Saturday, 7 October 2017

Our last two days in Japan: Yanaka, a final bit of shopping and possibly our best meal in Japan

Becks outside the Tokyo National Museum
It was our final two days in Japan and we were both suffering from a bit of fatigue and the sad realisation that we weren't going to be heading back to the UK as refreshed as we would have liked. The fatigue spilled over into a general apathy towards taking photographs so there aren't many!

Our first stop was the Tokyo National Museum. I could no longer tell you anything that we saw inside.
A traditional sake house in Ueno
We then drifted over to the suburb of Yanaka where we saw the above traditional sake house and stopped for lunch in the Kayaba Bakery (I think). Refuelled we walked through Yanaka cemetery which was recommended in the guide book although was a little bit underwhelming for these two tourists as we didn't understand who any of the famous people buried there were. We did see some of the cemetery cats though.
Tokyo tower from Yanaka cemetary
We came out of the cemetery near the top of Yuyake Dandan, which is a pedestrianised stepped street which has beautiful sunset views and lots of gift shops and eateries. It is was mainly full of Japanese tourists with a fair smattering of internationals like us. We picked up a few ceramic gifts in one of the shops and generally enjoyed looking around. Things that are overtly touristy usually put me off but I liked Yuyake Dandan.
Pear caramal flan cronut from the Dominique Ansel bakery
On our final full day in Japan we caught the train over to Shibuya and started with a look round the Hikarie 8 building which is connected to station and contains a few small galleries, exhibitions and arty shops. None of the galleries were very big but we did see a few cool pieces. Nothing had a price on and was too scared to ask home much anything was!

After our short spot of culture we headed over to the Dominique Ansel Bakery to try a world famous cronut. I was very grateful to discover that the bakery itself was nothing like the stories I've heard about the version in NY with huge queues and everything sold out by early in the day. When we arrived the bakery was reasonably full but we were served almost immediately and able to get a seat relatively easily.

The cronut of the month was 'pear caramel flan with cinnamon sugar'. All I can remember was the overwhelming sweetness and it really wasn't that pleasant. Much nicer was the pistachio and raspberry dream that we also bought and looked as pretty as a picture.
Pistachio and raspberry dream
After the bakery we walked a different way back to Shibuya along a street that I'm pretty sure I also walked down on my only other visit to Japan, a work trip back in 2007. In Shibuya we did a bit of shopping, picking up some mementos for ourselves from the homeware chains Tokyo Hands and Loft.

For our final meal of the holiday we decided that we'd just go somewhere local to our apartment in Gotanda. We did our usual indecisive meander, ruling out lots of places, but failing to make a positive decision until we inexplicably decided to head into a small place that we couldn't see inside and only had a Japanese menu outside.
Our final meal, somewhere in the Gotanda back streets
It was the first place that restaurant of the whole trip where there wasn't either an English or picture menu. Our waitress spoke as little English as we did Japanese, and I was getting very negative vibes from the other side of the table. Thankfully, another waiter came over with his phone and used Google Translate to help describe a few words from the menu and help us order a little less randomly. It turned out to be one of our best meals in Japan and the first dish to arrive, whitebait just like they have in NZ, got me out of trouble with the person opposite.

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