Sunday, February 21, 2016

Japan 2015: Harajuku, Cat Street, & Shibuya

Way before the trip, I made plans with one of my best friends, Keena, to meet in Tokyo for a night out and I have literally looked forward to this everyday since. Once my tour for the day finished, we met up at my hotel and I finally got to take the subway in Tokyo! Thankfully, Keena is so used to travelling with just her family and without a tour group (so lucky lol) that I just followed her to wherever we needed to go. With offline map apps in her arsenal, we were able to navigate with total ease. Didn't even get lost once! Read on to see our adventures from Harajuku to Shibuya!

I think one of the saddest things about joining tour groups is that you don't get to appreciate the journey to wherever you need to be. You don't really feel like you're in a certain country because all you do is sleep until your next destination. Suddenly, you're just there, and you don't know how you got there. When you travel alone, you have to figure everything out yourself and that just makes the experience even richer which is why I feel so lucky to have experienced this, even if for just a night. I keep telling everyone who asks me how this night went that it was one of the best experiences ever. Not because we went shopping (which is my favorite thing to do), but because I got to see this part of Tokyo for myself and at my own pace, without any drawn-out explanation from an overly-chatty tour guide.

But that's enough of *my* drawn-out explanation. Haha! It was so fun riding the subway even though I felt slightly overwhelmed. Keena and I were so busy catching up that I felt that the people in the subway were judging us for being so noisy. LOL

We got off at Meiji-Jingumae Station and Keena followed her Map App to Cat Street. Before we got there though, she dragged me to a Kiddyland store because she is obsessed with generally cutesy things, toys, and anime. Hohoho

Totoro everywhere.

Actually, Studio Ghibli merchandise, in general.

The Minion craze is still very much alive in Japan.

And finally, Cat Street! If you're coming from Meiji-jinggumae like us, a statue of a woman will greet you as enter this quiet little area. It's lined with mix of your favorite high street Western brands as well as some quirky merchandise stores and local Japanese fashion brands. Not really sure why they called it Cat Street, but I love the quirky name!

But first, food! We decided to have dinner later because all the stores in Japan close surprisingly early so we just had some Takoyaki for some energy! #ShoppingStrategies

Perfect snack at 550yen! It tasted pretty similar to the Takoyaki we have in Manila but the octopus meat is quite generous in this stall.

The first few stores that we saw were either way too expensive or didn't really match our style so we just strolled around Cat Street for the most part. One thing to note though is that they have a very nice Adidas store here at Cat Street! Lots of rare sneakers for all the collectors out there! Unfortunately for me, I was eyeing a pair Tubulars from the Originals collection and found none that I liked.

Wherever cute stuff was, I was dragged inside. Haha! Also checked out Rainbow Spectrum which sells a lot of quirky and adorable stuff for your home.

Hampers with the names of your favorite cities? Yes, please.

The Super Hero Oven Mitts are a favorite.

We didn't really find anything we especially liked but had a lot of fun looking around. Afterwards, we headed out and just looked around the area.

If you're entering from the Shibuya side, you'll see this Cat Street Cafe sign to know you've entered the area. I should note that near the end of Cat Street, there are a lot of Japanese brands like RAGEBLUE and Jeanasis. I really should take more photos of the places I shop at. Haha! Mentioning them is just not enough!

Past Cat Street is Shibuya! Suddenly the area became so alive and bright. I found it hard to believe I just came from the quiet path of Cat Street.

A lot of people have been recommending that you buy your sneakers at ABC Mart, but for me it's really a hit-and-miss kind of thing. Some ABC Marts have very little stock, but they've usually got all the famous shoe designs by Nike and Adidas! Sadly for me, there were no Tubulars and the Converse Jack Purcell sneakers I was looking for were just the same price here in Manila so I decided to just buy them when I got back.

Apparently though, the New Year's Sale at ABC Mart can get really crazy so that would probably be the ideal time to buy shoes there. Unfortunately, I was only here until the 31st. Huhu

I also got to stop by a small Animate store located at the Beams Building in Shibuya!

