2.09.2018

Tokyo Winter Holiday, part 2: Tsukiji - Akihabara - Ikebukuro

When we were planning our trip to Tokyo late last year, one of the must-see places I included in our itinerary is the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. My foodie brother and I really wanted to visit the market and sample the freshest seafood we can try, even if we had to drag the kids there early in the morning.

As promised, I will share our family's Tokyo itinerary. This is the 2nd of a 3-part series. Part One covered our day in Shibuya, and some tips, which you can read here

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Overview of our Tokyo Itinerary
It's not the best, but this worked out for us based on family interests and limited time. I'll include some of the attractions and places that I really wanted to visit but didn't push through (see items in parenthesis from the itinerary below).

Travel date:  December 26 - 31, 2017
Tavel time Manila-Tokyo: approx. 5 hrs. 15 mins. via PAL
Time difference:  Japan is 1 hour advance
Forex:  est. Php 0.46 = 1 Yen
Hotel:  Shinjuku Prince Hotel

Day 1  :  Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando areas (Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are nearby)
Day 2  :  Tsukiji, Akihabara, and Ikebukuro areas  (Ginza, Asakusa - Tokyo Tower, Senso-ji 
               Temple and Ueno Park+Zoo are alternative destinations after Tsukiji) 
Day 3  :  Shinjuku - Gyoen National Park and shopping day (Tokyo Metropolitan Government  
               Bldg. Observatory and Samurai Museum can be added)
Day 4  :  Shizuoka - Mt. Fuji and Snow Town Yeti (Gotemba Premium Outlet as side trip)
Day 5  :  Narita airport (lunch and last-minute shopping at the airport)

***


It was a short but sweet visit to Tuskiji last December 28, but before I tell you more, I just have to share this news about the fish market closing and moving to a new location. I did not know about its impending closure until after we got home.

Read about the Tsukiji news here. Basically, the iconic Tsukiji fish market will be moving to the Toyosu waterfront district in October 2018. No details were revealed, so if you plan to visit around the last quarter of the year, best to check for updates on the location so you'll know what to plan and expect.


Day 2 : TSUKIJI - AKIHABARA - IKEBUKURO

TSUKIJI
Coming from Shinjuku, we got on the train for Tsukijishijo Station and arrived there at around 9 a.m. with the whole gang.

Warning: Their train stations are not kids and seniors friendly, kasi ang tataas ng hagdanan nang ibang stations! I actually suffered joint pains on my right knee for two days so it was a challenge for me to climb up and down the stairs. Of course, the freezing weather made it worse. Haaay, lola hits talaga, haha! =)


As we walked to the fish market, we passed by several street vendors with very interesting and tasty delicacies on offer. Check out this popular sweet potato stand -- ang haba ng pila para sa nilagang kamote! There were also food carts with different kinds of dried fruits and nuts.  I bought 2 packs of chewy dried persimmons on our way back. Ang healthy ng mga snacks nila!


Tsukiji Hongan-ji 
You can't miss this Indian-looking temple on your way to the market. Tsukiji Hongan-ji was built in nearby Asakusa in 1617, then moved to Tsukiji.  We did not go inside.

"At first, you would be surprised that this temple is not built of wood as we usually image a Japanese temple. It is built of stone and looks like some temple in India or Central Asia. That is because this temple had once been destroyed by fire in 1934, and them people rebuilt it in ancient Indian style. Inside the big main hall, there is a pipe organ that plays classical music during lunchtime." - www.magical-trip.com


Tsukiji Fish Market
We did not intend to watch the world famous Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market -- sobrang aga kaya nun, starting at 3am! We don't have plans to bid for seafood. Kakain lang kami dun, hehehe! 


 Screen shot of Google Images
Screen shot from Google Images for "Tsukiji Fish Market"

What we really wanted to try was to have a fresh sushi breakfast and street food tasting. Everywhere you turn, there were crates and crates of the freshest tuna, assorted fish and crustaceans. The jumbo crabs really stood out.




Since the main street was difficult to navigate with kids in tow, we skipped the street food and settled for the nearest eatery that can accommodate our big group. Many were set up like hole-in-the-wall sushi bars and lahat full na kasi ang liit lang ng space. Ang hirap din mag-picture amidst the crowd, kaya ang konti talaga ng photos ko.  =(


We eventually went back to Tenkomori Don which has a bigger dining area on the second level. Super fresh seafood rice toppings for brekkie and everything was delectable. 

