Travel Post: Our Japan Trip - Day 2 (Hapineko Cat Cafe, Shibuya Crossing, Kiddy Land, Takeshita Dori Street, SweetBox Crepes, Meiji Jingu, self-order Ramen)

Day 2 sees us venturing West of Tokyo Station (Chiyoda) district to Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku where we get to play with stubborn cats, visit the famous Shibuya Crossing from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and visit a few parks and temples!
The first thing you will notice is that it is nothing like the outer-west in Sydney.


There are two types of train companies in Japan; JR lines and the subway. We preferred using the JR lines trains as there would always be a screen advising you where you currently are, your next destination, a couple of quirky Japanese ads as well as the weather! It made the journey simple. While the subway lines did not have this, their subway stations are numbered according to their position on the specific train line. So long as you remember the number you wish to depart the train at, you will have no issues. Oh and make sure to avoid the 8-9:30am peak hour rush, trust me when I tell you that you do not want to get caught up in it.

Before starting the day, we stopped off at Daimaru, the Tokyo Underground food mart where we purchased both breakfast and a snack for later. There are so many options to choose from that we were overwhelmed. Not to mention the giant tower of Kit-Kat's!
We decided to come back later and grab some to bring back to Sydney


Can anyone guess what the balls are above?
Answer revealed in this post! Keep reading :)



Our first stop is Shibuya where we made our way to a hidden little gem - Hapineko Cat Cafe!
If you love cats like Matt does, then this is definitely the place you have to visit. There is an abundance of cat cafes in Shibuya, this place seemed to have good reviews so that is why we chose it.




Rules you must comply with before entering the cat cafe:
You cannot chase the cats, you cannot hold them unless you sit them on your lap, you have to wait for them to approach you in most instances and I almost forgot... the cats with collars are "stressed" and must not be played with! It was quite surreal and yet funny at the same time, but we happily complied. I was just happy to be around so many cats as you can see below!

Oh and the floor is heated for their leisure also. Crazy!







Unfortunately most of the cats were lazy. There was a handful of toys to play with but very few seemed interested. They were all just happy to sit in their relaxing homes and sleep. The store owner helped us by hyping the cats up a bit, but unfortunately it didn't last long.



The whole experience was roughly $15AUD per person and it includes drinks, meiji chocolates and biscuit. Christine chose the Green Tea Latte while Matt selected a cold Oolong tea. 
It seems like we aren't the only ones enjoying a refreshment!



Speaking of refreshments, vending machines in Japan are HUGE. There are so many different variations that supply completely unique and wonderful items (from snack, to drinks, to umbrellas, to cigarettes, to ramen) it was crazy! 

Next Destination was Shibuya Crossing which is mostly famous from the scene in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift where Han drifts through the mass of people. It was to signify how many people actually use this crossing. I would have hoped to see more people than we did.... 
Being the tourists we are... the first thing we did was get out our selfie stick and go crazy.
BEFORE YOU JUDGE, lots of other tourists were doing the same thing.
I think it took us about 5 different sets of traffic lights before we got a nice shot? Haha!
F U N!! 




Sitting above the crossing is Starbucks (where isn't there a Starbucks in Japan...) we decided to sit here and watch the view of everyone crossing. It was also a perfect time to try our snack we purchased earlier.
 ANSWER REVEALED: IT'S A WHOLE ONION with quiche like exterior, wrapped in bacon and it has a sweet glaze on the outside. It was really weird, but somewhat enjoyable.


We walked down the side streets of Shibuya, until we reached Harajuku. Can you believe we went here for one store? KIDDYLAND. Yep, Kiddy...Land... I could not have been more excited.
The place was huge! It had 5 stories, each level containing a separate character theme. Needless to say, we spent some serious money here...




Close by Harajuku is the famous Takeshita Dori Street. Comprising of many small outlets, this place is a shopper's wonderland! We later found out that there is several streets like this in Osaka! There is also a store we discovered called the "ABC Shop" which had all kinds of Nike and Adidas sneakers for as cheap as $50AUD! Unfortunately we didn't buy any, I doubt they would even have my size!



SweetBox - Crepes
The aroma of this place almost extended the line queuing up to buy from it. It radiated throughout all the shops and we just could not resist! We decided to eat the Caramel Sauce with Fresh Cream and Vanilla Ice cream Crepe! Wow was it delicious... The crepe was so thin, yet at the same time there was no chance of it breaking or falling apart. Even when the ice cream started to melt, it stayed together quite nicely. The cleanest crepe experience to date.


A short stroll from Takeshita Dori street is the famous Meiji Jingu temple. Be sure to get here before closing time otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the main gates. We decided to forego Yoyogi park from our schedule and ensure we made it in time to see the temple. Turns out we had spent too much time at KiddyLand.




I have always wondered what these were, it turns out that they are barrels of Sake! Not entirely sure if they are full of Sake still, but they were once used to store the bitter goodness once before our time.

Many people going to pray at the Temple must wash their hands and mouth out with the water from one of these small baths. We were reluctant to put the water in our mouth, so we just rinsed our hands off. We also learned that the proper way to pay respects is to bow twice, clap your hands twice, then bow and clap once more after offering a donation.






After a nice long day of walking, we walked to Harajuku station and caught a train back to Tokyo. We decided to eat Ramen from Tokyo Ramen Street which is actually located within the many underground tunnels of Tokyo Station! There is a whole lane dedicated for smaller Ramen shops. We decided to eat at the below place (apologies, we can't recall the name of it) but it is on the corner, near one of the exits.

This was a first time that we ordered using a ticket machine. Thankfully there were pictures and we were able to select our Ramen bowls with Gyoza. You might be thinking "Gyoza again?" Trust me, you have not seen anything yet. Wait till we take you to Dotombori in Osaka!!!


Pork Ramen
Both of us selected the pork ramen, with Matt generously sharing his cooked egg with Christine. The pork was very tender and almost melted in the broth itself. It easily broke apart when you picked it up. The broth was heavy than expected, but had a very nice garlic taste.
Unfortunately it might have been a bit too heavy for Christine as she didn't feel to well afterwards.



Fried Pork Dumplings (Gyoza)
Seriously, everywhere where gyoza was served, we ordered it. It was amazing no matter where you ate it! It will be hard to convert back to the standards we expect in Australia, as well as the prices... All together the bill totaled around $16AUD for two people!
Meanwhile in Sydney... it's like $15-20 for one ramen :(



Leaving the station and commencing our walk back to the hotel, we decided to try one of the famous Red Bean Fish Cakes! The outside has a crispy edge and the filling was somewhat dry. I would have preferred a side of ice cream, but it was still enjoyable enough to not leave any for Christine (whoops)! 






This concludes Day 2 of our Japan trip! 

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