Discovering Japan: Ginza & Kawagoe-shi [Things to do]

Sheesh...never liked delaying my Japan blogposts because my memory is fading faster than i can type'em out *cries*. Better spend the next 2-3 days typing them all out liao lol.

This is actually a continuation of my itinerary from Day 2's visit in Japan where i managed to cramp all 3 places in one day, at the same time killing my feet from all that walking haha, but every pain gained in that country is just worth it :)
The latests news i've gotten from my travelling friends that Tsukiji Fish Market will be relocating next year onwards, which is rather sad news especially for those that has yet to visit this place. But not to worry according of official news that it would be moved on 3km away from it's original placing, so guess the move won't make much difference. But once i know of the exact place it's settling down at, i'll update a post on it.

Destination #1: Ginza

Entering Ginza

From Tsukiji, it actually isn't far to visit the high fashion and luxury brands district which is Ginza. Just take a train (1-2 stops) or if you feel like walking by all means since Japan's weather right now is cooling, but don't freeze your butts off ya, it's almost heading to winter liao.
Walking into Ginza district is like seeing an Asian version of Milan or something lol, left an right building towering over all of us and each of them owned by individual brands. Imagines a 3-4 story building and it belongs to only one brand (not shared), I've seen GAP having it's own standalone store almost 4 floors, that's just crazy seriously @_@
Shopping in each outlet confirm takes about more than an hour just to browse through each floor.
But if you are feeling lazy there are departmental stores around that houses all the luxury brands under one roof, makes life easier but the down side is that it doesn't carry the full collection only just partial of it.

Yep, fresh out off the fish market and here walking in high end shops without a care in the world lol.
Think i smelled fishy :-P

Ginza area very much reminds me of our pavilion, bukit bintang where every thing under them is of an international brand that small fry like me can't afford lol just can see and wish for only XD
But at least here in Japan you don't get the judgy look from their promoters and they treat everyone of equal because you are considered as customers despite your dressing unlike our Malaysians lol, those high end brands only open doors if you are well dressed otherwise they won't even bother to serve you haha! Who agrees with that? :-P

Was eyeing these Pleat Please: LIPS by Issey Miyake (´▽`ʃƪ)♡ 

Never been a fan of covered flat shoes till my recent Charles and Keith loafers lasted me this whole trip without giving me a single blister at all. That's when i started appreciating covered shoes more, as long they are durable, fashionable and comfortable i wouldn't mind paying for it which. This itallian designer brand Antonio Barbato was literally calling out to me but the price tag for this was too much for me *sobs* Made from pure leather and priced almost close to 100,000¥  . I choked, upon seeing the price tag lol.


Here in Ginza, the brands i've been a fan of for many years like Samantha Vega, Dior, Issey Miyake, and finally managed to even try on my very first louboutin heels (they are to die for)!
Like i said, all can just admire but can't afford lol.
But what i regret during this whole trip (despite saying no regrets pfft!) was forgetting to attend the live demo workshop organized by Wako featuring Maestro Kyoko Matsuo in action dyeing and weaving kimono fabrics.

Missed an opportunity of a life time to see how these beautiful delicate fabrics are made :-(
All because i was wearing such uncomfortable shoes exploring Shibuya and Shinjuku (initially supposed to add in Ginza too) all i did was wanted to go back to change as my feet was filled with sores and blisters. That's another lesson learnt during the trip, always wear socks or bring comfortable backup shoes just in case. (ノಥДಥ)ノ︵┻━┻・/

Destination #2: Renkiji, Kawagoe-shi

Welcome to Kawagoe-shi, Saitama

But what made up for this loss of opportunity was definitely replaced with the amazing discovery i had in this small edo town as i was following あなた and his team to pay their respects in one of the shrines in Kawagoe-shi to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu. Last and final resting place to the master of iaido whom disappeared, if you are interested to pay your respects you may visit Renkeiji 蓮馨寺 where his plaque is placed.   

First time praying in a shrine so i paid my respects here too, and prayed for あなた's grading.
かみさま heard our prayers, thank you :)

Lol, i actually didn't understand much what あなた's sensei was saying during the trip, but after googling now i understood the history behind this shrine and the purpose of our visit lol.
History IS fascinating, and my initial purpose to travel is to learn more about each country and what their history has to offer. I can spend hours in museums just reading and admiring artifacts, almost feels like im time traveling astrally :)
Now back in Malaysia, reading and researching more about Hayashizaki-sensei, can't seem to get enough about his story on how he just vanished without a trace. If you love history as much as me feel free to read about this legendary hermit who created Iaido: The Life of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto No Shigenobu (most up to date documentary)

Most iaido students would usually come here to pay their respects before a big grading exam, praying to pass with flying colours. Just a tradition done by locals and followed too by foreigners like us.

Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu's plaque, he isn't buried there but this is where he was last seen during his travels.

As usual before entering the temple grounds to pay your respects make sure to cleanse your hands using the ladle provided by the basins.

Renkeiji also has their own set of Omamori (御守 or お守り) which is sold about 500¥ each, general wishes like good health, good fortune, For examinations and a few others. Not as much variety compared to bigger shrines has to offer like Inari Fushimi (in Kyoto). Speaking of which as i am typing this i suddenly remembered i had a paper from the shrine which bought it for fun & considered like sort of a donation for the temple.  It was supposed to read your fortune or something but sadly it was written in Japanese but old literature style lol.
Not everyone can understand, it's like me asking you to interpret Shakespeare XD

Anyone here who knows anyone who can read this type of style? If Yes, please do message me so i can send you guys a copy of the script for translation. Thanks in advance :') would appreciate it very much!

Kawagoe-shi of Saitama prefecture is one of the small parts of Tokyo (considered almost outskirt), but this small town still maintain parts of its heritage allowing tourist to have a taste of old edo.
Known as one of the must visit tourist spots for their rich history but i kid you not when i say this place is rather quiet almost like a ghost town without their mastsuri (festivals).

There are shrines, museums, souvenir shops all around the area. So have your pick, covering this whole area alone could easily take half a day but i didn't visit any of the recommended tourists spots above due to time restriction.

You can enjoy peaceful strolls without much disturbance, was sad to know that the period i visited there wasn't any activity ongoing. I missed the previous one which was end of September and the following was potato digging day (darn! I love potatoes) on the 13th Oct but by then i've already left Japan. So unlucky wei lol to miss both events back to back /rage.
You can actually view their full schedule here or anything else regarding Kawagoe-shi this would come quite handy on planning future visits: www.koedo.or.jp

But souvenirs here ain't cheap though, must because it's a tourist spot. One small trinket/ keychain can easily cost you 500¥ & above, but it's nice to walk in to browse as each shop seem to have their own specialty.

 Throughout my whole Japan trip, what i noticed is that in order to get anything of similar to their original traditional stuff like- fans, masks, handkerchiefs, hair chopsticks, woven paintings , etc. It requires you pay a hefty sum (better grade but still not original) or get knock offs (cheapo ver. made in China) that is still equally pricey unless it's in non- tourist areas, those kind of places you can get quite good bargains. And no one can afford their originals unless you are rich lol, seriously not kidding! Wait till you see my next blogpost focusing solely on kimonos, confirm you puke blood in front of your screen looking at the prices LOL.

Destination #3: E-Sword HQ

But prior to that we did visit the HQ of a famous katana selling website called e-sword (not the bible lol) where most katana enthusiast gets their collections from. I'm talking about REAL blades forged by blacksmiths, not the taobao stainless steels we usually use as cosplay props. Another eye opener for me to observe how real katanas are handled with such care, like we aren't allowed to speak upon drawing the blade but i'm not sure why but here are the 2 versions i heard:

  • From あなた's sensei: In fear of offending the spirit that resides in the blade, hence refrain from speaking till the blade it back in its sheath.
  • From the E-sword shopkeeper: Fear of our saliva causing damage to the blade, so best refrain from talking to avoid this.

Not sure which to believe but both also sounds legit lol. But there you have it, such piece of art isn't meant to handled by any tom, dick & harry. And the price of each katana could easily cost more than you car. You can check out their website if you are looking to buy a katana for collection sake: www.e-sword.jp/iai.htm 

Located approximately about 2.5km from Kawagoe station (JR line), walking distance. Here in Japan you won't feel as if you walked quited a distance so don't despair when the map tells you to walk 5km to the nearest train lol. Should enjoice (supposed to be 'rejoice', but it's a slang i picked up lol) because this gives you more reason to eat and replace all those calories burned :-P

Destination #4: Denny's

After all that walking, the food we had from Tsukiji was long digested, last stop for us before we parted ways for the day was Denny's. Sounds like a typical western joint, true enough the dishes served here are western food but with a flair of Japanese infusion. 
Just googled, Denny's is from United States, so that explains the concept and food served, they are a casual family joint restaurant that specializes on pancakes and milkshakes.

Since it was the beginning of Autumn, sweet potatoes was in season so in their seasonal menu you can see all kinds of sweet potato dishes & desserts lol.
But i can't imagine having sweet potato in a parfait *shudders*. I mean.. i do love sweet potatoes when it's hot and freshly baked but not when it's cold and mixed with ice cream. 


