Day 4: Shinjuku Gyoen, Shibuya, Harajuku
Ander and I arrived in Tokyo after lunch. We both had to carry so many suitcases, so we decided to go somewhere near that day. We decided to go to Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, just a 5-minute walk away from the place we were staying at.
A little back story on why my smile in the photo above is that awkward: Ander is an artist, an excellent artist — we click in that sense — But I can not, for the love of God, figure out why he takes goddamn. awful. photos. That shot might have been the 20th — I’m not sure anymore. At that point my jaws were already hurting from all the smiling and I was on the verge of crying. True story.
Anyway, it was already March 31st but the sakura were barely showing signs of blooming. We were starting to think this trip might have been a week too early. These trees are just around 60-70% full, I think.
We hurried on to the next train as it was already drizzling during our walk towards the end of the garden. Next stop: Shibuya.
We had ramen to warm ourselves up. Look at those burnt gyozas. Yum!
I love it when it rains. All those reflections on the ground are just magnificent in photos.
Central Shibuya at night:
We made one short stop at Takeshita Street in Harajuku before finally calling it a day.
Day 5: Akihabara, Kamata
The next day was spent mostly in Akihabara. Ander and I previously decided to skip Akihabara (we’ve been here countless of times) but we were left with no choice, as it was yet another rainy day.
We had lunch at a restaurant-bar called Ginza Lion just outside Akihabara Station. We had Roast Beef Pilaf and then some.
Tried McDonald’s Cherry McFizz. I should have kept the cup!
We took advantage of shopping tax-free so Ander bought a new motherboard for his PC.
That night the two of us headed to Kamata, Tokyo to meet a friend, while the aunties had the rest of the night to themselves.
It was her son’s 4th birthday party which was held in a Filipino restobar. We had a fair share of Filipino food (and people) that night. Yay for free food!
Day 5 expenses:
Train/subway fare: P1,312
Day 6: Omiya (Saitama), Ueno, Nihonbashi
At this point, we were already starting to get disappointed because we only had 2 more days left in Tokyo before we leave for Osaka. We haven’t had a chance to really view Tokyo’s sakura yet. While our travel date was great in retrospect (March 28th – April 11th), sakura is unpredictable. It’s gotten significantly colder before we arrived, and that stunted their blooming for a few days. I did make a really detailed itinerary now, mind you, but due to the sakura’s unpredictability, we had to change things around and plan on the go. I had to depend a lot on Instagram. Curious about a place? Here’s a tip: check out Instagram. You’ll find unstaged, raw, real-time photos. It helps a lot in making an itinerary coz you’ll get to see what a place really looks like, as opposed to those exaggerated, over-saturated tourism shots. I was browsing a friend’s Instagram and saw that she went to Omiya Park in Saitama prefecture the previous day. The sakura looked okay, and I figured what the hell, why not? It was only an hour away from Tokyo and we were running out of choices anyway. Lo and behold:
It was probably the best decision I made for the trip (at the time). It was Sunday that day, but despite the amount of people, we immensely enjoyed our first hanami. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
The whole park was lined with stalls of streetfood.
Friends and family alike are all having a picnic under the blossoms. This is hanami.
Our next stop was Ueno Park in Tokyo. We did go, or at least tried to. We immediately left because we couldn’t handle the crowd. We headed to Nihonbashi instead since I read the area was celebrating their sakura festival that week. I love Nihonbashi. It’s one of my favourite districts in Tokyo. A lot of the buildings feel European. There’s just a certain vibe to it that thrills the old soul in me.
I’ll also have you know that it was weirdly skin-piercingly cold that day. Spring, where art thou?
We had late lunch in a Chinese restuarant where everything in the menu was spicy. Like, really spicy.
At around half past five, the buildings were lit up — in pink, no less.
Meanwhile, the streets…
Day 6 expenses:
Train/subway fare: P1,548