Incase some of you don’t want to get into the whole story, here is a summary in BROWN:
- This is about how many places you can briefly see in one day in Tokyo. It was a Tuesday, so it wasn’t very crowded (to me).
- We used the PASMO train card throughout Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka. Can be returned and refunded once you leave Japan.
- Went through: Asakusa, Ginza, Roppongi, Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku. Shibuya to Shinjuku is a walkable distance. Did some shopping along the way.
- Famous tourist attractions seen: Hachiko statue at Shibya and Shibuya Crossing
- We went through two interesting streets: Takeshita Street (in Harajuku) and Godzilla Road (in Shinjuku where you can see Godzilla on a building)
- Good eats: Ootoya (at Ginza) and Tonkatsu Chazuke at Suzuya (at Shinjuku) Price range around JPY1,000-2,000
- Shopping: GU at Ginza (try out autopay check out machinese at the inexpensive Japanese boutique)
To know more about everything above, you can google or leave a comment down below. To hear our experiences and see tons of pictures of Tokyo, read on below! (I took forever to choose and edit theses 70+ images, so, hope you enjoy them!)
We arrived in Tokyo around 11.30pm on Monday 31.10.2016. We were quite worried that we were not going to make it to catch a train to Asakusa, even though the kind, young, doe-eyed Japanese musician that sat beside me in the airplane from Kuala Lumpur said he thinks that we might make it. After waiting for what felt like forever at the baggage conveyer belts, we finally got our huge suitcases and ran towards the exits, looking for the trains. It was surprisingly easy and simple to find. We only went through one or two automatic sliding doors from the baggage drop, and there it was, the train counters and the train station! Talk about efficiency! In less than 5 minutes, we boarded our first train towards Asakusa, where our AirBnB was. The train map however, was a challenge to understand. “It resembles a bowl of tangled ramen”, quote my cousin when he saw the picture of the map (You can see it in the video).
Thank goodness Asakusa was a simple direct line from the airport so we didn’t have to deal with the confusion so late on our first night. Half way through the train ride though, our train stopped at a station in the city and everyone got out. We had no idea what was going on as everything was in Japanese but we knew we had to get off as well as the attendant came in and signalled us out. We knew this wasn’t our destination and we were quite sure that it’s a train maintenance call, so we just have to wait for the next one.
However, the wait was longer than expected. It was passed midnight and a couple of trains passed by and didn’t stop. We got a little worried that the train service would stop soon. But seeing the amount of people lining up at the opposite platform, we thought we’d wait a little longer. Eventually, another trained stopped in front of us that said it was heading to Asakusa, so we were back on the tracks.
When we got to Asakusa, the main exits of the train station were closed, after some wandering around and poor attempts at communicating with the station’s staff, we finally found a narrow stairway up to the surface. It was not a comfortable climb at all. A lot of train stations in Japan do not have escalators! Lesson is to not bring too many pieces of luggage with you. One suitcase or a backpack would make your life MUCH easier.
Outside our stairway was a Lawson’s store (24 hour convenience store like 7 Eleven), so we got some snacks while we waited for Samuel to look for us to take us to our accommodation. Samuel arrived in Japan earlier from Singapore. We were lucky he was there to guide us late that night as we did not have wifi and the AirBnb was not the easiest to find.
Our AirBnb was warm and cozy. It was a lot smaller than I expected but it could fit 6 people comfortably, had heated toilet seats and a warm bathroom.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
The next morning, was Tuesday, 1 November 2016, which is covered in the YouTube video above. We thought we should see as much of Tokyo as possible as we have allocated only 2 days for the city, where we would go to Disneysea on Wednesday. So off we went! The guys planned all the routes (there are three of them, so I thought I’d just focus on my video and photo documenting and let them decide on things to do), and according to their research, this was the best route to stop by everywhere and end at Shinjuku at night in time for dinner with my elder brother: Asakusa – Ginza – Roppongi – Shibuya – Harajuku – Shinjuku.
We started off with a brief search for the postoffice in Asakusa to get our pocket wifi that we ordered online. The renters said it would be better if they delivered it to a postoffice as it is inconvenient to send it to AirBnbs. Again, the staff at the postoffice didn’t speak a lot of English, so Matt had to show and signal and stuff to get our package.
After getting our pocket wifi, the next task was to get our train cards! We got the PASMO card. It can be used on all the train lines throughout Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and we could get a refund when we left Japan.
Ginza is known as the “Orchard Road (Singapore)” of Japan where all the high-end stuff are. Samuel brought us to this decent priced restaurant called Ootoya which he went to the day before. Our meal was around JPY1,000 (close to MYR40, which is on the cheaper end of restaurant food in Japan) and was a huge portion. I had Chicken Katsu Don (Fried chicken with rice).The portions were large and the rice fat and juicy (later realised all the rice served in Japan are really good quality), it was a very good meal compared to the chicken katsu dons of Malaysia.
We walked around Ginza a little bit. I wanted to get a warmer coat that isn’t too expensive as I wouldn’t have use for it after the trip. We went into a G.U. clothing store in Ginza. G.U. is apparently a Japanese discount casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer which is owned under the same company as UNIQLO. There, I got myself a simple oversized coat that was perfect for the mild autumn cold for below MYR150 I think. The G.U. store at Ginza had automatic checkout machines which was so cool but also left me so clueless since everything was in Japanese. Managed to make payment with the help of one of the store’s staff and all was good. Happy to have experienced that. Didn’t meet anymore of such self-checkout machines anymore for the rest of our 10 days there.
