Friday, August 22, 2008

Tokyo Part 9 : Ginza and Ichikawa

East Garden of Imperial Palace

On the last day around Tokyo, we started with a visit to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace is closed to the public. The garden is really large, and we only cover the first 1/4 of the garden. The garden is very well maintained and very clean.

Before entering the garden

Stonewall with a story behind it

This Honmaru-Nakanomon Gate stonewall was initially designed as a special historic structure of the former 'Edo Castle'. However, due to its deteriorating condition, the wall had been demolished and rebuilt, in which plaques that depict one of the Lord involvement in the restoration project after the great earthquake in 1703 and relics were uncovered.

Some pic around the garden

On our way to Tokyo station, i saw this bicycle parking space that is designated specially for bicycles where they have this leveller system that allows one bicycle to 'park' above another bicycle which really saves space. Actually despite being such an advance country, many people still use bicycles here; it is common to see people in suit and formal wear cycling to work around the city. Perhaps because they want to be more environmental friendly and to save on petrol and also its easier to find a parking space for their vehicle in this space limited city.

Space saving way of parking

Tokyo station, busiest station in Tokyo

Next stop was Ginza, an upmarket shopping, eating and entertainment district where almost every leading brand and cosmetic make their presence there. There are also a few very popular showrooms around here, namely the Sony Building, Apple Store, Nissan Gallery and Inax showroom.

Matsuya Ginza, prestigious and expensive departmental store

I was truly fascinated by the whole area, with buildings after buildings of leading brands located next to one another and as it was a weekend, the central Chua dori gets closed to traffic and becomes a large pedestrian walk. We see flagstores with leading names such as Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, Shiseido, Prada, and Mikimoto being not just one story but one whole building which is at least 6 stories. Awesome!

At the busy junction where Bvlgari is located

The close Chuo Dori for pedestrians

Among some of the flagship buildings..

We had our lunch at this restaurant, probably also one of the more budget restaurant in Ginza which is located next to the Inax showroom. We ordered this desert, which is make up of green tea ice cream with blended red beans, cherry, peach and jelly and some other sweets. Then we poured maple syrup over them according to our liking. We were given a bowl of green tea to rinse our mouth before and after we consume the desert. This bowl of desert is superb. As in really superb. After so many days in Tokyo, this is the best desert i tasted already. :D

Craving for it now

My miso ramen..equally good..every bowl of ramen surely have a piece of pork slice in them

Us with our lunch

After a satisfied lunch, we went to the Inax showroom next door. Inax is the leading manufacturers of tiling and sanitary facilities for residential, commercial, facilities and public buildings. We can so often see the name Inax on our sinks and toilet bowls especially here in Japan but how many of us had an Inax toilet bowl that can sing? Well, i saw one in their showroom here, located on the 4th floor. We are truly amused by that discovery we made.

I'm amused. hehe..

As we walked towards the bowl which is covered up, it automatically opens on its own and sweet melody can be heard coming from the bowl itself! Sounds a little freaky too right?haha.. but it was really an amazing invention, the singing toilet. Maybe they will help in the defecation process. We walked to and fro the bowl several times just to ascertain the melody we heard truly rises from the bowl and also to amuse ourselves without realizing that the lady from the counter in front could also hear the melody each time the toilet plays it so she must be laughing at how excited we are at the discovery.

@ the Inax showroom

A video clip of the singing toilet,

Besides the singing toilet, they also have this toilet bowl with a control that offers other than the sound minimizing effect, deodarizer, bidet but also the shower function which means to say you can safely sits at the bowl doing your 'big business' and shower. Talking about killing two birds at one stone..haha

The controller with the shower function..we can even adjust how wide we want the shower splash to be

And the last technology that really amused and fascinates me before i leave the showroom is thee automated soap-wash-dryer tap. As the name says it all, it's a 3-in-1 tap where we don't have to touch the tap to have our hands wash within seconds. It's fully automated from the soap to the washing of hands to the drying. You know in Msia where we have to squirt the hand wash and walked to one end because they don't have the hand wash at every sink and then walked to another end to dry our hand but this is really amazing technology.

Our next destination was the Nissan gallery where they are displaying their latest automobiles. I was actually hoping to see Nissan Pivo but apparently they had removed that and replaced with Nissan GTR.

Me in the external red GTR

We also saw this cute yellow velo taxi somewhere on the street. The front looks like a bicycle with pedal to step on

Then, we went on to the Sony showroom, which is currently known as the Sony Aquarium showroom. The showroom has all the Sony latest products and gadgets and it's about 7 floors high and you can get any Sony-related products here.

An aquarium with a shark in the middle of busy Ginza

Sony T-shirts and headphones for sale

And this is Sony street, one of the lane in Ginza has a name after Sony

After visiting all the showrooms, we didn't have much time to shop and the things here are expensive for shopping so i just window shopped and came across this Hello Kitty store that sells every Hello Kitty merchandise from head to toe; from hair clips to slippers. Well, the only place i shopped here is Tokyo Kyuukyodo specializing in traditional Japanese paraphernalia. Uniqlo also has cheap and nice yukata set for 3000 yen.

Hello Kitty in a Hello Kitty yukata..i must say this is cute

Our final destination before going to our hotel was Ichikawa. We initially planned to meet up witht the others at Shinozaki but as we were already late and it was more convenient to stopped at Ichikawa, we decided to watch the fireworks that marked the beginning of the summer celebration in Japan from there. There were so many people gathered at the field that they looked like stretches of tiny ants from the train. Most of the girls are dressed up in their yukatas and the guys too in jin bei.

It wasn't easy trying even to capture this pic with the fireworks as background

The fireworks started 20 minutes in advance and it lasted about an hour! In Malaysia, we barely get to watched any fireworks display for more than 30 minutes (during the IFC last yr) but here it was an hour of non stop, beautiful fireworks one after another that comes in different patterns such as the Saturn, star and love shape. We couldn't get to the field in time but from our viewing point, it was as breath taking.

I think there were at least 1000 ppl at the Ichikawa station when the fireworks ended as everyone rushed to catch the train but the amazing part was there were enough police around to controlled the crowd and the Jap ppl themselves obediently got into queues to wait for their turn to get into the train. It was not necessary at all for any guard like those at the LRT station in KL who have to blow the whistle and chased the crowd to queue. Besides that, when the train arrived, they waited for the passengers to get off first before moving into the train one by one. It was simply so organized and disciplined. I can just imagined how Malaysians would have behave especially when there are almost 1000 ppl involved.

Queuing at the train station in line

The very packed train to Narita

It was already midnight by the time we reached our hotel but i had an amazing and amusing day. I heart Tokyo. :D

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do you know how much is that red GTR? WOAH! its nice with a pretty girl inside=)