Spring in Tokyo (Part 1): Meguro & Shibuya

Yes, I’m going to blog in parts (finally) because I have to – 8 days and 1,000 pictures (after deleting hundreds). All my pictures are up on Flickr and for once, #casiaintokyo is quite useless because 1) I had a hard time connecting my phone to FlashAir and 2) Why would I want to use my phone when I’m in Japan with so much more things to see?

Day 1

Flew on Delta Air because round trip tickets were $623 a.k.a cheapest direct flight to Narita on a full service carrier, which was also cheaper than low cost carriers. TAKE.
Actually, there was this SQ promotion going at $700 but the travelling period ends just one day before we intend to depart. T_T
Scrambled eggs for breakfast.

(image stolen from Yuxuan)
Travelled with Yuxuan and I had to plan the whole itinerary because I read a lot about Tokyo (and Japan in general) and she doesn’t know a thing other than Hachiko. My bucket list has things like going on some African safari tour and climbing Mt. Everest, and hers is like see Hachiko. ;___; Am I being too unrealistic ;___; of course not…
THIS JNTO TRAVEL GUIDE FOR TOKYO was a total life saver because it has maps and descriptions and it’s all in English! Loosely followed it because WHERE GOT TIME??? I totally underestimated the time we needed and I was so ambitious thinking we could hop about 3 areas a day comfortably. As if T___T

Touched down and omg sakura omg sakura!! It’s like that in most places – forest forest forest sakura forest.
The pilot then casually announced that we had to park at a deserted area and take a shuttle bus to the immigration area HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA DESERTED.

(image stolen from Yuxuan)
Anyway, it was raining when we landed and my eyes also started to rain because the weather forecast for the week was mostly rain.
Panicked when I found out my Olympus PEN had locked my SD card and I have no idea how to salvage it. Luckily, I brought an extra SD card and that it was my secondary camera lol.

Bought a N’EX Tokyo round trip ticket because 4,000 yen (S$45) for a direct train to Shibuya with luggage space and guaranteed seats is so worth it.
Taking trains turned out more complicated than I thought would be because I have no idea what the ticket is saying lol. God bless station masters.
The Narita Express was awesome!!! Too crowded at boarding for me to take clear pictures of the luggage area but the locking system is genius! Seats were so spacious and all… and windows were huge and clear 😀 Except I didn’t sit by the window ;__;
Many blurry photographs were taken.
It was going fast and I had to zoom in, so motion blur is inevitable 😥
I got so excited whenever I saw cherry blossoms amongst the other foliage.
Although pictures mostly turned out like that.

Shibuya the moment we stepped out of the Hachiko exit.

(image stolen from Yuxuan)
The Hachiko bus is so cute!!!
This is how dark 6pm in Tokyo is. What!?!! Singapore turns this dark at about 8pm!!
I love this mosaic Astro Boy! Good thing I got to see it twice every day 🙂

(image stolen from Yuxuan) (I should get a new hairstyle)
Got to our Airbnb apartment. (Ya, sign up through this link and you can get S$34 credits, which I didn’t have because I signed up without referral zzz)
I am 160cm tall. I have friends who probably can’t stand up in this apartment… The room was unexpectedly tiny but it suffices. Perhaps it’s a standard Tokyo-sized room but I wouldn’t know. The owner was really helpful though! Free pocket Wi-Fi was provided too 😀
Headed out after leaving our luggage and reoutfitting for the weather, which was about an awesome 10°C.
The ever so popular Shibuya scramble crossing. Bad angle but whatever. I don’t understand why it’s only this one that’s super popular because scramble crossings are sort of everywhere! I love it plenty because waiting twice to cross diagonally is so pointless 🙂

Bought a registered Suica from the machine!! You can buy it from a ticket machine (in English) without talking to anyone and you can put your name on it (My Suica) 😀 Forgoing the 500 yen deposit to keep this card with a 10-year validity is a complete duh. Just found out about ic Card Wear for you to vamp up your transport passes and LOL at The Last Supper Suica hahahaha!!
I’m still waiting for the world to embrace mascots like the Japanese do because they’re super cute and a great avenue to earn money from people like me…
By the way, if you’re not travelling out of Tokyo, don’t splurge on the unlimited access JR East Pass that’s supposedly affordable, because it only is when you travel across cities. I charged only 6,000 yen (S$68) in total on my IC cards for my 8-day transport and some convenience store purchases.
Also noticed that many stations leave their gates open, so that it hastens the traffic flow during rush hours, but NOBODY ever tries to sneak a free ride or anything. Amazing.

