27 October 2008

Tokyo 7-10 May 08, Day 1 - Kichijoji, Shimokitazawa

Followed hubby on a work trip for this one :p Although a short trip, it was the first time I got 3 solid days exploring the streets of Tokyo by myself. Totally enjoyed the experience as I could set my own pace and go wherever I fancy! In fact, prior to the trip, I sort of planned a 'Zakka Hunt' to explore zakka shops at Kichijoji, Shimokitazawa and my favourite Jiyugaoka.

Took a midnight flight from Singapore to Tokyo and by the time we reached Narita Airport, it was early morning. Didn't like overnight flights as usually I would be busy catching uo old movies and ended up pretty concussed.

This time round, we stayed at The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo located at Shinagawa; mainly because hubby had meetings at both Tokyo and Yokohama and Shinagawa is a main station with connecting trains to both meeting places.

The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo
The Deluxe Room at The Strings is big by Japan standards with really comfy beddings.
Amenities expected of business hotels are provided, including free internet access.
Relatively spacious bathroom.
All bath amenities are provided.
Splendid view from the room, overlooking Shinagawa Station.
The hotel staff were extremely hospitable and gracious. Although we arrived much earlier than the usual check in time of 3pm, the front desk staff let us check in seeing that we were exhausted from the journey.
After a quick shower, we decided to go to Shibuya for early lunch. Usually there are many restaurants located at top levels of department stores with wide selection of cuisine.

Usually restaurants offer reasonably-priced lunch set during lunch hours to cater to the salarymen and OLs (office ladies).

The Soba Lunch Set was quite good. The texture of the soba was slightly springy; side dishes were not too heavy, just nice for lunch. Hubby ordered a different set lunch. Looked good as well.
After lunch, hubby proceeded to Yokohama for meeting and we arranged to meet in Yokohama for dinner.

And here I started my 'Zakka Hunt'. Time was limited, could only plan x number of shops per locale as I need to factor in time for travelling and shopping; as well as time to locate specific shops as I had never been to most of the shops on my list and had to reply on maps downloaded given in the shops' websites or based on my Mook guide (sometimes, maps aren't exactly drawn to scale or precise). Here I just highlight some key finds of this trip.

Kichijoji 吉祥寺

L.B.C (Life Basic Communication)
TEL 0422-20-2582
営業時間 10:00~21:00
※金土~21:30 年中無休
Chanced upon this zakka shop that sells assorted zakka goods, from clothes to accessories to shoes, household items, stationary, plants to bath to linens.

Karel Capek 吉祥寺ライヴス本店
TEL 0422-23-0488
営業時間 無休 11:00~20:00
アクセス方法 JR中央線、京王井の頭線吉祥寺中央口より徒歩8分http://www.karelcapek.co.jp/index.html
Had some trouble finding this shop, only to realise I took a longer route and wrong detour; it was actually quite easy to locate from the Kichijoji station -_- Anyway, came here solely for tea products and accessories with cutesy illustrations on the packaging.
Shimokitazawa 下北沢
Jam Cover
Kitazawa Golf-mansion 1F
1-40-15 Kitazawa Setagaya-ku
Tokyo. 155-0031
Everyday Open 1300 - 2100

This zakka shop is highly recommended by my favourite Taiwanese zakka writer and artist, 米力Milly (http://blog.yam.com/mymilly/). Most items on display are handmade by avid zakka artists. Tiny shop but packed with zakka goods like bags, cards, accessories, ornaments etc etc. The shop is located a little off the beaten track but luckily, I managed to find it. Naturally, I was 'distracted' by many other interesting shops along the way.
After Shimokitazawa, I proceeded to Yokohama as it was getting late; couldn't keep hubby waiting for too long and I didn't have 3G phone then to contact him.

Hubby brought me to this Kaiten Sushi shop that he frequented in his previous work trip (without me), he was totally raving about the value-for-money fresh sashimi and sushi.
The sushi was indeed very fresh and price really reasonable for such quality. In addition, the shop had service staff who could speak Mandarin making it easier for order taking.

