Tokyo | 3

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I finally arrived at Akihabara Station after two hours of Shinkansen ride from Kyoto. It was almost midnight and the street was quite. I enjoyed my walk toward my hostel, crossing the same bridge, slowing down my steps just to feel a yellow dim light from the street lights. Though I walked with a big smile and gratitude, memories of a day well-spent at Kyoto, plus a new black goodie bag fulfilled with souvenirs but I did feel sad cause I realised, I only had two more days in Japan.

An hour before I slept on my bed, I checked maps on my iPhone and did many screenshots to ensure myself won’t take a wrong train and stopped at somewhere.

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Checking maps could be the reason why I woke up a bit late. I moved my suitcase when I found a place where travelers dropped their suitcases and backpacks (I kept my suitcase beside a locker for shoes before) and I did repack all the souvenirs there. I did separate my remain outfits too for the rest of my stay. Oh, I’m kind of person who’s very organise and hate last-minutes things, fyi.

I let myself to pack slower tho I knew I would have a very short time to explore Ginza before my main destination that day. I had a fortuitous moment with one Austrian traveler when I was almost done with my suitcase. A fortuitous moment that made us became a very good friends till today (read about him, here).

Around 11.30am I headed to Ginza, a district of Chūō, Japan’s biggest luxury shopping and entertainment district. Exploring Ginza under the sun wasn’t a bad idea especially if you are interested with fashion, modern architecture, merchandising, or window shopping. It’s such a paradise for creative people and shopper, indeed. I stood in front of designer stores and many interesting window displays to train my eyes and took pictures as many as I could (nothing more pleasant than taking picture at some cool spots!). Should I say here one of my dream I had in mind when I was there? (read: enter Fendi store and bring some Fendi monsters home without worry how many dollars I’ll spend). I was a bit in rush to take a look at more stores cause I had a plan to pamper myself with some desserts from Henri Charpentier. Desserts for breakfast because, why not?

I putted Henri Charpentier on my list after I read this page. And it is true, it’s kind of a little heaven for a dessert lover. After I entered the shop, I could feel how excited I was looking at those desserts and pastries that I heard are awards-worthy. Forget about my dream to be a pro pastry chef (I dreamt about it years ago) cause I was happy enough sitting down at one corner in Henri Charpentier in the afternoon without worry about my bill. I picked a slice of strawberry shortcake and one chocolate cake. The last one was OMG to the max! A kind of to-die-for chocolate cake. I spent only one and half hour at Henri and walked down to the main street of Ginza.


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My main destination that day was Fujiko Museum in Kawasaki. Indonesian kids on 90’s must know Fujiko is the creator of Doraemon, one of the most well-known cartoon in Indonesia. I grew up with Doraemon as one of the most imaginative manga character I could remember. His magic pocket, Nobita and his crush, Sizuka, oh Giant who sings so pitchy, Suneo the rich kid and sure, the famous bamboo-copter. I had one vivid memory about Doraemon when I was about 7 years old. I used to run from school when I had my rest time around 9 to 10am just to watch Doraemon at home on Sunday (I was off on Friday then cause my elementary school was the Islamic one). The distance of my house and the school wasn’t that far, so it was always joyful when I could run and watched my favourite manga on TV every Sunday. Fujiko Museum has four different hours to visit from morning till afternoon. You need to reserve before you go there by buying the ticket at Lawson or online. Early in the afternoon could be the best time I to visit. Mine was for 4pm, the only schedule that was available when I bought at Lawson somewhere near Tenryū-ji temple, Kyoto.

When I was still strolling around Ginza, I was a bit worry if I didn’t have enough time to take a train to Noborito Station. I checked my wrist watch and realised I still had 1,5 hours to 4pm. And you know Japan train, it is always on time. So I said to myself not to worry too much and “let me enter two shops to grab some shirts for myself” and I actually did (*crying* :P). Believe me when I walked around Ginza I made a promise not to change my US Dollar again cause hello, there is always a life after vacation right? :P But after five seconds I thought,

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Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t enter Fendi store as I wished.

When I realised it was the time to leave Ginza for Fujiko Museum, I was running like a fat turkey. I have checked the nearest station from where I stood and it was Mizonokuchi Station instead of Noborito. I had to take a train from Ginza Station to Shibuya Station but something happened when I arrived at Mizonokuchi Station.


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My decision to take a train to Mizonokuchi Station was wrong when I found that I was blind at all with Japanese kanji. When I went down to take a bus I realized that I would not make it to Fujiko Museum but I didn’t give up yet.

