This is the first of my Japan travel diary series featuring my stay in Tokyo! Warning – post is super long and loaded with pictures!
We stayed at Tokyo Grand hotel for 4 nights and the price wasn’t bad at all – costing us about 21k pesos. The hotel is about 10 minutes walk to the Hamamatsusho station. It was quite a hassle to bring down our luggages using the stairs (no elevator or escalator here). Their stations are huge and their trains have different lines that go to different places. It’s best to know where you are going so you don’t get swept away by the crowd. You can always ask the train attendant if you are lost. Japanese people are super friendly and helpful. 🙂
Thankfully my brother researched beforehand so he knows where to go and we just followed him. Still, research is different in real life so a lot of asking around is required to be sure.
For those wondering how we contact family back home, we availed of a pocket wifi which you can bring anywhere with you. My brother ordered it online and it was delivered to the airport. When we arrived, we searched for the post office in the airport and sure enough, the pocket wifi is there waiting for it’s owner. You pay its usage per day and we got them at the airport. I think this is more convenient and affordable than counting the minutes using the roaming services. But if you are not into calling that much then the roaming services will suffice. The pocket wifi is dropped off also at the airport.
On our first day after checking in at the hotel, we went to Ginza. We were supposed to go visit the Imperial palace but we had a little hold up in the airport because the pocket wifi wasn’t working yet and we had to line up to get the JR travel pass. The JR travel pass we ordered and paid in the Philippines. You can get it from Friendship travel tours and it lets you have unlimited rides in Japan for 7 days when you ride trains on the JR lines. Very useful!
The temperature was 7 degrees celsius! We weren’t prepared for this so I had to layer my clothes and bought a mask to keep my nose and mouth from freezing. Everyone else was doing this, so I look like a native Japanese – just blending in the crowd. We went to this mall in Ginza where I bought a water brush from Tokyu Hands. Even in Japan I think of buying drawing materials! So many stuff to buy even if I don’t know where to use it. If only I’m super good I would have bought all the calligraphy brush and inks I laid eyes on. In Tokyu Hands they have a floor for different merchandise, one floor for cosmetics, another for stationaries, etc… You could spend the entire day just browsing the entire building.
Clothing shops are also super nice. Dainty clothes in pastel and feminine silhouette. I was tempted to buy a coat but then it will be wasted when I go back to my tropical country. However I did find an awesome coat in Osaka, but that’s another story for my next travel diary. 🙂 Didn’t take much picture in Ginza because its cold and some shops do not allow picture taking.
We went to Tokyo Disneyland on the second day. Woke up extra early because we knew that people would flock to the happiest place on earth. And we were right. The crowd was massive and even though we bought the tickets online in advance we still had to fall in line to enter. The line for buying tickets is even longer so if you are going to Disneyland, buy tickets in advance! There are two kinds of Disney parks you can go to – Disneyland and Disneysea. We opted to go to the land because it was already very cold and we were afraid that being near bodies of water might make us freeze to death! Each park has an entrance fee of 6,400 yen about 3,200 pesos. (The Disney bear Duffy can only be found in Disneysea so if you are a fan of Duffy head over to the sea instead!) Both parks are massive, so you can probably only visit one park in a day.
The temperature was 10 degrees celsius. I can feel the beginnings of a cold but kept thinking of “I’m in Japan” as a mantra to keep my body moving. We didn’t attempt the high adrelanine rides as I don’t think my body (or my patience) can take the ride or standing on the long line. We visited some attractions that weren’t found in HK disneyland like Cinderella’s hall and train. Since it is spring and easter season the parade also fitted this theme. I love how the people come dressed up in different Disney accessories. Couples have matching Disney hoodie. Families have Mickey shirts, children in princess costumes, bags with Disney stuffed toys, people bringing huge stuffed toys of their favorite Disney characters. You don’t just come to Disneyland, you become one with Disneyland.
