Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 19

Farewell Japan

Our holiday has sadly come to a close and today is the last day.

As yesterday and today were planned as ‘free’ days, it was the last chance to see anything before we left. Anthony and Amy were at Disneyland, the other group had plans so that left Rob, Chris, Sarma and I so we went to Doutor Coffee for breakfast and discussed what to do. Rob and I had basically ticked off the main things we wanted to do, Chris wanted to see the sword museum and spend some time in Akihabara and Sarma wanted to go back to Asakusa market for some last minute shopping so we had our plan.

First stop was the sword museum. We walked to Shinjuku station and took the Shinjuku line to Hatsudai Station. This station is in a large complex called Tokyo Opera City and had some shops, offices and a theatre. The buildings were pretty nice, there was a small amphitheater with some robotic looking statues that looked like they were singing opera. The place was surrounded by tall buildings and there was a large water feature that looked like a large, modern-looking pool that was very shallow but it covered quite a large space.

The sword museum was about a 5-10 minute walk from the station, but the path there looked like we had stepped out of the city and into the suburbs as we walked down some backstreets. I’ve actually been to this museum before back in 2010 and nothing much had changed - obviously as it is meant to preserve traditional swords! Entry is only 600 yen and the lady at the counter gives you some information booklets that explains the history and sword making process, thankfully they had English versions for us. These booklets seemed different to last time but were still quite good to read before/during looking at the swords in the showroom. Also as last time, no photos are allowed.

We spent some time appreciating the swords and how much effort goes into making them. On the way out we had a brief chat with the assistant and found out that it takes about a month to create a sword and a swordsmith could generally produce 24 swords in a year. It was pretty interesting!

From here we headed back toward the station, on the way back we got a view of what I think of when I imagine Tokyo - three layers of bridges over our head!

We got back to Opera City and got some food at a French Bakery. We got the protocol a little wrong when we used the provided trays to get food, but then when we were asked if we want to sit in, they took our food and directed us to a table. We weren’t sure if we were getting that food back, but they eventually came back with our food on nicer plates with cutlery, etc. All very fancy!

We boarded a train and headed back to Asakusa market. I tried looking for my little ninja keyring again with no success and Sarma got his last minute gifts. Last time we were here we went up and down the main strip with a quick tour of the temples, so this time we decided to go down one of the side streets. If you do come here, its worth knowing that there is so many stalls and shops here its hard to see them all! The main strip will take some time at a decent pace, but then the side streets lead to massive shopping strips too! Including places like this that mostly sold watches and others for bags, jewelry, etc. We even randomly got a photo with a cat mascot giving away tissue samples! (So random)

After some walking around the highlight of this side street though was a great little sushi train restaurant! When we got in, the waiter asked us to place our order with the chef who was standing in the middle of the tables with the train going around him. There weren’t a lot of people there so there were only a couple of dishes on the train, but we placed our orders with the chef and he quickly whipped up whatever we asked for. The food was amazing and before long the restaurant was buzzing with people. The favourite was a dish that Chris ordered first that had the English translation of “Fattiest part of Salmon” or something like that - it was delicious!

We headed over to Akihabara to spend the rest of the day there. We were pretty sure Chris was going to take us to another maid cafe, but surprisingly we didn’t end up there. We did end up finding a cable that Rob wanted - we thought he would only get this from eBay but this place has everything!

Because this was our last night, we were discussing with the others what to do for dinner and after some more walking around and looking at all the weird and random shops we ended back to our hotel to meet with the others. Failing to get all 12 of us into the Teppanyaki restaurant near the hotel we went to the Yoshinoya down the road. Yoshinoya is a fast food chain in Japan, the food isn’t bad and its cheap, but most importantly they could fit our big group without a booking!

Once we had finished dinner (and after one last quick stop at FamilyMart), we all went back to the hotel to pack and get some sleep before a big day of travel the next day. Just before dinner Drew and Amy organised a bus to take us from Shinjuku station to the airport so after we check out everything would be ready for us to go.

It’s been an awesome trip and I can’t believe three weeks has already gone past! We got to do such a range of things and even though this was my third trip to Japan, I still got some new experiences out of it and I got to spend it with a great group of people full of laughs along the way!