The eighth day of our Japan tour, which marks our second day in the big city of Tokyo, we spent the entire day shopping. We visited a fish market in the morning. Much to our disappointment only a few stores were open as it seems to be their rest day.
With nothing much to look at, we headed to a sushi restaurant for breakfast. Rachel and I tried a plate of o-toro sushi for the first time. This is the most premium grade of the tuna fish, with the belly fats literally oozing out when you hold the meat with your chopsticks. It tastes really good, but cost a bomb too.
In the afternoon, we visited the shopping district of Shibuya (渋谷区). Rachel and I split way with Mark and Meiyen here as we all wanted to shop for different things. Mark the big kid wanted to spend all his time buying Transformers toy as usual; Meiyen wanted to hunt for bargain buys; while for Rachel and I, we just wanted to cover as many places as we can since it’s our first time shopping in Shibuya.
Rachel and I spent some time shopping at a second-hand clothing store called Bingo and I managed to buy a flowery shirt there. We also looked at some cosmetics and clothing brands, but the poor exchange rate really works against us and we find most stuff too costly. Sad.
The two of us had lunch at a noodle store which always have a steady queue outside. We concluded that if people are willing to queue for it, the food must be good. This turned out to be true when we got in and tried the noodle. Oishi! The noodle has a strong, chewy texture to it and the soup to dip it in tasted just salty enough to flavour up the noodle.
However, we realised we did a silly thing by ordering the smallest serving of noodle as it was the same price across for all five sizes! No wonder all the other customers had such large servings and the waiter also gave us a strange look when he took our order. This is the disadvantage of not having Mark around as our Japanese translator.
After lunch, we went to Mandarake to check out anime and manga-related stuff. We spotted Mark there, sweeping up Transformers toys and Meiyen looking very bored beside him. Rachel and I bought a book each. I bought an illustration book by one of my favourite manga artist, Naoki Urasawa (浦沢直樹) while Rachel bought the storyboard book for Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿)‘s blockbuster anime movie, Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) .
Next, we headed to every otaku’s paradise – Akihabara (秋葉原)!
Again, we went separate ways with Mark and Meiyen as Mark continue his Transformers buying mission. Rachel and I had fun shopping the area, intrigued by the vast amount of anime, gaming, electronics and manga-related products and services in Akihabara. There’s also quite a bit of pornography businesses. We stumbled into a few buildings which specialise in only pornographic material.
As pornography is illegal in Singapore, I was quite amused by the open nature of how such products are sold and displayed. Japan has a wide range of porn of all genres – neatly categorised into various sections like anime; fetish (sub-divided in second-level categorisations like public nudity, pregnant woman, woman peeing, etc); under-aged; old ladies; etc etc… Crazy shit man! You name it, they got it.
Moving away from porn, Rachel had a good time looking through products spotting designs from anime master, Hayao Miyazaki’s various movie releases. The prices were not cheap; as much as Rachel wanted to go on a buying spree like Mark, she settled for just two hair bands in the end.
Being an avid manga reader, I had a good time in Akihabara just window-shopping and spotting products related to some of my favourite manga like Dragon Ball; One Piece; Ah! My Goddess!; 20th Century Boy; just to name a few.
Our next stop following Akihabara was to head for dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant called Mo-Mo Paradise which serves Shabu-Shabu hot pot. Rachel and I found the food average here. The price was reasonable but the service totally sucks. This was the first time we encountered horrible service in Japan. The girl serving us was one of those heavily dolled up Japanese Ah Lian who probably sleeps around with old men for extra pocket money. We assumed she got dumped by her sugar daddy on that day as she was in a bad-ass mood.
To get her attention, we have to call out to her a dozen time as she kept avoiding eye contact in order to skive duties. When we do managed to get her, she will just say “hai” and not carry out what we asked her to do. We were not even making special requests, but just asking for simple things like an extra ladle or to take orders.
When she serves us, she will throw the plates loudly on the table and we even caught the little bitch rolling her eyes on some occasions. She did the same to other customers too. We wanted to complain about her to the restaurant manager, but Mark was too meek while the rest of us can’t speak Japanese. In any case, at least for Rachel and I, we will never ever return to this restaurant again and would recommend everyone we know not to go there if you are on a Japan tour.
The horrible dinner experience dampened our mood for an otherwise, fun and purposeful day.
We shopped around a while more after that and went to Cold Stone Creamery for desert. Rachel loves their ice cream. It’s not available in Singapore, but we tried it before once during our visit to Taipei last year.
We then spent some time at a bookshop near the train station. Being avid bookworms, Rachel and I usually spend a lot of time in bookshops and seldom walked out empty-handed. However, as we can’t really read Japanese, we were confined to just browsing through picture books and magazines.
It was interesting to observed the wide range of magazine titles catering to just the domestic market since they were written in Japanese. The magazine market is so competitive that practically all the titles carry freebies with them such as bags, cosmetics, accessories and even food items. Rachel ended up buying a magazine she can’t read just to have the tote bag that comes free with it.
We headed back to our hotel after that, ending our eighth day in Japan.
Links to my previous blog entries on my Japan trip:
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