Japan Day 8 – Chuo/Ginza

Today’s photo set

My last day in Japan…

Today was pretty light on the plans.  Well, honestly, I had more I could have done, but again, my trip is kind of winding down, as is my physical stamina, and I wasn’t really too interested in seeing random parks and stores that I may not have been interested in.

I was sort of interested in having some sushi (I actually never got a chance to eat any sushi here!  Whoops!) near Tsukiji fish market, but unfortunately that plan didn’t quite work out.  Instead, last night I had learned that there was a good place near Asakusa to get wooden hair combs, and I had been looking for one, so I decided to go there first.  The sushi restaurants closed at around 1:30PM, and I had also heard that the fish market was closed this Wednesday, so I just said “oh well” to that…well, I’ll be having some sushi in Hong Kong, anyways.  I know, I know, not the same, but…

Anyways, I still hadn’t really eaten at a ramen place either (yes, yes, I know.  So many foods to try, so little time…plus, again, traveling with my mother is restricting, and more than that, it’s hard to know what places are good when you’re not a local), so I decided to go to this restaurant across the street from the hotel that I had found yesterday (all this time and I hadn’t known there was easy food right there across the street if you just go down a level!  Sigh!).

This was a vending machine-using place and I couldn’t read all the kanji so I actually wasn’t 100% sure what I got (also, my japanese dictionary app got nuked from my iPod when my laptop–which has a terribly outdated version of my iTunes/app/music stuff–accidentally tried to “update” my iPod via a sync…I tried redownloading the app but apparently the author pulled it from the app store temporarily and yaddayadda, bleh.)…I think this is actually shoyu ramen, though I could be wrong.  It was pretty good, but to be honest, I thought that it was comparable to the ramen I’ve had in Mountain View.  Which is good, because now I won’t come back to Ryowa and Maru Ichi and complain about how the quality is so much better in Japan.  Well, maybe I’m just not going to the right places (I’m sure there’s better ramen in Japan if you look)…

Anyways, we took the train over to Asakusa (involved a transfer that was semi-tricky to navigate, but again, the Japanese subway stations are all super-well marked and there’s signs everywhere to direct you, so you can usually figure it out without too much trouble) and I set out to look for Yonoya, the hair comb place I had looked up the night before.

And I found it!  …unfortunately, the door was closed and there was some sign saying something about how they were closed every week on Wednesday.  Arghh!! Despair set in…how was I going to get a good wooden comb now?

Fortunately, I managed to stumble across some pretty nice ones in a random shop in the market near the temple, so everything turned out okay in the end and I managed to get one for like 3300yen or something.  (Will post the picture when I get back home and go through all my loot)  Yes…pretty darn pricey, but taking care of pretty hair is something that’s very important to me, so I may as well get something high quality, right?  I’ll have to look up how to take care of it too…you can’t wash wooden combs with water since they’ll get damaged.  The design wasn’t quite as nice as I would have liked–i might have liked something with a smoother finish–but anything nicer probably would have been too pricey.  They had some bone combs on sale too, which were quite expensive.  I can only imagine what kinds of combs they have inside Yonoya…

 

After that we headed over to Ginza.  I didn’t want to dilly-dally too long at Asakusa since we had already been there once, and we had a time restriction on us because I was supposed to meet A back at Shinjuku at 6:30PM (and I needed time to find the meeting spot too), and had no easy way of contacting her if I was running late.

 

Our first stop was Itoya, a stationery/crafts store with 8 floors.  It was a pretty nice place, I guess? (my mom said something about how it was much nicer than the stores in Akihabara…well, d’uh?)  I didn’t end up finding that much here, though I did buy some envelopes (wanted to stock up…I have lots of stationery notepads with no envelopes to go with them, and decorative/pretty envelopes are hard to come by in the states, outside of letter sets), and also a Little Twin Stars card that I think I’ll just use as a room decoration on a table somewhere ^^;

 

Next was Nishi Ginza department store, which actually houses 2 different Sanrio stores!  On the first floor is Questina, a Sanrio store that has loads of super-expensive sparkly diamond-like items, and flower arrangements, and even a place where you can get your nails done.  Some of the stuff there was pretty ridiculous…

 

Next we went up to the 2nd floor to see Sanrio World Ginza, the flagship Sanrio Store.  I’ve heard it dubbed as the largest Sanrio store, but I’m pretty sure Festival Plaza at Puroland is bigger.  They’re definitely comparable, but Sanrio World is a little more open and spacious, whereas Puroland feels more full of stuff.  Though the selection overlaps a lot, overall I liked Festival Plaza better…there were a lot of special things there.  Plus, Puroland is a lot more crowded and everyone is just saying “ah, Kawaiii!~” over and over and over again, which is sort of amusing.  Plus, you know, the staff at Puroland are just amazing.  The staff at the other Sanrio stores are cool too, and even at those they have their own Hello Kitty clothing that they use, but at Puroland it’s just even more magical and the staff outfits are cuter and everything.

 

Still, Sanrio World at Ginza had some really nice decorations, like this main logo sculpture, which looks super-nice.

 

I didn’t actually end up buying anything, though I did run into another huge Cinnamoroll plushie, teehee.  Yes, that is the price tag on him…he is quite expensive, though not as much as Shia was when I bought him.  Both of them are so worth it though.  It’s really not every day that you come across big plushies that are really good and cuddly and just the right size and everything.

