Ian and I originally planned to go to Tokyo in November 2013 as a late third anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, it took our travel agency eons to book our flight :-I It scheduled a mid-February trip for us, but I didn’t want to wait that long so I had our trip moved up to the last week of January.
Afterwards we took the train to Shinagawa station and walked a bit to Sengakuji Temple, the final resting place of the 47 Ronin who are considered by many as the best example of samurai honor.
And now for a little bit of history. The 47 Ronin are a band of samurai in the early 1700s who were left without a master after their feudal lord Asano committed seppuku. Lord Asano was made to kill himself as punishment for attacking court official Lord Kira, who had insulted him.
Their code of honor required the ronin to avenge their master’s death, but the samurai knew that they had to wait for Lord Kira to let his guard down before they struck. So they planned and waited for nearly two years.
When the time was deemed right, the ronin attacked Lord Kira’s mansion and decapitated him. They then brought his head to Sengakuji Temple where Lord Asano’s remains were buried.
The 47 Ronin were sentenced to death. But because they were only following bushido (way of the warrior), they were made to commit seppuku instead of being executed as criminals. Their remains were buried at the Sengakuji Temple graveyard.
The temple compound was peaceful and well-maintained. Ian even saw the well where the ronin had washed Lord Kira’s head. There’s also a museum where visitors can see the weapons used during the attack on Lord Kira’s mansion.
Outside the temple are small shops selling history books and interesting souvenirs, like a poster of 47 Hello Kitties dressed as the ronin. I also saw a 47 Ronin comic book with cats as characters. I’m not much of a cat person so I just got myself a letter opener that looks like a katana.
We left Sengakuji Temple around lunch time and proceeded to Tsukiji Market.
Tsukiji is one of the biggest fish markets in the world, which explains why there are a lot of birds in the area :-p Hundreds of tourists go there before sunrise to watch the auction of giant-ass tunas. Kami naman ni Ian were content to go there for…SUSHI \o/ People really line up outside Tsukiji restaurants for fresh sushi. Unless you go fishing yourself, this is as fresh as you can get.
(Note: Tsukiji restaurant on Pasay road imports seafood from Tsukiji Market three times a week. I learned about this just last night because that’s where Ian and I had our Valentine’s date, hihi.)
Another reason for the long queues is the size of the restaurants. Most of them can seat only about a dozen people at a time. Kahit gusto mong namnamin ang pagkain mo, mahihiya kang magtagal kasi maraming naghihintay sa labas.
Pero okay lang. Lugi ka pa ba rito?
Ian and I were so full, nakatulog kami sa train on our way back to Shinjuku haha. Hindi na nadala sa pagkawala the previous night.
We rested a bit at the hotel and decided that we were too lazy to go anywhere else. So we just explored the Shinjuku shopping district once more. We had merienda in a neighborhood shawarma stall, and there I noticed that the Japanese really do not eat or drink while walking. I read somewhere that they consider it impolite. If they buy food or drinks, they would finish it on the spot.
Another observation: Japanese cashiers do not take customers’ payment by hand. They always have this tray where you’re supposed to put your money.
We bought books at Kinokuniya, the largest bookstore chain in Japan (they have an entire section on cats), then went to the flagship Isetan department store to shop for pasalubong.
If you ever find yourself there, go straight to the food section in the basement. Nakaka-overwhelm (in a good way) yung dami at bango ng pagkain! Paikot-ikot ako because I didn’t know where to start. I especially loved the dessert section and the food’s lovely packaging.
(Tip: If green tea KitKat’s what you’re looking for, don’t waste your time searching for it in malls. The airport’s your best bet.)
We also went to Bicqlo, an 11-story building housing both Uniqlo and Bic Camera. You’ve got floors devoted to clothes and floors devoted to electronics. What a random combination.
Soon enough we got tired of walking and decided to abuse the massage chairs on one of the Bic floors. I never thought massage chairs could be so aweeesome. I was glad that we didn’t have to get one of those expensive massages being offered outside. LOL, kurips.
The following day we had to say goodbye to Tokyo, sniff sniff.
Check out this checkout machine (lol). You only have to insert your room card here. If you have no pending charges, you’re free to go.
I was quite sad to leave Tokyo because I really fell in love with the place and the people. I even found myself daydreaming that I was a post-grad student there. There were times when I wished I didn’t have our trip rescheduled to January, para hindi pa siya tapos hehe.
Pero buti na lang hindi kami natuloy ng mid-February because Tokyo is now experiencing its worst snowstorm in decades. The snow storm has already killed a dozen people and injured a thousand 😦 I hope it ends soon!