I stood at the bus stop and tried to cross check the bus stops on the signage with the one on my iPhone. I just saw one queue and stood there for minutes before the bus came. But my heart wasn’t so sure with the bus even the time of arrival was the same with the one showed on my Gmaps. Asking a question to an old Japanese couple wasn’t successful too because they didn’t understand English (I used my translator to Japanese but it didn’t help them too :(). Better to try than nothing at all, right?

I entered the bus with a fickle heart. First, second, till the fourth bus stop I said,

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So, I sat by the window. I was free, confused and happy in the same time, trying to pick all the scenes that day and kept in my memory.


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You know in this life something happens for a reason. When you have prepared something and it didn’t happen like what you were expected, at least you could still pick the essence of the moment. That was the lesson I learned when I finally went down from the bus in Yokohama-Kozukuecho and found my way back to the train station. Alas, traveling has taught me to be stronger and wiser.

I headed back to Shinjuku station when I accidentally found one of my follower on my Instagram mentioned one halal ramen restaurant somewhere at Shinjuku. She was kind enough offering me a plan B sort of after I shared a picture why I couldn’t pay a visit to Fujiko Museum. Tho they way to the restaurant was a bit tricky, but I felt so fortunate could finally sit down with a bowl of spicy halal ramen again in Japan. Writing it on this post somehow, makes me think how cool if I had a friend like Doraemon, who could bring me back to Japan through his magic door right now.

I ended my day strolling around at Akihabara electric town with this song from my iPhone before headed back to the hostel. It was such a simply beautiful way to close a lovely day in Tokyo.

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Tokyo | 2

TokyoTrip2#1


“Is this 6am already?”


When you woke and found the day was so bright, it could be a sign to wake up earlier the next day. A question I asked myself almost every morning when in Japan was “how could I slept only four to five hours and found the dazzling light from the bathroom’s window by 6am? Is it 6am or 9am?”. It could be worse if you have nearsighted like me and found a harsh light early morning. Was it because I traveled in summer?

Talking about summer in Japan is YES! It is extremely hot. I’ve been living in West Africa for years so I know what is the meaning of “HOT” weather. But in Japan, summer can be unrelentingly humid. Though I had SPF50 and SPF25 with me, Japanese summer still made my skin three shades darker. If on my first day I wore my Zara jacket during the day at Sensō-ji and Tokyo Tower cause I forgot to drop it in the hostel, I already gave up on the second day. Comfortable sheer tee is a must for summer and no jeans please, khaki shorts is much better. A side from the humid, there was nothing precluded me to enjoy Tokyo.

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“Oh OK, day two was meant to be “morning guys, here is my cute caffè latte” moment on my Instagram page”


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On the second day, I left my hostel before 9am and took train to Shibuya station. I trusted Google map would drive me to a place where I could sit down and enjoying my morning coffee. I was hoping that dessert in the morning wasn’t a sin, too. Coffee and dessert could be a friend forever, at least that is what I have in my own dictionary.

When I arrived at Shibuya I was following every steps based on what Google map told me. I must confess that I’m not bad if you ask “Are you great reading a map?”. Yes, I’m not that bad but in Tokyo, where internet is extremely swift, I had to make sure that I didn’t run out of battery even I brought my power bank. I needed my iPhone and internet ‘ready’ when I had to move to the next destination. It could be a reason why I was lost and couldn’t find the coffee shop I’d been eyeing to spend my morning at.

I thanked God that Zara, Topman, Adidas, and H&M weren’t open yet when I was faffing in the morning. If not, I would call myself a liar cause “hey Azis, you said you wanted to do light travel but brough pieces of Zara home?”

Yet I was a liar that day for some pieces from Uniqlo. Apologise.

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Day two, I was still relied on Lawson and those supermarkets where I could find something easy for breakfast. Dorayaki and a cup of Starbucks latte was in my hand before I sat down to enjoy matcha shaved ice and a warm chocolate croissant at St Marc Cafe Shibuya. If you just visited this blog, you must know that I’m a huge fan of croissant :). It was still humid but drizzling outside there and I stayed inside a cafe where the smell of fresh croissants was in the air.

 

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Talking about Shibuya, it would be a shame if you travel to Tokyo and not take a walk across the famous intersection. It was an experience indeed when I was among “the scramble”. It was like marbles spilling out of a box by the time the lights turn red. Either in the afternoon or clear evening, pretty sure it’s mandatory experiencing Shibuya crossing.

After I experienced by myself I went to the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building on the crossing’s north side. It was a time for me to observe the “chaos” down there and took some pictures with my iPhone. Cloudy noon with grey lights made it a bit challenging capturing this crossing with no proper lens. But I found that is quite interesting with a cut-out effect, nah? (click on the image to zoom).

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I was enjoying my raspberry iced tea while having a conversation with a middle-age woman from Australia (a country that has kangaroos :P) at Starbucks. She took two days off from her group and enjoying Tokyo by herself before went for a day tour cruise to Mt Fuji the next day. It was so good we had a short time sharing our stories and few random things we loved about Japan.

