Our schedule for the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum press junket in Tokyo was jampacked but hah! We’re koboys & creative enough to squeeze in some time for fun under the Tokyo sky and enjoy casual strolls in the Land of the Rising Sun. After all, it was my first time in the city.
This entry, regardless of the chronological order of when the moments transpired, would be dedicated to tourist spots I’ve managed to visit quicker than you could say “Sayonara!” Even if time was extremely limited, my heart was definitely full. 🙂
Since Hitachi is one of the partners in the creation of Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa, the staff generously took us there for a tour.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have met Atsushi Konno, Hitachi’s General Manager for Corporate Communications Group in Asia, before when the Hitachi Young Leaders’ Initiative (HYLI) was held in Manila so taking a pic with him was a breeze. 😀 Konno-san led the group to Tokyo Skytree.
The ultra-fast Hitachi elevators would take passengers and guests to the topmost observation deck at Tokyo Skytree which would enable one to appreciate the Tokyo skyline even better.
Ah…the breathtaking Tokyo skyline. It was absolutely stunning. My simplest and most elementary thought was: Oh wow! Tokyo’s huge! 😀
Capped off the evening with some difficulties in picture-taking. Haha. 😀
Our work ended late and the other journalists opted to meet up with their Japanese friends and/or stay at the hotel but I forced myself to stay up and venture out because it’s not every day that I get the chance to explore Tokyo. I wasn’t afraid to go solo because who could ever say “no” to an adventure? Plus, I have zero fear of complex subway maps. 😛 I think.
From Tokyo Station, I played it safe and took the Yamanote Loop Line going Shibuya. Of course, the very first thing you do when you get off the Shibuya station? SEARCH FOR HACHIKO!
The Japanese people I’ve met would almost always express surprise that foreigners know Hachiko. Surprised and pleased would be the facial expressions you’ll see. I had to explain to Mori, a Japanese I’ve met during the press tour, that there was a Hollywood version of Hachiko starring Richard Gere that’s why people knew of that heartwarming story. Heehee.
And then there’s the famous Shibuya crossing. I had to stop and look around. It all still felt very surreal. It’s a shopping district so better load up, prepare to part ways with your yen or dollars, or exercise self-control. 😀
Tita Bernie of Manila Bulletin introduced me to GU, a sister company of Uniqlo, and I liked the brand instantly! I said proper goodbyes to my moolah naman. Also bought a book about Taylor Swift that I may never understand in my lifetime unless I religiously study Nihongo. Haha.
Truly amazed that riding a bike is part of the Japanese lifestyle. There’s even parking space allocated for bikes.
I got childlike-happy that there’s The Disney Store and my favorite Tower Records in the area. I remember spending so much time at Tower Records Glorietta to listen to albums and scan books. 🙂 So much fun to just window-shop! 😀
The Halloween season is also a huge deal for them especially since it’s a costume-loving district like Harajuku. 😉
I also made it a tradition to take Purikura whenever I’m in Japan so I didn’t waste time when I spotted a SEGA in the area and took all those crazy pics even when I was just by myself. 😛 It’s just so fun to see an anime version of you in photos! 😀
I was so glad I braved going out alone that night. I felt incredibly safe anyway. I just knew that God’s hand was all over this trip. Proof? I was walking in that street between the Onitsuka shop and The Disney Store when I encountered musicians singing and playing my favorite song—Hillsong’s “Touch The Sky.” Japan isn’t a Christian country so it’s a magical moment for me when I heard the familiar tune sung in Japanese. So I admiringly took videos. 🙂
Goosebumps but it made me smile. 🙂 I knew it was God’s love song for me.
TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
Deciding to go to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo isn’t just some random decision you make, it’s a commitment. Tita Bernie had to wake me up at 5am so we could check out the fish auction. Unfortunately, you have to be there as early as 3am so you can be one of the lucky few who could view the auction. Anyhoo, we were there at 5.30am and we were shocked to learn that if you aren’t careful, you could get run over by a fish delivery cart. 😛 They were all over and everywhere coming from different directions! Heehee. But if you’re a seafood and sushi lover, Tsukiji Fish Market is pure heaven! 🙂
Afterwards, we decided to follow the road signage pointing to Ginza and just walked. Ginza is a popular upscale shopping district in Tokyo.
Whaddyaknow? You can actually walk from Tsukiji to Ginza! At least, hindi puro ilalim ng Tokyo ang makikita mo. 😛
First sign that you’re in Ginza: when you see this Kabuki theater. 🙂
Finally! 🙂 The biggest clue that you’re in the area–the Seiko clock tower or the Wako store. 😀
It was very early morning and the shops were still closed but, thankfully, Tita Bernie–a veteran of many Japan trips–took me to the 24-hour Don.K! store in Ginza for some omiyage/pasalubong shopping. 🙂
So again, the answer to your Japan shopping needs on a budget is none other than Don Quijote/Don.K! ;D
That’s all the touristy things I’ve done during the press tour. I took it as an ocular inspection of my 8-day holiday trip. ;D In the meantime, I will write about what little experience I’ve had during our trips to Chiba and Ibaraki Prefecture next so that you’ll have an idea of what it’s like outside of Tokyo. 🙂