Manga everywhere with genres of every kind awaiting your various moods! Haha! I find it so cool that places like this exist.

Keena later dragged me to their small Gashapon area. Gashapon are like these small vending machines but you don't get to pick what you get so it's a bit of a gamble. You might get a character you don't like three times in a row if you have bad luck. LOL
Keena trying her luck at the Haikyuu Gashapon. She is absolutely obsessed with Tsukushima and she hasn't gotten him ever in her many attempts over the past year. This time, though, she got the Tsukushima toy on the first spin! I must be the lucky charm. Haha!

The video games section was my favorite. Probably because I could relate to it more. My anime knowledge is so outdated I cry.

But look how adorable these little Final Fantasy figruines are! Lightning (FF13), Cloud and Sephiroth (FF7), Squall (FF8), and I think the one on the end is Zidane (FF9). Not sure, though!

My two favorite Tales games of all time: Tales of Xilia and Tales of The Abyss together!

Persona!!! I seriously wish I bought one of these as well.

*Hyperventilates* When I saw this, I knew I had to get it. I really like subtle game merchandise like this because it isn't too loud and doesn't exactly draw too much attention. It's really understated like my personal style. Haha! Admittedly, it's pricey for a keychain at 800yen but I seriously didn't care because Persona. #BestGameEver I seriously can't wait for Persona 5 to come out!

Haikyuu!! a.k.a. the only currently-ongoing Anime I watch. It's one of the top shows right now that you can even find their merchandise in random stores in Tokyo!

The weather was so perfect that night and it perfectly matched the quieter streets in Shibuya.

We headed towards Tokyu Hands which is even crazier in Shibuya than it was in the Osaka branch I visited. (You can see my Osaka travel diary here) but I have a totally separate post for art supplies coming up!

I also saw a large Adidas store tucked away in a small alley for some reason and found a pair of awesome running shoes for about 3500 bucks! Great price for a collaboration design with Continental, the famous brand for hiking gear. Finally have new training shoes for the gym!

That is until we reached the famous Shibuya Crossing! People everywhere! It really is no wonder why they call this the busiest crossing in the world. Once, the Walking signal goes on, a stream of people follow and it gets so crazy. I really found it odd because the other crossings in Shibuya don't have much people at all. It's like they all instinctively want to cross here collectively. I even joked that maybe people were being paid to just keep crossing here so it looks super busy all the time. Haha! Would love to take a photo of the crowd from an elevated area though. That would be so cool!

Shibuya 109, we meet at last! I can't imagine how fun it would be to shop here. They also have a 109 Men just across. An entire mall dedicated to menswear, I can't even-

Unfortunately at the time, it was already getting late and even if we did try to shop some more, we probably wouldn't get to see much because closing time was just around the corner. :(

So we just opted to have dinner before ending our night out and I requested that we have Ramen because in my entire stay, we've never even had it. We were originally planning on eating at Ichiran which Keena swears serves the best Ramen ever. Unfortunately the line was way too long so we tried this Ramen place just a few steps away from Shibuya 109! At the time, neither of us knew how to read it so we just took photos. Once I got back I researched its English name and found out that it's called Nanashi! Thank goodness, I could read the first two characters in Mandarin. ;)

Nanashi was quite large for a Ramen place. Usually, they only fit about 20 people at a time, which explains why there's always a line. We were seated on the second floor and it was pleasantly roomy!

We couldn't read Japanese so we just chose the one that looks the best, which I assume would be the classic Nanashi Tonkotsu Ramen (928yen tax incl.). I say this because we ordered the one with the shop's name in the dish.

First time trying crushed garlic with my Ramen thanks to Keena who believes crushed garlic makes everything better. It really does. Haha! A pitcher of refreshing brown rice tea was the perfect pairing to the rich Tonkotsu Ramen we were about to have.

