Discovering Japan: Shibuya & Shinjuku

This was the day i was left all alone to fend for myself in a foreign country and with the no.1 problem most travelling tourists would have- language barrier.

Aside from not having data plan or knowing your bearings lol so it's back to the old school maps instead of using google maps lol.
Really I don't mind not having internet for a day as that allows me to focus more on my surroundings than to constantly update social media but it does really suck when you need to google translate something, find a location or look up for product reviews.
And i swore i was supposed to cover 3 locations within the city circle but because i ended up being lost in the moment (and literally too lol) enjoying aimless walks just hoping on and off from one train station to another.




Yep, that's my idea of "fun" i guess but it wasn't as productive as i expected it to be :(
What i learned about surviving in Tokyo as a total banana tourist (well not completely la about 90% only, pffft!) is that their tourist travel magazines are pretty useful as they are bilingual and it's obtainable in every train station you pass by. This particular magazine called "Tokyo Guide" / "Let's Enjoy Tokyo" by GURUNAVI highlights famous tourists hotspots like malls, Shrines, streets, Museums and parks to visits within each district and each page it includes a map showing how to get there by trains.
In Japan everywhere is accessible by train and the rest is within walking distance, makes life so much easier in every level.

Also this magazine is released according to seasons, so look out for the winter copy as there are some shopping coupon deals and ongoing events that might interest you :)
So make sure to pick up a copy of this magazine the first thing you arrive at the airport!

Tourist Essentials in Japan (for the noobs)
  • Guide Magazine - if you don't have any plans or places to visit this would give you some good suggestions 
  • Map of the whole Tokyo train system (available in multiple languages, which can be requested over the station counters)
  • Basic Japanese phases to ask questions: Read here
  • Comfortable walking shoes -  You'll be doing alot of walking

If you guys are like me who can't read a simple map to save our own life (even if it's in english), head over to the nearest counter usually located beside the automatic gates leading to the train platforms. The train staffs would be more than glad to assist you if you can't seem to find the platform your are looking for. Though their English might not be superb but they do try their best to direct you. If it helps you to understand better, try providing them with a paper and pen to draw it out.
First few times underneath the city getting lost within the station maze, you'll soon get a hang of it from the 3rd day onwards :)

But yea, if you do have internet with you it would have helped alot since they have a tourist navigation app called "Tokyo Subway Navigation For Tourists App". Available for download both iOS and Android devices with links below.




Since i didn't have plans for the day and あなた was busy getting their final practice before the grading exam (next blogpost!) so i decided to check out Shinjuku first since it was the nearest stop from Ikebukuro station, Was still trying to get a hang of the station bearings but even after 4 days of staying and commuting from Ikebukuro JR line nothing seems to sink in lol it's like stepping into a new place everyday padahal it's the same station ==;;
Too many exits since it's sandwiched between 2 shopping malls lol wtf.


In Shinjuku it's just another shopping district like elsewhere, for the record it feels like everyone comes here just to shop or either that go for cultural visits. In within the perimenter of Shinjuku station there is at least 5 departmental stores, so good luck visiting everyone of them lol. But the main reason why i headed there was because of the famous specilty store called AINZ & TULPE, now this is a building you would want to visit as a beauty junkie as it specialized in beauty meaning the whole building is purely focused on cosmetics, skincare and other drugstore items.
The brands carried under Ainz & Tulpe, some of them are of the higher-end range or exclusive items which can't be found in the usual duty free drug store like don quijote and matsumoto kiyoshi but that's just a handful.

Coming to shop here just gives you the "tai-tai" experience but truth be told you can get better bargains for the stuff in normal drug stores lol.
Over here it's less cramped and things are well organized on shelves than cramped up like those wholesale-stores which makes shopping more pleasant :D

Price difference between Ainz & Tulpe and don quijote/ matsumoto kiyoshi isn't much, maybe about 150¥ -250¥ more that's all.


Different types of soaps for different parts of your body (eg: armpit/ nipple/ knees lol)

Cosmetic Contact lenses sold in Japan are mostly dailies

Imagine going up 2-3 floors filled with beauty products catering to your every needs lol, it's also a tax free shop which as a tourists you are entitled with expenditure of 10,000 ¥ and above. This was something i wasn't aware of at first and i was so close to hitting the 10k mark and could have gotten my tax refund but silly me did not read the T&Cs properly -_-

Another lesson learnt the hard way *sobs*, by the way their tax-refunds are done within the building itself unlike other countries for example UK where you accumulate your receipts and claim them at the airport. So before shopping make sure to keep a look out for the tax-free signs posted outside the shops or at the cashier with the T&Cs. Usual standard amount to be entitled for tax-refunds ranges from 5000¥ - 10,000¥ depending on items and locations.


See big mirror must take a picture, because i am vain that way lol.

And you wouldn't believe what i bought here, some ridiculous beauty items that makes you question my sanity and vanity haha! Will share about that in my shopping haul post which hopefully i can get it drafted out ASAP! >.<

Shinjuku is also a large area with interesting sight-seeing spots which hopefully one day i'll have the time to revisit the area and focus on it without having to rush. Sucks to be traveling with a tight schedule, so the 2nd best thing you could do is briefly visit each area which allows you to cover more areas thereafter.


The next stop was Shibuya, aside from visiting the famous faithful dog statue- Hachicko another reason was because i read somehwere there was a theatrical make up store (geisha to be exact) within the maze of Shibuya station but the writer of this blog wasn't too smart to list out exactly where =.=
Wasted time looking for a place that couldn't be found but on my 2nd visit to Shibuya, thank god i managed to find it or else i'll be raging over the time and energy lost just trying to find this place lol wtf.

