Akihabara and Yodobashi

by: xtian001

In: Japan | Travel

23 Jun 2017

Akihabara is quite special for us as this was our home for 15 days when we first visited Tokyo years ago. Seeing it again brings back good memories but also shows how much have changed in the place they call ‘Electric Town‘. Akihabara was our next stop after doing some shopping at Ameyokocho in Ueno. We were here for 2 things; shop at Yodobashi Camera for toys and Pepperlunch.

Upon exiting the station, we had to reacquaint and retrace our steps to Yodabashi Camera. Yodabashi Camera is one of the biggest electronic shops in town selling not just cameras but computers, mobile phones, health products, TVs, household electronics, heated toilet seats, toys and most electronic items. Yodobashi-Akiba has 9 floors!

You’ll find cell phones, computers, tablet accessories, memory counter, and the Apple Store on the ground floor. Microsoft was showing their latest line up of Surface Pro products and Xiane had time to try and draw on their Surface Studio while I looked for a card reader and Mavis looked for some screen protectors.

Our next stop was on the 3rd floor where they were selling cameras and camera accessories. I got myslef a strap for my Fuji XT-20 and remembered to buy a Rode Video Micro as well. If you are purchasing items more than Y5,000, there items are duty-free if you are bringing your passport with you. That gives you an 8% discount and if you have a Visa Credit card as well, it gives you another 4%, if I remember correctly.

We then moved to my favorite floor which is the toy section on the 6th floor. Yodobashi has rows and rows of gundams on display but what caught my attention were the boxes of Bandai Star Wars vehicle model kits. I own a Moving Edition of the X-Wing Starfighter which I bought in Osaka as well as its standard version. Since Bandai doesn’t export these toys, they are not available even from my online Japanese suppliers. I grabbed 6 of them and was looking for an AT-AT but sadly, I didn’t find that model available. Still, I was a happy kid (Adult)!

We went up to their Food court on the 8th floor expecting to eat at Pepperlunch but we realized that this has now become a “gourmet” type of food court. It is really not a food court in a sense that there is no open space where people take their trays to eat but is filled with several restaurants. We decided to leave Yodobashi and headed to the main drag of Akihabara, Chuo-Dori.

Ueno and Ameya-Yokocho

by: xtian001

In: Japan | Travel

23 Jun 2017

After leaving Asakusa and arriving in Ueno, we found ourselves exhausted of the heat and decided to cool down at the Starbucks at the Ueno Station. We decided to forgo our visit to the Tokyo National Museum as we argued that we would need a lot of time going through the exhibits, which would eventually tire us and we would get another reason to go back to Tokyo because we missed going there.

Finishing our drinks and with renewed strength, we walked a bit further out of the Ueno station to Ameya-Yokocho. Japanese people usually call the street “Ameyoko.”

Ameya-Yokocho is an open-air market near the Ueno station. You’ll find shops selling seafood, street food, clothes, shoes, fruits, vegetables, duty-free health and beauty shops, and a shop selling Japanese candies (Niki No Kashi).

As we were looking for the location of Niki No Kashi, we asked a Japanese saleslady if she knew where it is and she left her station and told us to follow her. She led us to the shop 2 blocks away from her station and we thanked her profusely.

Niki No Kashi is a large candy shop boasts that it has the largest product line-up in Japan. The 2-Floor shop is filled with candy and candy toys.

Our third day in Tokyo led us to Asakusa where you’ll find the Kaminarimon Gate or Thunder Gate. Behind it is the Nakamise Shopping Street and Sensoji Temple.

Sensoji temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo as it was built on 628. The temple can be reached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries.

We went to visit a shop that is said to have the best if not the best Melon Pan in Tokyo; Kagetsudo Asakusa.

These freshly baked breads have a sweet thin crust while the inside is soft and fluffy. We got them for 3 pieces for 500 yen or sold at 200 each. You can eat them outside the shop (It is rude to eat while walking in Japan) or settle in the 1950s themed, 5-tabled cramped space inside where you can see the baker magically creates these sought-after breads. It’s easy to locate Kagetsudo as people do line up for their breads.

Honestly, the bread is a bit too sweet for my liking but the texture of the crust and softness of the inside is worth noting. You can actually order a bread filled with ice cream as well!