The order came with a plate of Gyoza which was really good! Soft with a crispy bottom! The meat was really delicious as well. As for the ramen, it definitely was the best I've ever had, but I can also confidently say that it doesn't differ much at all with the ramen we have here in Manila like Hokkaido Ramen Santouka and Ippudo. What I love about Nanashi's Ramen is that there is this added smokey but incredibly subtle salted egg aftertaste that I love, but I'm pretty sure having this everyday could not possibly be good for you. #HeartPls

The next time I'm here and Ichiran still has that crazy line, I'm definitely eating here again! :)


  1. I love the items. I love the street scene. I love the street food. I love your photos. I would want to go to Japan now! I've been wanting to since a few years back but I already had other travel plans so I hope it will be later this year or spring next year. :-) -Claire Algarme

  2. I am jealous. I wish I can go to Japan the soonest. I completely agree with you, DIY travels are the best coz you get to learn things. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My goodness this looks so delicious and wish i could visit the place sometime soon.

  4. Oh man it just looks so great here. I have always to visit and from your post I see that there is so much to do and will be checking out some of these if I ever visit.

  5. They do have a lot of unique stuff in Japan. I would enjoy the shopping and also would love to try their food.

  6. Japan is a fascinating country. Would love to visit it soon.

  7. Japan reminds me of Taiwan, they have loads of fun stuff and plenty of things to look at and play!

  8. So. Much. Cute. Stuff! I would totally enjoy the trip there, although, I might end up buying everything I consider cute. LOL. It's so much better to tour a city on your own! Looks like you had the best time too!

  9. I completely agree with what you said about traveling with tour groups. It's just not the same as when you travel alone and have to figure everything out yourself. That makes it more fun for me!!

  10. Sure looks like you guys had a great time! Great photos. The food is mouth-watering lol I've said it before, but I'll say it again...I would love to explore Japan some day! :-) Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  11. We will be visiting Tokyo on our own next month. I will definitely be taking down notes on these places you visited. I am sure my daughter will enjoy these places.

  12. It looks like an ideal trip, to be honest. You took lots of nice pictures, which I usually do. People often differentiate tourists from travelers, and I'm not afraid to claim that I am a tourist most of the time. I think there's nothing wrong with that. But yeah, hope you'll get to travel on your own and not with tour groups. Or combined is also good! Have done that many times. Thanks for sharing your trip! ;)

  13. It is so fascinating. The food is mouth watering and the minions ...oh!just amazing. Would love to visit soon.

  14. Shibuya is alwauys buzy no matter day or night. I like Harajuku in the evening, its kind of chill and cool to hangout at the local cafe.s

  15. Hahaha... I was imagining you being dragged into all these cutesy stores!!! Lolz... Btw, Minion craze hasn't left London too...

  16. What a colorful blog! The streets you visited have these lovely lights and colors and clean despite all these stuff. I'm glad to see all these from your blog.

  17. I'm planning our Japan trip this year and have been contemplating whether we'll join a tour or what. But you pointed out my 'fear' of not being able to enjoy the place because we have a schedule to follow. Hmm. Probably won't do a tour!

  18. My friend is going this place soon. Shared this with her

  19. Wow! Totoro is so cute and being in Kiddyland will make me feel like a kid again. There's so many souvenirs to bring home especially when you're a fan of anime series.

  20. I missed the ABC mart but most definitely will hunt it down on my next visit to Japan, thanks for noting that out. Tons of hidden gems in Tokyo that needs to be highlighted rather than the usual mainstream stuff :)

  21. WoW! The place is so crowded, but I like it because it looks so cool and fascinating.

  22. i really wanna go to japan now.. haha i kept on seeing blog post about the place..

  23. This street looks amazing,. And I see the minions conquered the world :) Japan is on my list of countries to visit - didn't manage so far, but I'll get there in a few years (when my son will be a bit older).

  24. This street looks amazing,. And I see the minions conquered the world :) Japan is on my list of countries to visit - didn't manage so far, but I'll get there in a few years (when my son will be a bit older).