The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Glamourous Ginza and pretty pastries

I spent the last weekend with Rob in Tokyo, to see him and to celebrate his birthday. I took a couple of hours off work on Friday and took the afternoon flight to Tokyo. First stop was Rob's office in Makuhari (Chiba), and I met his collegues. It was around 6:30pm when I arrived, so we looked for dinner around Makuhari and settled for some paella at a nice restaurant called Budoutei (review to come soon). I can see why Rob was leaving work so late everyday last week - he was the first to leave the office at 6:30pm! On a Friday night too! By the time we arrived at Rob's place in Ichikawa, it was already around 8:30pm. I love his location - so many restaurants to choose from, lots of gaijin ingredients to get at the shops, and everything's so benri (convenient)! The nearest movie theatre to Rob's place is only 20minutes walk away (as opposed to the 2-hour drive from the Noto to the nearest cinema in Kanazawa :P). These things reminds me why I'm a city gal. I mean, I love the peace, beauty and laidback culture of the countryside, but I'm a restless person and I need to keep myself busy.

On Saturday morning, we headed out to glitzy Ginza, where we had a beautiful 10-course degustation lunch at Restaurant Yonemura, in celebration of Rob's birthday (click for review). I consider this meal to be the best western-style meal I've had in Japan. One of the most expensive too, but it was worth it. The restaurant is located on the fourth floor of one of the nicest department stores I've ever set foot inside.

The entrance to Restaurant Yonemura; the fifth floor of the same department store even had a crystal chandelier!:

For those that don't know, Ginza is the most exclusive and expensive shopping area in Japan. And indeed, that is the truth - the department stores are probably the most swankiest and glitziest I've ever seen, and there are huge stores of exclusive brands like Dior and Chanel. We saw an 8-storey Gucci building! In fact, it is called the Gucci Ginza Tower. I took a photo of it, but it looks quite ordinary compared to the photo on their website. Now, I don't care much for brand names (much less for clothing brands), but an 8-storey Gucci tower?! Perhaps only in Ginza..

On this Saturday, the streets of Ginza were packed with well-dressed shoppers and not-so-well-dressed gaijin tourists. Some parts of the streets were closed off for pedestrian-only access, and here we see gaijins street performers busking. We dropped by the Sony Building and browsed through the latest Sony technology - we were amazed by the display of walkmans, laptops, TVs, cameras and many other electronic goods on four floors of this building. If you're ever in Ginza (for a dining experience like we were, perhaps?), I'd recommend dropping by the Sony Building.

One of the main intersection in Ginza; a puppeteer busker:

We also stopped by the Ginza branch of a well-known patisserie, Sadaharu Aoki. I've heard that the Japanese patissiers have excelled at perfecting the art of French pastries better than the French themselves. I can't really verify that statement myself since I have yet to go to France and try the French pastries there, but the ones in this shop looked gorgeous. I'm not that big on pastries myself, but Rob loves the buttery treats. I'd heard a lot about the Sadaharu's eclairs, so we settled upon a chocolate eclair. Beautifully presented, it was almost a shame to eat it. This is definitely a luxurious treat, as one eclair fetches 550yen (~AU$5.50).


  1. Aaah, so you finally found a place that puts the pan in Japan? Ha, get it? Pan = Bread? Sorry... that's terrible. I loved bakeries in Japan... was massively addicted to them. I really wish we had those here...
    Ginza was pretty awesome, but I felt kind of out of place. Ok, a lot out of place. Why? I'm not rich. There was a Louis Vuitton building there from memory, as well as the Sony building, several very pricey jewellery stores, uh... I remember trying to get perfume for Tash from something like the Gucci or D&G building, and they only sold the sunnies... I ended up getting it at the airport, not the main building in Ginza. Go figure. The Sony building reminded me of everything I've always wanted but couldn't have too, because Japan uses 110-120V 20A 60 Hz and Australia uses 240V 10A 50 Hz. So annoying -_-... I felt the same pangs of pain when running around Akihabara, the electronics district. 500 GB caddy'd external hard drives, funky computers, everything I wanted... just taunting me...

  2. Haha, that's a horrible pun. Technically, it's not a bakery. Sadaharu Aoki is a true patiserrie in the sense that there were lots of beautiful (and expensive!) cakes and pastries, no bread. And yeah, we love the pan-ya in Japan - awesome variety, and they are always excellent quality.
    Ginza is definitely not our scene. We were only there for the food, which was excellent. Still, I couldn't help but feel out of place in my jeans and sneakers, eventhough I had a nice top on.
    Oh, and I just heard from Honey. I hope it goes well ;) especially since I feel like an 'enabler' here.

  3. I wasn't going to say anything :P But international advertising on my behalf? You're nicer than I thought...
    I loved eating melon bread for the first time that I went there... so delicious... I'd seen it so many times in anime, but never had the chance to eat it... yummmmmm........