway

The wooden walkway

Taking a short rest

Taking a short rest

Having a bit of fun

Having a bit of fun

Fujimiyama Hill

Fujimiyama Hill

A Japanese enjoying an afternoon nap

A Japanese enjoying an afternoon nap

Shioiri-no-ike Pond features a small island, Nakajima, with a tea house, first built in 1707, accessible over long wooden footbridges. The teahouse serves macha and mochi. We tried out both the macha and the mocha, both of which were nice. Indeed the mochi looked so cute.

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

The teahouse

Inside the teahouse

Inside the teahouse

Inside the teahouse

Inside the teahouse

Enjoying our macha inside the teahouse

Enjoying our macha inside the teahouse

Inside the teahouse

Inside the teahouse

One of the bags containing something heavy to weigh down the carpet

One of the bags containing something heavy to weigh down the carpet

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Cute mochi

Macha & mochi... a perfect combination

Macha & mochi… a perfect combination

From the teahouse, we could get a great view of the garden and the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district.

Trying to look like a Japanese outside the teahouse

Trying to look like a Japanese outside the teahouse

View from the teahouse

View from the teahouse

One of the must-see is the flower garden. The garden has a field of some 300,000 stalks of rapeseed (nanohana) plants. The rapeseed flowers were in full bloom in a sea of yellow, enveloping the vicinity in a sweet fragrance and offering the view of a sea of yellow flowers against towering skyscrapers. It was a sight to behold!

rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed flowers

rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed flowers

rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed flowers

rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed flowers

The rapeseed garden

The rapeseed garden

We spotted some plum blossom trees that were already blooming with beautiful flowers. We only saw a few types of flowers apart from the rapeseed and plum blossoms as a lot of flowers were not in bloom yet.Another highlight was the 300-year-old pine tree near the entrance of the garden.

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms

Lovely flowers

Lovely flowers

Lovely flowers

Lovely flowers

Lovely flowers

Lovely flowers

Flower or fruits?

Flower or fruits?

The 300-year-old pine

The 300-year-old pine

As we strolled around the garden, we saw a few eagles gliding in the air. There were some other birds scavenging for food on the ground, flying in the air and resting on some trees. In the pond, there were quite a lot of wild ducks.

Eagles high up in the air

Eagles high up in the air

Eagle high up in the air

Three birds flocking together

Three birds flocking together

A crow?

A crow?

Looking for food

Looking for food

Looking for food

Looking for food

A crow?

A crow?

A bird on a plum blossom tree

A bird on a plum blossom tree

Wild ducks

Wild ducks

We saw some buildings with interesting Japanese designs but we were not sure what were these buildings for. There are a few beautiful small bridges in the garden.

Another interesting building

An interesting building

An interesting building

An interesting building

An interesting building

Another interesting building

A bridge over calm water

A bridge over calm water

A lovely bridge

A lovely bridge

A lovely bridge

A lovely bridge

A long walkway over the water

A long walkway over the water

We enjoyed the tranquillity and the lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. After spending a couple of hours in the garden, we had to leave as we wanted to visit Akihabara. From Tsukiji Station, we took the subway to Akihabara.

Akihabara (秋葉原) is a wonderfully frenetic district of lights, high rises, colourful signboards and  electronics shops and  the mecca of Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture with many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga. The name ‘Akihabara’ comes from the Japanese word ‘Akibagahara’ (秋葉が原) which means ‘autumn leaf field.’ Akihabara is also known as Akiba, named after a fire-controlling deity for a fire-fighting shrine built after the area was destroyed by a fire in 1869.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

A homeless man in Akihabara

A homeless man in Akihabara

A lady doing some promotion

A lady doing some promotion

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara has some of the biggest, brightest and best gaming arcades in Tokyo.  These arcades draw in endless game-hungry visitors. Gamers, right near the station, is a favourite with the Akiba crowd.

