Japan 2016 – Day Two Adventures (Toranomon, Meiji, Aoyama)

Planning on the fly is fun! You can try to structure exactly what you are going to do, but sometimes things just don’t work out. Today was a mix of Toranomon Hills, Meiji Shrine, Aoyama, and Shinjuku.

Oi Racecourse Flea Market

Perfect representation of day two of our trip. We had decided to venture out to the Oi Racecourse Flea Market (Sometimes known as the Tokyo City Flea Market). It had rained slightly in the early early morning, but by the time we got up, the rain had already stopped and the floors had dried out. We thought it would be fine to venture out to the market.

Unfortunately when we got there, the place was closed. We stood around awkwardly until another tourist couple decided to ask the security guards at the gate. They pointed at a sign in English saying that the market was closed (doh!). In hindsight, it’s probably not a bad idea to ask your Hotel concierge to make a call to the Oi Racecourse facility to double-check if the market is on (as it seems to be cancelled at any sight of rain).

Crazy looking horse at Oi Racecourse
Crazy looking horse at Oi Racecourse

Toranomon Hills

In any case, we had to figure out what to do instead, and with nothing planned, we took to our phones find stuff to do. Ironically it ended up being a long ass day because we visited multiple suburbs and kept on our feet (felt super productive). Toranomon Hills, a new residential / commercial precinct in Tokyo that had the hipster vibe to it, was our first stop. Because of where we were, the closest train station was Shimbashi, which meant a 15 minute stroll to Toranomon Hills.

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Toranomon Hills Cafe

We decided on Toranomon Hills Cafe, a deli/diner type place where you select a portion of rice, and a few salads and meat dishes to go with it. It’s nicely presented to you on a plate with a coffee/tea for under ‎¥1000.

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Lunch at the Toranomon Hills Cafe

Toranomon Coffee

The highlight of this area though was the coffee @ Toranomon Koffee, a super hipster coffee shop that had the Japanese vibe to it. It’s actually from the same owner as Ometsando Koffee, which was previously rated as some of the best coffee in Tokyo, but has since closed down. There are two coffee stands that are fully equipped with the latest looking La Marzocco machines. The baristas are dressed in lab coats and greet you as you walk by. The coffees themselves are great by Australian standards (we’re super picky with our milky coffee).

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Toranomon Koffee
Toranomon Koffee
Toranomon Koffee
Toranomon Koffee

After our coffees, we picked up one of those Toranomon things as a souvenir. I guess its pretty unique, it’s not something you will find at any tourist store (on that note, I didn’t see it anywhere else for the rest of the trip). Long story short, it’s a white Doraemon with ears.

Not my picture. Stole from Google
Not my picture. Stole from Google

Aoyama Record Festival

On the prowl for the next activity, Timeout Tokyo reported that there was a record festival happening in Aoyama.

Note, Timeout Tokyo magazines are free and can be found at various locations below. You can also buy them online for ‎¥350 (not including shipping) from the timeout site (www.timeout.com/tokyo). These are the places I spotted it at

1. Narita Airport
2. Shibuya Station Tourist Desk
3. Tokyo Tourist Information Centre
4. Harajuku Tourist Centre
5. Tsutaya (Tbooks) Books Daikanyama
6. Several Tower Records stores I visited

‎The place itself was a bit hard to find. You’ll soon realise that things in Tokyo are often hidden in buildings on upper levels, and unless you know in advance of some event going on, you would never suspect anything passing by. It was located in the Aoyama building just outside the Aoyama-itchome subway station.

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Aoyama Building

As a vinyl collector (amongst other things…which makes this an expensive holiday for shopping) I was surprised at the range of Hip Hop vinyl they had. It was probably a more extensive range than what I found in Germany whilst digging. Vinyl from artists like Q-Tip, ATCQ, Common, Arrested Development, EricB&Rakim, and others were plentiful (seems to be more of an interest in alternative rap, or conscious hip-hop music). And like every other vinyl store I’ve been to, the isles are narrow, and people squeeze in as if they are aligned to each crate while they dig.

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Aoyama Record Festival

Meiji Shrine

After that pit stop, we trekked it out to the Meiji Shrine. We missed out on this place on our last visit, so we decided to check it out on our free day. It’s not really my thing, but nice to look. The cool thing about this area is that there is a nice walking path within Yoyogi park from the Meiji shrine all the way to Harajuku, which is where we ended up. It’s a good 20-25 minute walk over there, and the ambiance changes from a quiet and peaceful area to the madness that is Harajuku.

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Stopover at Doughnut Plant New York City – Milk Tea flavoured things are the best!
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Meiji Shrine
Attempt at an artistic shot
Attempt at an artistic shot
Yoyogi Park Walk to Harajuku
Yoyogi Park Walk to Harajuku
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Mario Kart Cosplay in Harajuku

Janice Wong Dessert Bar

We ended the night by making a reservation for the Janice Wong Dessert Bar we walked by earlier in the day. However, we had accidently booked online for the one in Singapore! In any case, the place was half empty when we arrived, so it wasn’t any major dramas.

When you arrive, you get to sit either at the bar or at a table. I suggest going for the bar seating as you get to observe them making the dessert. The whole concept of a dessert bar is relatively new in Australia, and only really kicked off after the 2016 season of Masterchef. We ordered from the a la carte menu and had the Cassis Plum (round thing) that’s meant to be all the jazz, as well as the chocolate cake with fried taro bits (I think). Its a pretty nice experience with tasty desserts to match. Just remember to have dinner somewhere cheap before hand 🙂

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Janice Wong Dessert Bar

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Summary of places visited

Tokyo City Fleamarket (Oi Racecourse)
〒140-0012 Tokyo, Shinagawa, Katsushima, 2 Chome−1−2

Toranomon Koffee
Toranomon Hills Mori Tower, 1-23-3 Toranomon, 港区 Tokyo 105-0001, Japan

Aoyama Record Festival
1-2-3, Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0061

Meiji Shrine
1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan

Janice Wong Dessert Bar
5-24-55 Sendagaya, 渋谷区 Tokyo 151-0051, Japan