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Well everyone, our short trip to Tokyo has come to an end.  We are now in Guangzhou, China visiting my companion’s relatives.  Since pretty much everything Internet-related is banned here in China (even Word Press), I’m not sure I’ll have much opportunities to post regular entries.  So, I’ve decided to just wrap up my series of Tokyo travel entries with a photo highlight reel of our last days in the land of the rising sun.

We got to experience a lot of different architecture, like this Hotel Gracer with it’s amazing striped façade.

Stopped by the Nissan showroom in Ginza & got to see this custom-made GTR designed specially for Olympic Track & Field gold medalist Usain Bolt.

I made a trip to my favorite clothing brand’s flagship store in Ginza. 12 floors of shopping heaven! For me, it’s UNIQLO all the way…

A common ritual whenever I visit Tokyo is to have an afternoon cake set. In this picture, I had a tiramisu cake with a drip coffee.

My must-have food while in Tokyo is the famous Mille Crêpe cake. I can never get enough of this cake, & I never miss an opportunity to have a slice (or two, or three).

Speaking of cake, I finally got to try the very famous HARBS cafe. What a delight!! This picture was taken at the Lumine 2 shopping mall in Ginza.

I tried their Crêpe a La Carte cake with layers of chocolate, custard & whipped cream filling. The slices were huge…just the way I like it.

My companion ate the Mille Crêpe cake, with banana, cantaloupe, kiwi & apple fruit filling. This was an interesting mix of fruits & custard.

Oh & speaking of cafes, we stopped by Akiba on our last full day in Tokyo & just happened to pass by the official AKB48 cafe. For those of you who don’t know, AKB48 is an extremely popular female singing group from Japan who sing mostly anime-genre songs. They are considered an idol group, as each band member is a pop idol among all of their super fans.

We also stopped by the Gundam cafe, which was right next door to the AKB48 cafe. In case you don’t know this one either, Gundam is a very popular, very legendary, very long-running robot anime series. (This is like the equivalent to Robotech.) Not only are the various anime cartoons/movies popular, but the DIY plastic model hobby kits are also extremely popular all around the world. I have also made a plastic Gundam model kit myself.

Also got to experience some extravagant architecture all around Tokyo. Here is the Bvlgari (Bulgari) store in Ginza. It has a diamond-like snake wrapping around the storefront like a diamond necklace. The snake is one of the animal symbols of the Eastern zodiac. In the Asian community, 2013 will mark the Year of the Snake.

We also got to experience a lot of Christmas decorations being displayed all around town, like at this Cartier shop (also in Ginza), which looks like a wrapped gift. It seemed a bit odd to us Americanized folks to see Christmas decorations so early on, but I guess since the locals in Japan don’t celebrate a Thanksgiving type holiday, right after the Halloween decorations are being put away, the Christmas stuff goes up immediately.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’ll try to post some pictures of my stay here in China.  So far, there hasn’t been much things of interest to see…unless you like pictures of mega shopping malls & high-rise apartments that look like they came from a cheesy 1990s movie set.  Otherwise, cheers!












There are quite a few tips & interesting facts one should know when traveling to Asia, especially Japan, which all the guide books will not tell you.  I’ve decided to write them here.  These tips will really come in handy while traveling in Japan… & will help you adapt to the local culture (& not stick out like a sore thumb).

  • When using an escalator, it is polite to stand neatly on the left side to let pedestrians walk on the right side.
  • When using an elevator, it is polite to move to the back when people are entering.
    • Also, it is polite to step out when people are exiting then step back in, so people in the back can get out.
  • When walking on the street, it is (in a way, sort of) an unspoken common practice to not eat or drink while walking in public.
    • Have you noticed there are almost NO trash cans on the streets?  That’s because most people don’t eat/drink in public, which avoids public littering.  Most people keep their used wrappers in their bags, then dispose of them at convenience stores or supermarkets all at once to keep things orderly & tidy.
  • While riding the metro/JR trains, it is a common practice to silence your cell phones & keep them on “manner mode” (no sound, only vibrate).
    • Most people avoid talking on their cell phones while on public transportation.  Communicating by email is the most common practice in Japan.  All cell phones use a private emailing service which is different than your PC email.  Each person has their own unique cell phone email address which is used pretty much the same way Americans use text messaging…but with more detailed features/settings.
  • When you are walking on the street, it is an unspoken common practice to walk on one side of the sidewalk, following the same direction as the flow of traffic.  For example: if you are traveling North, you keep to the left side of the sidewalk & the other pedestrians going South keep to the right side of the sidewalk.  Also, it is common practice to move out of the way if someone is walking towards you.
    • Most people walk on specific sides of the sidewalk/road, depending on which direction they are headed.
  • On public transportation, there are select seats (close to the doors) that are designated for pregnant women, mothers with infant children, elderly citizens & handicapped persons.  Try to avoid sitting in those seats as much as possible, even if you’re leg muscles are on fire & your feet are about to fall off.
  • Most restaurants these days have English menus (or lots of colorful pictures you can point at).  All you have to do is ask.
  • Don’t be afraid of the language barrier.  Most people (especially employees at the shopping malls) can speak basic English…like one or two sentences to get by.  In recent years, there has been a pretty big wave of International tourists flooding Japan, so don’t be surprised to hear a good amount of English while you are traveling.
  • Almost every single shop WILL NOT allow you to take pictures of their storefronts.  Some shops will post “No Pictures Please” signs.  Otherwise, it’s just an unspoken common practice.  I guess this is one way to avoid bootlegging.
  • Almost all shops open late & close early (compared to American mall hours).  Most places open around 11am and close around 8pm.  Few shops close later than 9pm.
  • Restaurants promptly begin breakfast at 7am & promptly end breakfast at 10:30am.  Lunch starts promptly at 11am & ends promptly at 1pm.  “High Tea” a.k.a. tea time begins at 1:30pm & ends at 5:30pm.  Dinner begins at 5:30pm & ends at 9pm or later.  It’s mostly restaurants & cafes that stay open very late.  Most restaurants & bars stay open until 2-3am.
    • Taking afternoon breaks for a tea/coffee & cake set is a common practice in Japan.  I would suggest you try it at least once…since it’s so hard to miss eating the delicious cakes & pastries!!

Yesterday was such a busy & packed day.  It was one of the main days of my vacation where I had to take care of some urgent/serious family matters.  By the time we got back to our hotel room later that night, both my travel companion & I were so exhausted that we fell asleep almost as soon as we changed out of our street clothes.  We were opening some gifts given to us by my cousins & my uncle, & after moving all the stuff off our beds, we were watching some TV before getting ready for bed.  Before we realized it, we were fast asleep.  We were so tired, we didn’t even get to brush our teeth or anything like that.  Sooooo… I didn’t get around to posting any entries yesterday.  Oops.  In the meantime, here are some photos of the gifts I received:

Limited Edition Mikimoto brand 2012 sterling silver photo frame

mosquito repellent

fish flavor soup base, in a dried powder package

variety pack of instant ramen

Finally, I will end this post with a picture from the hometown my dad’s family is from…YOKOHAMA (which is 45 minutes south of Tokyo by subway train):


November 2012

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