Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Sunday, November 1, 2009

JAPAN!! part2

hellos i'm back again to carry on where i stopped 2 entries ago! :))))

more pictures! i'm skipping alot of what went on because alot of the first few days there were mostly just rehearsals and more rehearsals. so there's gonna lots of huge gaping holes here and there, pardon me! am only putting up selected pictures of the 700 over pictures i took there. and alot of them were really random.

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day 2


the beautiful colors of the greenery around the grounds. it's really lovely!

and convenience stores in japan are really awesome. this is just a small one within hostel grounds, but those along the streets practically sell everything from ready-to-eat food to skincare to hot drinks to onigiri to cupnoodles!


the adorable penguin is the Suica mascot, Suica which is like our EZ-link card, you can use it to pay at convenience stores too!

 
aisle chock full of japanese snacks! and our favourite hot pomelo tea drink, they put these hot drinks inside warm little cabinets and they feel and taste absolutely heavenly in the cold cold weather!


check out the variety of kit kat omg! i absolutely love the green tea kit kat! miss miss. they also have lots of seasonal flavours like cherry blossom and what not! awesome ttm!

so breakfast/lunch that day was at the communal canteen on the grounds, then we headed outside again for our 3-choir joint rehearsal! heh. like a school excursion, how fun!

 
the brilliant blue skies as a backdrop to the barren winter foliage is really stunning.

 
and there are still women garbed in traditional kimono and slippers with tabi socks even in the cold winter!
but majority of the young women are still dressed up trendily in chic winter wear. most women are always immaculately made up from their hair to their faces to their attire! truly an eye-opener.

 
again, i simply love the messy electrical wires that overhangs most of the city! so quintessentially japan :)
and this is how jam-packed the train can get!

did you know that the japanese consider it impolite to speak on the mobile while on the train? but if you were to have a conversation with your friend sitting next to you on the train it's okay. they're old fashioned like that! and also it's a common sight to see ladies touching up their make up on the train, in fact, they are like uber skilled at it lol.




we reached our destination :)


a grp shot of the happy campers in rehearsal!

and after our rehearsal, we were given time to go for a short exploration trip again before having to head back to hostel for dinner.
so two of our new japanese friends brought us around! we went back to shinjuku!

  

have you ever seen food window displays in japan? they are crazily drool worthy.



look at the selection of cakes and how beautifully presented they all are! i wouldnt bear to eat it even if i bought it!

oh and randomly, this was my japanese cellphone

in japan they dont use sim-cards, so the only two alternatives of communication for foreigners like us is either have a 3g sim-card with roaming function, or rent out a phone from the airport at a daily rate, with additional charges for smses and stuff. so this is the phone i rented out from the airport and for my 6-days long stay, i paid about 105 SGD for the phone rental +charges which was surprisingly cheap, i was expecting it to be way more expensive!


and my supper, onirigi/ japanese rice balls bought from the convenience store :)

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day 3 - the day of the performance!

we headed down to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space where the concert would be held that night, and spend the entire day in preparation for concert night!

 
posters of the concert! and this really cool whiteboard backstage of the concert hall with stickers and tags from different orchestras/bands/choirs/performing groups from all over the world who's been there before.


our room backstage


japan is really big on going green.
in most places there are separate bins for stuff like "plastics" "metals" "paper" "burnables" "unburnables",
in our room we had these two bins and one says "burnable", while the other one says "un-burnable" but the UN is so tiny and added on in red ink that they both look like they're the same thing, how confusing!




warming up in the space outside the concert hall. looks really posh doesnt it?


our bento dinners!

then for soundcheck on stage, the concert hall is simple magnificent!

 


Ko-san, conductor of Gaia choir. he's totally cool and can speak very funny (as in humorous) english




how huuuge the place is. i have no idea how many it seats, but definitely ALOT.

uhhh. at this point of time my camera batteries died so these pictures are from facebook! we had an awesomeeee concert followed by a badass afterparty!


see my big shiny forehead.





the after party!



i was being good and having orange juice, not alcohol. pardon the thick stage makeup!


and lots of nom nom foooood...



