Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 11 – Tokyo)

Tuesday, Nov 01 2022 (Day 11)

Table of Contents

ට  Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday Oct 21 2022 – Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo
ට  Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022 – Tokyo, Saitama, Ikebukuro
ට  Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022 – Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku
ට  Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022 – Akihabara
ට  Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 – Hakone
ට  Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 – Kamakura, Enoshima Island
ට  Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022 – Hanno
ට  Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022 – Shinkoiwa
ට  Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022 – Akihabara, Matsudo City
ට  Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 30 2022 – M3-2022秋, Moto-Yawata
ට  Day 10 – Monday, Oct 31 2022 – Akasaka, Shimokitazawa, Shibuya Halloween
ට  Day 11 – Tuesday, Nov 01 2022 – Shinjuku, Sophia University (You are here)

Today was a quieter day, one of my in-between days sandwiching major events on my trip. According to my Google Fit app, Monday (Day 10) was my furthest walking day of my trip so far, clocking in at 29,043 steps, whereas today (Day 11) was my shortest, clocking in at 12,176 steps. I spent time putting my feet up in my hotel room, processing that Halloween video in the previous blog post, doing  a bunch of work (since this is supposed to be a work vacation too), finalizing plans for an event on Nov 03, and watching random TV shows in the background, both before and after my excursion for the day.

It was nearly 2:00 pm by the time I finally stepped out of my room to start my day, but my first two pictures are actually from the morning when I wandered down to the front desk to inquire about (and then decided to skip) breakfast. This is the hallway outside my hotel room, between the elevator and the room. Isn’t it ugly? And a little disorienting. What genius made this?

Eyesores aside, my first actual pictures are from Shinjuku-Sanchome Station. This was a few stops away from Akasaka-Mitsuke station, along the Marunouchi Line, which I’ve taken several times now. I had never taken it along this part of the line though, which contained my Akasaka station, then two Yotsuya ones (Yotsuya and Yotsuya-Sanchome), and then four Shinjuku ones (Shinjuku-Gyoemmae, Shinjuku-Sanchome, Shinjuku, and Nishi-Shinjuku) in a row. Nishi- here means western, -Sanchome means 3rd Street (or city block/district, but its closer to street in terms of western notation), and -Gyoemmae just means that it’s in front of the “Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden”.

I say all that to help visualize how close the stations were to each other (or alternatively, how big those particular neighbourhoods are) — I could have walked to Shinjuku-Sanchome Station within an hour, and the second part of my excursion later on was to Sophia University, which was right by Yotsuya Station, in between Shinjuku and Akasaka where my hotel is. Anyway, here’s a picture of Shinjuku-Sanchome Station:

I left the station through an Isetan gate, a posh department store I knew from my childhood in Singapore. I hadn’t visited one on my grand return to Singapore earlier this year though. But we practically share the same last name, right? And corporations are persons, right? Hello, cousin!

Heading outside, I walked around the district a bit, looking around and even entering a couple of department stores in the hopes of finding some things on my sister’s shopping list. To no avail, again. They build their stalls here though — several of the stores I entered were over 10 stories tall, largely owned by one company (sometimes it was a mix), and often had restaurants on the top few floors and then a variety of goods on the lower floors. Some, but not all, of the restaurants seemed really pricey. There were also regular eateries in little buildings here and there, unaffiliated with the taller megacorps, though.

But I didn’t fancy having lunch at any of them. In the end, I just bought a couple things from a 7-11 department store and called it a day. Pickled Plum Onigiri and some Curry Bread for 285 yen.

I then wandered onwards, coming to another department store, the Shinjuku Marui store, or OIOI. What a weird name.

I went in to this one and walked down through it from the 8th level. This one had random anime pop-up stores:

And then a huge music shop named Suruga-ya that I spent some time wandering around in. They also had a large section devoted to badges, pins, and other character goods like that linked to anime, idols, v-tubers, and the like, and I picked up a character acrylic stand from there to partially fulfil Heg‘s wishlist. I also picked up a couple CDs, one from my favourite anime series (of which I hadn’t seen a single CD until now), and the other a Japanese release of the album containing my favourite Western song, which I didn’t actually own a CD of. I guess I was holding out for coming to Japan and finding the album in a discount bin here for 110 yen.

Anyway, it was getting dark, so despite there still being tons of stores to explore, I returned to Shinjuku-Sanchome Station and took the train to Yotsuya Station.

Watch out for the Taiga!

The reason I came here was that Sophia University, my hopeful future University, was holding a school festival, so I had pencilled this in as an event to visit ever since I saw it a few weeks ago. I had also seen a sign about this confirming the dates yesterday when I walked by the school ,and the website had indicated that there was some sort of a pre-event here on the evening of Nov 1st, before the actual event opened on Nov 2nd-4th, so I wanted to stop by to see what it was like.

I found out that it was basically a concert held in the central courtyard of the school. There were quite a few people attending the event, especially as the booming music was spilling out onto the surrounding side streets and drawing people in. There were quite a few high school students checking out the place with their friends too though, no doubt future potential Sophians themselves. But as the sun had fled the scene, only that center stage was really open and the rest of the buildings seemed to be mostly off limit.

For me personally, I bought an event catalogue from a tent at the front gate for 200 yen, then stood around for a bit taking some photographs, and then went to listen to the stage for a couple performances. There was a University idol group performing on stage to raucous applause, and then several other groups and singers appearing after them. I stayed for about 20 minutes all in all before wandering back out.

I was happy to pick up that event booklet for 200 yen though. Among other things, it contained a lot of information, in Japanese, about the various clubs/circles that were taking part in the event and had their own booths, as well as the layout and location of the festival stalls and booths over the next few days. It also contained a stamp rally sheet, so I knew to bring that along the next day, when I planned to return there for the actual festival. (And toothpaste and teeth whitener, for some reason. Hallloween gag?)

It will also be fully scanned and uploaded on my blog at some point!

Lastly, I looked around for a place for dinner. I had skipped breakfast and only had a couple paltry things for lunch, so what better dinner to have than a buffet? I found a store offering 90 minutes of all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu, with veggie and dessert side bars, and whose price varied depending on exactly which meat you opted for. I opted for pork belly, which cost 1759 yen all in all.

The restaurant had a tablet that onw could place their initial order on and then order more meat helpings from during the meal. It also more or less had English translations to boot.

Any meat you ordered would be delivered by a little robot machine with a cat face.

It would come up to me, flashing my table number on its tablet face and the shelf that my food was on, then wait around until I had taken my plate and pressed a button to dismiss it, before moving along to the next table that it had an order to deliver to. It was neat and worked quite well despite a number of children running around.

I didn’t take any pictures of the vegetable and salad bar itself, but I did take some pictures of my actual table food:

All in all, I took about 75 minutes polishing off eight helpings of meat (besides my chosen pork belly option, they also offered chicken meatballs and chicken pieces for free), three plates of vegetables (mostly mushrooms, tofu, and cabbage/lettuce), and three bowls of rice (their special curry was great). I didn’t pay extra for the drink bar so I didn’t use that, but the taste of the broth got to me after a bit and it had almost entirely been consumed (or evaporated) anyway by the time the 75 minute mark rolled around, so I was done with the main meal with about 15 minutes left. I then spent about 10 more minutes washing things down with some jelly and other desserts I don’t know the name of, before paying and ambling on back home with a satisfied cat smie on my face. That was definitely the fullest I’ve felt in a while! And this was in the Yotsuya neighbourhood, about five to ten minutes away from Sophia University itself. Way too tempting.

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