Alvinology goes to Japan – Day 8 of 14

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.

Planning our trips for the day
Planning our trips for the day
Mind-boggling train stations map
Mind-boggling train stations map
Rachel buying our tickets
Rachel buying our tickets
Rachel writing her diary while in the train
Rachel writing her diary while in the train
One of the few seafood stores open for business
One of the few seafood stores open for business
seafood
seafood
Uncle selling dried foodstuff
Uncle selling dried foodstuff
A packet of salt which Rachel bought for her dad
A packet of salt which Rachel bought for her dad
The closed stores have beautifully painted shutters though
The closed stores have beautifully painted shutters though
More beautiful shutters
More beautiful shutters
Giant shellfish
Giant shellfish
Some weird clam
Some weird clam
Marinated live crabs
Marinated live crabs
Slimy seafood
Slimy seafood
Beancurd store
Beancurd store
All kinds of beancurd
All kinds of beancurd
We had our breakfast at this sushi restaurant
We had our breakfast at this sushi restaurant
This is a real giant fresh tuna head displayed outside the restaurant
This is a real giant fresh tuna head displayed outside the restaurant
Conveyor belt sushi
Conveyor belt sushi
Mark and Meiyen waiting for their sushi
Mark and Meiyen waiting for their sushi
Sushi chef slicing up a fresh piece of abalone
Sushi chef slicing up a fresh piece of abalone
The mouth-watering o-toro sushi - note the golden plate it was served on
The mouth-watering o-toro sushi - note the golden plate it was served on
Btw, there is an electronic tag below all the sushi plates so that the total price can be calculated electronically
Btw, there is a tag below all the sushi plates so that the total price can be calculated electronically

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.

Shibuya
Shibuya
Teens giving our Free Hugs
Teens giving our "Free Hugs"
Another group - this seems to be a popular pastime in Japan
Another group - this seems to be a popular pastime in Japan
Awed by all the colourful advertisement and signboards
Awed by all the colourful advertisement and signboards
Busy Shibuya
Busy Shibuya
Female skincare and cosmetic shop that regularly update and rank their products
Female skincare and cosmetic shop that regularly update and rank their products
At a second-hand CD shop
At a second-hand CD shop
Vintage Pinochio vinyl record
Vintage Pinochio vinyl record
I bought the flower shirt from a second-hand clothing store; the blue shirt was bought at Uniqlo the night before
The flower shirt I bought from Bingo; the blue shirt was bought at Uniqlo
Shibuya 109, a shopping mall targeted at fashionable young women
Shibuya 109, a shopping mall targeted at fashionable young women
Inside one of the female-targeted shopping malls
Inside Shibuya 109
Grand opening of a fashion boutique
Grand opening of a fashion boutique
Nice balloons which they were giving away
Nice balloons which they were giving away
The Japanese seems to be crazy about Barack Obama - Yes we can posters are everywhere
The Japanese seems to be crazy about Barack Obama - "Yes we can" and "Yes we do" posters are everywhere
Another shop that endorses Barack Obama
Another shop that endorses Barack Obama
Shes playing with skincare product, not food
Outside Lush! - a shop that sells natural skincare products
Blush skincare products, not food
Skincare products, not food
Rachel needs to be tied up whenever we pass by cosmetics counters
Rachel needs to be tied up whenever we pass by cosmetic counters
Look at Rachels mischievous expression whenever she sees cosmetic
Look at Rachel's mischievous expression whenever she sees cosmetic
No smoking while walking
No smoking while walking or is it no littering?
The restaurant where we had our lunch
The restaurant where we had our lunch
Inside the restaurant
Inside the restaurant
Lunch is served - this is the smallest portion of noodle available
Lunch is served - this is the smallest portion of noodle available
Yummy!
Yummy!
A performer hired to draw crowd to a newly opened pachinko store
A performer hired to draw crowd to a newly opened pachinko store
Another performer on the saxophone
Another performer on the saxophone
I think this performer is a guy in drag
I think this performer is a guy in drag
Sumo wrestlers
Sumo wrestlers
Flower shop
Flower shop
Beautiful flowers
Beautiful flowers
Hand bouquet
Hand bouquet

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) .

