I had booked an Imperial Palace tour before I left for the Japan trip. To book the tour, you need to go on the Imperial family's website and book a day and time. It can get quite popular because the locals book up the free tours quickly. It is a 70-minute tour within the Imperial Palace compound. Without the tour, the only place you can enter is the Imperial Garden.
After exiting Otemachi Station, we walked straight ahead to the gate of the Palace where we were asked to meet and show our visit permit which the Imperial Palace Office had emailed me.
We were led to this canteen-like area to get our English audio guide and listen to some Japanese talk via a TV.
The audio guide
The guard said that he would tell us which button to press to listen to the explanation in English but besides the first button he mentioned, I never heard him asking us to press any other button, so for most part of the tour, I was completely lost in translation.
The police-lookalike guard leading the tour
The local tourists would go first while the foreigner tourists followed after.
We walked past a stone wall where the Shoguns had left their family crest on.
The local tourists
It looked beautiful, but I didn't know what it was since I could not understand Japanese and I didn't know the button to press for it.
I guessed that it was the government building where our visit permit was processed.
I guessed that this is the plaza where the Emperor and the imperial family meet the commoners on his birthday.
They were looking at us as though we were the most interesting things of the day.
Many people were taking pictures here, so it seemed natural for me to take a picture of my mother too!
Not sure why the guard stood here. We guessed that he was talking about the red-leafed bush.
By then, Baby was getting bored and wanted to leave. I told her she was able to make things interesting: she could run across the road, up the slope and try to pluck some red leaves from the bush. The guard would then capture her. It would make for some interesting sight!
Fortunately, she understood that it was only a joke.
A lake-ful of lotus. Everybody was taking pictures of it, so did I.
I decided that I should also have a picture after we left the Palace.
Opposite the Palace, we came to this beautiful fountain area.
The mist was a mesmerising sight. My mother wanted a picture with her in it. I asked her to come over to stand in the middle of it.
By the time she got there, the mist was gone!
Baby had it even worse: the fountains were gone too!
Then we walked to Tokyo Station.
I wanted to exchange my E-tickets for the Shinkansen tickets to Kyoto, a trip that we would make tomorrow.
I read that the Tokio Tours counter only opens at 10am every day so I should exchange the tickets a day before my trip so that I could set off for Kyoto early, like 6.30am the next day.
But Baby was hungry and thirsty, so we quickly settled for a shop almost fully occupied by men!
And the food was as awful as its setting.
Yes, even the pork chop rice.
All these cost 2400 yen.
We found the Tokai Tours quite easily this time round.
It took about 15 minutes for the staff to process the tickets. They were patient and nice in explaining how the Nozomi train worked: the timing for the first and last train and its frequency ie. about10-minute interval.
It was a Thursday. I knew that the Oriental Bazaar was closed but I decided to go and take a look at the shop anyway.
I had decided that I should return early to Tokyo for the shop on Saturday if Kyoto was not much fun to begin with.
We exited from the Omote-sando Station.
Indeed, it was closed.
A few shops down, we entered Kiddy Land and bought a few toys, including Baby's S$30 keychain and my nephew's train set.
We saw a long queue outside the shop Ice Monster. It was selling the fruit shavings we saw at Nakamise Street.
I was worried that my mother would be hungry, so I suggested eating across the road at Eggs & Things.
The cosy and comfortable setting
Then we continued our walk at Harajuku Street and bought a big cat bag for 7000 yen for Coco.
The end of Harajuku Street for us.
We walked to this subway station just to realise that we were at the 'wrong' station again.
The station staff told me I should walk to the JR Harajuku Station which was 'near, near!'
It didn't feel 'near' to us at all!
While resting in our hotel room, I saw my friend's post on Facebook that she was having the 'best beef' which melts in her mouth at Shinjuku, so I decided that my mother should have some good beef too!
We ventured out to Takashimaya Shopping Centre that was a few minutes' walk from our hotel and waited for a seat at Ningyocho.
I decided to up my stakes since we were already there.
I would place an order for a Pair Course for High Quality Beef.
An iced oolong tea was served before the food
Appetiser: beancurd-egg and vegetables
My mother was shocked to see the tiny dishes. She kept asking me,"Are these the only dishes you ordered?"
Baby and I were in stitches to see the worried look on her!
Tuna sushi and sashimi
Our high quality marbled beef!
The server first cooked the beef in a hot plate.
Then she coated the cooked beef in a bowl of raw egg.
It looked disgusting but tasted heavenly!
The seasonal dish was added later.
It proved to be too much for my mother and she tried giving me her share.
It was just nice for a famished girl but a two-person share was too much to swallow.
Baby had her kid's meal at 1000 yen but hers didn't taste fantastic I must say.
She probably wasted 900 yen of that meal.
Her meal ended with a vanilla ice-cream while my mother and I had the most delicious peach sorbet ever for dessert!
Another satisfying meal in Tokyo! Yumz!
Ningyocho Imahan Restaurant
Times Square Bldg 14F (Shinjuku Takashimaya)
5-24-2 Sendagaya Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours AM11:00 to PM11:00
Closed for New Year Day
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku