So on Sunday we decided to go take a gander at the Tokyo Tower since it was such as nice clear day. Here was our first up-close view of it as we exited the subway station:

We went inside to be bombarded by tacky gift shops. Our first stop was a restaurant on the 2nd floor. Lily got tempura, and James got curry.

We then headed downstairs to buy tickets. The tickets cost 820 yen each (about £6.50)We then had to wait in a long line to use the elevators going up to the main observatory. But it was so worth it! the views were amazing! Enjoy some pictures from the Tokyo tower:

And we got a snazzy souvenir photo too! The flash made you not be able to see that my (Lily) top is see through and I’m wearing a vest so it just makes me look a bit frumpy but oh well….

We then took the elevator back down again to be deposited on a rather forlorn looking roof area with some disused children’s rides. It was kinda depressing:

There  was also a guy with a monkey doing a show. It was a talented monkey but the guy wasn’t being very nice to it. Don’t like to see animals used like this

And so concludes Sunday. We had planned to go to the Tokyo Skytree after this but it was starting to get dark by the time we left, so we went to that another day.

That’s all for now.

Sayo’onara!

 

 

 

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We had been waiting for this day our entire trip. The oldest and biggest fireworks festival was taking place in Asakusa, along the Sumida river. From research on the internet we knew that it began at 7pm and that it could get very crowded so we decided to turn up at the river banks at about 6pm to try and get a good spot. HA! that went well….but more about that later. We decided to use this day to combine the fireworks festival and going to the Sensoji Temple and Kappabashi Street.

We arrived around midday and grabbed a snack from a combini. It was ridiculously hot! as we had been warned, it was quite busy. We made our way towards the first gate marking the entrance to the temple. In it hangs a gigantic lantern.

This marks the entrance to a road know as Nakamise. A shopping road lines with stall leading up to the main temple.

Nakamise shopping road

We pootled down the street, having a look in some of the shops.

Eventually we found oursleves going through another gate with a lantern. We then were in the main temple area. There was another big lantern in the entryway to the temple.

another lantern

Outside of the main building there were lots of places where you could pay a hundred yen (About 80p) To get a fortune. You shake a metal box and then slide a stick out. The stick has a number on it and you take a fortune from the corresponding drawer.

James shaking the box

Lily shaking the box

We both got number 99, the best fortune!!

it says 99 in kanji, luckily we can read kanji numbers!

The fortune had an English bit!

We then went inside the temple. The ceiling was painted beautifuly.

and here’s what you could look at through the glass:

We went outside and saw a Buddha statue:

Then we decided to go take a look at Kappabashi street. This street is known for being a place you can go to get anything food/cooking related! There were lots of different kinds of shops like this:

But our favourite shops were the ones selling plastic food!!! It looked so amazingly real! It’s also ridiculously expensive!!

And here’s the giant chef that marks the entrance to Kappabashi street:

We then started to head back towards the river as it was about 5pm and we wanted to get there for about 6. On our way down the main road we came across a “Freshness Burger” place (one of the many fast food places in Japan we had heard about). We decided to stop there for some early dinner to et us through the fireworks. And boy are we glad we did!! It was soo delicious! Fast food places here also sell beer….

Freshness Burger

James and his Freshness beer 😀

Classic cheeseburger, mmmmmmmmmmm

After a lovely meal we continued heading towards the river. It was suddenly getting VERY crowded. We found ourselves being funnelled along streets in crowds of other people, not really sure where we were going.

We were led across a bridge from which we could see the golden poo! (It’s the Asahi building, and I think it’s supposed to be a flame but, well…..look at it……)

We were then funnelled thorugh a series of small streets and throngs of people until we eventually managed to get back to the river (although we were now on the opposite side). At this point it was only 6pm but everywhere was packed!! Every single piece of grass had someone on it, and people had marked off area to reserve them for later. Even from a spot way back where we couldn’t even see the river and most of the sky was blocked by trees, it was still packed!

 

Lily took the opportunity of having an hour until the fireworks to take some pictures. There were lots of people wearing kimonos and yukatas.

I like the facial expression here!

James did some reading to pass the time:

Eventually the fireworks started and everyone crowded towards the river. We managed to catch a few glimpses, although a huge overpass blocked most of it. We moved to several differnet spots but it was so crowded we couldn’t really get s good view. The atmosphere was still amazing though. Here are some bad pictures of the fireworks:

About half an hour in (and an hour before the end) we decided so start trying to find our station to get home (because we thought it would probably take us that long to find and get to it!) When we tried to get back across the bridge we had come over, we weren’t allowed! It was now one way apparently. After quite a while of walking around we managed to find another subway entrance and saw that we could get on this line and get off in two stops to change to our line to get home. It was still really crowded, even this far from the fireworks, and all of the streets were pedestrianised.

So after 2 stops on the subway we got off and saw the signs for our line (the Oedo line) we followed them and ended up back outside!! Back in the masses of people watching fireworks! We saw the signs for our line and followed them with haste, however just as we were reaching the entrance, the fireworks ended and suddenly hundreds of people were crowding towards the same subway station as us! It was a long and full ride back home, but we got home in the end.

That’s all for now!

Sayo’onara!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this very hot Friday we went shopping in the Harajuku area. On our way down the shopping road Takeshita Dori we got some of the famous Harajuku crepes! yum yum!

James’ crepe

Lily’s crepe

Of course, Lily then proceeded to spill chocolate sauce all over her front meaning a quick buy of some new clothes was in order. Lucky we were out for a shopping day anyway! (And the chocolate did come out in the wash later!)

we trawled the back streets of Harajuku and found some great shops! After a long, hot day of shopping we had dinner at Jonathon’s. Is this chain of family restaurants in your country? We recognise the name…

Lily got a cheese pizza and James got pasta with meatballs. It was good! Many restaurants in Japan have a little button on or near your table that you use to call a staff member. It’s so much easier than in England where you have to spend forever trying to catch the eye of passing waiters!