After dinner, we strolled around for a while, played some games at UFO catcher shops and headed back to Shinagawa for a good night's rest.

Tokyo 7-10 May 08, Day 2 - Ikebukuro, Ginza

Had an absolutely good night's rest on the heavenly bed. Hubby had left much earlier for his meeting, so I took my time to wash up and slowly made my way to Shinagawa for my brunch. No need to hurry since most shops won't be open till 10 or 11am.

Was eyeing on Dean & DeLuca the night before already :p

Dean & DeLuca The Shinagawa Store
2-18-1 Atre Shinagawa 2F
Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0075
TEL 81.3.6717.0935
Espresso Bar: 7am-11pmK
iosk: 7am-10pm
Market: 10am-11pm
International Website: http://www.deandeluca.com/Aboutus/Default.aspx?id=202&selItemId=202&parentItemId=14
Japan Website: http://www.deandeluca.co.jp/

Why isn't Dean & DeLuca in Singapore? There are a number of flagship stores in Asia already like Japan, Taiwan... Anyway, concept is similar to that of Jones The Grocer at Dempsey.

Ordered a Chai Spice Iced Tea and Tuna Puff. Yum! I love the Chai Spice Tea!
After the brunch, I headed to Ikebukuro and specifically Sunshine City as I was looking for a particular zakka shop.
Ikebukuro 池袋
Shinzi Katoh Design
サンシャインシティ 専門店街 アルパ 1F (Sunshine City Alpha)
Tel 03-3986-2884
Shinzi Katoh features zakka goods like bottles, cups, crockery, stationary, shopping bags etc with simple illustrations. I was drawn particularly to Onigiri boxes :)
There are also a number of other zakka shops in Sunshine City.

Next proceeded to Ginza to do some window shopping at Coach, Prada, Gucci, Burberry etc.

Ginza 銀座
Pastisserie Qu'il fait bon キル フェ ボン銀座
東京都中央区銀座 2-4-5
TEL : 03-5159-0605
営業時間 : 11:00~21:00(年中無休)
Upon exiting the Ginza station, chanced upon this interesting bakery on ground level with cafe on level 2. On first look, it didn't even look like a cafe, but it sure was popular. As it was afternoon and hours since I had my brunch, might as well sit down for some afternoon tea. However, the cafe was already full and long queues forming on level 2. Well, next time perhaps.


Afternoon Tea

My favourite zakka shop in Japan, this place needs no further explanation as I think I mentioned it several times in my previous entries.

This store in Ginza must be one of the larger branches, with 3 or 4 storeys.

Delighted to see the Afternoon Tea Tearoom & Bakery next to the store! Might as well enjoy my afternoon tea at Afternoon Tea.

My favourite tea - earl grey with honey, lemon and a sprig of mint leaf. Ordered the Afternoon Tea High Tea set which included a drink and 5 pastries from selection. There were at least 20 selections, didn't know what to order and I was trying to figure out the pastries written mostly in katagana. In the end, asked the service staff for recommendations on most popular items.

After the afternoon tea, walked around Ginza for a bit before heading back to the hotel to unload my purchases for the day while waiting for hubby to end his meeting.
It was slightly late by the time he returned to Shinagawa. Decided to have dinner at The Atre, which is connected to the Shinagawa station.

Manhattan Grill
Took a slow and nice dinner at Manhattan Grill, enjoying the music, ambience and company.

After dinner, we took a stroll around Shinagawa station then headed back to hotel.

