Day One in Tokyo: Tokyo Station and Ginza

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I hadn't planned on going anywhere before leaving for Australia at the end of this month, but once I realized that I was completely ill-prepared for an application for a resident visa here in Taiwan, I knew I had to make a "visa run" -- that is, leave the country to "renew" my visa. Since I'll be leaving Taiwan in less than two weeks, a landing visa was more than enough time for me -- and a fantastic excuse to go on a quick vacation!

Originally I was going to head to Hong Kong with my mother, who visited Taipei in April, but when my classmate and friend invited me to go to Tokyo, where her family has an apartment, I thought it was a great idea.

Except maybe not.

This is my "afternoon tea" friend -- in other words, my "lady who lunches" friend. I quickly realized that my trip would more or less have to be on her terms since I had no way to communicate with her once in Tokyo and she had only one set of keys to her apartment. Meaning that the entire trip to Tokyo was spent shopping, pretty much.

We landed at Haneda Airport, the more convenient of the two airports serving Tokyo ... we took the JR to her apartment in Oimachi, on the Keihin-Tohoku line. After a bit of unpacking, we headed out to the Tokyo Station stop on the JR and marveled at desserts and pastries in glass cases, Hello Kitty and Miffy stores, etc. 

I kind of have a thing for Miffy. I blame it on one particular MTV internship.

Next was Ginza, where we shopped and shopped. I paid a visit to H&M, which has no presence in Taiwan. It was sorely missed, though I couldn't find a single thing really worth buying there. Sad face.

Ginza ... this is the façade of a high-end designer store -- I just can't remember which!

Really posh looking; reminded me of Beverly Hills
and the Back Bay area of Boston all at once!

I also decided early on that I would photograph anything novel that I ate or drank ...

"Seattle coffee" (around $1.50) from 7-11 ... really good.
The coffee in Taiwan sucks tremendously in comparison

Had a Hokkaido milk ice cream cone (about $4.50) ... it was much creamier than ice cream
in Taipei, but still not as good as the uber fatty American stuff.

We took the train back to Oimachi, where we went to this small, local ramen shop. I liked how many of these types of restaurants had a vending machine towards the front of the store where you'd buy a ticket for the dish you wanted, then you'd hand over your ticket and they'd make it for you. This was incredibly handy for someone who knew virtually no Japanese! 

This ramen (approximately $8) was really chewy, which I loved, but the broth was also incredibly salty, which surprised me. I found this to be the case for many of the entrées I had while there ... I was really shocked, because I'd previously always found Japanese food to be light and subtle in flavor.

Bought a custard on the way home ... I can't remember how much this was, but it was good. Not the creamiest I've ever had, but really good for supermarket-bought custard.

... and of course, this.

I couldn't get enough of the view from my little bedroom, with Tokyo Tower peeking out from behind some of the other buildings.

First impressions of the city ... the customer service is beyond stellar. It's just downright incredible. Everyone walks on the left side, keeps to the left on escalators instead of the right. It was refreshing to be in a city that is so much more "international" than Taipei ... so many more international brands here; you can really tell that Tokyo is respected internationally, in comparison to Taipei. Also: things weren't as expensive as I thought they might be.

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  1. You had lots of Japanese desserts, I think! :)

    I also admit some dishes are too salty!
    Glad you liked the Japanese coffee. :)

    1. I think the drinks are sooo much better in Japan than in Taipei! There's just so much more variety, but that's not a huge surprise -- everyone knows that. :)

  2. "Mt. Rainier - The Mountain of Seattle". I love that they even know the name of "the mountain of Seattle". But we have really strong ties with Japan, so I guess it's not that random. Anyway, so exciting to see your photo from Tokyo! I'm really jealous.

    Also, I adore Miffy! I had no idea you were a fan, too! I recently bought this tiny orange Miffy alarm clock from a layover in Amsterdam. I'm surprised Miffy is a big deal in Japan too given how there must be so much competition for all things cute over there!

    1. I've been a fan of Miffy since I worked for the preschool TV station at MTV! Miffy is strangely big just about everywhere but the U.S. haha ... I spotted tons of Miffy when I was abroad in England and all over Europe. It is kind of odd that the Japanese like Miffy as well, but I'm not going to question it! :)



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