“Let’s meet at the JR station at Shinjuku around 11 a.m.” we agreed upon text as I had the morning free to myself. I took the train to Kudanshita with the motive to visit the calligraphy store that had one of the longest history in Japan, maybe the world too.

The visit to the picturesque calligraphy shop- 玉川堂 (read as yu4 chuan1 tang3 in Chinese, I did not know how to pronounce it in Japanese)- is truly breathtaking, simply the best experience throughout the trip. I have the passion to write Chinese calligraphy during my spare time and I really wanted to get a better brush, the one that could last me for a longer period of time and providing a better grip when writing.

Saito-san is the shop owner of this 200-year-old store. Although we communicated using broken English, our compassion for this art form linked in the sense that language became rather less of a barrier but a tool to convey passion with. He showed me around the store, and my mind was completely blown away by how rich the culture here is compared to Malaysia. I took my time to admire the collection that he has. This was when I knew I struck gold, it was simply beautiful.

Here is the link to their official website: http://gyokusen-do.jp/

玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 1
The Store Front
玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 2
Collection of papers.
玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 3
Art compilation at the staircase of the store.
玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 4
Just look at the collections.
玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 5
Calligraphy brushes…

I did purchase some items from there, 4 brushes amounting to around a hefty 26000 yen which is equivalent to RM 1000. This was the only time that I was willing to spend so much on brushes. On average, the brushes cost RM 250, which are four to five times more expensive than those sold in Malaysia. I trusted my guts that these would be beneficial in the long run, so I just bought them. If things do not go in my favour, it would act as a sacrifice from my pocket to my passion. (Fingers crossed and I got scolding from my parents about this purchase)

玉川堂 九段下 Calligraphy Art Store 6
Picture with Saito-san

After the picture, I still had some time to walk around the small city, Saito-san recommended me to either walk north to visit one of the oldest shrines in Japan or to the south to visit the book haven. I took the northward direction first. Before approaching the shrine, I bumped into a martial arts stadium, I got curious and here are some pictures. There were actual matches going on but I was short of time so I only made a brief visit.

Yasukuni Shrine was the name of the shrine that I was about to visit, it was having its 150 years anniversary going on. Come to think of it, I am really lucky in this trip. I did not really know what was going on but I just took a bunch of photos as all the people there were locals. The locals there mostly wore kimonos and were rushing off to a place, probably for religious practices. It was breathtaking there, literally a culture shock.

After the little excursion of the morning, I headed to the meet-up point, Shinjuku JR Station, with my tour guide for the day- Siobhan.

JR Station at Shinjuku Tokyo Station exterior
Closing to the meet-up point…

It was a little awkward at first when we met but everything  smoothened out after we chatted about life and caught up with each other after not meeting for months. We had lunch at Ippudo and dessert at Nana Green Tea before she tour me around. Finally, some good food! The ultimate goal of this tour was to visit the stairs from the movie ‘Kimi no Nawa’ (Your Name) and the rest was up to her bringing me around.

Ippudo Ramen Shinjuku Tokyo Japan
Ippudo Ramen Lunch
Chocolate cake matcha parfait Nana Green Tea
Chocolate cake matcha parfait

Shibuya was next, we went to see the Shibuya crossing and the dog statue there, another fortunate turn of events, there was a cat there too which is a rare sight to catch hold of.

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo Japan
Shibuya Crossing
Dog statue with cat at Shibuya Tokyo Japan
Dog dog and cat cat

Then, she brought me along to sight see the city, walked along the hipster street and to our next location- Meiji Jingu.

Since I wanted to do more sightseeing, Siobhan walked us to Meiji Jingu, it took about 15 minutes. She cited that there would be ‘dangos’ and some petite eateries there, but sadly there were none, probably the foods there were seasonal. The place is breathtaking and it is the piece of green land in the midst of the concrete jungle, simply amazing, even the air there smelled fresher than ever.

 

 

Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 1
Entrance to Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 2
Simply breathtaking…
Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 3
Sake bottles…
Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 4
Apparently two weddings were on simultaneously when we were there.
Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 5
Wishing boards…
Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 6
Mandatory picture.

We got ourselves some charms and I got it in Japanese. Mine simply meant luck when being around people, something about bright and listening, as translated by Siobhan. I laughed it off as I did it just for fun and to experience and culture. We talked and talked until we made a wrong turn, walking in the opposite direction.

Meiji Jingu Tokyo Japan 7
Looking for our way out…

Despite taking the wrong route, we still chatted our way through the forest. We stopped by a takoyaki shop outside to take a breather as my legs were killing me. After takoyakis,  we went for some coffee at a Japan coffee chain, it was comparable to Starbucks.

Takoyaki at Tokyo Japan
Takoyaki!

We boarded a train heading to Yotsuya- to the stairs!

Yotsuya Tokyo Japan view 1
Yotsuya train station
Yotsuya Tokyo Japan view 2
En route to the stairs!
Yotsuya Tokyo Japan view 3
Walking there…

As we were walking there, we talked more on the culture and the lifestyle at Japan, and our personal takes on the topics. Nothing much but I had learned a lot from her, those experiences are penned down in separate a post (this is normal). Another 15-minute walk there.

Yotsuya kimi no nawa stairs Tokyo Japan 1
this is it. the renowned kimi no nawa stairs!
Yotsuya kimi no nawa stairs Tokyo Japan 2
it is a dream come true, indeed for weebs like me…
Yotsuya kimi no nawa stairs Tokyo Japan 3
if you were here… missing someone to remake the iconic kimi no nawa scene.

We took a quick look at the shrine there and we took the photo there. Many people were there too, I thought the hype would have died down but it was not. At least it was not jam-packed with people, just a few anime enthusiasts there. Another awkward moment happened to us, we were asked to model for the two main characters in the movie (who were both in love) and it instantly became really awkward, we were not lovers though. We kindly rejected and went for our dinner.

Yotsuya street view Tokyo Japan 1
Another aesthetic take from me, definitely one of the best.
Yotsuya street view Tokyo Japan 2
Another best!

We went back to Akihabara to have some conveyor belt sushi at the top floor of an electronics store. The food were simply exquisite! We also had some top-class souffle, which tasted like the clouds and the balance between the texture and sweetness was not overwhelming but it just hit the spot of delectable.

Electronics Akihabara Tokyo Japan
Electronics Akihabara Tokyo Japan
Conveyer belt sushi at Yodobashi Akiba
Conveyer belt sushi feast!

 

After dinner we still had some spare time, so I requested her whether I could visit her place or not. And yes, she brought me there, I am not going to write much about it as per privacy matters. Just some pictures for you to look through.

IMG_2489
The view from her place.
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The skyline of the city.
THBX2175
Thanks, Siobhan! Until next time!

She showed me the way back, and this time I did not board on the wrong train and got back soundly with one of the most precious piece of memento in my head. I got her some stuffs that I bought from Mt. Fuji as a token of appreciation. More trips to come! 🙂

Tomorrow would be the last day.

Yesterday: 28167 Steps From Mt. Fuji to Shinjuku to Tokyo Tower

Craving for more? Down below:
27531 Steps From Haneda to Asakusa to Akibahara to Mt. Fuji
A Trap Called Life
Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (Book Review)
A Loss In Time, Taken For Granted
Nine Hours Apart…

 

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