Jalan-jalan in Tokyo

What did I do other than running Tokyo Marathon last February?? I was there to explore the city and the people. The good thing about travelling alone, you can just go wherever you want to go, be with anybody you wish to be with and do whatever you desire to do. Along the journey I tried to blend-in with people around me.

Revisit Tokyo for a week after my last visit 7 years ago was fun. Although my Japanese a bit rusty, I only need 2-3 days to retune my head & my tongue. During the trip I met a bunch of Malaysian runners. Some were familiar faces back in Malaysia, some I just got to know them here. I took an opportunity to take them "bura-bura" (jalan-jalan or wandering) around Shibuya & Ueno. At Shibuya, we took photos at Hachiko statue and took videos of the the busiest intersection in the world. Afterwards, we went to Ameyoko in Ueno. Over here, we carbo-load with Udon in one of the restaurants along the "shotengai". As expected, during the race I bumped in only two of them.


At Ace Inn I met a guy staying in the capsule next to mine. He asked me what did I do when he saw me tight a timing chip to my running shoes. I told him I will be running a marathon tomorrow. Then we continue converse in English as both of us not sure where each other coming from. After awhile I asked him where is he from. When he said Malaysia, I blurted out "laaa Melayu rupanya!" He introduced himself as Amriz from Seri Menanti but living in Hamburg for more than 5 years (he doesn't look like a Malay actually) and then he starts speaking with Nogori's accent. He invited me to join him party that night, but I had to decline because I have to wake up early to run the marathon. I promise to join him to explore Tokyo the day after my marathon and be a translator for him as well.
Amriz... cool dude and fashionista

The following day after Tokyo Marathon, we set our course to visit Ultraman City. I didn't know such place actually exist. We followed the instruction he found on the Internet and there we were in a town called Soshigaya-Okura. We knew it is the place because the train station full with posters of Ultraman. I lost count how many type of Ultraman were there. The first "Urutoraman" (Ultraman in Japanese) is Ultraman Hayata. He still my favourite Ultraman because I enjoyed watching the series when I was small. I still remember when Hayata wanted to become the Ultraman he will say "Hayata becomes Ultraman!!" before he pushes the magic stick.

I expected to see the Ultraman Museum but there were only "shotengai". We visited a clothing shop along the road and befriended with the owner Ueno-san. He told us about the history of the Ultra Town. Between 1963-2005, Tsuburaya Productions the film company behind the long-running Ultraman franchise has their headquarters in this area before they had their office moved to a new place in Setagaya later in 2007. The office building has been demolished to let developer build an apartment. However, visiting Soshigaya-Okura has been an enjoyable experience for us.    
Ultraman Town - Soshigaya-Okura
Before travelling back to Shinjuku we stopped at a district known as Shimo-Kitazawa. According to Amriz, this place is a centre for stage theatre and live stage performance. With numerous cafes, unique fashion and music outlets, Shimo-Kitazawa is popular among young people and students to hang out. I think so too because I'm not only young at heart but I do look young too...hehehe
In Shijuku, there a place known as Golden Gai famous of its architectural interest and night life. It is composed of six narrow alleys and there are over 200 shanty style bars, clubs and eateries cramped in one area. Bars in Golden Gai also known in particular artistic quality of customers. It is a meeting place for musicians, artists, directors, writers, actors and academicians. We hang out at Araku Bar until 2am. Small cozy place with ramshackle wall liberally plastered with film and concerts photos and posters. The bartender Midori-chan was generous enough to give me a free t-shirt with a message on it which I don't think I can wear it here. The place has a laptop with Internet access connected to the sound system. Midori-chan played some Japanese hits I requested during my student days and we had a brief karaoke session. Definitely, I will pay a visit again to Araku in my next trip to Tokyo.
Araku Bar at Golden Gai, Shinjuku
I always wanted to go to Tsukiji Fish market and this time around I make sure to spare sometimes to visit the biggest wholesale fish and seafood wet market in the world. The place is so huge, I only walked around in one section. Not much different compare to "Pasar Chow Kit" except it is 3-4 times bigger and very clean too.
Tsujiki Fish Market
Before that we had our morning breakfast eating sushi at sushi bar known as Dai Sushi. The place opened as early as 5am but we arrived around 5.30am and had to queue for nearly 2 hours to get our seats. Lucky, there were eight of us and we had great company to kill our time standing in line. The sushi was awesome, I don't want to eat sushi at other places after this. The most expensive sushi is fat tuna sushi cost 700yen equivalent to RM25 per piece. Yup, bloody expensive but the tuna just melt in my mouth.
Sushi Bar at Dai Sushi

If you want to buy souvenirs, there is no other place to visit other than Kaminarimon (Gate of Thunder) in Asakusa. I always fascinated by the row of stalls selling souvenirs, toys, snacks, etc located at both side of the alleys lead to Senso-ji temple. I have been here before 7 years ago but the place didn't change that much.
Kaminarimon at Asakusa

I was lucky to experience snow fall on the last day of February. It is "mezurashii" (rare) to see "yuki" at this time of the year. It was freezing cold and wet, so I changed to my thicker clothings and take a walk outside. 
Snowing in Tokyo

Before I went to Japan I contacted Ebishima Sensei who is working in Tokyo. Ebishima Sensei was my rugby coach in Takamatsu Kosen. We haven't seen each other for 15 years although we keep in touch via email and facebook. I was so surprised to see him face to face, he didn't change a bit! The last time I saw him he was 38 years old about my age now. I wish in the next 15 years I will still look young like today.

Our initial plan was to visit the highest structure in Tokyo.... Sky Tree. But due to heavy snow... we went to eat okonomiyaki instead.
Outing with Ebishima Sensei

Then we went to Ameyoko Ueno for a walk. Ameyoko is a short form for "Ameya Yokocho" (candy store alley) as candies were traditionally sold there. At a Takoyaki stall here, I bumped into Malaysia couple who is working here after graduated from Japanese university. I should have done that long time ago, so I would have been married to a Japanese girl... hmmm... a few things I regret I didn't do it. Errr... maybe not to late to get a Japanese wife...hehehe. But French girl also nice :) 
Ameyoko & Akihabara

The night before I went back to Malaysia, I accompanied Amriz to check out clubs in Roppongi & Shibuya. After Roppongi we took a long walk from Roppongi to Shibuya because the train service was stopped after mid-night. In Shibuya, we went into a Hiphop club, my dress was so out of the place.... hahaha. They must be thinking what the heck these "gaijin" doing here. Nevertheless, we had a great chat with Japanese girls. After the club closed at 4am, we had early breakfast at 24 hours Curry House and then took the first morning underground back to hostel to pack-up before check out at noon, while Amriz extending his stay for a few more days before going back to Germany.
Roppongi & Shibuya
I went early to the airport just want to check out the place. Haneda International Airport completed at the end of 2010 only 14km away from Tokyo Station compare to Narita Airport 100km away in Chiba Prefecture. It is a new airport but it lacks amenities after midnight. Shops closed at 9.30pm. I only have about half an-hour to walk around checkout the shops after check-in. No monorail service after midnight. Taxi can be very expensive. Reminder to those landing after midnight at this airport.
Haneda International Airport

Wonderful people I met in Tokyo
I'm blessed, I met many wonderful people during my journey in Tokyo. Although the weather was cold, I received warm hospitality from everyone, Japanese and non-Japanese throughout the trip.

Tokyo.... I'll be back! :)


June Malik said…
Hmm brings back memories of my stay in Japan!!!
Kam Kasturie said…
KJune... pack your bag & get a ticket to Tokyo now!! Hehehe

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