22 March 2010

Tokyo: Ueno & Ochanomizu with friends

Another trip down to Tokyo, somewhere I'm more comfortable in hah. This time is with Calvin & Ming Han. It's the first time I met Calvin after following his blog for some time and surely, he's much taller than he looks in the pictures!

This blog post isn't really complete as lack of the characters' pictures. There're still some pics at Calvin's side which I'll be getting pretty soon I think.

UENO (上野)

We met at JR Ueno station before heading towards Ameyoko (アメ横). First thing we did is to find something to eat. It's around noon and everywhere's filled with folks coming out to enjoy the holiday, looking for food as well.

In the end we settled down at the back alley having seafood don (北海丼).
Ingredients spotted: hotate (scallop), salmon, ika with tobiko (squid with fish roe), egg, kani (crab).

seafood don with calvin and ming han.

After the quick lunch and brief chatting, we headed to the Ueno Park (上野公園) for some sightseeing.

An American old-timer performing with the puppet.

People would naturally gathered around blooming sakura.

It's quite crowded as it's a public holiday.

You can see folks setting up the mat for hanami eventhough the flowers haven't really bloom yet.

Sakura flower buds.

Off topic: While these 2 pigeons are having an affair, they didn't noticed there's another 3rd party looking from the other branch.

Specially-placed rubbish collection spot.

In 1~2 weeks time, this place will be packed with people and flowers.

Noticed what took our attention here?

Yep, bridal photo shot with the Spring theme, obviously. I think the white gown and suit goes well with the white sakura variant.

Now comes the interesting part of the day.

Apparently this is a tea ceremony (茶道) conducted by volunteers, and anyone is able to join in for free. It's a good treat especially for foreigners who didn't tried it before.

Ladies in kimono serving the guests.

Was being served a sweet candy before drinking the slightly-bitter matcha (抹茶).

The tea ceremony was a successful one, you can judge it by the number of crowd gather around it.

We walked towards the side of Ueno Zoo, to visit one of the oldest shrines in Tokyo, the Toshogu (東照宮).

Stalls had been set up for the hanami season.

My favourite yakiika 焼きイカ (grill squid)!

Err, this is the Toshogu. Too bad it'll be covered under the renovation sheets until the end of year 2013.
Last year when I visit it I thought they'd just close it for awhile without reading the fine prints...

Looking at this gate, it's a great masterpiece of crafts and artworks, judging from the rich textures and fine detail carvings.

We cheekily asked Calvin to pluck the oranges from the tree as he's tall enough lol.

These statues are actually giant lanterns. I wonder whether they'll be lit up during the night?

Leaving the Toshogu, with a friendly reminder that Spring is indeed very near.

Ueno Zoo is boom with folks wanna visit the zoo. Priced at 600 yen for adults, it's quite affordable for most. Check out my visit to the zoo last July~

Panoramic towards the national museum.

We stop by awhile to check out this performer named Kobayashi juggling balls and rings?

Dreamy white sakura.

Recreational boat activities on the Shinobazu pond (不忍池), just beside the Ueno Park.

Pink sakura spotted!

I personally would prefer the pink ones as it's more obvious than the white ones, easier to spot. Anyway the white ones are nice too.

Later on we walked from Ueno towards Ochanomizu (お茶の水), following the directions on Ming Han's iPhone. Funnily we were guided to walk through the back alleys and climb up steep steps, but eventually we've reached our destination.


The back entrance of the Kanda Shrine (神田神社の裏参道).

Ming Han wanna bang into the storage door lol.

Kanda Shrine is actually a nice place to visit, as it wasn't that crowded as other famous shrines. I also noticed that many drivers had the safety amulet placed on their vehicles, which the amulet is originated from the Kanda Shrine too.

Later brought the guys to the Audio Technica office nearby to check out some audio stuffs. It was actually closed as it's a public holiday, but the staff has been kind enough to let us in.

Audio Technica headphones! These are some of the stuffs that could leave me salivating hahah!

The Yushima Seido (湯島聖堂) is just across the street and this time the center hall is opened! Previously when I came everything is shut off as if it's closed down.

What's inside. Sorry for blurred pic, we didn't get in to see as entrance fee is needed.

As we headed to the St. Nicholi Church, we carelessly wondered into the chapel and were being asked for a 300 yen entrance fee. A little argument with the lady which sounded a little racey and we've left. Talk about commercialised religion huh.
(this pic was taken last month btw.)

Ochanomizu is a great place to be in for young folks especially those who love music, with lots of musical instruments and gears shops, CD shops and a few institutions around. You can see students ranging from middle school til university here.

Ming Han & Calvin trying out Shure's headphones. It sounded blissful and I'm aiming for it next!
trying out Shure headphone at Ochanomizu. it was great!

The night's dinner was tsukemen.

It's a specialised shop as they serve nothing but tsukemen only.

My spicy tsukemen (which doesn't gave me a sweat at all). Tasted still OK and nothing much to shout of.

As we left we noticed along the street there're a lot more tsukemen shops around lol. This is probably the first time I see so many tsukemen shops lining up on the same street!

Next stop is Akihabara, Ming Han's paradise lol. Venture into the Mac shop to check out the pretty Mac Book Pro, and then headed to Yodobashi Camera looking for some electrical goods.

As you can see no pics of the later half, so I'll probably reupdate this blog post again once I get the pics from Calvin. :)

We left Akihabara around 9pm++. It's quite fun to hangout with friends in Tokyo, somewhere I'm more familiar with. Who knows, the next day I'll be joining Calvin again with another 2 friends of his, which I'll be writing on the next post. :)

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