Tokyo-venture

(Part One: Osaka adventure)

Here’s part two of my Japan visit ranging from Days 3 to 8.

As soon as we got off Tokyo Station from Osaka, we bought new passes for the subway lines. Tokyo Metro lines are not covered by JR Lines so we have to buy another batch of cards. This does not mean  though, that JR passes won’t be used anymore because there are still a number of trains under the JR line track.

There are the PASMO and the SUICA cards which are reloadable and they cover all tracks in Tokyo including the JR lines. But if you have the JR pass already, you could always avail the Tokyo Metro Cards which are also offered only to foreigners. These cards are non-reloadable and are time-based like the JR passes. We saved a lot on transpo by using these cards since loading cards is quite pricey.

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Tokyo Metro card costs 1500 yen for 72 hours and 1200  yen for 48 hours

If transpo has been set for you, then you won’t have much of a problem roaming around Tokyo Metro. Almost all places are accessible by trains just be prepared on walking and walking and walking around. 🙂

Here are the places we visited and some experiences we had on our stay:

SHINJUKU

Since we stayed near in Shin-Nakano station, Shinjuku area was only 3 stops away (around 3-5 minutes by train) via the Marunouchi Subway line.

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Somehow the place reminds me of Myeongdong in Seoul

Shinjuku is a district buzzing with life especially at night. You’ll never run out of malls and restaurants and shops and streets to visit. You could search for malls that you prioritise because one day won’t be enough to get to every single one of them.

Most famous of them are Isetan, Takashimaya Times Square, Keio Department Store, Odakyu and Lumine. These are huge department stores that would suit any shopping taste you have. Also, Don Quixote – a very famous department store that almost sells anything have a branch in Shinjuku.

There are also restaurants around the place and karaoke hubs. kabuki-cho, the famous red light district street is also along Shinjuku area.

We returned to Shinjuku on a different night and explored other shops. I like Lumine, Keio Department Store and Takashiyama Times Square.

UENO

Ueno is another famous district in Tokyo. Aside from housing a number of shopping areas, here everyone could visit  Ueno Park.

The park is famous for its many museums (Shitamachi Museum, Ueno Royal Museum, National Museum of Western Art, National Museum of Nature and Science), shrines and the Ueno Zoo. Usually, the place is crowded on weekends with a number of school and family trips. You can visit the place as early as 7am in the morning to avoid the rush of visitors coming especially on weekends.

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Ueno Park is also popular for its cherry blossoms (sakura) spots. Since we came on late winter, only a few trees were  on their starting bloom.

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Some sakura trees have started their bloom on mid-February. Imagine all trees in full bloom by spring! 🙂

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Near the Shinobazu Pond, there are a number of food stalls that you could try. There are sweets and barbecues that you could choose from.

Ueno park is accessible through Ueno Station on Tokyo metro lines and JR Lines. The JR station is closer to the park entrance. Since the park houses a number of structures, you could expect a long walk to visit all shrines and areas of the place. If you’re up for a normal  stroll around the park, the morning would be the best time to go. You could be finished before lunch.

As for the museums, you need to allot a couple of hours for each one of them especially the Tokyo National Museum. I wouldn’t suggest a single day for all museums, though. Each one of them would require 2-3 hours of visit.

After the park, Ameyoko-cho is just a street away. Don’t miss this shopping street. there are a lot of bargains and tax-free shops around. You’ll enjoy roaming the area for various products.

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Also, there are a lot of hawkers that you could choose from. Try the Chirashidon that’s being sold in every corner of the place. 🙂 Chirashidon is a bowl of rice topped with raw seafood that is best partnered with miso soup.

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Ameyokocho bustling with people on a Saturday afternoon

ASAKUSA

Asakusa is another famous area of Northern Tokyo that has held on to old Tokyo. The area is accessible via the Ginza Subway line on Asakusa station.

Asakusa houses the famous Sensoji Temple and the Tokyo Sky Tree.

The Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest structure in Japan, beating the Tokyo Tower by around 300 metres. The Skytree has two observation desks , aquarium at its base and a number of shops and restaurants. The first observation deck (tembo deck) that stands around 350 metres is priced at ¥2,060 and the second observation deck (tembo galleria ) on 450th floor is priced at ¥1,030.

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The Skytree standing at the heart of Sumida Ward

If you’re short on time, you could always get a perfect view of the Tokyo Skytree at the Tourist Information Centre viewing deck just beside the Asakusa Station exit. No entrance fee required for this.

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View of the Skytree at the Tourist Information Viewing Deck

Just across the Tourist Information Centre, is the Kaminarimon Gate that leads to the Sensoji temple. You won’t be able to miss the gate as people flock in front of it heading to Nakamise-dori.

