Finally, one of the countries in my “been there” checklist has been partially crossed-out. Why partially? Click here.
But again, I had a splendid time there, and how I wish I could get back really soon!
Papi’s Note: This entry is picture-loaded, and rather long. Try not to get bored… Please. 😛
This is just part 1 of our Japan journey. 😉
Pats and I arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo at around 10:30 PM, and were able to get pass through immigration at past 11:00 PM. With worries of not being able to ride the train towards our accommodation – train closes at 12 midnight, we were on a total “rush” mode. Fortunately, we made it just on time. So, we pushed through Plan A, and checked-in at Sakura Hostel in Asakusa. Plan B was to sleep at the airport. Whew!
As usual, our trip is a free and easy one. Preparing our itinerary days before was really stressful: lots of places to go to, places closed on Mondays, etc. It’s really better to plan way ahead if you’re visiting Japan. Believe me. I got stressed out planning our Tokyo itinerary in a week.
Here are some of the places we’ve been at, just to tease you guys a little bit. 😀
Asakusa – Our homebase in Tokyo.
This is where our Tokyo accommodations are located: Sakura Hostel and K’s House Tokyo Oasis. These two hostels are just a 5-minute walk away from the Sensoji Temple – one of the must-see Buddhist temples in Tokyo, IMO. And towards Sensoji Temple is Nakamise Shopping Street or Nakamise-dori – a stretch of various souvenir and food shops.
YOKOHAMA – A relaxed stroll, away from the busy streets of Tokyo.
Roughly 50 minutes train ride from Asakusa, we ventured towards Yokohama to meet-up with Pats’ friend and former colleague, Ms Roch, along with her 2 sons: Kenji and Yuugo.
We spent Day 1 in a very relaxed manner, after the stressful and worrisome arrival the night before. We strolled around Minato Mirai 21 area, which has various tourist spots that are just a “walking-distance” away: Redbrick Warehouse, Yokohama World Porters, Queen’s Square, Cosmo World. etc.
With the cold and cloudy weather, not to mention the 2 cute little kids we were playing with, our walk in the park was indeed relaxing and was a great escape off the busy city that is Tokyo.
KYOTO – Temples and Shrines overload. But, better than Tokyo, in my opinion.
A 3-hours bullet-train ride from Tokyo is Kyoto. TokyoTokyoTokyoTokyo……… We’ve only seen a part of Kyoto, but I liked it better than Tokyo. I can’t explain why though. Let’s just say that I felt more “at home” in Kyoto. 🙂 We also loved the food. I think most of those we ate were delicious. Ahh… Probably that’s why I liked Kyoto. Hehe.
Also, we were able to stay at a Ryokan – a japanese traditional inn, where we experienced (somehow) the customary life of the old Japan.
Gion is also in Kyoto, where you can spot Maikos (Geisha apprentice) and Geikos (Geisha) walking around. Unfortunately for us, we only saw a few (but we saw something very unexpected! hahaha!). If we had the budget, we could have watched a performance. Maybe next time.
Nara – Oh deer.
They are everywhere! Nah, just exaggerating it. 😛 But, there are quite a lot of them at Nara park, where they roam and cross the street freely, poop anywhere, chase kids holding biscuits – even paper, and anything you can think of when an animal is out of its cage. But, they are rather harmless, to be fair. Most were just sitting quietly, people-watching. 3:>
We’ve spent around half of our day at Nara since there were only a few interesting spots, for us, to visit there.Take note that there are students around Nara Park that offers free tour of the area. I think it’s a way for them to practice their English skills, nifty indeed.
Osaka – We have to get back here and spend a day or two.
A half-day trip here is really not enough! We only managed to visit the Osaka Castle and Umeda Sky Building. Though these two attractions were fantastic, there were still lots to see, especially at night.
I loved Osaka Castle. Aside from its beautiful exteriors, inside is a museum about the history of Osaka, its wars, and this particular castle. I have always been fascinated with Japanese history, and stories. Sorry Jose Rizal.
Funny thing was we were able to doze off at it’s audio-visual room while waiting for the rain to stop. 😀
Umeda Sky Building was also great. My soon-to-be-hopefully-soon architect sister will definitely like it as well. It’s design and structure is simply superb, especially if you get to the roof top. Unfortunately, it was raining that time. So, we were not able to enjoy the sky deck as it was wet and uber cold.
Again, this is just part 1. There are more to come. Hopefully, I get the time to edit the photos and write the entry… Boo…
Anyways… Watch out for more photos taken using my phone, and those taken by Pats… Also, some Papi’s Tips coming up. So, stay tuned. 😉
Papi’s Transpo Tips:
Japan’s railway system is rather complex but efficient. Trains arrive and depart the station on time, religiously following their timetable. This makes planning your trip a bit easier. Visit Hyperdia for a more detailed guide on how to get from one station to another.
A Japan Railway Pass (JR Pass) is of great use, especially if you’re going to ride the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to various places in Japan. However, it’s only usable in JR lines. More Info. This is highly recommended. In Malaysia, it cost around RM1,100.00 for the 7 Days pass. They also have 1 or x-days passes for the other trains. Though, we didn’t manage to check on it.
Their bus system is similarly effective and on-time, well based on our experience in Kyoto, not sure about Tokyo. In Kyoto, you may opt to buy a City Bus All-Day Pass for Y500.00. This is all you need in order to get to all the tourist spots in Kyoto. More info.