Disclaimer: I take better pictures than these. Wait for the next post.

Took the JR Yamanote line to Meguro station. I had no idea it would be this dark so early in the evening but we went ahead with the planned hanami (cherry blossom viewing) anyway.
I was so afraid all the sakura would be gone because we were there 1 – 8 April, which is the usual full bloom week, but this year it came early on 29 March!! T___T What if everything is on the floor T___T
Getting out of the station and looking at the area map was no help. So I went and asked a security guard nearby for directions to Meguro River (目黒川) and followed it. We walked for maybe 20 minutes and kept doubting the accuracy of our route the whole time!

But yo!!!!!! Lanterns and sakura and WATER! It means we’re at the river hahahahaha!
The area with more life is actually nearer to Nakameguro station. We should’ve alighted there instead T_T
The lanterns read “Meguro River Sakura Festival”.
Uhh… what festival? There was hardly anyone there to see sakura (at 7pm you really can’t see much with so little light) and people were using the pathways as a medium for crossing from one end to the other.
I think she was way sian because the whole time I looked like:

All my pictures were blurry because it’s really very dark.
I have no tripod nor shutter release and I was shivering like mad when it was about 8pm.
Upper body was frozen despite 3 layers of tops…
The lighting wasn’t helping.
The wind wasn’t helping either.

Breathtaking even in the dark and photos don’t turn out well.
I wasn’t kidding about the wind. Look how much the branches shook!
I thought this was bad.
Then this happened.
Oh ya, this was what I was afraid of seeing. But it wasn’t so bad because the trees were still in bloom 🙂

This is how dark it was.
This is perhaps the brightest picture of me at Meguro River but I look like I’m scared of heights standing on this ledge and am trying to keep my cool so you wouldn’t know.
Then I’m happy again to be closer to the ground.
Also found out I have very bad posture.
And I’m capable of vanishing.
Could’ve been an #ootd but it’s too dark and you wouldn’t know what I was wearing.

If you’re wondering why I stole so many photos of us from Yuxuan, it’s because I suck at selfies.
When I tried, I looked like I was in prison.
When I tried again, I looked like photobombed my own picture to annoy myself. ???
So Yuxuan is the selfie master. But I don’t know whether it’s my camera or her that makes my photos very blur when I’m in the frame.
I took this.
Then I got in and it became like that.
It was also raining and the temperature was maybe 2°C so my fingers and nose were numb and frozen.

We probably trudged for an hour and were nowhere near Nakameguro.
We nearly gave up and walked back, but we kept walking straight down, without being sure that we were walking towards the right direction.
We were quite yolo in that aspect.
Anyway, Yuxuan has a wonderful sense of direction, which also made me realise that my body-compass is spoiled and I’m now worried for my globetrotting dream lol.

Went through a beautiful tunnel seeking some warmth but NOPE, cold as ever 😥
Look at all the petals on the river!!!!
Was trying to teach Yuxuan how to say “excuse me” in Japanese. So she kept repeating “sumimasen” quite loudly zzz… Then a passerby suddenly stopped in his tracks, and very seriously responded: “hai!” and I just about died HAHAHAHAHAHA!! At that state I couldn’t think of words to string together so both of us were just waving it off and apologising LOL 😀
Don’t know how many kilometres we walked but we still weren’t there yet.
Lesson: It’s easier to transfer trains at Ebisu station than walk along an endless river in the cold without gloves.

Yes rain, go ahead and ruin my lens because lens flare is awesome (I don’t even know if I’m being sarcastic or not because dammit lens flare and woohooo lens flare).