Tokyo 7-10 May 08, Day 3 - Jiyugaoka

Jiyūgaoka 自由が丘
Was all excited because I was going to spend one full day at Jiyugaoka. I love Jiyugaoka for its relaxed ambience and the town is home to many concept zakka stores.
Passed by this bakery and was immediately attracted by the aroma of freshly baked breads. There is a small cafe on level 2 so decided to have early lunch here.
boulangerie DONQ francaise
TEL 03-5726-1640

I like this concept of bakery cum cafe a lot. Not many places in Singapore offer this concept. So far, my favourite is Provence at Holland Village, Singapore and The Loaf, Kuala Lumpur.
A set lunch included a drink, soup, salad and sandwich. The bread was one of the best I had eaten! The crust was crisp and yet bread tender.
Hug o War
2-14-19 Jiyugaoka Meguro-ku Tokyo Japan 1520035
Wed closed open 1100-1900
tel 03-5729-7045
Zakka store with very distinct concept, I think European-inspired. Very popular among the Japanese ladies.


doux dimanche
〒152-0035 東京都目黒区 自由が丘 2-15-11
TEL & FAX 03-5731-8363
営業時間 12:00~19:00 定休日 毎週火曜日、第三水曜日

Mainly stationary and cards. It seems most stores in Jiyugaoka are small but tastefully decorated.

imane mon premier イマンモンプルミエ
東京都目黒区 自由ヶ丘 2-16-25 シグナルヒル B1F
営業時間/10:30〜18:30 定休日/水曜日・年末年始

This is another zakka shop with unique interior design and furnishings.
Raconte Moi ラコンテ・モア〒152-0035 東京都目黒区 自由が丘 2-15-22
TEL: 03-5731-6330 FAX: 03-5731-6335
MAIL: info@raconte-moi.jp
URL: http://www.raconte-moi.jp/
営業時間:11:00~19:00 定休日:水曜日
Was totally mesmerized by the aroma in the shop the moment I stepped in. I'm quite sensitive to smells and love shops that smell good, in addition to tasteful interiors and elaborate packaging. The aroma came from the essential oil used. Liked it so much that I bought the essential oil immediately.
Timeless Comfort T.C タイムレスコンフォート自由が丘店
〒152-0035東京都目黒区 自由が丘 2-9-11
phone : 03-5701-5271 facsimile : 03-5701-5272
Zakka store that sells kitchenware, bakeware, serveware, linen, bath accessories, stationary...
Watashi no Heya 私の部屋
〒152-0035 東京都目黒区 自由が丘 2-9-4
営業時間 : 11:00 ~19:30 定休日 : 不定休
アクセス : 東急東横線 自由が丘駅下車 正面出口より徒歩3分
Another Zakka store that sells kitchenware, bakeware, serveware, linen, bath accessories, stationary...

Quatre Saisons
営業時間 : 11:00 ~19:30
Yet another Zakka store that sells kitchenware, bakeware, serveware, linen, bath accessories, stationary...
Hotch Potch
営業時間:1100am~800pm 定休日:無休
Besides zakka, all types of interesting knick knacks.

Ryu-Ryu Rucette
Open 1200-1900

Discovered this tiny and cute shop at one of the side streets. Mostly cards and stationary.
When tired, could always take a rest and enjoy some crepes and bubble tea with pearls.
Momi & Toys
住所:東京都目黒区 自由が丘 1-8-19 サメル自由が丘パート2
電話番号: 070-5043-0730
Cute little kiosk.
Make your selection and purchase ticket through this vending machine. Hand the ticket to the service staff.
My strawberry bubble milk tea with pearl. The milk tea was yummy but pearl not as nice as those in Singapore or Taipei.

After a bountiful day of shopping at Jiyugaoka, I met up with hubby at Shibuya. As I was tired and hungry, we just popped into a restaurant without knowing what it sold. Turned out it was something like chicken hot pot.

Sashimi salad. Refreshing!

The ingredients consisted vegetables, mushroom and chicken meat came in this cute box of drawers.

Tori Karaage.
Enjoying my hot pot!

Last day!
We slept late, spent the morning packing and then went around Shinagawa in search for early lunch.
Found this eatery selling Don sets, catering mostly to blue-collar workers and salarymen. No crowd yet since it was still early for lunch.
Ordered the Tonkatsu Set. Price was very reasonable, and absolutely delicious. The rice was fluffy; cut of meat was tender and fried to perfection.

With this meal, we headed back to hotel, checked out and proceeded to Narita Airport for our flight back to Singapore.

Longing to do something like this again...