11 Days in Tokyo [DAY 8]: Tokyo Imperial Palace on the Emperor’s Birthday

Welcome to this long overdue post. It’s been almost half a year since my trip to Tokyo, and my posts are slowly making its way haha. Exams are over and I can finally post more, so look forward to more posts 🙂

Friday, 23rd Dec 2016 (Emperor’s Birthday)

When Kelvin and I were planning our trip, he mentioned that he would like to go to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. On a normal day, the inner grounds of the palace would be closed to the public, so the best day to go would be the Emperor’s Birthday, where the inner grounds will be open. The Emperor would also make a special appearance himself. Since it was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we decided to brave the crowds and visit the Imperial Palace that day.

How to get to Tokyo Imperial Palace (our version): From Tokyo Station, we just followed the crowds. Period. As we were walking, we realised that everyone was walking in the same direction, so we just followed.

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Tokyo Station

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On our way to see the Emperor!
On the way there, there were many volunteers guiding the way and giving out Japanese flags. It’s nice to see everyone, regardless of nationality, coming together to celebrate this special occasion.

When we got to the palace grounds, there were already a lot of people crowding around. We managed to squeeze in and secure a pretty decent spot.

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Waiting for the Emperor to make an appearance. It’s insanely crowdedddd.
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Finally, the Emperor and his family made an appearance at the balcony. Everyone started cheering and waving their flags up high. It was a really joyous occasion and patriotic moment for the Japanese indeed.

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Walking out of the inner grounds was a challenging feat with the massive crowd, but luckily it was very orderly and the police did a great job managing the crowds. There were even signs held up advising people to walk “slowly and cautiously”. How thoughtful! Wish we have something like this in Singapore.

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The massive, but orderly crowd. 
After that, we walked around the outer grounds of the palace, which was a really huge park. My camera lens died on me then and for the rest of the trip, I had to use my iPhone to take pictures 😦

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Last picture with my Samsung NX Mini 😦
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After a long and tiring walk around the Imperial Palace, we made our way to Tokyo Station where we stopped by a random udon restaurant for lunch. It had quite the queue, so we decided to join in line, as I couldn’t resist udon.

The shop sold mainly tempura and curry udon, and I got a tempura udon set, which included a chikuwa (Japanese fish cake) and hanjuku tamago (half cooked egg) tempuras with udon, a small bowl of rice with curry, and salad. It was only 1000yen, and filled up my tummy to the brim. The only downside was that the English menu was not very clear, and not many of the items had pictures, so we just ordered the most popular items on the menu. Things would definitely be different if I could read Japanese and could order from the Japanese menu at that time.

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Later in the evening, after a long rest at the hotel, I met my high school schoolmate for dinner. He brought me to eat Tsukemen, which are ramen noodles dipped in soup. It was my first time eating it so I was very excited. Sadly, I was still very full from lunch, so I could not finish my plate, but it was REALLY GOOD. I could still remember the taste till this day.

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Next, we went to a popular cafe called HARBS at Lumine Est to eat cake, which was recommended by my friend. I was sooooo full, but I had to give it a try. They also have a compulsory drink order, which I could not finish because….limited stomach space. I ordered the chocolate cake, which was super fluffy and moist, very different from the other chocolate cakes I have had before. The strawberry shortcake was really yummy too. I have developed a thing for the fresh cream in Japan, somehow they taste more milky, like how I used to expect cream to taste like. I remember feeling super bloated and happy by the end of my meal.

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Thanks for showing me around!
Overall, it was really an interesting day, that I definitely would not be able to experience again back home.

The next day, we head to Asakusa and Akihabara!

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