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Right after Shibuya crossing I moved to Harajuku, the centre of Japanese youth culture and fashion. I didn’t spend time exploring Takeshita Dori and just took 2 pcs too-sweet crunchy puff pastry from Croquant Chou ZakuZaku for lunch before heading to one of the most popular shrines in Japan, Meiji Shrine.

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“I love the fact that in Tokyo, as busy as it is, we can still find a huge greens at Meiji Shrine”


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At Meiji Shrine I realised that I didn’t take single picture of myself in front of those landmarks. This could be one reason why I should have selfie stick, no? Thanks to iPhone’s front camera for two selfies but I said “come on, being a little garish in Japan is not a sin Zis, ask that man to help you with one or two shots under the Torii gate”, and I did :) I asked an Indian man after he asked me to take picture with his family, that I knew they live in Malaysia after his grandma was guessing if I speak Melayu.

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Two hours spent at Meiji Shrine and I had to move to find halal food. Sweet snacks, pastries, and those ice creams couldn’t satisfy me. I needed a time to sit down and enjoy heavy meal because in Tokyo, everyday seems like an exercise day. I mentioned on this post what I did was half-half. Half of me wanted to explore places as many as I could, another half was enjoying every moment out of my itinerary.

I must confess that I didn’t do serious research for halal food before I flew to Tokyo. Much better to look at the nearest location where I stood that day though it was a bit difficult yet challenging. Google map told me that the nearest location for halal food was at Ōyama-chō district. Well, I didn’t mind for Turkish food cause hey, I would find rice right? :) typical Indonesian. I took train to Yoyogi Uehara Station and I just realised it showed Tokyo Camii Mosque on my iPhone.

When I arrived and checked my map just to make sure I was at the right place, I was wondering where was the restaurant. While I kept looking I entered to the mosque and aw, it wowed me. The restaurant is in the ground floor while the mosque in the first floor. After I prayed and took some pictures of course I found that, “OMG the restaurant just closed and the Turkish food in my mind disappeared instantly”, I didn’t regret anything. For me, as a moslem, it was interesting I accidentally paid a visit to the largest mosque in Japan (will post the beauty of Tokyo Camii separately :)).

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“Don’t call me Azis if I’m easily give-up for something I’m looking for. Mark my words :)”


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From Tokyo Camii I took train to Shinjukugyoen-Mae station to find halal food for my dinner. I promised to myself when in Japan I had to try authentic Japanese food as much as I could, and ramen was among. It was past 7pm till I found the location of a restaurant for vegan and halal noodle called Halal Ramen Ouka. It is a very small restaurant where you really have to wait to get a seat. And I had to wait an hour+ till I could sit down and finally had a ramen for dinner. Here is the best shot of the ramen from my iPhone, I’m a bit fastidious if I have to photograph my food but for this one, it was an exception.

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“I’m thankful for my brain that can capture moment vividly with all the details”


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I still remember all the details behind the ramen picture above. When I was waiting for my seat outside, there was a bunch of five Indonesians were waiting to have a dinner too. Three women and two men. Two of them are working and other two are studying in Japan, the last one was a traveler. How do you know Zis? Oh come on, they spoke Indonesian so I understood :D.  Funny enough I kept silent and wondering in mind like “oh girl, you can’t laugh that loud in Japan, and this is past 8pm already”. You may think that Azis is introvert? Can’t talk to people? Is it not exciting if you meet your people in another part of the world? It is.

But wait, I’m not introvert :) I used to be, but how can I survive in West Africa where vibrant people live if I’m introvert? I’m very open person chiefly when I travel. I love meeting people from different countries, I love making friend. I love learning something from you, guys. But manner is important and it depends on you as a person, wherever you come from. So in my opinion, when I found someone laughed at 8 pm in Tokyo? No, for me it was not appropriate. We really have to be mindful where we are, right?  I feel more comfortable having conversation with an Indonesian lady that works in Ouka restaurant rather than joining ‘the loud team’ :P

And I still remember vividly too, when it was raining before I entered the restaurant. All those street lamps, the street scene, the rain drops, conversation I had with a father and his 20+ old daughter from Qatar and a stylish European couple. How could I still remember the huge strawberry pattern on the guy’s shirt? he was so damn stylish with light brown khaki short while the lady wore a short embroidery bralette top with high waist slim skirt in red and black. They are blonde so both outfits were looking so fantastic on them. I’m very visual so all those details were sticked on my mind :P.

I ended my day two in Tokyo with a bowl of hot spicy ramen, cold matcha, and authentic Japanese ambiance when it was still raining outside. Was it a better idea than that?

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