Vacationista: Tokyo Day 3

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I can’t believe it’s already our third and final day before we leave for Manila! But instead of feeling sad, I just chose to look forward to another day of adventure. My friends especially were quite excited for today because it’s Disney Day! I’ve actually ‘graduated’ from theme parks, along with other amusement parks, concerts, music festivals, zoos, zip lines, banana boats and even museums, meaning I can live without visiting or attending or doing any one of them. But since my friends wanted to go to Disney, then I’m in! 🙂
Before I go on about Disney, first let me begin from the start of the day, which was super, duper early. We decided to visit the tuna auction today at the Tsukiji fish market area, instead of doing it on our last day since we didn’t want to rush. The auction would start before 5am and would only cater to 120 tourists, meaning we had to wake up by 4am to get to Tsukiji early. So, wake up we did, all bundled up, then hailed a cab since the train station was still closed. Since Tsukiji is near our apartment, we only paid Y1140 for the taxi. That was like less than 10 minute ride. Going there, we wondered why the cab passed by the Tsukiji fish market that we went to yesterday, mumbled something and found out that the tuna auction happens at the back of the fish market. But when we got there, a Japanese man greeted us and said, ‘No more auction. Already 120 tourists inside.’ My gosh! Fail 4! And we were already there at 4:30am so that means you have to get there earlier so you’ll get a slot.

   

With down hearts, empty stomachs and sleepy eyes, we walked back towards the train station but there’s always a silver lining- we got to try the noodle shop we saw yesterday that had a long line. This time, there was no line (hello, it was 430am) but there were a few people already eating. Watching the Jap man prepare each bowl was amazing because he had deft hands and didn’t even use measuring cups – he knew everything by feel! It also seemed like the two ‘waiters’ were his sons so I’m assuming this is a family business that has been there for years. We each ordered a bowl of hot noodles (Y700) which had four pieces of pork slices which were really tender and melts in your mouth, super flavorful soup, I think two cups of noodles and a bunch of herbs and spices. The serving was huge and we probably should’ve shared since we all didn’t finish our bowls! But I highly recommend trying this noodle shop because it was really, really good and perfect to warm our insides during the early morning.

   

Since it was too early to do anything, we decided to catch a few zzzzs back home (Y220 train) then by 8am, woke up again and went to Daimon (Y180), where we passed by a really nice small park, to seek out the training place of the sumo wrestlers at the ‘sumo stable’ (Ryogoku Kokugikan). My friend suggested we watch a tournament but upon further research, there was no schedule for February (it starts in March) so the next best thing was to watch them train. Basically, it’s a small room with windows where you can literally just watch them train. After watching them go head-to-head (you can hear their bodies colliding and there were even a few drops of blood here and there), I concluded that I will not be able to stomach a real tournament because I felt like I could feel their pain every time they would make contact. Haha! One of the younger sumo wrestlers, probably an apprentice, casually walked out into the freezing cold, wearing only a small wrap, and started watering the plants. How random!

  

 Anyway, we walked around the area hoping to find a Kabuki theater but didn’t find any (which was really a long shot). On the way back to the train station, we decided to have coffee at this random, almost hidden coffee shop on the second floor called Sen-nichi Coffee. Boy, were we in for a treat! Went upstairs and found ourselves in this tiny but so cozy coffee shop, instantly feeling at home, headed by the sweetest  Japanese lady I have ever met. We each only ordered a café latte (Y650) but the lady came back not only with our coffee, but also with a mini Japanese cake and a purple yam. So sweet! The mini delicacies were perfect for our coffee and our conversations with the lady. Note: don’t buy American coffee because according to their menu, it is ‘weak and tasteless.’ Hahaha!  

 She asked us if we were students and we answered we were already 30, one was even a mother. She was so surprised and said we looked 23. Why, thank you kind lady. Upon learning we were from the Philippines, she mentioned that their empress recently visited our country. We added that they actually went to our hometown, Laguna, and visited IRRI. She was good in English and only took out her ‘google translate’ when my friend asked about the scarves being sold. My friend ended up buying one of the scarves. Other items for sale were chopsticks, art stuff and crafts. The other room was designed as a typical Japanese room and we reasoned that the lady probably directed us to the Western table because we weren’t Japanese. Haha. I also like their comfort room and their pretty sink, with the koi and pebbles. It was really a nice time talking with the lady and just spending unhurried time. Sometimes the best moments happen unexpectedly and without plan.

 We then went on our way to the Kabuki Theater via the Higashi Ginza station (Y180), which we were able to research during the coffee break. We first bought and reserved our seats for a one-act show (Y2000) because we really didn’t want to watch the whole thing, just for experience. 

  
Since we still had some time to spare, we made our way to Asakusa (Y220) to see the Senso-Ji Temple. Apparently, this is a big thing because there were so many people!  

 It seemed to me that the Asakusa area is also a nice place to walk around in and explore so maybe I’ll do that next time I visit. Since we had limited time, we passed by the shops selling souvenirs and food until we saw the temple inside as well as a pagoda. It’s a nice place to visit though I wouldn’t recommend it for those who are allergic to a multitude of people, like me. Haha!

