Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tokyo, Japan

YEYYYY!! I am so happy that my blog is finally up to date! hehehe. Anyway, I made an impulsive decision to go to Tokyo last labor day weekend in May. It wasn't really super last minute but I only planned this maybe 3-4 weeks prior to the trip, when I would usually plan months ahead.

I booked Singapore Airlines as the fare was justifiably reasonable given that it was a long weekend. Plus, the timing was perfect as I left Thursday night and arrived Friday early morning then back to Singapore on Sunday 5pm. That meant I had almost 3 full days for sightseeing and leisure. I was going solo on this trip so 3 days is enough for me, but I definitely need to go back to Japan one day to explore more.

What I love about Singapore Airlines is you have a vast array of choices for the meals even on economy, which you can book online prior to your flight. I've tried many types before such as low calorie, non carbohydrate, muslim meal, low fat and so on. I figured why not try the Kosher meal hehehe.

I was very pleased with the Kosher meal as the servings were huge. I 'm sure you wouldn't believe me but I couldn't finish it all haha. I also noticed that since the flight from Singapore to Tokyo was slightly longer, they served 2 meals but on the way back to Singapore they only served one. Oh well.

My beautiful shot at the Haneda Airport hehe

My flight arrived at Haneda airport instead of Narita which is actually better as it is nearer to downtown Tokyo. I did a lot of research beforehand so I am very very proud to say that I never got lost and I managed to take the trains on my own without anyone's help hehe.

I initially planned to get the Suica card but I only saw the Pasmo machine at the airport. I really don't know the difference between the 2 but I do know that if you are just planning to go around Tokyo prefecture, any of the 2 cards will do.

I stayed at the First Cabin in Tsukiji for 2 reasons. First, I wanted to go to the Tsujiki market which was walking distance from this hotel. Sadly, I never got to go hahaha. Second, I wanted to try a capsule hotel. First Cabin is not exactly a capsule hotel but a modified and improved version. A capsule room is literally like a coffin but First Cabin's rooms were like very tiny hotel rooms (you can see photos below). The width is that of a bed but the height is high enough that you can stand on the bed.

Although I love airplane food, I can never have proper sleep inside a plane. It is so cramped especially for a big person like me. I only had 1 hour sleep during the 7hr-ish flight but I wanted to maximize my trip so I loaded on Starbucks coffee to stay awake haha.

My first stop was at the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. It is free unless you go inside the paid parks.

Those were sake barrels behind me. It is quite a walk from the entrance of the park to the actual Meiji shrine so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

They have a ritual of cleansing your hands and mouth before entering the shrine. This is very similar to how Muslims also cleanse themselves before entering the mosque.

Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine, also called Meiji Jingu, is a shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.

From the Meiji Shrine, it is a short walk to Takeshita Street. This is a very famous shopping street in Tokyo where you would see trendy shops, restaurants and cafes.

They were selling crepes everywhere but this store seemed like the most famous one. I didn't get to try it unfortunately as I was still feeling full from the airplane food plus when I don't have enough sleep I usually feel bloated. Ugh.

Ice Monster was also very famous as you can see from the queue outside the store. This also used to be very famous in Manila.

From Takeshita street, I walked to Shibuya crossing passing through Cat Street. The weather was cool early in the morning and at night but was quite hot during noon time so I struggled to walk through this heat. I should have brought an umbrella hahaha. I was a bit disappointed with Cat Street actually as there was nothing much apart from some trendy high end boutiques. However, it still was a leisurely walk going to Shibuya.

I did so much walking on this day so it was actually good exercise haha. I finally made it to Shibuya crossing after maybe half an hour to an hour of leisurely walking from Meiji Shrine. This was quite surreal for me as I usually just see the Shibuya crossing on TV so I was ecstatic I was finally there.

I was also very happy to see the Hachiko statue being a dog lover myself. It was almost impossible to get a photo with the statue without other people photobombing haha.

Food is definitely the highlight of my trip in Tokyo. In fact, that was the main purpose of my trip haha. Honestly though, I think you'll agree with me that any trip's highlight is tasting the local food. Visit the basement of any major shopping mall and you will surely see a wide array of food. Glorious food.

Of course my first meal had to be authentic Sushi. It was very good that restaurants usually have menus with pictures so it was easy for me to just point out what I liked. Some restaurants will have english menus so you can always check with the server.

I'm not very good with knowing whether Sushi is good or not as they all taste the same to me haha. But I was grateful to finally taste sushi from Japan, and not just from the airport as per previous stopovers in Narita.

I rested my legs and feet and had another dose of Starbucks overlooking the famous Shibuya crossing. A lot of places in Tokyo have free wifi so that was really good.

