Before my Japan trip, I was informed by Farhan-san that the Tōdai shokudō serves halal ramen. I purposely skipped breakfast at the hotel in anticipation for this but on the way, I took a quick detour for some coffee.

You’d be excused to think that one would be drinking more ocha than anything else here, but apparently there is a burgeoning coffee culture in this city. I have read about Omotesandō Koffee online, although for the life of me I couldn’t really remember where – possibly Flipboard. Regardless, thanks to Google Earth, this small coffee place was easy to find despite it being tucked in the quiet backroads of trendy Omotesandō[1]. If you want a flat white, it is actually the ‘cappuccino’ in the menu. After downing one along with two of the kashi (custard squares), I headed off towards Tōdaimae on the Tokyo Metro and met up with Farhan-san at the main campus gate.

I first heard of this great university[1] from a 2005 J-dorama (of all places) called Dragonzakura. Unfortunately, the Yasuda Auditorium which is pretty much the main landmark at this Hongō campus had some parts of it being renovated. The campus shokudō was busy but as it was the semester break, the absence of undergraduate students meant there were seats available. Thankfully, the kitchen staff was more than happy to not put the ever dreaded taugeh in my ramen which otherwise had a sizable piece of chicken filet. I was made aware of the salt content in the broth but I’ve got bottled water in my Crumpler which should sort any hypernatremic state out.

We parted ways and it was a pleasant 8 minute walk to Ueno-kōen. As it was hanami time, there were quite a number of people especially at the stalls which sold a variety of foodstuffs like the ubiquitous yakitori, takoyaki and yakisoba. There were a few games stalls and a flea market nearer to the eastern exit of the park. There were sakura blooms abound but something tells me it only had just started. After taking a couple of shots and checking out the flea market, I headed towards Ueno station via Ameyoko[2] to get to Asakusa on the Ginza line.

The reason I wanted to be in Asakusa was for the Sensō-ji which is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo founded in the 7th century AD. Unlike the temples in Kyōto, this sprawling temple complex was a tad busier with visitors. From the Hozōmon gate were little souvenir shops lining Nakamise-dori running all the way towards the outer gate of Kaminarimon. There was a wide variety of souvenirs to choose from and I thought this the best time to get some stuff for the family back in KL.

Ginza was a totally different kettle of fish. I took the Metro to Nihonbashi and entered Takashimaya, Japan’s answer to Harrods I guess. I started off by meandering through the aisles of the food department on basement 1. Despite with Takashimaya being a somewhat posh department store, the staff manning the various counters were still greeting passing customers with a hearty irrasshaimase, albeit slightly more restrained than those you’d hear in the common market. The fruit section was great, especially the 5000円 oranges[3]. Another thing you need to check out at the Nihonbashi Takashimaya are the lifts which are manually operated by elegant ladies who verbally announce the floors as well as asking shoppers as to which floor they want to go to. I have to say I was really impressed with the effort!

Chuo-dori on Ginza was kinda a broader version of London’s Bond Street/New Bond Street as most of the stores lining the road were exclusive. I headed towards UNIQLO Ginza but was not able to find Dover Street Market[4]. As I was meeting up with Farhan-san again, I decided not to look for it and grabbed a pair of selvedge jeans and the thinnest raincoat I’ve ever seen, and headed back to my hotel. We met up at Shibuya JR and took some shots of the crossing (again) including unashamed GoPro videos by yours truly. Dinner was the cheapest Italian this side of, err… Sheffield at this chain called Saizeriya. Nope, it doesn’t sound Italian at all but the food’s pretty nice.

[1]Highest ranking university in Asia in 2012, according to Wiki.
[2]Ameyoko‘s a pretty busy market street in Ueno that runs along the Yamanote line.
[3]I’ve been told that there is reason why some of the more common or garden foodstuff is expensive. Apart from the fact they are exclusively grown in parts of Japan, the expensive nature implies that these items are worthy as gifts. These takai oranges for example won’t be packed in the store plastic bag but properly wrapped and boxed.
[4]Look up Rei Kawakubo.