Updated on September 14, 2017
Day 6 of University Graduation Trip, Tokyo on May 5, 2017
Sixth day of our graduation trip in Japan.
After yesterday’s Digimon Tour, today we went back to our roaming of the city of Tokyo. We ended up visiting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Akihabara, Sensō-ji Temple, Sky Tree (didn’t go up there), Ginza and Shibuya.
The images in this post are hosted on Imgur. Email me should there be any display problems.Since this is a public post, usual components of graduation trip such as poker games, pillow fights, ghost stories won’t be part of the post.
We never got up early during our stay in Tokyo, and today’s no exception. After breakfast, it’s half past 10 that we headed out.
On our first day in Tokyo, we lost our way in the rather complex Shinjuku Station, so by the time we reached Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden it’s already closed. So, we decided that we would visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden first thing in the morning to make that up.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The shogun bequeathed this land to Lord Naitō (daimyo) of Tsuruga in the Edo period who completed a garden here in 1772. After the Meiji Restoration the house and its grounds were converted into an experimental agricultural center. It then became a botanical garden before becoming an imperial garden in 1879. The current configuration of the garden was completed in 1906.
The jurisdiction over the Imperial Palace Outer Garden was transferred to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1947.
On May 21, 1949, the garden became open to the public as “National Park Shinjuku Imperial Gardens”.
We added Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden to our destination list for the animation movie The Garden of Words, so it was pretty crossed when I saw the entrances Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden scanned QR code, rather than accepting coins as in the movie.
While hanging out in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden we bumped into this Greenhouse. Since I knew basically nothing about bioligy, all the plants there looked nice to me.
After touring Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for quite some while, we reached the protagonist pavilion of Garden of Words. Quite to my surprise, it seemed that its nearby Old Royal Pavilion was much more crowded. Didn’t those in it watch Garden of Words?
Or is it because it’s a sunny day?
In the protagonist pavilion from Garden of Words we toasted our drinks bought specifically for Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
(the only canned liquid drink I bought in Japan). And after that, we made our way to the next stop of the day, Akihabara.
Before kicking into
dating shopping mode my friends and I decided to feast our bellies first (so that we can focus on shopping later). Luckily, there was this Chicken McNuggets promotion going on in a nearby McDonald’s (15 pieces for 590JPY, if I remembered correctly), which sounded like a great deal to us. It’s only when we actually get to the McNuggets did we find that sauces in Japan seemed different?
Then it’s the actual shopping. As we toured through the buildings in Akihabara, I was quite of confused why Japanese youngings seemed much more enthusiastic about cards than actual garage kits?
Something even more confusing after touring one entire building was that, I found a million Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley Soryu, fifty Nagisa Kaworu, zero Shinji Ikari. #GenderInequality
Luckily before we started our shopping frenzy, we agreed on a time to gather back and head for our next stop of the day, Sensō-ji Temple,
otherwise I needed amputation to stop.
There’s direct train going from Akihabara to Asakusam, and we reached the temple at around 3:30 in the afternoon.
(probably because both were next to a busy commercial street?).
Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in the city of Tokyo, founded in 628AD. According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River by two fishermen, the Hinokuma brothers. The chief of their village recognized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it so that the villagers could worship Kannon. In the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu renovated and designated Sensō-ji as tutelary temple of the Tokugawa clan.
There were flocks of believers offering incenses before the Main Hall, which combined with scorching weather made me somewhat trypophobic, and that’s not comfortable.
And Sensō-ji Temple was so frequented by locals that there was even acrobatics performance on site.
This commercial street wasn’t just confined to the street leading to Sensō-ji Temple. There were vendor carts in most empty grounds of Sensō-ji Temple. (Oh, how commercially cunning was this temple!)
And this commercial street was lined with shops selling “Human-Faced Cake”, which got its name because it originated form Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Ningyocho Chome. And it tasted good.
Then my friends and I decided to make Tokyo Sky Tree our next stop. But there’s still time till sunset, so we figured that it’s best for us to have dinner first. But we were too lazy to look for a restaurant, so we decided on the nearby Yoshinoya.
Calpis Jelly Drink
I think I need to talk about this Calpis drink specifically. Last night it’s “all you can drink” at our party dinner, but the restaurant offered few non-alcoholic drinks, which ended in our frenzy of drinking this Calpis that we didn’t know exactly what it was.
And my friend J’s face lightened when he saw and bought a Calpis drink from a roadside vending machine. And he started shaking this can vividly while preaching this great drink to us: Look at those mundane and mortal liquid drinks on sale, only this Calpis rises above and beyond them to the divinity of a gel-like drink, so that after you shake it, it feels like jelly, and that’s ecstasy.
Unfortunately I was brought into this cult after trying it myself.
But luckily this drink was only on sale in few vending machines, so I didn’t need to amputate my arms. It’s just whenever I passed by a vending machine I would eagerly go through its items, and leave in disappointment.
After dinner, we headed for Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s strange my friends arrived earlier on foot than me taking the train…
The highest tower and the second highest man-made structure in the world (second to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa).
And it’s said that the purpose for building this thing was for TV signal
rather than to serve as a tourist observation deck.
Unfortunately by the time we arrived at Tokyo Tree, its tickets were mostly sold out, the only ones left were the 3000+JPY standard ticket to 350-meter observation deck that could only be used half an hour before its closing time, and the 4000+JPY fast ticket that’s exclusive for foreign visitors to 450-meter observation deck. (By comparison the tickets to Tokyo Tower seemed a lot friendlier.) After discussing with my friends, we deemed that this money should be best spent purchasing
wives garage kits.
But it’s too early for us to head back to our apartment, so decided to play a few rounds of poker and waited till sunset time when the lights of Sky Tree would go on.
Major shopping district in Tokyo, famous for high-end retail.
Direct metro from Sky Tree would only take us to East Ginza Station. After exiting the station, we were quite surprised at our surroundings that on the night of a public holiday at 8pm, most shops in East Ginza district were closed. Gosh, how were they going to make any money?
The streets began to look more commercial when we reached central Ginza, but the pricestags along the streets were way beyond our imagination.
And even in central Ginza, most shops were either closed, or about to..
After wandering in Ginza for a while we felt we were way out of place for that, so we headed for Shibuya next.
Compared with Ginza, Shibuya was a much more approachable district, with much more visitors than Ginza.
Then we experienced this world-famous “Shibuya Intersection”, there’re so many people crossing it that it’s a tourist site now.
After that, my friends decided to eat a second dinner of Revolving Sushi. (We already had our dinner in Yoshinoya.)
At first we aimed at Ichiran Ramen, but it seemed that its every branch in Shibuya had got long lines.
Probably because I was tired that night, I got lost in Shinjuku 3 Chome Metro Station.
So to make myself feel better, I decided to eat another dinner.
Oh my god, how many meals did I consume today?