The day kicked off with getting in touch with nature. We did this by visiting the Rikugien Gardens in Bunkyo City. Then it was off to Sunshine City for lunch, shopping and exploration. We meet up with friends in Nakano Broadway. And finally made our way to Akihabara.
Location: Bunkyo City
Activity: Rikugien Gardens
This garden was made to emulate Waka poetry, classical Japanese poetry. Even the garden’s name, Rikugien (六義園) references these poems with the meaning “Garden of the Six Principles of Poetry” or “Garden of the Six Elements of Poetry” and even “six poems garden”. It’s built in a kaiyu-style and is a daimyo garden with a large pond at the center. The pond is surrounded by forestry and manmade hills with many paths to follow. This made for a nice stroll through a beautiful garden. Admission to the garden was 300 yen (roughly $3.00).
We skipped on the stream stone walkways of the Takimi-chaya, crossed over mini bridges and veered into the forest. Then we visited the Fukiage Chaya teahouse in a nice outdoor setting. For 600 yen we received a treat, okashi, alongside matcha, a green tea powder in a chawan tea bowl.
Due to plant blooming and our pre-season arrival, we were not able to see any of the illumination events the Rikugien Gardens are known for. In spring there’s an Illuminate Cherry Blossom event, fall Illuminate Colored Leaves and in winter Snow-ropes Put Pines. We did see the massive tree from the poster before it bloomed. Overall the Rikugien in Bunkyo City is a nice and tranquil garden to visit.
Location: Sunshine City
Activity: Sunshine City, a beautiful shopping mall, Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo and Namjatown.
Sunshine City, a beautiful shopping mall with way more floors than we had time to explore. We dined at a tendon shop for lunch. And we’re able to purchase manga at their book shop. Typically we buy from 100 – 300 yen book shops or second-hand stores for manga. Though this particular book was new and still in print, so buying it at full price was the likely outcome. There was a “3Coins” shop we heard so much about located in Sunshine City. It lives up to the hype and had wonderful chic goods at reasonable prices. During the time we visited, there was a robotics exhibition. We peeked inside and learned a lot, the joys of exploration. But before all of this, we visited the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo.
At this point, we were beginning to suspect our friend was more of a Pokémon fan than they let on. We visited a Pokémon Center in Skytree just a few day’s ago and here we were again taking selfies with Pikachu. Though it was okay since we were fans too. And so there we were at the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo in Sunshine City. We first headed to the gashapon, a popular capsule toy vending machine dispenser. Hoping for Eevee and our friend Pikachu, we placed our coins inside and turned the knob, imagine our excitement when we received both just in the wrong order. After a quick trade, we were satisfied with our win and headed in to play the Pokémon theme arcade game. Shopping at this location was worth it and we found our baskets filled with survivors and personal take homes.
So let’s first breakdown how we ended up at Namjatown. Sunshine City has many attractions to choose from like SKY CIRCUS, Sunshine Aquarium and MAZARIA. Well we had other places in Tokyo we need to visit and most importantly money became the deal breaker. Hence our choice. In addition to our goal J-World Tokyo being closed permanently. But turns out despite the reasons we still had way too much fun.
Entry was 500 yen (about $5.00) since we just wanted to look around, but there are games and activities that justify getting a passport ticket. Namjatown is separated into different lands each with there own aesthetics. There’s even a legend/curse surrounding the town. Props 👏 to the English storybook display for giving us the background info.
We watched a live performance, and just between us, joined in dancing to the choreographed moves made for children. Pretty sure the employees had stories to take back home about the foreigners wearing the kiddie hats and dancing in the conga line. After all, life is what you make it. They served a wide selection of Gyoza and we enjoyed each bite. There are a lot of cute areas to take photos, so if you visit Namjatown take advantage of a mini photo shoot.
We want to keep going about the rest of the day and can’t focus too much on Namjatown. Though if you want a post dedicated to Namjatown you can make a request in the comments, social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) or our contact form. We’re here to serve and inform.
In case you are interested in recommended itineraries, Sunshine City actually provides ideas based on what course you’d like to take: Romantic, Japanese Culture, For Family or Moonlight.
Location: Nakano Broadway
Activity: Shopping Plaza and rotating sushi.
Shopping Plaza and rotating sushi.
The culture behind buy figurines is interesting and we appreciate how we were able to take part through our friend. It is certainly a slightly tedious endeavor but nonetheless worth it once you’ve purchased your conquest. And as a money saving tip we noticed how our friend had records of the areas and stores they visited and what prices ranged at therefore making an informed decision.
Another friend joined our pack midway through shopping and once purchases were made the group was hungry. This made for the perfect casual setting to sit down at a kaiten-zushi (回転寿司), more commonly known as conveyor belt sushi aka rotation sushi.
So delish sushi moves through the restaurant on a conveyor belt and patrons get to grab the plate of what they want. Each plate has a particular color and pattern which correlates to a price. So keep track of your bill and expanding bellies. Additional items can be ordered and sent your way. It’s fun.
Activity: Pirukura and Karaoke
Pirukura and Karaoke
So this won’t be a lengthy write up about Akihabara. That city needs a post of its own. Let us know if you’re interested in a solo Akihabara story. But mainly because we’ve been to Akihabara countless times before and with different exploration goals (anime, scenic, historic and getting lost). Our main goals for going to Akihabara was to take a pirukura, shorthand name for the Japanese photo booth called “Print Club”, to commemorate all of us coming together and miraculously meeting in a foreign country. And second to sing our heart off out of tune at karaoke. Ending the night on a high key.
So this day turned out to be a bundle of fun. We’ll continue to make our way through Tokyo and eventually land in Fukuoka. And in case you’re in need of more info join the “Mapping Through Japan” newsletter below. On the other hand, view us on YouTube if you’re more into videos. Subscribe and leave us a comment on what videos you’d like to see.
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6-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0021, Japan
[6 Chome-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0021, Japan]
Sunshine City Alpa
3-1 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan
[3 Chome-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan]
Website – English
Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
AJapan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3 Chome−1−2 サンシャインシティ 専門店街アルパ 2F
Located inside of Sunshine City Alpa
Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3 Chome−1−3 サンシャインシティ・ワールドインポートマートビル
Located inside of Sunshine City Alpa
5-52 Nakano, Nakano City, Tokyo 164-0001, Japan
[5 Chome-52 Nakano, Nakano City, Tokyo 164-0001, Japan]