Tokyo 2016 Day 6: Character Street, Scramble Crossing, Harajuku and a night out in Ikebukuro
On Monday morning we allowed ourselves a little bit of a lie in and chose not to have breakfast so that we could eat more throughout the day! Our first stop was Character Street at Tokyo Station. Check out what we did the previous day here. Character Street is cluster of shops each selling memorabilia related to popular characters and mascots including Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Moomin, Pokemon and many more. Each store is packed with goodies, from sweets to plush toys and home and lifestyle accessories. It is kawaii heaven! We picked up some goodies and gifts including a build-a-house-out-of-chocolate kit for my sister and also a panda pork bun as a snack.
We then went to Yebisu Beer Hall in Ebisu, we had spotted this eatery on previous trips to the area and fancied trying it for lunch. Although it was relatively early when we arrived there, many other people were sitting down to eat. The waiter recommended the daily lunch and daily pasta sets so we went for one of each. Mine was the lunch set which had the option of coming with rice or bread, I opted for the bread. It was a selection platter of tasty little bits including a fried egg, pasta, fried chicken and meat (I think this was pork) in sauce:
Tom’s was a spaghetti dish which wasn’t quite as exciting but was still very tasty, unfortunately we didn’t take a picture but please enjoy this shot of the beer and side salad:
We then walked for approximately 30 minutes from Ebisu to Shibuya to have a coffee at the famous Starbucks overlooking the scramble crossing. The whole place was full of tourists most of whom were not even buying drinks and just taking up the seats to take photos. I find this so rude when you’re getting something so wonderful for the small price of a coffee but you still feel it’s your right to have it for free.
The crossing when empty:
On average around 3000 people cross each time the lights for the traffic are red:
Next we went to Harajuku. This is the next stop on the Yamanote Line and was in the direction of home. We had a look at the shops and generally a bit of people watch before grabbing a delicious crepe and heading home.
The famous Takeshita street:
Shopping for all things kawaii:
Crepes are one of the main food attractions on Takeshita Dori, which is the main street to see and be seen on in this hyper cool, teen filled neighborhood. A decidedly average looking crepe but it tasted like heaven:
After a bit of a rest we had a couple of beers on the roof and changed our original plans of spending the evening in Roppongi in favour of Ikebukuro as Tom wanted to go to Karaoke and we knew it was cheaper there. Cheesy roof picture alert:
It’s slightly disappointing that we didn’t visit Roppongi on this trip but this was definitely the right decision as it is a very touristy area and the prices reflect this.
We first went to Kin no Kura for all you can drink for 900 yen each for 90 minutes, which was around £6.75 at the time (before brexit) and an absolute bargain with edamame for beer snacks.
We also ate here choosing a bacon and caesar salad, pork rice and a deep fried medley.
Tom sampled various drinks and whilst I stuck to beer and then, when it was time for last orders, we had a pancake that came with a choco pen for adding your own decorations! Art isn’t my strongest skill but I did my best:
When we went to pay we noticed that there were 30% off discount vouchers next to the till for a karaoke chain so we grabbed one of these and went to the venue that was pretty much next-door. We signed up for 2 hours and a beer pitcher handing over our voucher upon arrival. Suitably drunk in Tom's case and pretty merry in mine, we sung our hearts out for the next 120 minutes in a beautifully decorated private karaoke booth.
The pictures really don’t do this place justice, but the room was absolutely stunning.
Half way through our session I received a text from our Airbnb host checking in as there had been a relatively large earthquake. Either the epic quantity of alcohol consumed or the fact that we were 8 floors up rocking out to some serious tunes meant we hadn’t even felt it! The earthquake was bigger than the average ones that are felt in Tokyo but hadn’t done any damage and when we returned to the apartment later I text him to let him know that nothing had even fallen over.
When we left the bill was around half the price of the other karaoke session earlier in the trip, which was very satisfying, and we agreed that in future we would avoid the more popular karaoke areas in favour of better prices. We walked in the general direction of Ikebukuro Station and stopped for a quick beer at Kirin Beer Hall before calling it a day.