Gamers

Gamers

Pachinko & Slot

Pachinko & Slot

Japan takes UFO Catchers to the next level. Akihabara is riddled with these machines that offer everything from cheap novelty toys to video games and anime/manga merchandise as prizes.

UFO Catcher

UFO Catcher

If you are looking for adult merchandise, head to Love Merci, a mutli-storey store that is said to offer a staggering variety of such items. The third and fourth floors are for men only and are off-limits to women.  We did not enter the store so I cannot show you any photos.

Love Merci is on the left hand side of the photo

Love Merci is on the left hand side of the photo while SEGA is on the right

The many anime DVD and/or manga shops sell DVDs, digital and printed arts. There are many shops selling the latest publications on the market, and there are just as many second hand shops selling the classics and rare finds.

DVD Store

DVD Store

DVD Store

DVD Store

Comic books

Comic books

Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise, right next to JR Akihabara Station, specialises in gathering together all the elements of Akihabara’s hobby culture, offering figurines, toys, plastic models, nuigurumi (plush toys), t-shirts, trading cards, miniature toys and other merchandise with popular character designs.

DVD Store

Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise

For the latest electronic products on the market, visit one of the many huge electronics shops such as Yodabashi Camera, LAOX, Sofmap, Ishimaru or LABI. Each of these massive multi-floor stores carry a massive variety of products.

LABI

LABI & LAOX

SEGA & Sofmap

SEGA & Sofmap

Akihabara is famed for its maid cafes, the apex of Japan’s kawaii culture. Maid cafes feature female staff members dressed as maids to serve and entertain the customer, or ‘master’.

Staff of a maid cafe

Staff of a maid cafe

We had a late lunch at Kanda Yabusoba, a restaurant with a nice ambiance. I had tamago-toji, a soba noodles in hot tsuyu soup topped with cooked egg. The soba was nice.

Kanda Yabusoba

Kanda Yabusoba

Inside Kanda Yabusoba

Inside Kanda Yabusoba

Inside Kanda Yabusoba

Inside Kanda Yabusoba

My tamago-toji

My tamago-toji

After lunch, we continued roaming the streets of Akihabara. Towards evening, we stopped at Pablo Mini to buy their famous cheese tarts.  It is no wonder that their tarts are famous as the tarts were yummy.

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini

Pablo Mini cheese tarts

Pablo Mini cheese tarts

Enjoying our cheese tarts

Enjoying our cheese tarts

From Akihabara, we took the subway to Shibuya. The Shibuya Crossing was packed with people as usual. We made a brief stop at Hachiko Statue to take some group photos.

Huge crowds at Shibuya Crossing

Huge crowds at Shibuya Crossing

Huge crowds at Shibuya Crossing

Huge crowds at Shibuya Crossing

Hachiko Statue

Hachiko Statue

We again had dinner at Ichiran Ramen where we had dinner on our first night in Japan. We enjoyed the ramen there during our first visit so we wanted to have it again.

Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran Ramen

Inside Ichiran Ramen

Inside Ichiran Ramen

Our ramen with extra servings of pork slices and egg

Our ramen with extra servings of pork slices and egg

With our hunger satiated, we again hit the streets of Shibuya. The shops and shopping centres were full of cute things. It was cuteness overload once again for us as we did some shopping for chocolates, biscuits, green tea and souvenirs. We were tempted to buy the cute cute things but we restrained ourselves from overspending as things are not cheap in Japan.

After shopping, we dropped by Starbucks in Tsutaya Building. Sitting near the first floor windows, we had a great view of the Shibuya Crossing.

Inside Starbucks

Inside Starbucks with Shibuya Crossing in the background

Chilling out at Starbucks

Chilling out at Starbucks

After Starbucks, we took the subway back to our hotel, bringing our fifth day in Japan to a close.  Back at the hotel, we started packing as we would be flying back to Singapore the next day. Having enjoyed our trip so much, we were seized by a tinge of sadness that the trip was coming to an end and that this was our last night in Japan before we fly back to Singapore.

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