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entrance to Nakamise-dori through Kaminarimon Gate
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The huge lantern at Kaminarimon Gate
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Nakamise dori is a famous shopping street in between the Kamenarimon Gate and Sensoji Temple.

Traditional Japanese goods like fans, Kokeshi dolls, yukata and traditional snack are available for sale on the various stalls on both sides of the street. At the end of Nakamise-dori is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Tokyo, The Sensoji Temple.

The temple is a bit crowded compared to other because it directly leads to the Nakamise street that is a very famous shopping street in Asakusa.

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The Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple)

After heading to Asakusa, you could always choose to visit Akihabara or Ginza. Both places are accessible through the JR Rail. For the rest of the night, we decided to head to Akihabara.

AKIHABARA

Like Shinjuku and Shibuya, make sure you research in advance the malls and establishments that  you’re gonna visit in the place. There are malls for electronics and gadgets and also establishments that sell manga and anime goods.

Yodobashi-Akiba is one of the most famous malls that sells electronic devices in the district. Visit Mandarake, Tokyo Anime Center and Gundam Cafe. You could always check out each one of them but make sure to allot at least half a day for them. Maybe even more.

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Yodobashi Akiba just across Akhibahara Station JR Line

TOKYO TOWER 

The Tokyo Tower is another famous structure in Tokyo. Taller than the Eiffel Tower which was its model, the tower had gathered a number of visitors everyday. Like the Skytree, the Tokyo Tower promises a wonderful view of the city during the day and of course, the night.

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Tokyo Tower
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At the foot of the tower just near the ticket counter

The main observatory which stands at 150 metres is priced at ¥900. This offers almost 360 view of the city. There is a souvenir shop, cafe and a lookdown glass window where people could enjoy the view. There is also a post box in the observatory for tourists who would want to send postcards to their friends and relatives while atop the tower. The special observatory stand at 250 metres and offers a bird’s eye view of the whole of Tokyo. Unfortunately, the observatory is closed until summer of 2017.

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Overlooking Mount Fuji at the Main Observatory

There are also other attractions on the first floor floors of the tower. If you are an anime fan, you probably have heard of One Piece. The tower has a special One Piece Tower that offers different rides and shows featuring the characters of the famous manga/anime One Piece. The entrance to the tower starts at ¥3000 to ¥3200. There is also a One Piece cafe and Shop

Tokyo Tower is opened from 9am so you could always head there early to start the day. There are small stalls that sell foods, Japanese goods and items like shirts, fans and umbrellas around the 2nd to the 4th floors. Items here are cheaper than the usual shopping area in Tokyo.Also, the Tokyo Tower Aquarium is located at the first floor.  There is a mini food court at the 5th floor of the tower.

The nearest station to the tower is the Onarimon station on the Mita line. The closest JR Yamanote Line is the Hamamatsucho Station which is a 15-20 minute walk away.

Zojoji Temple

The Zojoji temple is not far from Tokyo Tower.It’s standing just next to it and you would pass by it along the road. Drop by the temple before or after your visit to the tower. It is considered as the head temple of the Jodo sect.

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Zojoji Temple

NAKANO Broadway

For anime fans and otakus, if Akihabara is huge of a district for you and you do not want to spend too much time on finding building and roaming around more than three malls for goods, Nakano Broadway is another choice for you.

Nakano Broadway is a single establishment that houses various shops that specializes in anime merchandise and manga selection. You could check out each floor depending on the goods you wanted. Second and third floors practically have more anime and manga merchandise.

Nakano Broadway is accessible via Nakano Station through JR Chuo Line. It is directly at the end of the Nakano Sun Mall where various shops and groceries are also present.

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Photo credit: japan-guide.com
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Nakano Sun Mall Street

HARAJUKU AND OMOTESANDO HILLS

You  might have to allot half a day or more when visiting Harajuku. Aside from the famous Meiji Shrine and Takeshita-dori, Omotesando Hills is not far away from the area.

Meiji Shrine is at the east of the Harajuku Station just beside the Omotesando Exit. During winter, the shrine is open until 4.30pm only so make sure to visit earlier.

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Grand Shrine Gate of the Meiji Garden
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Meiji Jingu Shrine Sake Barrels

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Just at the other side of the Meiji Jingu Garden, and across the Takeshita exit of Harajuku station is the famous Takeshita-dori. Takeshita street is famous for its trendy fashion stores, cafes and crepe stands that are very famous to teens.

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Takeshita Dori facing Harajuku station

The place is always packed with people walking on both directions, checking out trendy clothes and accessories. There are a couple of anime and Japanese idols’ stores along the street as well. The place is packed with lolita fashioned teens as well.

Just at the south of Takeshita-dori is another famous shopping district in Harajuku – Omotesando Hills. Omotesando is a kilometre long avenue that displays a wide array of fashion brand shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and various toy stores. Unlike Takeshita which is famous to teens, Omotesando caters to customers on an older and higher income bracket.