It was strange for everyone to have this type of breakfast for the first time, but I welcomed it. Very memorable was my mouthwatering crab and salmon don. Heaven!

Sushi breakfast, check.
Street food tripping, fail.
Hahaha... eh kasi naman, the kids wanted to leave agad after eating coz they were bored na and there were just too many people that day. Hindi na rin talaga makalakad sa daan because ang daming tao, locals and tourists. (See the crowd behind us in photo below).

I would have wanted walk farther and check out the different stalls, and to sample the grilled oysters and scallops recommended by friends.  If you get a chance, stay longer and eat more seafood!


After brunching in Tsukiji, you may want to visit Asakusa, as I originally planned.
(I scrapped it the last minute coz my brother's family have already been to Senso-ji before, so we headed straight to Akihabara instead.)

* Asakusa district is a melting pot of arts, culture, entertainment and shopping, and also famous for the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple. Between the gates of the temple, you will find Nakamise Dori shopping street. Other tourist attractions you can explore nearby are the Tokyo Sky Tree, Asahi Beer tower, and enjoy a Tokyo cruise along the Sumida river.
Screen capture from Google Images for "Asakusa"

AKIHABARA
This district is popular for it's numerous electronics stores and otaku -- those into computers, manga and anime. There's Gundam Cafe and several themed cosplay restos like maid cafes. If you are into these stuff, you can spend a day in this area.

Yodobashi
Crossing the street from the Akihabara station, this row of vending machines greeted us, and it was quite amusing.  Hot and cold drinks for everybody after a short trip. Behind this is the entrance to Yodobashi Akiba, a huge building with everything you need - from electronics and appliances to toys and gifts, stationery and fashion accessories, and so much more! Shopping time for the kids and the big boys. Wala akong binili, kumain lang ako sa baba after they were done. :p


Yodobashi-Akiba.com

One of the objectives of the Tokyo trip was to be able to go to Pokemon center. If it was just me, I'd rather go on cultural tours. But kids... so after having snacks at Vide de France bakery and Gindaco from Yodobashi building, it was time to visit Sunshine City in Ikebukuro.



IKEBUKURO
Another hub of otaku culture, "Ikebukuro caters more to a female clientele with butler cafes and anime, manga and cosplay related shops such as Animate, Mandarake and K-Books." Then there's Sunshine City. A city within a city, this huge commercial complex "contains shops and restaurants, an aquarium, planetarium, museum, indoor theme parks, as well as the Sunshine Prince Hotel and offices".  - www.japan-guide.com


My niece and I chanced upon these cosplayers fixing up inside the ladies room of Sunshine City shopping center, so I asked if I could take a photo of them. Sobrang cool nila, and their costumes were very intricate! I knew my niece would love this souvenir since she is very much into anime and cosplay.


Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
Located inside Sunshine City shopping centre, this is the largest Pokémon Center in Japan. Siyempre, the kids went wild, buying some of their favorite characters and walking out with smiles from ear to ear. Napuno ang maleta sa mga plush toys and souvernirs!!!




Honestly, I was not that impressed, hehehe. I thought it would be much bigger, and with more larger-than-life exhibits. It's basically a big toys, gifts and souvenir store with everything Pokémon. 

Sana nag Sky Circus or Sunshine Aquarium na lang kami which was also in the same complex. You should check it out if you will go to Sunshine City. 

I regret not doing enough research on this area. Sayang walang ibang napasyalan ditoAyan, souvenir family picture na lang kami with Pikachu and Charizard before leaving the store. Our first decent family photo since we arrived in Tokyo.



Animate
On our way back to the hotel, we dropped by Animate Cafe. Wala lang, theme cafe lang siya with pricey treats and drinks like this cafe mocha and green iced tea. Hehehe! We just spotted several cosplayers going in and out of the Animate building.



Out the whole day and back to Shinjuku in time for dinner.  We were all tired and hungry.

Grabbed some take out bowls at Yoshinoya for the kids coz they prefer to eat in the hotel room together. The adults went out for some tasty beef cutlet and explored our neighborhood Kabukicho at night, kahit naninigas na kami sa lamig! =)  Good night, Shinjuku!


 

Snapshots and video clips of #jmltokyo on Instagram Stories and Highlights.

Watch out for part 3. Snow Town Yeti and Mt. Fuji.

PART 1 - Shinjuku - Shibuya

Where and what we ate in Tokyo:

Other reference sites I used:


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