I was preparing to get off from work when I received an email from CS. Nothing was written in there, except for an attachment, a booking confirmation of flight to Narita, Tokyo. For the first 3 seconds, I wowed at the incoming Japan trip. Finally, we are going to Japan. Then, I noted the departure date – 3 weeks from now!! What?
What’s done is done, so in the last three weeks, I was busy planning the itinerary, budgets and finding accommodations around Japan until everything finally fall in, just in time.
Bless the MATTA fair, we got the return tickets to Japan for RM1,250 per person on Malaysia Airlines, inclusive tax and the 6 hours flight was easy breezy, with plenty of snacks and beverage supply.
From Narita Airport to Tokyo :
A Suica Nex ticket (all JR tickets look like this too).
The Narita Express (NEX) is very comfortable and you can rotate the seats around to create a 4 seaters section.
Our first sight of Japan.
We arrived in Narita in the morning and took the NEX Suica combo package for 3500 yen per person which includes a single travel on Narita Express (NEX) to city center and a Suica card with 1500 yen credit. Suica is a reload card that can be use on subways, metro and Japan Rail in Tokyo. That’s not the end of it. We can use it to pay bills at drugstores, convenience stores and certain eateries too. Just look for the ‘Suica’ sign at the entrance of the shop. A side note though, Suica is less useful for places out of Tokyo.
With NEX, we get to choose to disembark at any JR stations in downtown Tokyo without extra cost (as long as we don’t go pass the gate), which again, saved us some money as our hotel is near to Bakurocho JR Station, so we can drop our bag before heading to Shinjuku. Not long after, we noticed something strange. It’s mid autumn and it was supposed to be 24 degree celcius at the very max. Call it bad luck or what, cause Tokyo was hit by unforeseen heat wave that week. Weird thing was, the Tokyoites still wear 2 or 3 layers of clothes, while I was perspiring in a sleeveless shirt.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building :
Our first attraction was Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (TMG) which has two observation deck that promise very nice view of whole Tokyo city. It’s a very good alternative to Tokyo Skytree and it’s free. It wasn’t that difficult to walk to TMG from Shinjuku Station except for the part ‘how to get into the building’. Here’s an instruction on how to get to TMG by foot.
View from the TMG observation deck but I forgot whether this is the north or south tower.
A cafe in the tower, which has an unattractive menu for us.
We got our notebook stamped with the stamp of TMG Building. One of quest for this trip will be to collect stamps of tourist spots and JR stations as much as possible. All JR stations have their own unique stamp and so do certain attractions and shrines in Japan.
All the drain covers in Japan were exquisitely made. Can’t help but took a picture of it.
Meiji Jingu Shrine :
We walked to Meiji Jingu Shrine but my trusty Oruxmap went totally undependable in Japan, directing us to the wrong course.
As it was the first shrine we visited in Japan, without a doubt, we were awed by the large Shinto (gate) and the woodworks.
It is a custom to wash hands and mouth before proceeding to the temple to pray.
The ‘wish boards’ are sold here for the usual reason. Write down your wish, tie it there and hope it will come true. Still, it didn’t convince me to part with a few hundred yens for it. I thought that if I am going to do it, I might as well do it in Kyoto.
Meiji Jingu is near to Harajuku station, so from here, we took the JR to Shibuya. Shibuya has a long list of to-eat and to-do list, provided one is willing to walk but our legs were very sore by now. We went into the first eatery we came across – Lotteria. Their food was awful and the place stinks with smokers. There’s a smoking area, but it’s going to work without any wall to separate us from smokers, right?
Omotesando, the Champ Elysee of Japan.
We continue to score Shibuya covering two Uniqlos, a Parco store and the Spain Slope before decided to have dinner in Uobei Sushi.
Nihonbashi Villa Hotel, Tokyo :
After a happy dinner in Uobei Sushi, we were finally back to Nihonbashi Villa Hotel (Bakurocho station). I did not have enough time to search for hotel but Nihonbashi Villa Hotel was one of the better ones in Tripadvisor so I decided to book it for RM245 per night.
The double ensuite room was small, rather modern and very clean. The bathroom was equipped with a smallish bath tub which was godsend considering our sore feet. Bakurocho is hardly busy in the day and certainly quiet at night. It became a nightly routine for us to slip on slippers and walked to the nearby convenience to get our suppers.
We love Japan made cup noodles and this Mt Rainier Latte. By the time we left Japan, we had consumed about 10 cup noodles and 20 something latte. (now, that explains why I had put on weight after this trip).
Read all my Japan trip here:
Japan Trip – Day 1 in Tokyo
Japan Trip – Day 2 in Tokyo
Japan Trip – Day 3 in Tokyo Asakusa and Ueno
Japan Trip – Day 4 in Tokyo – Kamakura
Japan Trip – Day 5 in Nikko
Japan Trip – Day 6 in Hiroshima
Japan Trip – Day 7 Miyajima and Hiroshima
Japan Trip – Day 8 Kyoto
Japan Trip – Day 9 in Nara
Japan Trip – Day 10 Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama
Japan Trip – Day 11 Kyoto
Japan Trip – Day 12 Kyoto – Yasaka, Maruyama Park, Nishiki Market