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Day 89- Candyfloss Sugar High

Imperial palace, Harajuku, Meji Shrine, "Piss Alley" & traditional Okonomiyaki!


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1 March
First stop of the day, Imperial Palace. Getting to the entrance we were unsure if we had to pay and how much so we stood bumbling around, trying to google how much it would set us back to see if we actually valued the experience that highly. Embarrassingly reaching the ticket booth, knowing the guard had watched us clearly trying to decide if we wanted to pay or not, we were given our free entry token and we headed in. The first thing we came across was a bunch of cherry blossom trees in the very early stages of blooming. I imagine In the height of spring this collection of about 20 trees would be stunning in full bloom. I also imagine it would be heaving with tourists and you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near them.

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There was an guide book app we downloaded and selected the things of interest to go and explore. We both expected there to be at least some evidence of a palace, whether that be in the form of ruins or still standing with various rooms accessible. We quickly realised there was nothing here since the palace was now a variation of different types of gardens. We wandered a while, listened to a few anecdotes about the previous residents of the palace and seeing some largely bare and fruitless gardens before deciding we’d seen enough.

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The last few days had been bitterly cold and today we were taking layers off by the minute. There was a cafe we’d seen called ‘Monster Cafe’ that did novelty drinks and food with different themed areas of the cafe, it looked pretty cool and unique so went to check it out. There was a fee of 500 yen per person just to be seated at the table and then terms that each customer had to order a drink and food. We’d been thinking we’d order a weird milkshake and share, just for the experience. We weren’t going to spend £50 for a meal we didn’t want. So we abandoned that plan and went over there road to a crepe shop. They had over 100 different fillings!!! After ten minutes deliberating which flavor to have, we agreed on Oreo cheesecake, cookie crumble and strawberry’s and cream! It was so delicious!!

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We wandered around Harajuku, full of weird and wonderful shops, including; some with literally doggies in the window and even a real life Polly Pocket in a ball! This was before coming across a shop selling candy floss bigger than our heads!! We agreed we didn’t need that much pure sugar so decided three flavors was enough! Strawberry, melon and grape! Grape tasted like the smelly gel pens (remember them!) but the other two flavors were delicious. After about ten minutes of scoffing our faces we still had about half left, it’s not exactly something you can put in your bag to save for later. Toward the end we were purely eating faster just for it to be over. Five minutes later the sugar rush really hit! It was a strange feeling, kind of tipsy!

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The Meji Shrine is in a forest in the middle of the city. We decided this was a good place to walk off some of the sugar. Having the crystallised sugar stuck in our teeth we went in search for a drink first. Luckily there was a stall right by the entrance to the park, one of us (not mentioning names) is extremely indecisive so stood there for about ten minutes before we realised they had a fridge of hot drinks! (I realise that means it’s not a fridge but I don’t know what a hot fridge would be called) It had cooled down a bit so decided it would be a good warm up, tea from a plastic bottle was a strange concept!

At the entrance of the shrine there was a stone trough with paddles in to cleanse yourself before going inside, due to the virus they had drained the water and had temporary showers instead. The correct process was to wash your left hand, then your right hand, then cup both hands and wash your mouth (see me nailing it below despite the look from the guy next to me). We walked around marveling at the architecture mainly. We paid a small fee to right down a wish for 2020 for a project they were displaying.

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We headed back in to the shopping district and made our way in to Don Quixote, a chain department store. Every store here has at least 8 or 9 floors of pure craziness. We explored all the floors of the Don Quixote from floors of cosmetics and household cleaning to phone accessories and sex toys (a weird combination on the 7th floor). After almost an hour I started to get rather claustrophobic, they squeeze as many isles and products in to each floor as possible without the sensible straight isle layout we would expect, they put isles at all sorts of directions and angles, disorientating us on each floor. We made it out as quick as possible, trying to find the stairs on each floor was a mission enough.

There’s an area of back alleys full of ting bars and food stalls, lovingly named ‘Piss Alley’. Starting out as an illegal drinking quarter in the late 1940s, this narrow side street quickly became a prime spot for cheap drinks and cabaret-style hostess bars. Due to the lack of restroom facilities, customers would wander off and relieve themselves on the nearby train tracks; it didn’t take long for Piss Alley to earn its name. We had to check it out. Originally walking straight past the entrance, we walked down the street amazed by the whole experience.

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Deciding it was dinner time we jumped the train in the direction of home, both excited about the dinner of choice tonight. We entered the restaurant (while amusing to ourselves that the previous day we’d walked past and said it looked to fancy for us, it must be expensive), taking our shoes off and being shown to our table.

We had come to a traditional Japanese restaurant where you sat on the floor. Picking our choices from the menu we sat excitedly, a couple of minutes later the waiter bought our drinks over, we’d decided to share a Palm Wine, unsure what it was. We’ve since researched it’s a wine created from the sap of palm trees. It was delicious! Then two bowls were bought over and we were instructed to mix up the ingredients while the waiter heated up some oil on the hot plate on the table between us. We then poured the ingredients on to the plate, Okonomiyaki, a Japanese style omelette. We shared a minced meat one and a pumpkin, sweet potato and sweet corn one. You cook the batter on one side for roughly five minutes before flipping it over, painting some sweet sticky sauce over the top and letting the underside cook for another five minutes. It was a great experience, cooking the food ourselves. We loved it and they tasted delicious. Another meal we’ll probably try and make ourselves back home.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 05:14 Archived in Japan Tagged imperial_palace harajuku okonomiyaki meji_shrine piss_alley candyfloss Comments (0)

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