Ginza is quite a shiny area with lots to see. Here are some random pictures of the place:
Apparently Nissan Crossing was just completed a month before we visited. We got to see a few pretty awesome concept cars.
We later took a train down to Roppongi. This place somehow reminded me very much of Bras Basah in Singapore. The buildings were new and fancily built. We were greeted by a friendly giant sculpture of a spider. There were museums around, and you can see Tokyo tower in the distance.
We visited a few galleries and stores near the station. There was a pretty cool light art exhibition going on at the time too BUT we did not check it out. Very sad about that. We dropped by the Adidas store, saw some pretty cool kicks. Fell in love with a Adidas x Stella McCartney pair but didn’t get it. It was JPY30,000, that was almost MYR1,200!
After a brief look around Roppongi, we made our way down to Shibuya for the most popular attractions: Shibuya Crossing and the Hachiko statue. A cousin told me to head to the 1st floor of Starbucks if I wanted to take a picture of the Shibuya crossing. I heard it was one of the busiest crossings, but right then and there, it looked a lot smaller than what was portrayed in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, there was also not as many people as I expected (I thought it would be packed like a concert haha I know nothing). Then again, perhaps it was a Tuesday afternoon so, it wasn’t that squeezy.
The little Hachiko dog is very near Shibuya crossing, it can’t be missed. We did however wonder if that was really it because it was a lot smaller than we expected. There was also an orange cloth hung around it, not quite sure what it meant. Apparently a new Hachiko statue was recently built, so you guys could probably Google that one and check it out too.
Our visit to Shibuya was short too. Since Google Maps said Harajuku and Shinjuku were really close, we decided to walk from Shibuya towards Harajuku. Here are some pretty buildings along the way:
The sun started to set around 4.30pm, since it was Autumn. The walk down to Harajuku was pretty. Lots of stores, lots of people, clean streets, random nice buildings to see and all that. We spotted this very attractive building with a huge tree in a glass enclosure and shiny mirrored entrance. We were drawn towards it immediately.
While at Harajuku, we visited Takeshita street. There were lots of cosplay costume shops there and Japanese crepe shops. Had my first Japanese crepe here. There used to be a store called Mazuzu crepe in Kuching, unfortunately it closed down due to a lack of market demand in our tiny city.
Before we knew it, we walked into Shinjuku. My first impression of the place was, it was very BRIGHT. Maybe it is because it was night and all the light and billboards just shone like electricity was free. We met with my brother at Uniqlo. According to him there are like 4 Uniqlos in the area, so had to take a picture to show him where we were. My big brother works in Tokyo, so he played an awesome tour guide for the night.
We saw Godzilla road which was so. cool. I mean, how often do you see Godzilla climbing a building in the middle of a metropolitan except in movies? They even named the road after it.
Just a little further down, we reached Suzuya Bldg and had a curious but super delicious meal! The Tonkatsu Chazuke! It’s actually just very tasty fried pork with rice and miso soup on the side. What’s cool about it is that half way through your meal, they’ll give you a pot of very thick green tea to pour into you rice. Yes, pour tea into you rice. We couldn’t imagine the flavours. All we knew about tea and rice is that both are flavourless. HOWEVER, it tasted wonderful! From what I see, the meat which was already flavourful in the rice made the diluted rice taste just right, like, nice flavourful soupy rice. The tea was also strong enough adding onto all the flavours. Every part of the dish, with their own unique flavours and characteristics complimented each other surprisingly well! I miss it now! That was definitely one of the top interesting dishes I had in Japan.
The restaurant on the first floor overlooked a shiny part of Shinjuku, but I was too distracted to figure out how to take a pretty picture of it then lol, so here’s me with my bro
After dinner, we went to do a little shopping. I was looking for a Gorillapod so we headed to BIC Camera. They sell all sorts of stuff in BIC Camera besides electronics. There were also phones, drones, clothes, homewares and even Japanese whisky! I deeply regret not getting the mini bottles of Hibiki and Yamazaki. They were so cute! That’s the thing about travelling, I always want to save to the last day to shop, but we never end up getting any of the things we really want to get when we do that. You just won’t go back to where you already went! I didn’t find the gorilla pod I wanted (but I did find it later on in Osaka, which was, kinda late in the trip -_-)
Anyway, went to check out the humungous arcades in the area. The boys thought the Pachiko slot machines were like slots in casinos but they weren’t. Brother told us that if you win, they’ll just throw a ton of tokens back at you for you to continue playing. There goes the boy’s dreams of making big bucks overnight.
After many rounds of games, we headed home for a good night’s rest because the next day, we wanted to catch the earliest bus to DISNEYSEA!!!
I think there is SO MUCH to do, see and buy in Tokyo. We only allocated 2 days for the place out of the 11 days in Japan because according to friends, Kyoto and Osaka were much more interesting. I think a little more time should have went to Tokyo. Maybe because I love big cities. What I gathered from this brief day was, people are extremely polite and toilets were just the best ever (exactly like everyone raves about). In a city of 15 million, it’s amazing how everyone is so civilised. Everything was clean and everywhere felt safe. Most of the buildings in Tokyo however do have a dated look to it, but they were all very well maintained. There is just so much going on on every slim plot of land, I mean, a totally different business could be going on on the 3rd to 5th floor than from the Ground to 2nd floor. It was a great experience and I’ll definitely go back to explore more soon!
Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures. This post took forever to publish because there’s just too much to share! Like how Tokyo is – just so much. Leave a comment if you want to ask about anything!
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