Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top 10 Tokyo Sights by Pannywanny (Part 1)

For the past 5 and a half years, you have been reading my stories predominantly from just one voice -- MINE. Once in a while, Paul would pop in with his own stories but that's about it. I've never had any other guest blogger simply because I keep this blog close to my heart the same way I probably would with a hard-bound diary. It would definitely take a special person to be able to drop in here and to share his/her thoughts as well. Aside from Paul, there's one person who means the world to me. She has been my food/shopping/pamper-me/movie buddy for the past 28 years (and still counting). People may come and go, friends may drop in and out of our lives but one thing is for sure, I know this person will stick to me like glue simply because we love each other unconditionally despite all the imperfections we both may have. 

Dear readers, I'd like to introduce you to my little sister Pan. A big travel bug and an adventurous foodie too! She has been traveling to Japan at least once every quarter for the past two years! She's our resident OFW (hehe) and definitely our go-to person when it comes to knowing where to go and what to eat in Tokyo, Japan

I'll stop talking now and will let Pan (who wants insists to be called Pannywanny) tell you about her Top 10 Tokyo Sights in this two-part blog entry:  

“Sugoi Japan!” Exploring the Rising Sun’s Capital: Tokyo Prefecture 

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A layover is a temporary or brief stay in a location for approximately 24-48 hours. Surprisingly though, these layovers can be as exciting as an entire trip in itself. With the right amount of research, time management and inspiration from Anthony Bourdain’s TV show “The Layover”, I have chronicled my accumulated brief moments in Tokyo, Japan into one exciting travel adventure 

Ever since I was a child, I have always been a versatile traveler. I love the landscape as much as the cityscape, the food and the shopping, the cultural landmarks to the neighborhood market and the zoo to the hustle and bustle of human traffic. Therefore, as I list down My Top 10 Tokyo Sights, it is a mix of all of these elements combined.

#1 Tsukiji Market

The Tsukiji Market is an absolute haven for foodie enthusiast. It has the widest selection of sashimi offerings and one of the cleanest wet markets I have ever seen. My absolute sashimi favorites are the Hotate (scallops), Toro (fatty belly of the tuna) and the Anago (sea eel). There are a number of different sashimi restaurants that lines up the market interchanging with stalls selling raw seafood and grilled dishes. One of the most popular restaurants is Sushizanmai; it offers different dishes on a conveyor belt for customers to easily reach for. The chefs are in the middle of the bar-like seating area where you can enjoy watching how they prepare each dish with precise artistic detail. On a busy day in the market, you might even be lucky to witness a demonstration from a restaurant chef on the perfect way to slice a fish to produce the best cuts for sashimi. Furthermore, wasabi (the usual Japanese horseradish that accompanies our local sashimi orders) may not be served to you since these are already spread into the sashimi in just the right amount to leave you with a slight kick in the pallet that rounds up that perfect piece of melt-in-your-mouth sashimi goodness.

The Tsukiji Market is open from Mondays to Saturdays and closed on Sundays.

#2 Disney Sea

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Growing up from a Disney generation, with well-loved movies such as Little Mermaid and Aladdin, I can’t help feeling like a child all over again during my visit to Tokyo Disney Sea. This place has that rare magical feel of both a romantic European landscape to a child’s fairytale land which is why it is both a date place and a family vacation. A whole day in this place is barely enough as there are so many rides and shows to enjoy. Out of my entire Disney Sea adventure, my most loved attraction is the Little Mermaid show (a definite must watch!). I was at awe the entire show and had the well-loved songs playing in my head afterwards, making me break into a song after the show (to my companion’s disappointment :P).

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There are hotels as well in the Disney resort and if you want to visit both Disney Sea and Disneyland, they are right across each other and reachable via the Disney Resort Line (Monorail).

#3 Tokyo Cruise from Asakusa to Odaiba: A view of the Rainbow Bridge and the Sky Tree Tower

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One of those travel jewels is having an unplanned great experience, one you did not prepare for but ended up doing which turned out to be one great ride. For me, this travel jewel is the Tokyo Cruise. While walking around Asakusa, we spotted the port for this cruise line and decided to just hop on board. It is a relaxing experience, sight-seeing the picturesque cityscape of the different parts of Tokyo including the Sky Tree Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. I have also wondered why these bridges were called such, and saw through the cruise that these bridges are painted the colors of the rainbow as we passed through a yellow bridge, then a blue, then a green one and so forth.

This is best enjoyed close to sunset as it gives you tints of orange across the picture-perfect backdrop.


#4 Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko

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After watching the heartwarming story of “Hachiko”, a story about the enduring loyalty of a man’s best friend, my first stop in Tokyo is to visit the statue of this admirable Akita dog outside the Shibuya station. It may not be as big as I have imagined it to be but it sure is as popular. The Hachiko statue is a well-known meeting point for locals that may make the statue a bit hard to find at first but once you get through the throngs of people, you will find the statue of Hachiko up on a much-deserved pedestal.

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Just a few steps away from the Hachiko statue is the Shibuya crossing. Shibuya is a shopping paradise offering from local to internationally known clothing brands. It has almost everything that you need from a wide array of restaurants to coffee shops and to an exhilarating variety of clothing stores. It truly epitomizes the phrase “shop-till-you-drop” or at least until your feet aches. This could probably be the reason why it seems like everyone is in Shibuya.

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The Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Tokyo. All the cars are put on a stop while the heavy load of pedestrians crosses to just about any point coming from the Shibuya Station. The best view to enjoy this is at the 2nd floor window area of Starbucks Coffee where you can watch the unending flow of pedestrians while sipping a yummy cup of beverage.

#5 Edo Tokyo Museum

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Travelling is like opening up a life-size history book and the best place to start is a visit to the museum, which I often view as the “epilogue”. The museum in itself is presented in a storyline starting from the very first ages of the society down to the present. Japan has a very rich culture which has grown and evolved through different periods of its history. Even in the modern day, very much of its culture and customs has remained intact and celebrated on. What was interesting is that the Edo Tokyo Museum even had a cultural show where you can appreciate the Japanese arts where they sang, danced and played local instruments. It is the perfect window into the Japanese past as you immersed yourself into present day Japan.

The Edo Tokyo Museum is walking distance from the Ryogoku Station which is also right beside the Sumo Museum.

To be continued tomorrow...

*photo credit: Pannywanny

2 comments:

  1. Super perfect timing Fran & Pan!

    We're going to Tokyo in a month's time with Kailee!! :)

    Thanks for this and will wait for the other parts!!

    Pan - you think Kailee with enjoy Disney Sea or Disneyland? Or go to both? HELP!!

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  2. Hi Didi! I think it would be great if you can go to both, Disneyland is really a child’s playground and Disney Sea is only found in Tokyo, Japan J During my visit to Disney Sea, there were also a lot of families there and children’s rides like Aladdin’s carousel, Little Mermaid underwater theme rides and many others. The amusement park is accessible as well via train so you can opt to stay either inside the resort or in Tokyo.

    - Pan

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