 We then made our way back to Higashi Ginza (Y220) just in time for the 1:55pm Kabuki. No photos are allowed inside during the performance, which is to be expected, so we only had photos of the stage. You may also rent an English translator (Y1000) but we opted to hear the story in Japanese then had this game where we had to make up our own story, and share to each other later on. I‘ll be honest. I took that time to rest my eyes and sleep, albeit shallow sleep but still had a few minutes of rest. Haha! During the intermission, me and my friend shared our ‘own stories’ of what transpired. Haha! Funny! The whole one-act show lasted for more than an hour (by the way we were so ready to leave even before the act ended but we didn’t want to leave early and seem disrespectful so we stayed till the end). I have to say it’s a good experience at least once in your lifetime because there really is an art to it, the set design is amazing and the actors – all men as per tradition for years – were really professional. I’m glad they were able to preserve this art and part of their culture. Hopefully, it never dies (unlike a lot of Filipino art and culture).

 We walked towards the Tsujiki area since it was nearby to get our dose of authentic sushi (was so excited for this!). We first tried to look for the best sushi place called Sushi Dai Resto –located at this big alley near the station- but it was already closed. This was to be expected because they are known to be a breakfast place, recommended to visit after the tuna auction. So technically, this is Fail 5. Haha! 

  
We then walked back and looked for another sushi place and ended up in Tsukiji Sushi Sen, which later on I found a poster in the train station (so they must be a bit popular). As expected, I had the best and freshest sushi ever! It took a while for us to order but my favorite would always be anything salmon so I ordered two tuna sushi, one salmon sushi, one seared salmon sushi (all Y198+tax each) and one snow crab salad sushi (Y148+tax) for a total of Y1015. So not bad for the quality of sushi I got! They had an English menu with photos, so if you can’t decide, just check which of the photos look the yummiest. They also have prepared sushi sets, for those who don’t want to think anymore. Haha! Two of my friends had sashimi, but still the first sashimi we ate was the prettiest. Haha! Watched the Japanese chef prepare the sushi and before long, tasted the most delicious sushi again! So goood! Wish I had ordered more! Haha!   

 With full stomachs, our next destination was Disney! We really planned on going there after 6pm because they had a discount. From something like Y6500, we only paid Y4300 for the night pass, which we bought at Disney when we got there. Same privileges – you may ride on all the rides – but shorter time since closing time was at 10pm, which worked out for us because we had no plans on riding any rides, just walk around and feast on the scenery and fun.

 Going there, first we had to go to Tokyo station (Y280) then to Maihama (Y220). The Maihama ride seemed like we were going out of the city and into oblivion because there were less and less lights and buildings but eventually, I caught a glimpse of the famous Disney logo and everything was ok with the world! Haha. Tokyo has Disneyland and DisneySea. We chose the latter because according to my friend who had already been there, that would the most interesting to adults. To go around, you’ll ride a monorail which cost Y260 per way from the main entrance. First thing that welcomed us was this huge volcano right smack in the middle. As you can see below, we also came prepared and wore our mouse ears! Haha! Where else to act as kids than in the happiest place on earth? Tip: Buy your mouse ears in a nearby tiangge for Php25 instead of Y600 (though the white and pink bridal ears are from my friend who bought it in Disney LA).  

 We walked and walked and took photos here and there. Passed by tons of girls and boys of all ages wearing mouse ear head bands and even costumes. So cute! 

  

We were even able to watch the water show and fireworks display. No photos though because I was so engrossed in watching. Haha. Last time in Hong Kong Disneyland, I cried a tear or two upon watching the fireworks display. In my defense, 1) I will always be a Disney princess and Disney will always have a place in my heart; 2) the fireworks were done with Cinderella’s castle as a backdrop and 3) Disney’s best songs were playing in the background all of which perfectly made the show so tear jerking. Haha! But this time around (maybe I’m old, maybe the show was different), I didn’t get teary eyed. Haha!   

   
   
While my friends looked around in souvenir shops, I wanted to grab a quick bite so I went into a bakery and of course, what would you expect but Mickey Mouse shaped bread. I bought their deep fried corn muffin (Y270) which was surprisingly good, not to mention so cute.

  

 By 9:30pm, 15 minutes before we originally planned to leave, we were on our way home. Tip: try not to leave at 10pm on the dot so you could catch the last train back to Tokyo station (about 10:30ish) and to avoid the horde of people going home. If you miss the train, you’ll have to take a cab, which of course would be expensive. Disney will always be a good idea, especially if you spend it with your fun girl friends. Before heading home – and starting our mission on packing all of our stuff and hoping not to have excess baggage – we stopped by Family Mart and to rid of my extra Yen, I ended up buying a bunch of noodles and chocolate biscuits (Y968).

  

Then we had a quick dinner at Yoshinoya, surprisingly because we were initially joking that we’d end up eating in a Japanese ‘fast food.’ I usually like to try local fast food chains when I go abroad – usually a McDonalds – just to see any unique difference. Thankfully, they had an English menu with photos so I easily decided on their beef bowl with cabbage and corn salad (Y430). Salad was really good, paired with my dressing of choice – sesame dressing. They also had an option for eel on the menu. Ack. Most of the people eating were men, probably because it was already late but then again, my friend said it was probably usually all men since it looked like a ‘place-to-cure-a-hangover.’ Haha. My Family Mart chocolate drink served as my dessert.

 Headed back home and started the ever so fun process of packing all our goodies!

 

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