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and with the concert over and out of the way, the real sight-seeing and exploration began!

day4 - to asakusa and akihabara!

 
random pictures on hostel grounds, everything just looks so quaint, even the shelters!

 
off to the train station again to commute to Asakusa! lift photo with my travel companions! and a random doorway we passed by on the way to train station.

 
enroute!



 
see this cool guy, the one behind in the green hoodie and funky hair, i think only the japanese can pull it off.. i was secretly taking a picture of him by pretending to take a picture of my friend teehee...




and we reached Asakusa, perfect sunny and mildly cold weather! :3


for those unfamiliar with Japan, Asakusa is a district famous for sight-seeing as it's home to the Senso-ji temple, and it's also the oldest geisha district in Tokyo.


the streets are bustling with lots of activity, you'll find both Japanese locals and tourists there.

 
i love how colorful the whole place is! so picturesque!

stalls are hawking all kinds of merchandise from traditional japanese foods, rice crackers, daifuku (mochi), to clothings, touristy keepsakes, japanese fans, teas, etc etc etc!



 


shopping for fans? :) seeing these old ladies in traditional kimono really amazes me. Japan has a culture that is so uniquely theirs, while the younger generations are so outrageously fashioned, the older generations keep to their well-perserved traditions.


teehee this is toooo cute. a shop selling dog accessories! they even had doggie kimonos but they were blardy expensive ):

 
and i got pink rabbit ears for my dog. it doesnt stay on though ): think her head too small..


some kind of biscuits or other food i think!


selling all kinds of adorable soft toys/keychains! the vintage mickey is damn cutee.

 
cycling seems to be a popular mode of transport in the quieter districts of Tokyo.

 
nearing to the temple! :) you can see it down the street in the background.


and here we are! pardon the squinty eyes. sun very bright! and it was like really warm that day (for Tokyo winter standards) like maybe 15 degrees celsius? i was just wearing a cardi layered over a tshirt! such pleasant weather...

 
ya know the famous japanese fortune telling thing? the one where you shake shake shake a stick out of the box then if it's a bad fortune you tie it to the post if not you keep it!

well i got a bad one ):

good lot, medium lot, bad lot );

 
and this fountain with blessed water thingy which you have to follow some procedure to scoop water with your right hand, drink it with your left hand, pour rest of water away with right hand again etc etc...

aand the CUTEST sight ever!!!





AWWWW.


lunch time! we just HAD to go to a place with a moving conveyor belt!


 

and seriously? what they say about japan is sooo true. any road side sushi place can win our most expensive japanese restaurant hands down! T-T the seaweed is always crispy fresh and the servings are massive!




look at the SLAB of tamago. makes our sg one look pathetic...





and you know how the conveyor belts in our japanese restaurants are so empty and sparse?

the conveyor belt there was soooo packed it got jammed at the bend. LOL. see how the plates are almost on top of one another already?


:)))))))) happy and full!

 
more random pictures along the streets.


next stop: Akihabara, home to electronics, cos-cafes and otakus!


 
whoo shop that sells kinky costumes for cosplay and other purposes.


the shop name says it all... and check out the droolsome posters on the walls!


some very randomly disgusting man-dressed-up-as-woman video that was playing on one of the TVs on display along the street... and they're ALL the same guy. wtf.

we went into a cos-cafe just to see how it's like! supposedly it's every Japanese man's dream, to get served by a cute girl in adorable waitress uniform. you can even "pay" them to do certain things for you... >_> though it's like very stupid things probably, like to help you straighten your tie.. or serve you tea.... -_- they dont allow photography inside though!

 
they do have girls on the streets trying to get business for their cafes though! managed to snap a couple bad shots


i noticed the japanese really love flip phones/clamshell phones. find one that isnt?


inside one of the mega electronics store which is about probably as big as our entire shopping mall and it's freaking crazy i tell you. huuuuugeeeee.


ultra adorable sushi thumbdrives! they almost look edible... :D~~ but sooo expensive :(

 
hehe random pictures of us on the TV that's hooked up to a vid camera system. and it was getting dark already so we started to look for dinner!


shop selling old game catridges, remember your sega saturn and micro genius?


lol i had to go to the loo and went into one of the store's toilets, there's a whole control panel there for you to do all kinds of funky things to your butt...

anyways, we eventually went to a okonomiyaki restaurant for dinner!

cheers!

ok randomly you know Japan has this fizzy milky soda drink called Calpis and it's like the best invention on earth and you can ask for it hot or cold i think. like awesummmm.

 
and we all took turns DIY-ing our okonomiyaki! they actually have instructions for you to follow but it's not easy to cook a successful one! ):




ooh i took a picture of this pretty japanese girl across the restaurant.. i swear almost all the girls there are soooo pretty. wtf.


group shot!

we decided to pick up the tab for dinner, for our japanese friends, but here's another tip for you peeps, never never pick up your japanese friend's tab unless you're super good friends because it is apparently impolite to do so!!! i guess it has connotations of implying that they cannot afford the bill? and the japanese are such a polite people that such discourtesy is absolutely unheard of. unfortunately our nice japanese friends understood our intentions and guess what, they returned us the favor by surprising us with little gifts! how sweet is that.





and that marks the end of the 4th day!

