Thursday, 24 September 2015

Tokyo Day 4 - Asakusa + Ueno (Ameya Yokocho, Ueno Park, Ueno Zoo, Ueno Museum) + Solomachi & Tokyo Sky Tree

During our visit, the exhange rate was about RM40 to 1000yen. A Mcd meal would set u back about 1000yen. Most of our meals, however, had only been about 1000yen for two. It was pretty affordable because initially we were expecting to spend much more than that on a meal. I would say the rate would be even better now but despite all that, the cost of meals would probably be manageable. Cheap meals are available everywhere if you do not have any strict dietary requirement. Or, for those on a shoe-string budget, do consider their meals in the convenience stores. The meals are usually pretty good for half the cost in a cafe or restaurant. Hint: Cheaper than 500 yen per pax.

Of course if you have deeper pockets, there are extravagant ones around too, plenty of them, but if u eat where the locals eat, its cheap and really good! Besides, their Japanese food are really cheap compared to in our country so why bother taking Western food or even Asian food (other than Japanese) there? Those are their fine dining...

Today was a super tiring day. Our feet got a whole lot worse than yesterday. The BF's feet were in a worse condition mainly because mine *ahem* got training OK? The hours in the malls paid off!!!! LOL.
For breakfast, we went to a cafe at the Ningyocho crossroads, a 10 minute walk away from the hotel. I had the Japanese breakfast set and my BF had the curry rice. Mine is basically like the usual American breakfast but bread was substituted with rice. OMG! I never had rice so early before. :S

The machines to buy your meals are everywhere here. We were gawking at them with lost faces at first but by our second day we got the hang of it. Heh! Fast learners, weh! Anyway, most of the food are listed in Japanese with the occasional ones sporting some photos. I usually choose the ones with photos but HE likes to choose random stuff of the menu. :S

Tickets for our meals!
Complimentary water

After a full stomach, we set of to Asakusa. It was a beautiful place, almost rustic, taking you back to the old Japan with all the quaint stalls lining the streets leading to the main temple. The stalls sold everything from knick-knacks to prayers' stuff and snacks. The main temple was really big with the staple Japanese lantern decorating the main entrance and a pagoda inside. 

I spotted a stall inside selling home-made ice cream *salivates* and wanted one! They had all sorts of weird flavours but I stick with a more conventional one: banana and chocolate, whilst he opted for the chocolate and peanut butter. The choices were amazingly wide and they have great-smelling buns and pastries as well. I was too full to actually try any... Their ice cream was pretty alright I guess but the texture leaned towards ice sorbets instead of the creamy smooth ice-cream I was expecting.

Ueno was next on our list, starting with Ameya Yokocho. It is actually a shopping area lining along the southern railway track of Ueno Station. There are also some restaurants built under the railway tracks.  The whole place was bustling with activities and there are all sorts of things being sold. I would say this is one of the places in Japan where you could find bargains when you shop.

We covered practically the entire area. It was pretty unique in the sense that food and clothes or shoes could be sold next to each other. If you are a fan of Japanese snacks, get them here. Bargaining can be done i.e. If you ask nicely, even if it says "Buy 5 for XXXyen", you could always ask for 6-7 packs for XXX yen. 
Best bargain of the day was probably our new pairs of Adidas! We bought two pairs of Adidas for about RM150 each!! Its the real thing and in malaysia each pair wouldve cost RM300 at least.

Once we finished mooching around the entire arcade, we went to Ueno Park. By then, poor BF had bags of shoppings to carry already. @@ LOL Thank God he brought a backpack! Kekeke! Thanks Sayang! Oh and did I mentioned I was impressed by their toilets? LOL. I know this makes me sound like a "jakun" but I just have to! Their toilets have different tunes/melodies to either (1) hide the sound of your *ahem* purging process or (2) to encourage your internal plumbing system to go about it faster? LOL. They have heated toilet seats (set your own temperature!) and heated water for *Ahem* cleaning purposes. There are a few fancy buttons that I do not know but OMG, it feels like you're actually working a different technology altogether than just having a trip to the loo.


Ok, back to our itinerary. Ueno Park is a huge park that lies in the heart of Tokyo. It is so big it even has a zoo, a few museums and a town in it. We started off with the lake/pond known as Shinobazu Pond (不忍池 Shinobazu-ike) which houses a temple and was surrounded by lots of water lilies. After that we got a little lost as we tried to get to the National Museum. We ended up trekking around the whole outskirt of the park but it was yet another nice experience as we passed through the township inside the park and get to see how the locals live. The houses were very "Japanese" in their designs: compact, unique and close together. Sort of like what u see in comics and anime i.e Doraemon.

Pretty flowers in the park
Among the shops we passed in the township

Ueno Museum was very impressive as compared to *umm* you know what? Let's not compare. Heh. They have lots of National Treasures inside and we spent a really short two hours inside. Considering the amount of time I usually spend in museums, this would probably be one of the shortest unless you count the one in Malaysia. :D Although the displays aren't a lot, but the way they are presented and preserved makes it a trip worth remembering.

Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館 Tōkyō kokuritsu hakubutsukan)
Opening hours: Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM. 
General admission ¥620, university students ¥410, high school and younger free.

Ueno Zoo was also very nice. They had seals and polar bear and penguins and tigers and lions etc. It was top notch quality albeit not as big as other zoos we've been to. Nonetheless still quite impressive.
The animals are all well taken care of and it was very obvious.

Ueno Zoo (上野動物園)
Opening Hours: Tu-Su 9:30AM-4:30PM (last entry 4PM)
Entrance Fees: ¥600.

By this time, we were hungry and tired. We decided to go back to Ueno Station to have a late lunch cum early dinner. We have already targetted eating at one of the eateries under the tracks. The reason was simple. They had a very eye-catching mechanical bowl of udon in front. And I wanted to go see what they have inside. Great marketing strategy eh? 

He had Udon noodles in plain broth and prawn fritters with rice. I had Udon noodles in a slightly thicker broth with croquettes (deep fried potato+meat). It was all delicious and cheap!

Our last visit for the day was to Solomachi and Tokyo Sky Tree. Its the icon in Tokyo, being the 2nd tallest structure in the world standing at more than 600m high. 

Tokyo Sky Tree
1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan 

Solomachi is the shopping mall at the base of the tower and it is hugeeeee. We took some pictures of the tower, had coffee and cheese cakes, and covered nearly half the mall (Actually I covered nearly the whole mall because the BF gave up and decided to have coffee and wait for me instead in the cafe). When I finally joined him I was really tired and the cheesecake tasted even better with sore feet! Best news ever: They have four different types of cheesecake in a plate! Nyum nyum!!! We finally surrendered to fatigue and decided to call it a day after the sweet fix. 

Give them a try at:

Sumida, 東京都 〒131-0033
Tokyo Skytree Station, Oshiage Station

Before I forget, they have an official Rilakkuma store here! My current fave soft toy! LOL. Yes, I have different craze every few seasons :P I guess that's the end of our Day 4 in Tokyo.

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