DAY 2: Ameyoko, Akihabara and Ueno
DAY 2: Ameyoko, Akihabara and Ueno
October 15th, 2019
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Suica card for kids
Our hotel stay came with breakfast, but reviews online about breakfast were hit and miss. Mostly misses, and I’d agree with that. There was a hot dog, bagel, pancakes or toast (all not vegan) and my daughter who is vegetarian got the toast however after a few bites she was done and asked not to have the hotel breakfast again. There was no fruit or anything additional, just a juice and tea/coffee station. So, no more sad hotel breakfast!
We left the hotel around 10am for a walk around Ameyoko, or Ameya-Yokochō. Ameyoko (the shopping part) is pretty much market style stalls along a couple of long busy streets, selling things like shoes, souvenirs, food and more. I was looking for vegan street food options and I didn’t really see anything but it was fun looking at the stalls and it was lots of happy for me. I had read reviews that it was tourist-trappy but I didn’t feel that at all, there were lots of local people doing their shopping, things were buzzing and people were smiling and laughing. A great start to our first full day out:
I did get some strawberries on a skewer which kinda tasted like the strawberries had been frozen/chilled too much perhaps (you can see in the photo they have a watery kinda look) but I was hungry and happy and didn’t care. We saw massive grapes, tomatoes, apples and nashi (pears) but I felt too embarrassed to take photos and I’d read that some stalls don’t like it (I would have asked of course!):
Once we were finished at Ameyoko and had been introduced to the black hole that is gachapon and UFO claw machine arcades, we walked to JR Ueno station to get our JR pass vouchers exchanged (for national rail travel on various lines and shinkansen) and a child Suica card, which is used for traveling on public transport. You must get the child Suica card in person and show proof of the child’s age, in our case we used a passport. For both the child Suica and JR passes activation, we queued about fifteen minutes each in the very warm stuffy busy ticket centre.
Suica cards in hand, we went on our first Tokyo subway ride from Ueno to Kanda station for the Akihabara area, thanks to Google Maps suggesting this route. My daughter likes anime so we first went to what we think was the AKIBA Girls station. We checked out some more anime shops, Radio Kaikan and a gachapon store which was crowded and squashy but still fun. I regret not getting some of the mid century furniture gacha! Mostly we walked around looking up all the time at all the buildings with anime/manga artwork. Beautiful!
We basically spent way too much money on UFO claw machines and gachapon again before we ran out of 100 yen coins so we took the subway back to Ueno to go to lunch at T’s Tan Tan, an all-vegan restaurant.
This is where I was to discover that Google Maps was very unreliable in Tokyo, with the navigation and location finding being way off and pointing us in opposite directions. We walked around for ages and eventually gave up and got onigiri from the convenience stores and ate at Ueno Park. We had some huge crows beside us hoping for a tidbit.
We had a nice leisurely stroll around Ueno Park and bought a goshuin book. A goshuin book is a special book with fold-out pages were you go to a temple and for a fee, someone there stamps your book and includes some lovely calligraphy. We got two stamps and waited about ten minutes for the calligraphy from temples at Ueno Park. Be aware that if you plan to do this for every temple you visit, the price will add up!
We decided to try to find T’s Tan Tan Ueno again for an early dinner and again thanks to Google Maps we walked in circles. Finally we found the way: you must look for the Ecute mall signs AFTER you pass through the ticket gates. We never saw signs for Ecute until we went past the ticket gates with our Suica cards, doh.
This was a good meal. I had the white sesame tan tan set with the side of fried soy meat and my daughter had the spaghetti bolognese. So so good (click here for a review):
We looked at some shops when we finished dinner then went back to walking around the Ameyoko area at night. It reminded me a bit of Sydney Road in Melbourne, but more so the Coburg end with a mix of Preston Market and the Queen Victoria Market, all ramped up. Not just because of the kebab stalls, ha ha. Loads of food options for the not-veg*ns but I was too tired to look for possibly vegan munchies. A lovely end to our day and I kept gushing to my daughter about how much I loved this area.