After a quick breakfast, we headed back to Nakamise and looked for more souvenirs and wares being sold in the area. We’ve been here nearly 7 years ago and actually lost each other while looking at the goods at Nakamise. We again got seperated this morning and as always, our meeting place was at the lantern at the Hazomon Gate, which is the 2nd gate right before the temple.

On the right-side,facing the temple, you’ll find a line of wooden boxes in which you can make a donation of Y100 so you could get an omikuji (fortunes written on paper). You’ll see a metal box which you have to shake to shuffle the sticks inside until one comes sticks out of a small hole on one side. When you get a stick, check the number on it (in kanji) and match it with the number on the box with your fortune in it. Good or bad fortune, you’ll have to attach it to a wall of metal wires found just in front of the wooden boxes.

Nakano Broadway

by: xtian001

In: Japan | Travel

22 Jun 2017

We set out for Nakano Broadway in the afternoon on our second day in Tokyo. It is a shopping complex famous for its many stores selling anime items and idol goods, including more than a dozen small Mandarake stores, which specialize in manga and anime related collectibles.

Nakano is about 17-20 minutes from Shibuya using the JR Train. Alighting from the train, it is a short walk to Nakano Broadway itself. Leading to it, you have to pass by Nakano Sunmall, a 225 meter long, covered shopping street with a wide variety of shops, including food joints, cafes, watch dealers, jewelers, fashion boutiques, pharmacies, game centers, book stores and others.

There are four levels of shopping at the Nakano Broadway. The second and third levels are where the many anime and idol related shops are located. You will also find old-school toys and collectibles which can be quite expensive. Mandarake shops are spread across Nakano Broadway.

I wanted to go to Nakano Broadway as reviewers have said that it is the new Akihabara. It still is not. There are more toy stores in Akihabara though you have to go through the whole street, going up buildings and hidden stairways before getting your pound of happiness as a toy collector. I also find the prices in Nakano higher than Akihabara or even Yodobashi.

I’ve realized I how my taste for toys have changed and how I’ve been more picky with stuff I want to collect. I would have placed my coins on several Gachapons and bought several small items in our visit to Nakano but came out unscratched and empty-handed. Maybe I’ll visit Akihabara to see if it has more to offer than Nakano.

The Rokassen Experience

by: xtian001

In: Japan | Travel

21 Jun 2017

Rokassen is quite popular in Tokyo for providing Eat-All-You-Can (EAYC) Yakinuku with high-quality meats. It is quite difficult to just show up and look for seats as reservations are a must.

This was proven when we arrived as other people who came up to the small restaurant were asked to make reservation for another day and turned away. We were able to get reservation a week before but had to wait for some minutes as we came in early.

Most people are familiar with Kobe beef as the best beef with with a high fat-to-meat ratio, but Matsuzaka/Matsusaka is actually one of the top three beef types within Japan. Kobe beef comes from Kobe while Matsuzaka comes from the Matsusaka region of Mie, Japan.

Their EAYC Matsuzaka beef will set you back for ¥27,500 /person for 90 minutes. This doesn’t include the drinks. In our case, we settled for the Yuki which was ¥7,700/person.

The first three cuts of sirloin, short ribs and beef tongue are the ones most recommended by the people at Rokassen. We probably ordered Sirloin thrice and the short ribs and beef tongue twice. They are that good…almost melt in your mouth.

They even serve Fugu or blowfish. It is widely-known as deadly to eat unless prepared by a chef who has been given a license to prepare it. Many have died eating the said fish but the adventurous us wanted to try it and say “YOLO”.

Fugu or Blowfish

Thankfully, we survived. I did find out later on the they now were able to raise Fugu which doesn’t have any poison. I am assuming, of course, that those we ate were those type of Fugu.

Hopefully we can come back and try the real Matsuzaka beef next week. Andame kasing pwedeng kainan dito sa Tokyo. Every nook and cranny is a foodie area to explore. Parang bawat kanto ay gusto mong subukan kung ano binebenta nila.

So with drinks and all, we paid Y26,340 for the three of us.

About our blog

It's been 10 years since the San Juan Family started their blog documenting their lives in this little spot called Qatar. Follow Chris, Mavis and Xianelle as they share what Doha has to offer.

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