That’s all for now

Sayo’onara!

So on the 25th we decided to do some shopping! We started at Ikebukuro Station and checked out the two big department stores either side of it, Tobu and Seibu. We started with Tobu.

 

It wasn’t very good. It was a mish mash of random shops shoved together and there was a lot of construction work going on. there wasn’t a clear layout at all and the maps were confusing. We eventually made it up to the restaurant floors and found a nice tempura restaurant. We had a lovely meal complete with pudding (green tea ice cream for James, and tempura vanilla ice cream for Lily).

 

We then headed over to the Seibu department store. It was huge! Here is the floor guide (which was extremely well laid out!

 

This Deparment store was really nice! It was laid out really well, especially with the different coloured blocks and there were signs everywhere to help you get to where you needed. A lot of it was designer stuff near the bottom, but got cheaper as it went up. About half way up we found some great gifts for Lily’s one-year-old cousins, Florence and Olivia. Won’t say what they were as it would spoil the surprise but the man serving us wrapped them up beautifully free of charge!

At the top of the orange section was a LOFT shop! (One of our favourite shops in Japan) You can find pretty much ANYTHING you need in a LOFT shop. This one even had a pet store, with real puppies! THEY WERE SO ADORABLE!  They also sold lots of pet items, such as this drink for your dog, Pet Sweat. It is similar to a drink for humans, Pocari Sweat (which Lily loves!)

 

Lily got a fold up parasol in the LOFT store. parasols are very popular in Tokyo and lots of women walk round with them to keep the sun off, although it might look a bit weird back in England!

Next we decided to head to Sunshine City as we remembered that the shops there were aimed at young people and not too expensive. We have been very frustrated by always finding ourselves in designer department stores somehow!

We definitely chose the right time to come to Tokyo as pretty much every store is having a summer sale! We got some great deals, Lily even got a top for 70% off original price!

There was a crowd gathering around the centre of the shopping mall so we went to see what was going on. Turns out some girlband called “Fairies” was doing a performance. We hung around for a bit and caught a glimpse of the from the 2nd floor, it was extremely crowded!

 

Next we went to have a look at the Sunshine City Aquarium. It’s right at the top of the building so we took a special elevator all the way up. The tickets were about £15 each, but it was an amazing aquarium! Now enjoy some pictures of fish and other water things 🙂

Fish shaped foods!

 

And so concludes our 13th day in Japan!

Sayo’onara!

 

So on Tuesday we decided it was time to get an electronic dictionary. There are so many kanji everywhere and we have no idea how to read them. The ones that we had been looking at allow you to draw in a kanji and it will recognise it. This is especially useful because you can’t just look a kanji up in a normal dictionary if you don’t know it because you have to know how to pronounce it! So being able to draw it in would be a really big time saver!

So we decided to go back to Akihabara and take a look around all the major electronics stores. Our first stop was of course Yodobashi Camera, the biggest electronics store in Tokyo.

Yodobashi Camera

We found electronic dictionaries on the 2nd floor and perused for a bit. The one we were thinking of getting was less than half the price in store than on the internet! Akihabara really is the place for discount electronic goods!

After looking around for a bit we decided to look at other electronic shops in the area. There are many small shops on the streets like this:

And lots of big ones such as Sofmap (who have 12 stores just in Akihabara!)

One of the big stores (LAOX) had a life size Darth Vader greeting customers at the entrance…

Here’s a display of electronic dictionaries. The are so many to chooses from, but the ones made by Canon are the only ones that provide an English menu! So that narrowed our choices down a bit.

A display of electronic dictionaries

In one electronics store that had laptops there was a picture of Seaford! (James’ home town)

On our way back to Yodobashi camera (who had the best price for the dictionary we wanted) we spotted this cool dude:

 

So after a few hours of searching stores we ended up back at the first store we went to! Here’s the dictionary we got. The screen is a touch screen and there is a stylus. The screen slides up to reveal a keyboard and you can then tilt it forward to sit on a desk!

It also has handwriting recognition!

 

It’s very cool and has already come in handy for identifying items in shops!

well that’s all for now,

Sayo’onara!

So on Monday it was a bit overcast. We decided to go check out the Isetan Department store in Shinjuku. We had heard it is one of biggest department stores in Tokyo and a must see sight. However we were quite disappointed. Yes, it is big, but it is filled with designer shops where the sale items were going for over £100 a piece. And almost every floor was the same, more designer shops! We crossed over to the Isetan Men’s to find more of the same.  However the food hall in the basement level was very cool. Loads of different sections and counters selling all kinds of foods, some expensive, but mostly reasonably priced. 

We found a nikuman (meat dumpling) and gyoza for lunch 🙂 yummy!

we had a look around the general area and came across a shop called Book Off. I had heard that this was a good place to get manga, so we went in to have a see. it turned out to be true! On the top floor there were shelves and shelves of manga (pre-owned I think) for super cheap! Most of the mangas were sold for 105 yen each (about 80p!) and some were up to 250 yen (£2). We bought a few to try and read and help us learn Japanese.

For dinner we decided to try making out own tempura (instructed by the very helpful cook book we picked up at the Oriental bazaar). It took a whole litre of oil and a lot of faffing but in the end we produced some extremely delicious tempura, including prawns, green beans, mushrooms, some kind of fish (not sure what) and corn. It was all amazing but we made a lot of mess!

In the process of making the tempura

mmm yummy tempura!

We also tried doing tempura banana for pudding but it wasn’t very nice, neither of us are a fan of warm mushy banana it seems.

tempura banana

see you again soon!

Sayo’onara!