Jul 22, 2017

TOKYO - DAY 3!

ohayo! after a couple days of pottering around shibuya and shinjuku, it's time to head out of the city for a bit. we wanted to experience another part of japan without spending too much on the super expensive shinkansen tickets to kyoto and osaka, so hakone it is! 

we bought our tickets to hakone on our first day at shinjuku station. here's a useful guide to all the ways you can get to hakone. we opted for the three-day pass for 5640 yen (approximately RM250), which includes passes for trains, cable car, buses, and basically most forms of public transport in the area.
woke up bright and early to pack and bid farewell to our nice little apartment in tokyo. 
here's my daily dose of yakult hehehe.
as you can see our flatlays are already becoming less posed by the third day ahahaha.
not much photos cuz we're all busy dragging our luggage over pavements and being annoying tourists and trying not to get in the way of nice tokyoites going about their daily lives. 

after a long train ride (in which i was constantly marveling at the countryside and oohing and aahing at every little kampung and sparkling stream we passed by and liz and peggy were trying to ignore me), we arrived at odawara!
HELLO ODAWARA CASTLE PAINTED ON TRAIN STATION FLOOR.
HELLO RANDOM TRAIN STATION COMBINI.
HELLO FOOD FROM THE DEPARTMENT STORE BASEMENT FOOD HALL.

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story time: i know i mentioned earlier that we were heading to hakone, but liz was fooled by an airbnb's description of 'near to hakone'. 

long story short, she booked this super cool little airbnb that's NOT NEAR TO HAKONE AT ALL. but it turned out to be a nice mistake at the end! odawara is the transit point between tokyo and hakone, while our airbnb is actually in iwahara, which is a tiny kampung accessible from a small train line off odawara itself. 

here's an explanatory google map screenshot. hope you get the gist of it.



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so after arriving in odawara, we decided to explore the town before checking in our airbnb! :)
tip: you can either rent lockers to stuff your luggage in, or there's also a luggage babysitting service at the ground floor of the station. our luggage is too fat to fit in the lockers so we went for the babysitting service. we spent too much time at the station looking luggage storage, wandering around the food hall looking for lunch, being super impressed by their desserts and individually wrapped strawberries, etc.

odawara's claim to fame is the Odawara Castle, a castle that was the last to be overthrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his quest to unite japan. if you haven't watched this super cool video about japan's history, please do. 


it was drizzling and unseasonably cold, hence the sad photos. the place would be lovely when the sakura are in full bloom! 

hello odawara castle! 
everything sold at the odawara station had castle motifs on it. here's one of the sweets i bought. 
expensive japanese sweet! 
liz trying her best to stay dry in the rain lol
here's how the town looked like from the castle! 



more beautiful traditional family seals in the castle museum. 

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after checking out the museum, we got coffee and decided to head back to the station to collect our luggage and check in. as the castle is walking distance from the station, there are some interesting sights along the way. 

these castle-themed tiles, for instance:
there was also a high school nearby, so i had fun stalking high school kids. 

then there's this arcade centre! how could we possibly miss out on another contemporary japanese cultural experience? so we went in and i spent lots of yen (you can also use your suica card to pay for games and that's very dangerous, in my opinion) on the taiko game hahahaha our arms were hurting from all that drumming!

(we got a terrible score by the way. i forgot that blue means hitting on the rim so we compensated by hitting extra hard but the score kept going down LOLOL this is so terrible T.T)

anyway. iwahara here we come! 
the train is somewhat old but super clean and pretty!
by the time we arrived at iwahara, it was already kinda late so there was an adventurous bit where we had to hunt around for the security lock provided by the host.
while liz and peggy were busy playing detective, i'm kept busy taking care of our luggage lol

we're finally in! we're staying on the second floor of a pretty little cottage.  while most of my ooh- and aah-ing was left for snapchat, here are a couple of shots:
 dining area. the owner is a professor who also gives english tuition i believe so this area is where he gives his lessons. spot the vcr player in the corner! also the carpets are really soft and comfortable, which is amazing after you spent the whole day trekking around with frozen toes in useless boots.
here's the other side of the cottage! sleeping area with lots and lots of books! basically it's my dream house hohoho. we were super tired and hungry and cold so i didn't take that much photos of the interiors.

