April 28, 2013

Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Day 5)

Lazy Day is Akihabara (Half-)Day

The rain still hasn't ceased that day, so we decided to take time to rest. It was only during the afternoon when we willed ourselves to go out of the hostel to have a late lunch, and spend the rest of the day walking around Akihabara.

Nothing more to say about this day, so I'll just show some of the pictures I took instead.

From what I know, we also have a Mister Donut Cafe somewhere in the Metro.


Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Day 4)

When it Rains...

...it pours, and Tokyo is no exception. We Filipinos know rain, but not this kind. Springtime rain is cold, wet, and unrelenting. There is no wind factor to buffer you from the merciless pelting of the rain drops, and the rains keep going on and on and on for the whole day.  Our plan for that day was to tour around the Harajuku area, but the weather was so bad the we were only able to look at a couple of stores before giving up.

We were only able to go inside a few stores like Nike, Kyusyujangara Ramen (late lunch), and Daiso (no picture included),
but the weather was so bad that I wasn't able to take decent pictures.
No worries, we were able to go back to Harajuku.  More details about that area on future posts.

Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Day 3)

Akihabara Electric Town

Akihabara, known for cosplay and electronics, is the closest popular tourist attraction from our hostel--just one train station away, or a mere 15-minute walk. Chuo-dori is the main street in Akihabara where you can find most of the shops that sell electonics, manga, anime, Jpop albums, collectible figures, toys, mobile phones, groceries (where they sell snack items, toiletries and cosmetics--to name a few), and costumes.  Every once in a while a maid cafe or fast food joint can be found along the road.

Yodobashi  Camera, one of the bigger shopping centers (think SM) is directly connected to the Akihabara Station.  Here you can find almost all of the items mentioned above, being an eight-storey tall building, with each floor catering to a specific type of item.

Don Quijote, which is situated somewhere in the middle part of Chuo-dori, is relatively smaller than Yodobashi Akiba, but here you will be able to find cheaply-priced grocery items.  AKB48, a popular Jpop girl group, performs at this venue as well (though we weren't able to watch them).

Tourist Tip: Shopping centers in Tokyo are a bit different from the malls we have in the Philippines.  While our malls span great floor areas and won't go higher than four storeys, in Tokyo they are built similar to an office building: more or less square-ish in shape, and can span to up to 12 storeys high.  Each floor looks like a department store, with products displayed in racks or kiosks.  They rarely have separate stores per brand, even for clothes.  Think of Uniqlo in MoA - how open it looks like, or perhaps the stores in Divisoria, only less crowded and more spacious.

April 27, 2013

Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Day 2)

Happy Easter! Jesus is risen, Hallelujah!

We attended the Easter Mass at one of the few Catholic churches in Tokyo that celebrate the Eucharist in English.  The Franciscan Chapel Center is located south of our hostel, in the Roponggi area. Travel time by subway took about 20mins, which is a pretty long commute for a (relatively) traffic-free city.

Attending the Mass outside the Philippines, especially in services catered for foreigners like me, somehow makes me appreciate my faith a little bit more.  People who attend these services are people who are a bit more serious about their faith, as they really make the effort to go to Church despite being in a foreign land.  For this particular Mass, I was particularly happy and proud to see that the most active parishioners are Filipinos.  I noticed that the choir and a couple of readers were kabayans.  Nice to know that we are keeping the faith and sharing it to the world.

A melting pot of people from other nations, sharing one faith in one God.

View Larger Map
Franciscan Chapel Center
4-2-37 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 JAPAN 
Phone: (03)3401-2141      Fax: (03)3401-2142

City Life

The Mass that we attended was the 8AM Mass, so by the time we left the church, Tokyo was already starting to get busy.  Here are some of my observations, which I think could help the average tourist explore the city without getting in the way of the locals' day-to-day activities:
  • Keep left! Tokyo is right-side driving, ergo reverse-side in our point of view.  This means, when crossing the road, look to your left first, then right.  Also, when walking down the sidewalk, or idling on the escalators, keep to your left.  It is VERY appreciated that you always leave space for people who are in a hurry to go wherever they are going.
  • When in a fast food joint, eat FAST. Space is very important Tokyo, such that most fast food places are arranged in such a way that tables are counter bars in front of the cashier.  The usual routine is order first, eat second, pay last.  Some other fast food places don't even have cashiers at all; instead, you choose your food from a vending machine that produces food stubs, and you take them to the server to receive your food.  Regardless of payment mode, fast food joints are designed for locals on the go, and lines grow fast during the busy hours.  So, as courtesy to the hungry person behind you, eat fast.
  • When eating in a restaurant, a la carte isn't usually honored. We made a couple of mistakes ordering at cafes, where our initial intention was to order their cake and just service water.  Turns out, we can only order the cake IF we order a beverage to go with it.  And, no, it isn't a combo meal, you have to buy it separately.  Either coffee only, or coffee and cake.  But not cake only.  But it's not just cafes, as I was also declined when ordering just a plate of o-toro sashimi, as I need to order one of their set sushi first BEFORE ordering the sashimi.  I don't understand why, pero ganun eh.
  • When queuing for a line in the public restroom, do it by the entrance, NOT in front of the door. We also do it here, in some of the malls.  The only difference is, there are no signs/dividers in Tokyo, so you wouldn't know the marker on where to start queuing.  Also, some public restrooms only have squat toilets, so you kinda have to learn how to pee sans toilet bowl.
  • Plan your travel first, especially if you need to take the trains. Yes, there are a lot of transfer/connections between the subway/train lines, but you should always search for the best possible route.  http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ is a good site to plan your route, and they got apps for smartphones, too.