Check-in at First Cabin hotel was at 5pm so I was back at the hotel just before 5pm. I couldn't believe it myself that I managed to stay awake the whole time. It really pays that I planned my itinerary beforehand so that kept me busy while waiting for check in. I arrived around 8:30am at the hotel to drop off my luggage so I managed to get one full day of sightseeing by the time I was back.

I had a few hours nap after checking in and woke up to have late dinner. Luckily, there are quite a number of 24 hour restaurants or convenient stores around the hotel so food was never a problem. There was a 24 hour Denny's nearby so that's where I had dinner. It looked like the same Denny's in the US but they served Japanese food.

I made sure to drop by the convenient store before going back as I've read a lot of great reviews about the convenient stores in Japan haha. In fact, I miss the convenient stores the most! I love that they serve real food and cheap at that.

The next day I started the day pretty late as I caught up on sleep and rest. Download the Navitime App (Japan Travel) when in Tokyo. This really was my lifesaver on how to take trains from one point to another. The train system in Tokyo is so much more complicated than the ones here in Singapore so without this app, I wouldn't have been able to take the trains.

There is a building right across the Tokyo Skytree complex where you can take good shots of the Skytree from an elevated platform. This building is actually a "carpark" for bikes.

This shot was by accident. Nice right? hehe.

This is the "bike park" I was telling you about.

It also really helps to have a selfie stick when alone haha

I was grateful that there is a "Fast SkyTree ticket" for tourists. The regular line to get a ticket for locals took at least 2 hours while this took me just 5 minutes. It is just slightly more expensive than the regular ticket. Yey!

The view was spectacular and mesmerizing. I felt humbled to have the chance to travel and visit places such as these. It was a very beautiful sight. Very memorable indeed.

As you know, vending machines are extremely popular in Japan. They have the most number of vending machines in the world based on population ratio. I wanted to try the vending machines to order your food but was scared haha.

I've tried Saboten in Manila so I was very happy to get to try Saboten in Tokyo. There are a number of eating places inside the mall right below the Tokyo SkyTree.

If for some reason you need to deposit your luggage, most train stations have lockers for rent. I guess this is very convenient if let's say you have to check out early from your hotel prior to your flight. However, most hotels now allow you to leave your luggage at the front desk.

I like how the seats in the train are cushioned. It may be unhygienic though if you think about bodily fluids being excreted from some people (yuck haha) so I wonder how often they change these.

I saw some people post about Coke Life on blogs or on Instagram so I made sure to try it. It tasted like Coke Zero or Coke light actually.

I had late lunch at Saboten earlier so I just decided to grab something at the nearby convenient store and eat it inside my capsule haha. I wasn't sure actually if you can eat inside your capsule but I just made sure to close my blinds and tone down on my chewing haha.

Those cookies are so damn good. Reminds me of the cookies we bought at the grocery in Cole's in Australia.

My last day I went to Ginza for last minute shopping. I went out early as I didn't get any sleep at all. The problem with the capsules in First Cabin is the airconditioning is so weak so your capsule can feel like a sauna. It was ok the first night but the second night the hotel had more guests so that made the airconditioning even worse. Plus the bed is so damn hard. I read about this actually on reviews in TripAdvisor and didn't think it was that bad. But believe me, it was THAT bad. For these 2 reasons alone, I don't think I will ever do the capsule hotel again.

Uniqlo in Ginza is massive. 12 floors of clothes. Can you imagine that? The best is that they have plus sizes!! I wish Singapore had plus sizes at Uniqlo. For this reason alone, I will definitely want to go back to Tokyo haha.

They close off the main shopping street in Ginza to vehicles on weekends so that was nice.

My last meal in Tokyo was from a vending machine at the First Cabin hotel haha. Again, because I had no sleep I had no appetite. The takoyaki balls were not bad given that they came from a machine haha.

My friends who previously travelled to Tokyo always buy Tokyo Banana snacks to give away so make sure to get them when in Tokyo. You can get the limited edition (as shown above) only at the Tokyo Skytree. They are like mini cakes shaped like mini bananas with custard filling. Soft and yummy.

So that's Tokyo for you!! I'm proud to say I managed to cover quite a lot in 3 days. I would have been able to do more if I had enough sleep so next time I will make sure to book a proper hotel haha.


Petite Momma said...

Oh, so those are the downsides of capsule hotels. I don't think I can sleep in one since I don't like the feeling of spaces that are too small. Sa liit kong ito arte pa ako di ba? LOL!

Our son has been bugging us for months to take him to Japan. Buti sana kung Cubao lang yan. Hahaha!

Shan Abellaneda said...

@Petite Momma: Oo I dont think i will ever do capsule hotels again. Sa laki kong to pinilit ko! haha. Hope you can visit Japan soon! I would love to! :-)

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