Overall the food in Denny's wasn't too bad, just watch out for the sweet potato milk, it's like diabetes in a cup lol wtf. Pricing wise was pretty decent, maybe because we are in the outskirt area so F&B here isn't as expensive as central of Tokyo.
Call me boring, when it comes to desserts i'll stick to my plain ol' matcha and azuki combo as you can never go wrong with that :P

Phew i am actually finally at the last stop and my fingers are already dying! Was actually debating whether i should split this post into 2 like what i did with Tsukiji Market, each location gets a whole blogpost dedicated to themselves or to just mush'em all in like this current one?Any feedbacks guys? Would love to hear some, for improving purposes :)

Destination #5: Tomihiro Kimono Museum Gallery

right click to view full panoramic photo, taken by HTCDesireEYE

Since also kawagoe-shi is marketed in tourism as a relic of "edo period", it is only befitting they have a huge kimono specialty shop around the area too. One of the reasons for this trip was to do a bit of research on kimono fabrics aside from just makan angin (holiday) and i was glad to came across this shop by ACCIDENT while we were walking back to the JR line heading home to Ikebukuro! Yes, toldja the best stuff always comes when you least expect it.
It's considered quite a famous kimono rental branch called "Tomihiro Kimono Museum Gallery (とみひろ振袖いちばん館川越店) where their services include providing a full head to toe rental of their luxury kimonos.

Even to the local Japanese themselves, Kimonos are considered a luxury item and not many of them can afford to own one. 
Most locals would just rent them for their special days like coming of age ceremony, new years or marriage, other than that there is no reason for them to keep one unless its a heirloom. 

Tomihiro Kimono Museum Gallery (とみひろ振袖いちばん館川越店),  just a mere 2 minutes walk away from Kawagoe station (JR line)


I would like to thank the shop keeper for allowing me to fan-girl, take pictures and even record a short video of their shop to share on my blog. どうもありがとうございます!
Hope you girls would enjoy these beautiful fabrics as much as i did!
The shop keeper was so kind that she gave me a full copy of their magazines showing the latest arrivals and styling trends which would be super useful for my researches. Yes this brand is quite big that they release their own magazines as well. I was so over the moon she did that and i shall promise to keep these magazines close to my heart! (>w<) *fangirl-ing moment*

My favorite among hundreds in the showroom, guess why? ;) 
Hint: It has something to do with Autumn.

Just realized my quest in search for kimonos, i never worn one before at all despite having offers form sales people whether i would like to try them on or not lol. I somehow get the feeling that i'm not worthy to try on something as expensive as those (>//////<)
Maybe someday lar (in my dreams)....but if i do end up wearing one, i'll make sure to do a photoshoot for memory sake lol.

Aside from rental they also do have made to measure options if you can afford to get one customized according to your own size. In the gallery itself there are tons of fabric designs from you to choose from and each and everyone of them are made a single piece, no repeats to make them all unique.
These are made of silk not brocade, so they are more delicate to handle and it's easily snagged.  Best advise not to touch them and don't be shy to ask for assistance because they are more than glad to assists in anyway possible.

Kimonos offered here are different from the average kimono rental stores you may find out there (there are many actually) but for the price paid you at least get an authentic silk kimono that stands out from the rest effortlessly.
I've seen and compared some of the shops along the way and in Kyoto too but none of the quality comes as close to theirs, guess this is what you call premium.

You can view the video of the gallery walkthrough here.

Official Website: www.tomihiro.co.jp

Street address350-1123 
Saitama Prefecture Kawagoe Wakitahon cho 15-18
Traffic access2-minute walk from JR Kawagoe Station West Exit
business hours10:00 - 19:00
Regular holidayEvery Wednesday

The shopkeeper for Tomihiro Kimono Museum Gallery was really sweet, bubbly and friendly, wish i've gotten her facebook so we could keep in touch *regrets* But really, thank you so much for the kind hospitality! Hopefully through this shared post more people will come and visit to rent from your shop :)

That pretty much sums up my long day with the iaido gang, and reaching home all we did was drop dead on our beds lol.
Walking → Eat →  Explore → Eat → more walking → more exploring → More Eating →  walk (almost half dead) → Eat →   Bed.
Whew..ate quite alot that day lol, not much shopping done guess the only thing we spent on for this field trip was food, food and more food lel.

More Japan Related posts:


Disclaimer: I've been recently asked by people whether this is a sponsored trip and all, let me get this straight. HECK NO! Saved my ass off to enjoy this trip okay -_-;; JEEZ!
If i could travel and write for a living i wouldn't need to plan holidays like this already lol.




Missing Japan Dearly,

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