Seriously wearing these platforms were a bad idea, even with plasters covering every toe on my feet it still hurts and the blisters just keeps getting bigger (some burst btw), out of desperation i tried to find myself a pair of cheap socks to save my feet, lo and behold i discovered 3 Coin station! This one was located in the Shibuya station maze, but they do have branches all around Japan as i saw one in Osaka airport too.



Super cute stuff, it's similar to daiso where you can't get emergency needs like extra hair bands, accessories or just random gifts at only 300 yen (3 coins) and not more than that! 300¥ is about RM10.80 (current exchange rate is 3.6 - Dec 2015).
The quality is decent, but expect them to be worn a few times and thrown away afterwards since it's not meant to last so many usage compared to more expensive items.


The train stations in Japan is like a maze and every exit doesn't lead you back to the same place T-T ended up walking opposite of the Shibuya crossing and ended up in this neighborhood uphill where i bumped into these 2 girls who helped direct me to my destination.

Thank you so much for being my life (and feet) saver! This is how real Japanese girls look like, fresh and natural beauties with very minimal make up. 

Frustrations aside despite my feet hurting from the most uncomfortable shoes ever (damn you fashion!), not being able to find this "phantom" shop and exited the wrong way from Shibuya station leading me the total opposite direction from my initial destination. To make up for all those 'unfortunate events' I at least found the Hachicko statue with the help of 2 friendly and cute local girls plus upon arriving at the statue area there two sleeping cats underneath it too! *kyaaaaaaaaa* Too cute to resists a photo!

That was also the area where i got scouted by a local modelling agency, shy die me moment man when the fella asked am i a model and which agency i was representing lol.
See, dressing and grooming one self well pays off to be noticed XD But that wouldn't happen in my own country sadly unless you are a Caucasian or pan-asian.


I touched the neko!!! He is so fuwa fuwa and 'zen' XD
Think these cats belong to someone, as they are there quite often on random days of the week. If you are lucky you might just spot them napping underneath hachiko!

Speaking of which the theatrical make-up shop i mentioned earlier, i did manage to find it on my 2nd attempt in Shibuya. It's called Mitsuyoshi, a famous and trusted theatrical make up brand that's been used by many performers for almost 200 years (since 1817)! If only that "blogger" mentioned the name of the shop or at least the brand in her post that would have made my life so much easier by just asking around =.=
Sheesh...like the Chinese like to say "peh chek" aka annoyed.

In Mitsuyoshi, they have tons of make up brushes, face paints, cosmetics usually used for performances so you won't find natural type of make up in here. If you like fancy eyelashes like the ones released by shu uemura, they do have it here with of course more design variety and a fraction of the cost. As for the make up brushes here might cost slightly abit more as they are considered 'specialty' items used to apply for geisha/ kabuki white face paint in an evenly manner.
Overall, if you are a creative make up enthusiast like me but not too much into special effects yet then it's worth dropping by since you are going to visit Hachiko above anyways lol. Kill two birds with one stone :)


It's located in front of Hachiko Exit (Exit #8).
Upon exiting Exit #8, on your left would be an entrance to Tokyu Department Store Shibuya Station, Toyoko shop on and opposite the mall entrance is a staircase leading down to the subway. Enter in the Subway, you'll find the whole tunnel filled with small kiosk shops and Mitsuyoshi is one of them.


This is the subway you should enter in. If you are facing this entrance on your right would be Exit #8 station, on the left is the Hachiko statue and your back is the Tokyu Department store.

Gotta say i am AMAZED by the amount of people crossing the famous "Shibuya crossing" every minute the traffic light turns green for pedestrians both locals and tourists flocked the area just to capture moments of themselves being immerse by the crowd lol. And i for once am guilty for doing so too XD
Everything here happens with a blink of an eye, from traffic light color changing to the person waiting next to you to cross the road which you probably won't see them again, it's literally like what everyone describes it- "Lost in transition".

To get a better view or photograph of the crossing you can go up buildings like:-
Shibuya Mark City, Starbucks @ QFront Building, 109 building and other surrounding the area.

Sorry hands not long enough to capture this at a higher angle lol and i too "paiseh" to even use a selfie stick but maybe next time i shouldn't be since everyone else also doing it haha.

Everything here happens really fast so i don't recall much aside from rushing along with the crowd from one crossing to another while taking photos lol. At least another thing ticked off my bucket lists- Crossing the busy and famous Shibuya road!
So that was pretty much my itinerary of the day, going for make up hunting while my feet is being killed by my own stupidity (vanity) and heading home during the rush hour was another insane experience especially since i was in the city center, took me about almost 2 hours to reach back to Ikebukuro since there was quite a number of full trains we had to let pass before i could actually hop on one.

And yes, i didn't eat the whole day since i was too focused on shopping, finding the hachiko statue and the bloody blisters on my feet. So for my upcoming trip, i am just going to find the most comfortable shoes i can find but sadly it can't be slippers since it's almost 0 degrees right now lol.

Let me know what else you guys would love to know about Japan, so i can try my best to find it and write about it on my future blogposts.
There's so many things about Japan that i've been dying to share about like my first public bath, touching real silk kimono fabrics and of course the list of convenience store food i ate for almost every meal lol. By the time you guys are reading this, i am most probably on my flight to Japan now so make sure to stalk me on facebook & instagram (i'll try snapchat too) for live updates once i touch down in Chiba :D




Hugs & Kisses from Japan,

CONVERSATION

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