Monday, June 14, 2010

Japan trip 8 - 11 June 2010

My company sent almost the whole Singapore office to Japan for sales conference from 8 - 11 June. Of course, some people went earlier and left later for personal holiday, but I think it's too expensive to extend the trip because it's basically like buying a whole new ticket for the extension.

We landed at Narita Airport at around 5:30 PM Japan time and by the time the shuttle bus took us to the hotel at Odaiba, it was about 7PM! Hardly any time to explore Tokyo or walk around to shop, so we went to a shopping mall nearby and got dinner. I tried one of the ramens they have there but it was too salty! That was my first bad encounter in Japan because after hearing all the good stories (food, shopping, etc) about Japan, I really had high expectations!

Below is the map location of our hotel and the shopping mall nearby. It was like a 5-minute walk from the hotel to the shopping mall.

View Larger Map

Along the way, you can see Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge (I think the color is from the lighting that they have on the bridge) and also Statue of Liberty (miniature of the one in New York but still quite big).

Anyway, it wasn't a great shopping center for tourists as they have mostly international brands like GAP, Adidas, etc and not much of Japanese shop. Of course they have 100 yen shop which is more commonly known as Daiso in Singapore. But with Daiso is just a few minutes walk from my house in Singapore, I didn't feel so inclined to buy stuff from there.

The next day is full day of sales conference which was to be followed by a party afterwards. We are not so into partying (booze, dance, etc in the dark), we opted to go to Shibuya to get some shopping done. We found out from our Japanese colleague that the nearest train station from our hotel is Odaiba station, after which we need to take the train to Shimbashi station and then change to JR line to go to Shibuya. Buying the train ticket from Odaiba - Shimbashi is easy because the station name was written in English and it has the price written clearly on the board.

But once we reached Shimbashi station, we found it really challenging to find the JR line station. After we found it, it was quite impossible for us to find out the correct fare to pay as the whole board was full of Japanese characters and they have soooooooo many lines!

Imagine this...

but in Japanese characters! We don't even know where we are on the map and where we are going!

Luckily, the Japanese people are very helpful (that is if you manage to stop one while they are walking at their super fast speed) and a girl helped us to find our station and the correct fare that we have to pay. We just have to really listen to the announcement on the train so that we don't miss our station at Shibuya.

We were so excited when we reached Shibuya. Finally we see the famous junction where zillions of people are crossing! But the bad thing was that we could only find restaurants and not much shopping, that is even after we were walking for 3 hours! At the end, we decided to go back to Odaiba area (going back was much easier!) and ate at a sushi restaurant at Aqua City.

Oh, ordering food was hard as well. We kept on asking the chef "cooked?" and he kept on answering "three piece?" oh man... at the end we just point to the picture and say 1 or 2 or 3...

The next day was another day full for conference activities but we finished slightly earlier than the day before and we decided to go to Harajuku, where they said all the youngsters go shopping.

Ready to shop!!!

We found a lot of shops there and started buying clothes, accessories, etc but their price are kinda expensive. When they have real sale, the price is about 2000 yen which is about SGD 30! That's kinda like no-sale for no brand stuff in Singapore. And their nicer items are selling at about 4000 yens and above so it's about SGD 60 and that's kinda like the shopping center price and not "Bugis market" kind of price. But nevertheless, there's just too many cute stuff but luckily one thing comes to my mind "More than half of the stuff that they are selling here can't be used in Singapore, I will look kinda crazy if I dress up like Japanese in Singapore" - those things are just too fanciful! :D

Look at how crazy the street is...

If you can't picture how fancy it is, imagine a person walking around on the street looking like a doll (but alive!) - blond hair, perfectly blow dried or curled, immaculately drawn make-up and *must-haves!* fake eye-lashes, layers of florals tops and vest/scarfs, matching pants, and stylo-milo shoes. (I should have scanned one of the page in their fashion catalogue!)

Next we went to eat at this Japanese pizza place - it was ooishi! Not too fattening but we were satisfied! After that we continued shopping and we went to Kiddy Land as well. They have 4 or 5 storeys of cute stuff! I wanted to buy everything but then again almost everything is useless... hahaha.. so at the end I only bought a stuffed toy for Michelle (which she now hates.. talk about it in a different post) and I didn't get to buy a pink Elmo because the shop was closing! And they also don't sell that at the airport! :(

On the way we saw some shops mannequin, check out the eyes....

By the time we reached our hotel, we were so tired but we still gotta pack because the next day would be a super early one for us.

I had to wake up at 4:30 AM to shower the next day, breakfast at 6, checkout and get to the shuttle bus at 7. I think we reached the airport around 8 and finished checking-in at around 9. Our flight was at 11:30 AM so we got plenty of time to shop in the airport and we bought mostly food stuff and sake :)

And lastly, instruction on how to use a Japanese toilet... :p

Overall, I think it was a super productive 4 days 3 nights trip :)

PS: Will post photos next time, when I find the time to upload them...

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