My Chinese is really bad but is that xiao long bao???? I love xiao long bao man.
Love thunderbolt? What????
Thunder stand??? Ok, seriously, can someone explain these lanterns to me??
Anyway, it was so much brighter and livelier here, I totally regret alighting at Meguro station. Please learn from my mistake.
Even my pictures are so much less blurry here!

It was 9pm when we found civilisation.
Of course we were famished!!!
Went around assessing places to dine at.
Spoilt for choice, much unlike a few hours before where it was barren everywhere.
Settled for ramen at Ittetsu because it was too cold to continue looking for anything else and Yuxuan wanted to eat ramen.
Ordered from a vending machine!! Really difficult because I took like 10 minutes to read and match the menu to the buttons before we can finally order… Gave the ticket to the guy and because there are options for noodles and stuff, I had to try to understand what he was saying with gestures.
Some normal ramen with ajitama. It was delicious, especially when I mixed in the red stuff (near the eggs)(I think it was some onion concoction) with the broth. Chashu was thickly sliced and quite fat. The little shop had us and 2 others for customers, and it was so yummy. I wonder what those of stalls with very long queues taste like!!
Frankly, I really didn’t want to have ramen for my first meal in Japan because it’s so typical. Everyone thinks Japan is all about ramen. No, Japan has so much more. In fact, ramen was borrowed from China and as with many other foods, Japan made it its own. It’s ok.
HAHAHAHA this is a shellfie. Please laugh. I’m still laughing at this 17 days after this joke. HAHAHAHA 😀
Walked back to Ginza Taiyaki Sakuraya, which we passed by while looking for our dinner. They didn’t have red bean taiyaki anymore T_T so we got a custard taiyaki. The batter was nice but the filling was too creamy for my liking. Yuxuan said it was nice though. I think she did.

Then we headed to Nakameguro station because it was getting quite late. Guess what? There was a direct train between Nakameguro and Shibuya!!!!!! T_______T If we didn’t spend 1 or 2 hours walking from Meguro station, we probably would have time to explore Ebisu too!! T___T I’m so sorry…

(image stolen from Yuxuan)
At Shibuya station, we saw this giant wall mural of a cat. A REAL FURRY 3D CAT!!!
As if that wasn’t cute enough, a man who was sitting beside it (I thought he was just a random person sitting around) stood up and STARTED BRUSHING ITS FUR WITH A HAIRBRUSH!
He very proudly announced “He is my friends.” How much cuter can this get 😀
Of course, it belonged to Yamato Transport because black cat. They had many advertisements in trains and stations and they’re all so cute!

Also saw a stylish old man with a kick-ass jacket. Honestly, he was the only other person in Shibuya who isn’t confined to beige, navy and black.
That is me on the morning of day 2 at the scramble crossing, the only person in colour.
Hachiko is still waiting for his owner.
Statues being cute as heck.
This one especially.

Walked around, with most malls closed but lots of eateries bustling with life.
There’s a pharmacy that was like Smile Everyday and it was so funny every time we walked into it. My favourite toothpaste (Ora2 peach leaf mint) was like S$3 there and S$7 in Singapore. I bought 3 tubes lol.
There’s a club called Gaspanic and Yuxuan bursts out laughing at it every time we pass it. Walau, what if it was named after the Nazi massacre of the Jews? HAHAHAHA there were also some drunkards here and there when it’s late.
Found Don Quixote and omg they have everything. I saw packs of Shiroi Koibito for super cheap, about 500 yen per box and I was going to buy it closer to departure because they have expiry dates. When we came back days later, they were gone!!!!! I even asked the shopkeeper and he said they don’t have them. How do people live life with no regrets????
It’s a very interesting store, and the toys section at the 3rd floor was awesome, but I didn’t get anything except 2 Tomicas. Luckily I didn’t because I’d have ran out of money before the last day.
One of them is not real.

End of Day 1. Sorry for a post loaded with bad pictures T_T
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will have nicer sakura. And maybe animals and street food.

Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11

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