We spotted a poster of Hard Gay!
We spotted a poster of Hard Gay!
Neon Genesis Evangelion - giant figurines
Neon Genesis Evangelion - giant figurines
Look at the amount of manga books!
Look at the amount of manga books!
A pity I cant read Japanese
A pity I can't read Japanese
Theres an entire section devoted to Hentai anime and manga!
There's an entire section devoted to Hentai anime and manga!
The two books Rachel and I bought; a Son Goku figurine I bought
The two books Rachel and I bought; a Son Goku figurine I bought

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.

Tower Records used to be cool too in Singapore before HMV came in
Tower Records used to be this cool too in Singapore before HMV came in
crowded streets of Akihabara
crowded streets of Akihabara
Rachel Chan @ Akihabara
Rachel Chan @ Akihabara
Alvinology @ Akihabara
Alvinology @ Akihabara
The Friend Sign from the manga, 20th Century Boy
The "Friend Sign" from the manga, 20th Century Boy
Whole buildings selling otaku stuff
Whole buildings selling otaku stuff
More such buildings
More such buildings
IT products for sale
IT products for sale
This shop sells just second-hand porn DVDs
This shop sells just second-hand porn DVDs
Gum ball machine
Gum ball machine
Taro Aso, Japans current Prime Minister who is a well-known, big manga fan
Taro Aso, Japan's current Prime Minister who is a well-known, big manga fan
More otaku products featuring Taro Aso
More otaku products featuring Taro Aso
In Japan, its okay for adults to be manga addicts
In Japan, it's okay for adults to be manga addicts
Kimono dolls
Kimono dolls
Giant Belldandy figurine, a character from the manga, Ah! My Goddess! ((ああっ女神さまっ)
Belldandy, a character from the manga, Ah! My Goddess! (ああっ女神さまっ)
Figurines of manga character, Yotsuba
Figurines of manga character, Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! (よつばと!)
GeGeGe no Kitaro (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎)
GeGeGe no Kitaro (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎)
Watch that can tell train arrival timing
Watch that can tell train arrival timing
Hollywood movie DVDs
Hollywood movie DVDs
The two hair bands that Rachel bought
The two hair bands that Rachel bought
Totoro in an acorn
Totoro in an acorn
The cat from Hayao Miyazakis anime movie, Kikis Delivery Service
The cat from Hayao Miyazaki's anime movie, Kiki's Delivery Service
Hayao Miyazakis Ponyo
Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo
Dodomo - Tokyo edition
Domo - Tokyo edition
Tokyo edition of Doraemon
Doraemon - Tokyo edition
Stitch - Tokyo edition
Stitch - Tokyo edition
Maid cookies
Maid cookies
More maid cookies
More maid cookies
Special flavour Kit-Kats, exclusive in Tokyo
Special flavour Kit-Kat, exclusive in Tokyo
Hot Lemon C juice - damn shiok to drink this in the cold!
Hot Lemon C juice - damn shiok to drink this in the cold!
Ultraman-shaped chocolate
Ultraman-shaped chocolate
Figurine toy for pedophile
Figurine toy for pedophile
Domo soft toy
Domo soft toy
Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳)
Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳)
Gajira Gatchan Norimaki (則巻ガジラ) from the manga, Dr Slump
Gajira "Gatchan" Norimaki (則巻ガジラ) from the manga, Dr Slump
The dragon from Dragon Ball
The dragon from Dragon Ball
More Dragon Ball figurines
More Dragon Ball figurines
Baby Son Goku
Baby Son Goku
Rugged-look Dragon Ball figurines
Rugged-look Dragon Ball figurines
The fat samurai boy in Dragon Ball
The fat samurai boy in Dragon Ball
Caveman Goku
Caveman Goku
Figurines of characters from the pirate-themed manga, One Piece
Figurines of characters from the pirate-themed manga, One Piece
Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover
Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover
The two lead characters
The two lead characters - Son Goku and Monkey D. Luffy
Beach volleyball babes
Beach volleyball babes
All kinds of plastic figurines, all over
All kinds of plastic figurines, all over
Shop that specialises in vintage cards
Shop that specialises in vintage cards
I wonder how much is a box of these figurines
I wonder how much is a box of these figurines
Vintage porn collectibles
Vintage porn collectibles
Hentai stuff
Hentai stuff
Freaky life-size doll
Freaky life-size doll
Idol collectibles
Idol collectibles
Lots of adults milling around to buy toys
Lots of adults milling around to buy toys, collectibles
Toys are everywhere
Toys are everywhere
Takeshi Kitano billboard
Takeshi Kitano billboard

