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Friday 11 April 2008

One Evening at the Ameyoko Arcade

The Ameyoko Arcade is a stretch of street with shops connecting the Ueno Station and Okachimachi Station. The street is lined with small shops and stalls selling things from food to clothing. This arcade is an alternative to the big shopping malls in Tokyo for keen shoppers and sight-seers alike.

There are also cut fish fillet fillets on sale for those who want to make their own sashimi.

The Japanese snacks look so yummy. I saw them selling these in bundles at a bargain near closing time.

All the shopkeepers have very big lungs. They didn't stop shouting out to lure shoppers to their stalls.

There are also side streets with shops selling more up-market goods.

I was really fascinated by this automatic pastry making machine! No hand is involved.

The end results are pastry with even size and also evenly baked.

When is was dinner time, I started to look for a place for a nice meal. The menu of this restaurant attracted my attention. The items are very beautifully presented and the price is reasonable.

This was what I have got after ordering the "Rice with Three Flavours of Hokkaido."

When I was walking back to the Ueno Station, I saw this swift old man making some traditional pastry. He had never misplaced the paste or spilled any drop of it outside the mould.

They were all ready within less than 3 minutes.

And I bought some back to sample the taste. They were actually pastry made from eggs and milk. Quite a good snack item to have in Japan.

Thursday 10 April 2008

Hanami at Ueno Koen

Ueno Koen (Park) is one of the top places to view the splendid sea of cherry blossoms as what I have found on the Internet, so I went to see it for myself on last Sunday. One of the good things about entering this park was that it is free. I had to pay ¥200 as an entrance fee at Shinjuku Gyoen.

There were many local people swarming to the park on a non-working day. There were actually more local people than tourists.

Another good thing about this park is that there were food stalls sprawling all over the park. So, I could buy some food and joined the local people in their flower viewing parties.

The takoyaki (octopus balls) were so yummy that I gobbled up all six of them. This was the last ball left.

The highlight of the Hanami at Ueno Park was to look at the sea of cherry blossoms lining up the boulevard leading towards the National Museum.

There is a zoo in the park for the kids as well. Adults or kids alike would enjoy their weekends here.

I spotted some more stalls along the way to Toshogu, one of the shrines of the olden days. I saw my favourite food there, okonomiyaki!

I couldn't miss it, right? So, I held one in my hand, and it ended up in my stomach.

I explore into Toshogu and there were more cherry blossoms to be admired. There was also traditional comedy show that I stopped to watch.

My Hanami at the Ueno Koen ended with an ice-cream cone of non other than the sakura flavour!

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Takashimaya Vs. Isetan

I have been to these departmental stores in Singapore and Malaysia and I wonder how they look like in their land of origin. In fact they are everywhere in Japan. The stores I happened to visit are all in Shinjuku.

Takashimaya at Times Square is just beside the JR Shinjuku Station, so I headed to this store straight away after coming out from the station.

Well, the layout is just like any departmental store around the world, but the variety of brands they carry can be quite different.

The cosmetic brands are the same as what we see in Malaysia, because we import them from the same origin. However, there are probably more varieties here.

This is the favourite brand of my good friend, so I dedicate this shot to her.

After roaming around and seeing the branded goods, I wanted to see how their stationery is like. I always heard a lot of their colourful and beautiful letter-writing pads and envelopes.

They even have beautiful printings on their letter-writing papers with the matching envelopes! They are just so perfectionist in everything.

Isetan on the other hand is located within walking distance from the JR Shinjuku Station. The building looks like one from the colonial era.

The layout is again nothing more than a typical departmental store.

What interests me was the food section at the basement. Their food section looks like the gift section elsewhere. Can you eat it if you receive it as a gift?

The Japanese have really turned their food into art pieces!

Although cakes are western culinary items, they have refined them further. Every bite of it is a piece of art being consumed!

Is life really like a box of chocolate? I think so, if you give a box to me.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Sakura! Sakura! Sakura!

I just can't have enough of the cherry blossom appreciation, so here are some close-up shots of the differnent types of sakura for your viewing pleasure.

Monday 7 April 2008

Hanami at Shinjuku Gyoen

Hanami in Japanese means flower appreciation. Thousands of Japanese flock to the parks to have parties under the cherry blossom trees. It is really a nice thing to do in a sunny day of spring time.

I went to the Shinjuku Park on last Saturday to see how the Japanese people carry out their Hanami.

There were in fact thousands of people at the park, if not more! All of them were there with loads of food and drinks. Some were families and most were groups of friends having their parties there.

All the cherry blossom trees were blooming when I was there. There were many types of them. They formed a sea of colours which was a really nice scene to appreciate.

There was even a tree with cherry blossoms of multiple colours. There were reds, pinks, and pinks with red stripes.

There is a pond inside the park surrounded by the cherry blossom trees, making the cherry blossom appreciation even more enjoyable.

The reflection of the trees on the pond made the scenery even more tranquil.

In no time, it was already near to closing time of the park.

It is the season of love, and the best thing to do for lovers is Hanami.

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