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anyhow, we basically dropped our bags and headed out again to catch a train for our first onsen experience! we missed the last free shuttle bus to the onsen so we had to - cue next japanese cultural experience - take the taxi! so much has been said about the japanese cab experience so i'm secretly glad that we had the chance to take the cab.

it was a super dark and winding road through some forest to get to the onsen.

arigato gozaimasu! 

we had a really nice experience at the onsen. lots of laughs (and i think the old japanese ladies were probably quite amused by us) but it is super relaxing to enjoy outdoor hot springs in the freezing spring night. also there was a japanese girl who was facetiming her boyfriend in the onsen so we were kinda weirded out by that. here's the onsen if you're interested! we visited for a couple of hours, but overnight stays would be great as well.

after the relaxing bout at the onsen, back on the train to iwahara we go! by that time all the restaurants in town were closed, so we checked out the local familymart for sustenance.

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shrimp croquette sando that i bought from the food hall earlier!  




familymart dinner flatlays lol. 

another closeup of the croquette sandwiches. there was pork, cheese and mentaiko i think.

so that's it for our third day! after an eventful day of travelling, exploring, lounging around in spas, missing shuttle buses and trains, running around in the rain, we settled down for the night. there was an electricity outage but luckily peggy knew what to do HAHA thank God for my amazing travel companions.

i also dug around the bookshelves of the airbnb and found this interesting book called 'salaryman in japan'. it's a somewhat hilarious but accurate book produced by the japan travel bureau about the japanese salaryman:

turns out there's a whole illustrated series about different aspects of japan. but that night, i stayed up to finish reading the book in one go and constantly sending snaps about it to wai yeng to tempt her to visit japan hahaha.

anyway, more on our hakone adventure next!

goodnight :)


Apr 26, 2017

TOKYO - DAY 2

technically this is day three but since it's the second complete day so i'm counting it as day two.
today we go to shibuya!
~breakfast flatlays~

we drop by the same grocery store every night and each person gets to pick out one type of baked good. these raisin rolls are pretty good! 

see those fluffy cheesecake-like things on the left? that's castella cake. (kasutera hehehe). it's a type of portuguese honey sponge cake that's famous in nagasaki! i've always wanted to try it after reading about it on Just Bento. we also bought three types of cultured drinks (Bifix 1000, meiji and yakult) for variety's sake. 

these are a couple of the pins that peggy got for me from the gachapon. the tokyo skytree is pretty cute! also trains cause japanese trains are the best. 

cause liz and peggy took forever to get ready, i poked around the apartment and took this from the balcony of our place. tokyo's really grey. but it's a beautiful kind of grey. i think.
TOKYO GRANDMA STREET STYLE IS THE BEST.
cutiepie.

we made our way to shibuya for the fames crossing. also somehow we missed the hachiko statue LOL. but we saw the hachiko mural though. that counts, right?

right?

so we bugged off to starbucks where everyone says it's the best spot to see the scramble. BUT STARBUCKS WAS SO CROWDED WITH TOURISTS ALL WITH THE SAME IDEA. so we sed. we went up the floors hoping to find another floor with nice windows but it's all blocked with shelves upon shelves of cds and dvds so finally we got to the 6th and 7th floor where we arrived at heaven.

TSUTAYA BOOKS!
i basically left peggy and liz alone to browse the fashion mags (more like checking out which one has better freebies; they give the best bags/makeup/totes). 
look at their food magazines! the layout and design is just too incredible. finally i gave in and bought hanako hehehehe. mostly cos' they have bread-themed stickers in it. HAHAHAHAHA. don't judge me.

i also bought a design book about vintage tokyo labels as kar yen's birthday present here. they even have other titles on vintage japanese bottles, vintage stationery and so on. all photographed and styled so beautifully i just want to buy them all! the 7th floor has more english titles and magazines too!  

finally we got our fashion magazines and food magazines and books and left tsutaya. now for some coffee! 

astro boy spotted on the street. 

we went to streamer coffee company! it's famed for their latte art hehe. tiny space, english-speaking staff, lots of tourists/angmohs, limited selection of baked goods, and no pourovers. that camo doughnut is actually a matcha doughnut. initially i didn't want to get that, but the other one is a raspberry doughnut i think so we finally went for the camo one lol. it's surprisingly good!

peggy's attempt at levitation.