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. :)

The night is still young
The night is still young
The restaurant where we had our dinner
The restaurant where we had our dinner
There are paid bicycle parking lots in Japan
There are paid bicycle parking lots in Japan
Outside the restaurant
Outside the restaurant
Still smiling, before the rude waitress dampen our mood
Still smiling, before the rude waitress dampen our mood
The buffet menu
The buffet menu
Beef
Beef
Pork
Pork
Cooking the meat
Cooking the meat
Remember this signboard - we wont go back there to eat ever
Remember this signboard - we won't go back there to eat ever
A pachinko store - they are everywhere
A pachinko store - they are everywhere
KFC in Japan
KFC in Japan
Crepe min-van
Crepe mini-van
Valentines Day was just round the corner - in fact, it falls on the day of our return flight to Singapore
Valentine's Day was just round the corner - in fact, it falls on the day of our return flight to Singapore
Valentines Day chocolate
Valentine's Day chocolate
Cold Stone Creamery - gourmet crushed ice cream
Cold Stone Creamery - gourmet crushed ice cream
Rachel loves the crushed ice cream here
Rachel loves the crushed ice cream here
You can the wafer-type to go with your ice cream
You can the wafer-type to go with your ice cream
The Green Tea combo which Rachel and I ate
The Green Tea combo which Rachel and I ate
Mark and Meiyen ordered the chocolate combo
Mark and Meiyen ordered the chocolate combo
All kinds of magazines are available in Japan
All kinds of magazines are available in Japan
More magazines
More magazines
Rachel got this Paul & Joe tote bag free with a magazine she bought
Rachel got this Paul & Joe tote bag free with a magazine she bought
20th Century Boy manga
20th Century Boy manga
A manga featuring Buddha and Jesus Christ
A manga featuring Buddha and Jesus Christ
Heading back tired
Heading back tired
Its a good thing Meiyen was not feeding Mark with food
It's a good thing Meiyen was not feeding Mark with food
Most Japanese public announcement posters look cartoony like this
Most Japanese public announcement posters look cartoony like this
Dragon Ball buns spotted at the convenience store besides our hotel
Dragon Ball buns spotted at the convenience store besides our hotel
Dragon Ball nuggets
Dragon Ball nuggets
Theres free fruit juice and coffee at the lobby of Cube Hotel for guests
There's free fruit juice and coffee at the lobby of Cube Hotel for guests

Links to my previous blog entries on my Japan  trip:

Day 1 – Kansai Airport, Hokkaido

Day 2 – Skiing, Otaru

Day 3 – Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo

Day 4 – Sledding, Shiroi Koibito, Crab Buffet

Day 5 – The 60th Sapporo Snow Festival

Day 6 – Staying with the Asai, Shōnan

Day 7 – Ueno, Tokyo

Day 8 – Shibuya and Akihabara, Tokyo

Day 9 – Ikeda, Osaka

Day 10 – Kobe

Day 11 – Kyoto

Day 12 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Dotonbori

Day 13 – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and Mt. Rokko

Day 14 – Return to Singapore

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “Alvinology goes to Japan – Day 8 of 14”

  1. If I were to return to Japan, I would:
    1) Go to Hokkaido in spring or autumn; and
    2) Visit Harajuku in Tokyo, Ueno Park in Ueno
    3) Optional: Eat apples in Aoyama

    Sigh.

  2. The strange clam is called awabi or known to us as abalone. The crabs are not marinated. They are covered in sawdust to keep them alive. and the slimy seafood is sea cucumber….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s