I considered buying some more greeting cards, and also a little twin stars letter set that I’m pretty sure I already bought two of…partly because I was thinking of filling up the bonus stamp card that I had (had like 10 squares to go, and I think each square was like 200yen or something), but I didn’t think it was worth it…I asked one of the cashiers about the card and they said that when you fill it up, you get to draw a prize ticket (I had seen the prize ticket drawing machines, and had suspected that was the case).  I didn’t remember seeing any prizes that I thought were particularly tantalizing (otherwise I probably would have thought to just buy them regularly), and I wanted to keep the card as a souvenir (just like I still have one of the old Sanrio bonus cards, back from when they still had bonus-point-exclusive items…it’s not good for anything anymore, but I wanted to keep it anyways, instead of exchanging it for a new one, because I like the old design). So, I actually left Sanrio World Ginza without buying a single thing, which to me is kind of ridiculous, and shows you just how many Sanrio stores I’ve visited over the past week (today was 2, yesterday I think I hit 4, and in Puroland there’s like 3, for starters…I basically hit every single one I knew of in Tokyo).

And that was it!  I had other things that I could have done, but I decided that that would be the very last thing on my agenda before heading back to the station and meeting up with A and A for dinner.  To be honest, I felt sad…a little sad at not buying anything, but also just sad that I would be leaving, and that this was the last store on my pilgrimage.  I kind of wanted to say a thank you, or express gratitude somehow, but there wasn’t really anyone to do that to.  I considered explaining to one of the staff members how I was a huge Sanrio fan, and how I had come from America and visited every single Sanrio store in Tokyo and how Puroland was so amazing and how I almost cried on the boat ride, and how I was sorry that I didn’t buy anything from Sanrio World Ginza because I had basically already seen everything at Festival Plaza and all the other stores I had been to, but I really loved everything about Sanrio, and it made me so happy, and was so magical how everything was just designed for this pure, sweet, warm happiness.

…but I decided that that would just be kind of awkward and there was no real reason to tell a random staff member that.  I would just have to express my gratitude on my blog, or by spreading the word (gospel?) of Sanrio to all of my friends, or maybe even some sort of fan mail or something.  So I went down the escalator, and as the store slowly faded away from my view, I mouthed a silent “sayonara…”.

 

We still had some time to kill before we needed to start heading back, and it had been pretty hot out, so we stopped by Starbucks for some cool drinks and a snack.  I had a vanilla frappucchino…I actually never have fraps at Starbucks–I usually get lattes, or sometimes mochas, but never a frap.  Which reminds me, I still have to try a “misto” sometime.  Anyways, the frap was okay, but I don’t know if I’d get it again.  To be honest I think I would have rather had something closer to an orange juice, or a smoothie, or a jamba juice at the time, haha.  Ah well, it was fine anyways.

 

Still had some more time to kill, so we stopped by this place right by Ginza station where a whole bunch of vendors were selling desserts and sweets and such of various kinds (there’s something similar near the Shinjuku station too).  I wasn’t really interested in anything, but my mother wanted to buy some stuff to bring back for gifts.

 

Anyways, after that, we made it back to Shinjuku and after some hurried rushing around and asking for directions, I met A and her friend in front of Krispy Kreme!  Was great to see a friendly face again–it’s been way too long since I’ve seen anybody (besides R).  After a little bit of waiting and chatting and catching up, A (different A) met up with us and the 5 of us headed to this Korean place for dinner.

Was pretty tasty!  We all ended up getting bibimbap…haha, yay.

 

After a yummy dinner filled with fun conversations, it was time to say goodbye…we all headed back to the station and went our separate ways.  I stopped by the Toei station on the way to return our Passmo cards, since apparently you can’t return those at the JR station.  Apparently, if you spend all of the money up, you can get the full 500yen deposit back (instead of only 300yen), which I didn’t know.  It didn’t really matter though–I’m leaving tomorrow morning, so there’s no way we’re going to use the remaining ~290yen on each of our cards for anything useful.

After getting back to our hotel, we shuffled around stuff in our luggage…when flying between non-american countries, Cathay has a limit of 20kg for checked baggage, and we’re basically almost at that limit…but, I think we’ll be okay.

So yeah!  I gotta wake up in what, like 5 hours, in order to pack everything and get my bearings and check out and then head to the airport, where I’ll be flying on over to Hong Kong, where I’ll be for another 5 days or so.  I’m not quite as excited about HK, to be honest, since that’s mainly for my mother, but I’ll be okay–take the chance to just relax and such.  Maybe continue working on that LSDJ song I’ve been working on during my downtime.

Will I keep blogging and posting photos?  Hmm…I’ll probably still be taking pictures, but probably won’t blog out my days anymore, as I feel like the main part of my trip is over.  I still want to make a post about my overall impressions and feelings and everything, but that’ll come later (which reminds me, I =still= haven’t done my Spring quarter in review post….-_-).  I will also have to post pictures of all my loot, after I get back to the states and can spread it all out and organize it all. ;P

It’s been fun…the trip was a success!  I can’t wait to get back and finally see all of you guys again…

=====

Edit:

Forgot to mention…I’ve always been really gracious and courteous to shopkeepers and everyone, and bow to them, almost out of instinct (I feel like I do the same in the states anyways), but today when one of them was being attentive to us and helping us as we were buying sweets, I actually thanked them in words for helping us, and they responded by acting =super= gracious and humbled and started bowing profusely, which…was actually not quite that surprising to me.  Yeah, they’re not used to that, since they’re supposed to be the gracious ones for your service, so if you thank them, then they have to do even more…

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