Japan 2013: Day 11 Roaming Around Tokyo Part 4

DAY 11 (CON’T)

The main purpose of my visit to Rikugien is for the evening illumination. Rikugien is one of Tokyo’s best known and most popular autumn spots, thus penciled in as a ‘must-visit’ destination during the last lap of my trip in Tokyo. In addition, I will be in time for its famed evening illumination as well given that the autumn peak in Tokyo is towards late November to early December.

As highlighted in Japan Guide, there were many other popular autumn leaves/koyo viewing spots such as Koshikawa Korakuen, Icho Namiki (Gingko Avenue) and Shinjuku Gyoen …… but realistically, only had time for 1 autumn spot after slotting in the various day trips and other activities in Tokyo. On hindsight, with better planning and time management, I could have probably squeezed in another spot for a more complete autumn leaves/koyo viewing experience in Tokyo.

Back to Rikugien, it was very crowded given it was a Sunday. It was a very big garden though …… but unlike the evening illumination that I had enjoyed back in Eikando (in Kyoto), this one was too dimly lit. Not enough spotlights along the walking trail. If not for the massive crowd, it would have been pretty easy to get lost in the crowd :S

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It was so dark that I couldn’t really spot the Togetsukyo Bridge ….. but the trees surrounding the stream were pretty nice.

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Further up was the Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse where one can stop by and enjoy some Japanese tea. But given the crowds, the dimly lit paths, lack of directions and my own impatience (the target was to get back to Shinjuku/Shibuya for shopping before 8pm where all the shops close) …… decided to end off my tour around Rikugien after just 20 min. Probably the evening illumination was not just as good / up to my expectation as the autumn leaves were probably just coming into peak, and the spotlights were not able to bring out their colour and character. In this case, a daytime view would have been much better, well ……

So left via the exit I came from (Main Gate) and walked back the route I came from to Komagome Station. Passed by the Someimon Gate (of the garden) where there were huge quenes. This was the gate/entrance that was so much nearer to the train station! And after looking at Rikugien’s map …… also much nearer to the key autumn viewing spots in Rikugien. Oh well ……

Boarded the JR Yamanote line and decided to head next to the Tokyu Hands @ Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku. The next best alternative given all the crazy protesting going on back in Shibuya 😛 …… Got to Tokyu Hands a little over 7, to be greeted by this ……

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If I knew there were extended opening hours for Sunday, I would not have been so ‘stressed’ and rushed through Rikugien. Nevermind. Had a good time doing a proper walkthrough across this 5 storey outlet (not as big as the one in Shibuya) and got the stuff I wanted – gift exchange present + a box to store the Fancl collagen and Fujiya cookies (bad oversight not to have asked for/topped up for a box when I bought them). Then more walking at Takashimaya itself …… where I spotted an Uniqlo outlet and finally got a sweater and a Kobe Waffle snack at the basement food hall (while deciding what to have for dinner this time round) ……

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Went up to the dining level at 11F, saw that there was a Katsukura outlet but decided that I wanted to have Maisen still (after not having it last night :P) so it was a toss up being the Omotesando/Aoyama outlet (found out from the counter at Takashimaya B1 that this outlet opens till 10pm) or the more convenient Tokyo Station Gran Roof outlet. Did had the thought of going to Omotesando to see the evening light-up while on route to Maisen but having to walk through the crowded Harajuku + another 10 min walk down Omotesando Hills just to get to Maisen (which is what me & HX did in our year 2012 trip) is such a damper. There’s the option of a short METRO subway ride from Harajuku (Meiji Jingu Station) that will bring me to the edge of Omeotesando Hills (via Omeotesando Station) ….. but since the Omotesando Koffee joint that I really wanted to check out during this trip is already closed (they close at 7pm), decided that there is not much point going to Ometesando just to eat at Maisen. And so dropped the plan! Another add on to my ‘to-do’ list for future return trips 😛

And so, took the JR Chuo Line (express) back to Tokyo Station. Managed to locate Maisen this time on 11F of Tokyo Station Gran Roof and finally got to have my dinner a little over 9. Had quite a bit of yen leftover, and since I’m unlikely to do any more shopping, decided to splurge a little on this meal. Anyway I did note that the prices here were higher than that of the Omotesando outlet …… that’s what you pay for convenience I suppose 😛

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Rather than ordering a pure tonkatsu set, decided on a hybrid bento set where there is also a fried ebi, a small iberico pork (cooked) and tofu/vegetables on the side. Felt that this wasn’t as good as the tonkatsu that I had previously at Maisen Omotesando. Probably that + my meal at Katsukura had set a higher benchmark where tonkatsu is concerned 😛

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