after sustenance in the form of camo doughtnus and flat whites, it's time for our next destination!
we walked through the backstreets of shibuya. it's a really nice neighbourhood!
peggy accidentally got this cool shot as a van passed by.
she was trying to take a photo of me doing my levitation thing. that green satchel was from the flea market! hehehehehe best buy lah best buy.
we're almost there! stopped to take selfies also that cute guy was passing by and we got a shot of him LOLOL 

and we're here! 

i found Raw Tokyo on instagram and thought we should check it out. it's on the first weekend of every month so i figured that it's more accessible as well. but that accessibility comes at a price, i guess. things are kinda expensive here! but it's all really cool stuff. 
look at those blooms! i kept zooming in on those blooms and sending snaps to wai yeng hahahha. this was basically a florist's dream come true!

after awhile i got separated from peggy and liz. but i found this dog adoption drive! look at this cutie up for adoption :')
and this shiba too! it's a pet-friendly market so quite a few guys brought their dogs along.
lots of little food and coffee trucks.

after the food market outside, you can find vintage clothes and toys at another part of the market.
look at that handmade jacket! this is a really cool stall. most of the other stalls were just selling old clothes and kimonos and leather jackets and whatnot. but this stall was full of clothes that the owner repurposed and designed! SUPER EXPENSIVE (for us, at least). but yeah, eccentric people with money should come here hahahha. 

there was also this little bookmobile! all japanese titles i sad.
succulents in a nice wooden display rack!
loads of nice pottery too. but these were going for like rm40 each. then i think of my rm2 plates from the flea market yesterday and i sed :(
there was a super long queue for this truck! it was just this guy slicing up pork with egg and grilled onigiri but his food styling game is strong ahha. that little window atop his truck let in so much natural light and the babi looked so good that we had to join the queue.

jeng jeng jeng. 
here's the food! grilled rice balls are all sold out so we replaced it with onsen (?) egg instead.
can't wait to dig in! also it was scarily cold by that time and we were just shivering and dying from the cold hahahah. also that means the pork and egg is all cold lah. so it's not very nice one LOL. we just gobbled it up so we can run somewhere to escape the cold.
EGGGGGGGGG. 
pretty little sakura branches from the flower stall earlier!
next stop! we walked on to Shibuya Hikarie, a cool new mall that also houses the D47 museum. It's not exactly a museum, but more like a gallery that displays items from the prefectures in Japan. there's a design travel store, a restaurant serving specialty dishes from the prefectures, and an exhibition space that displays items from a particular issue of the magazine. the d design magazine devotes an entire issue to stories about one prefecture. for example, there are issues on Nara, Hokkaido, Tokyo, Osaka (the cover is a huge cup noodle!), and so on. when we visited, that particular issue on display is Saitama, and you'd get all this little detailed displays about the stories in that Saitama issue. if there was a story about this soba maker, then you'd get a little display about that soba maker, a buckwheat milling machine, little baskets of buckwheat, and so on. by the time we were done with that exhibition, peggy and liz were both muttering about how we must visit saitama soon. lol.

then we picked up free postcards in the design store and i bought an issue of d design magazine on nara (it's most in Japanese but it has english translations YES). also they don't give out paper bags. instead there's a giant basket of pretty paper bags recycled from other shops and you just take one if you need a paper bag.

by then, night has fallen so we camped at the top floor of the shibuya hikarie building to rest our feet before braving the cold again.

liz is stressed with work-related matters.
while me and peggy just kept ourselves busy by taking photos of the glittering buildings.
then off we go to tick yakitori off the tokyo food list! 
omoide yokocho was touted as some gritty little lane full of yakitori shops but in my opinion it's gotten a bit too touristy*. but beggars can't be choosers when it's already nine pm and you haven't had a proper meal the whole day and it's freaking cold lol so we went in the first shop that seemed to have seats for the three of us.

*(well, you do see japanese salarymen eating there, but you also get hordes of tourists and mat sallehs wandering around so......)
kanpai! liz and peggy with kirin, me with boiling hot green tea lol.
this is basically how the yakitori alley looks like. 

then we stumbled home with frozen toes in frozen boots through frozen paths and frozen underpasses. 

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WE'LL BE HEADING OFF TO HAKONE TOMORROW!


ok grace wants to use my wonky laptop now bye love you guys