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Harajuku Station – Takeshita Exit
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Famous Tokyu Plaza Mall at Omotesando

SHIBUYA

Just a train stop away from Harajuku is the very famous, Shibuya. You can’t be visiting Tokyo and missing on this noted shopping district.

Shibuya is famous for the busiest crossing in the world, wherein hundreds of people cross the road intersection at on all directions. People rushing across has been a sight to view to majority of the tourists in the city.

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Getting read to cross
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Walking across Shibuya Crossing. People going everywhere!

Shibuya has a number of fashion malls, boutiques, thrift shops, cafes and restaurants. The Starbucks beside Tsutaya is situated above the Shibuya Crossing which offers a perfect view of the buzz happening in the intersection.

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Streets along Shibuya:

And of course, after your usual eats and shopping along the shops of Shibuya, never forget to drop by the most famous dog in Japan, Hachiko.

Hachiko’s statue stands near the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station and just beside the Shibuya Crossing. There would be people flocking around the statue so it is never hard to miss.

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Hachiko’s Statue

TSUKIJI MARKET

If you’re a fan of fresh seafoods and sushi, you might as well drop by Tsukiji market. The market opens very early in the mornings on weekdays (closed on weekends) and offers a huge variety of seafoods.

Being near the fishing port, you could choose from various of different sashimis and sushis all over. The market also offers dried seafoods, rice rolls, and other types of to-go meals.

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Tsukiji Market buzzing with people at 6.30 in the morning

Make sure not to miss the freshly caught raw tuna and salmon, and of course, the oysters and tamagoyaki (rolled omelette).

TOKYO STATION, IMPERIAL PALACE and MARUNOUCHI AREA

Since Tokyo Station has been the central station in Tokyo Prefecture, drop by the station, roam around the area and check out nearby Marunouchi and the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

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In front of the Tokyo Station
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Tokyo Station

Marunouchi is one of Tokyo’s most famous business districts. Along its streets stand various wonders of architecture. High-rise buildings are the main display of the area. Marunouchi is located in between Tokyo Station and the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

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Along Marunouchi District going to Imperial Palace

Take note that the Tokyo Imperial Palace is almost a 2 kilometre walk from Tokyo Station but the walk is worth it as you can enjoy the view of Marunouchi district as well. 🙂

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Tokyo Imperial Palace

DISNEY SEA

If a country has its Disneyland, you can not not go there. It’s something that everyone has to do. Whether you’re in Orlando, LA, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, or Hawaii, you just have to be there.

And not surprising at all, Tokyo has their own version of Disneyland. Surely, they have the traditional Disneyland, but also, Tokyo is famous for the one and only Disney Sea.

So to visit Disneyland AND Disney Sea, you have to allot 2 days for them. One day for Disneyland and 1 day for Disney Sea. Since we have limited time, we only visited Disney Sea. Take note that entrance for Land and Sea are different. They offer a 2-day pass that you could use. The one day pass is priced at ¥7,400 and the 2-days pass is ¥13,200.

Visit the Disney resort page to  confirm schedules and prices.

The Tokyo Disneyland Station monorail is 5-minutes away from JR Maihama Station.Note that tickets are still required for the monorails. Pasmo and Suica cards may also be used.

Here are some of the photos from our adventure in Disney Sea:

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Disney Sea

Disney Sea is surrounded by bodies of water. It’s famous attraction is the imitation of Venice, Italy and its Grand Canal.

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The Tower of Terror is one of the most famous ride attractions in the park.

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Beside the Tower of Terror is the S.S. Columbia. You could board the ship and enjoy the view and take photos.

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They also have the Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of The Earth and a lot more rides you could try.

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And of course, the Disnye Princess Castle.

In Disney Sea, the castle stands in the middle of the park, and it’s of course, King Triton’s Under the Sea castle.

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You could enter the castle. There are a number of rides and shows inside that you could enjoy as well. It’s like being under the deep blue sea.

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There are so much things to do in Disney Sea. Too bad we had limited time in it so we weren’t able to enjoy so much of it. But being there and seeing all the rides and attractions is just definitely awesome.

Hopefully, I could return next time and visit both Disneyland and Disney Sea.

*

Tokyo is huge. Plus there are places just outside the city proper that are also worth visiting. A week still isn’t enough and there is so much more to check out. If given the chance, I would return to the country and explore other places around Tokyo like Chiba, Hakone, Odaiba, Roponggi, Ginza and Tokyo Dome City. And of course, there are plenty to check out in Kansai region. Osaka deserves another visit, plus Kyoto.

It would’ve been awesome to return to Japan. I’m already looking forward to my next adventure in the country. Till next time! 🙂

xx Kat

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