People who have visited disneyland before bring their popcorn bucket and have them refilled with popcorn. My mom went on a hunt to buy a bucket and popcorn. The line is long but she was insisting on getting a cute easter themed bucket. After finally getting her popcorn fixed she spotted another bucket with a different mickey design so we once again went on a hunt for a popcorn stand selling that bucket design. We went home with 2 disney buckets in different designs. It wasn’t until we were packing for Osaka did we realize how hassle the 2 buckets are. Oh well, it is once in a lifetime we get to eat popcorn in disney buckets. ❤️
On the 3rd day, we went to Ueno park to see the cherry blossoms! Finally, my long awaited moment of pictures and anime fantasy! We were early in the park so the zoo wasn’t open and we opted not to go anymore. The cherry blossoms were fully bloomed and so beautiful. When the wind blows the petals fall and dance in the wind. There were many picturesque moment and we took loads of pictures like any tourist would. There were also temples in the vicinity but we don’t know what they were called.
Afterwards exploring Ueno, we hopped on a train to Asakusa shrine. My mom had a euphoric episode upon entering the shrine as she saw the rows of shops lined up all the way to the temple. The shops range from selling typical souvenir to beautiful kimonos and wooden slippers. It was here that I tasted mochi with sakura powder and the best takoyaki! The takoyaki is not soggy but rather a bit crispy with a little bit of sweet sauce. I like this better than the one back in Manila!
I also spotted a shop that sells glass wind chime. Bought one for a friend and another one for myself as it’s high time to change my room wind chime (been there for a decade). The Japanese love to wrap their stuff. Everything you buy for them comes in a beautiful package, it’s almost a shame to open it.
After scouring the shops and praying in the shrine, we made our way to Odaiba. From Asakusa, we paid about 920 yen per person to board the ferry to go to Hamarikyu. We passed by a lot of bridges and finally got down Hamarikyu, which was actually a vast and beautiful garden. We got a little lost, walking in the opposite direction of what we intended. But it wasn’t a total loss because we got to see trees of cherry blossom! We were dragging our feet in search for the entrance to the Shiodome station, when a kind policeman escorted us to an escalator that led to the station. The train ride to Odaiba was our chance to rest a bit. We were amazed when the train went into the Rainbow bridge and we could watch the cars from outside the train windows. Our feet were killing us at this point so it was a big delight to see the life size gundam in Diver city. I was the one that insisted we see the gundam and wow! It did not disappoint! I made sure to take loads of picture because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, plus I am now nursing a busted knee thanks to the epic journey to Odaiba. Totally worth it!!!
Our fourth day in Tokyo we went to the Shinjuku garden. The Shinjuku garden is another place to view cherry blossoms. An entrance fee of about 200 yen is required to enter the garden. The garden is massive but we didn’t explore it entirely because we have a packed schedule.
We took a cab to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. On the 45th floor we get an aerial view of the city. If the weather isn’t so foggy you can see the tip of Mt. Fuji from there.
Another train ride we got down in Harajuku. I was already very hungry at this point. We have a new found appreciation for Yoshinoya of which there are many branches in Tokyo. We ordered their sukiyaki set (690 yen) and splitting it in half. The little brother gets his own meal because he eats more nyahaha~ We split up to explore Harajuku on our own. I found Randa on the 2nd floor of one building and immediately thought of purchasing a pair of ankle cuff stilettos. Unfortunately, the small doesn’t fit my wide foot while the medium is already too long. 😦 There were lots of other lovely styles but I did not want to get something I already have. A lot of neat clothing shops in Harajuku but didn’t buy anything. Tempted to buy cute tights but again it is impractical to wear back in Manila. Self control level up!
We passed by Shibuya to visit Hachiko’s shrine. We miss our dog back home so paying homage to Hachiko made us a little wistful. Our last stop was Akihabara, where there was a mall filled with gadgets. I ogled at the Nintendo 3DS and Psp Vita but I wasn’t sure which one to buy…yet. After my brother finally purchased his precious gaming mouse we headed back to pack our stuff and get ready to transfer to Osaka the next day.
Next travel diary will be about Osaka! Still lots to do! Happy reading! 🙂
I just read other bloggers Japan travel diaries as they were promoting 100tokyo, where this is a site compiling wonderful venues and stuff to do while in Tokyo. Now if only I knew this in advance! But anyways, I still had the grandest time in Tokyo using our itinerary so until next time Tokyo! So many of my friends are now going to or planning a trip to Tokyo or Osaka! I encourage everyone to go now, it’s really a must place to visit!
Here’s are the most useful Internet references we used in preparation for our travel:
- Japanese Visa and JR Tourist Pass – Friendship travels and tours
- For tourist spots, information on train stops, etc.. – Japan Travel Guide