On our sunny, last day in Japan we headed to the Imperial Palace to see the East Gardens which were open to the public. We caught the Toei line to Kudanshita station then walked through the picturesque Kitanomaru Park, passing by the Budokan Hall where a ceremony was being held.
The Imperial Gardens were quite large, with bamboo groves, sakura trees, fruit trees and a variety of plants.
The highlight was the large pond filled with colourful carp, and its pretty surroundings in the Ninomaru Japanese garden.
On the way out, we stopped by the little museum near the Otemon gate, which was holding a special bird exhibition. On display were beautifully hand painted silk fabrics, vases, wood carvings and glass mosaics featuring various species of birds.
About 15 minutes walk away from the Palace was our lunch stop, the Kitte building, located right next to the architectural splendour of the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station. Inside, we headed to a restaurant called Honke Abeya, known for using Hinai-jidori chicken, which are freshly delivered to the premises from a farm in Akita.
I ordered the oyakodon special set, which came with stewed vegetables and innards, pickles, salad, soup and a custard pudding.
The dish tasted as good it looked. There were pieces of chargrilled chicken, its smoky flavour incorporating into the oyakodon. The meat was of high quality – fresh and tender, and the perfect golden yolk became the base of the thick, rich sauce all good oyakodons have.
The custard pudding was delicious as well – creamy with a rich, eggy flavour.
Satisfied after a wonderful meal, we headed to Tokyo Station.
There were a multitude of shops in and near the station selling anything from food and sweets to character goods – a good place to pick up a souvenir. Tokyo Bananas and Baum cakes (if you can get them through customs!) were especially popular.
The array of amazingly cute cakes and sweets in Japan never fails to amaze me!
Character goods shops on First Avenue:
Another idea for a souvenir is one of the weird and wacky flavours Kit Kat seems to come up with quite often, especially in Japan. We headed to the Kit Kat Chocolatory in Daimaru, just outside the station.
Their flavours included matcha, sakura, mixed berries and cream cheese. We ended up going away with some ume, ginger and butter Kit Kats. To be honest, the strange flavours are more gimmicky than anything else. Most of the time, they don’t actually taste that good – or weird.
We headed back into the station and bought some extremely cute but ordinary-tasting panda donuts from Keiyo Street.
From eCute, we bought some creamy milk pudding and quite tasty bentos for dinner.
We also made some purchases from Narita Airport on the trip home. From the souvenirs that we ended buying in Japan, I’d recommend the rice crackers from Asakusa, the Gouter de Roi rusks and anything from Malebranche in Kyoto.