Japan (day 7) – Tokyo
Friday, 24 October 2014
In the morning, we had breakfast at Starbucks near the hotel as we were given vouchers as part of our stay.
Today we had a half-day tour in the morning. The plan is to attend a tea ceremony tour at Koomon Tea School (website). I booked the tour online from japanican.com for ¥12,000 (US100 or RM350) for 2 people.
The tour was organised by Sunrise Tours. We met the tourguide at the Sunrise Tours gathering point at Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal at 9AM. From there, the tour participants were taken to Koomon Tea School in a bus.
The ceremony was performed in a specialised tea room with a row of chairs for viewing. Tracing its roots in Japan as early as the 9th century, the Japanese tea ceremony is rich in intricate detail and tradition. It is still actively practiced in every day life in Japan, with people taking up classes or joining clubs to master the ancient art of tea ceremony.
After the ceremony was performed, we got the chance to try it out, and took photos with our host.
The tea school is located in the middle of the Nihonbashi district. It is well known to be Tokyo’s business district, along with housing major department stores. We spotted Takashimaya’s flagstore near the tea school. After the tea ceremony, we walked to the department store. It was just 1 block away. Looking at the nice interior, it has a similar feel to Harrods. It was interesting to browse the fine collection of kimonos they have on display. Some were very expensive, ranging in hundreds of thousands of Yen! (~thousands of USD).
We had lunch at Pronto, a nearby Italian restaurant. After lunch, we walked back towards Tokyo Station and took the train back to Hamamatsucho Station. Aliaa was feeling tired so I accompanied her back to the hotel.
Later I went out by myself and took the train to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The museum is located in the Ryogoku district. The entrance fee was ¥600.
The museum’s main exhibition are the life and times of people living in Edo (the pre-Meiji era nama of Tokyo).
I was amazed to read the history of “graphic novels” in Edo period. As early as mid 18th century, the Edo citizens have developed fiction novels with graphics in it.
From the museum, I decided to stop at Akihabara on the way back. Akihabara, the famous anime and electronics district, lived up to its reputation. The buildings are covered with exciting advertisements. I went to a few anime shops and browsed through a number of electronic stores. The abundance of products are simply amazing. I have never even heard of some of the anime and electronic products! If I were to come here around 10 years ago, at the height of my anime interest, I could have gone crazy! Haha!
In the evening, we went to Shibuya. The district is known for its shopping and nightlife. The immediate attraction for people arriving through the train station is Hachiko‘s statue.
Hachiko the dog (1923 – 1935) is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner. Not knowing the owner had died, Hachiko waited for him at the Shibuya train station every day for 9 years!
From the station, we crossed the famous Shibuya crossing and explored the area. After that, we went to the Starbucks overlooking the crossing and managed to get seats with a brilliant view of the area. From there, we observed the crowd. It’s a Friday night so the crowd was quite lively. A lot of people in suits were having after work dinner/drinks, teenagers in anime costumes, tourists taking photos of almost everything .. it’s quite a good spot to people watch. Be sure to get the seat at the upper floor at Starbucks at the Shibuya crossing!