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5th day!

this must be the craziest thing we did in japan thus far. ever heard of Tsukiji fish market? it's the BIGGEST wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, and the coolest part of the market is the tuna fish auctions they hold every morning at like the ungodly hour of 5am!

we decided we wanted to go look at the tuna fish auctions, and because Tsujiki is sooo far from where we were, we woke up at like 3am to start preparing for our great excursion! oh my gawd. then we trekked for like half an hour to forty five minutes to the most convenient train line that'd allow us to get to Tsukiji, and then from there another half an hour or so to look for the market! and they said it was near the train line....

you will not believe how COLD it is at 4am in the morning. my ears were freezing off and i didnt realise but the bottom of my boot heels got worn off and i had a very very uncomfortable and painful time doing all that walking.


the streets are deadly quiet at 4am, there's hardly anyone on them!


haha ghostly shot. i was wrapping my scarf around my head to try to protect my ears. dont want them to get frost bite and fall off!


and we were all by ourselves, 6 singaporeans trying to find our way in huge Tokyo at 4am! -.-

imagine our joy when we found the train station with the train that'd take us there heehee.



sleepy faces on the train!

and finally, after another half an hour of walking hopefully in the right direction, we caught sight of the market!!!!!



*celebrates* too bad the shot was shaky ):



 

but guess what, we made it all the way to the markets, and the tuna auctions ended already!!! ):


the tuna fish were absolutely HUMONGOUS!!!!

so never mind, at least we got to see the fish, and then we decided to explore around the market and look for our breakfast! the sashimi there is reputed to be the freshest freshest sashimi you can find in Tokyo!


they have giant everythings for sale. those are mussels??


japanese snow crabs!!!

 
ughh gross stingrays or something!

 
eels maybe, and crazy giant octopus legs??


stuff that's already skewered. the unagi looks cooked already! dunno about the rest though.

 
more of the giant tuna and there are a few stores there selling a variety of tools and knives, cool huh?

breakfast time!
 
this is exactly how big the little restaurant was. P-U-N-Y. they didnt allow photography either so i only managed to get a few quick shots!




hungry? :)))

so after all the early morning excitment, we had to go back to the hostel and book out, because we were shifting our accomodation for the last night to a tiny little hotel in Ueno!

 
vagabonds with our suitcases and luggage.

 
welcome to Ueno! and we found our very suspiciously dodgy looking hotel down a nearby street...


can you see the two chalk boards on the glass door, one with a little singaporean flag? hehe soooo cute.


it's really small, like a shophouse with 3 or 4 levels, the deco looks ancient but it was the cheapest reliable hotel we could find!

 
the ancient innards of the little hotel. the vending machine is fantastically old, it kind of works like a locker system, insert coin and the door can be opened to retrieve a pack of peanuts and a drink! i didnt dare though, it looked like the peanuts had been there for about 10 years...

after checking in and putting our luggage, it was afternoon already so we just took the train down to Harajuku for a stroll :)



Harajuku is where all the fashionable youngsters hang out, and you see girls in fishnet stockings in the middle of winter! i salute them.

 

the giant shoe boutique has two levels, and it's all filled with SHOES SHOES SHOES!


at Harajuku there's also a 4 level DAISO which takes up an entire building and makes singapore's DAISO look like a joke -_- no pictures though, i wasn't taking much pictures at this point of time already!

so soon it got dark and we went back to Ueno for dinner. had to pack up as well because we were leaving the very next day already ):


this girl looked really good in her bleached hair and outfit!


Ueno at night.


my okayo don, which tasted better than anything i've had in the japanese restaurants here!

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and the very last day, when we had to depart for Narita Airport already! :( said our last goodbyes to our little hotel room in which 4 of us squeezed together on the tatamis.


the very old ticketing machine. ticket to Narita Airport please.


everyone's exhausted on the train there! lugging around luggage by yourself is no joke. it's really different from travelling with a tour group where they have buses that bring you everywhere and nice hotel bellboys to haul your luggage around for you!


i really just wanted to take a picture of the pretty girl on the left.

and back to Singapore we go!






that's all folks!!! phew. it took me a really long time to do this entry but it was tons of fun and i really miss japan now ): hoping to go back someday soon!

hope you peeps enjoyed it and it wasnt too much of a bore, i'm so sorry for the million and one pictures that probably took ages to load!!


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