Happy new year everyone! To kick off 2017, I’m going to begin a series of blog posts about my recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. Last December, I went on a 11-day trip to Tokyo with my bf Kelvin. It was the most memorable trip of my life and I enjoyed every bit of it. Therefore, I would like to share my experiences with you all, and tell you how much I love visiting this beautiful country. Perhaps one day you would like to visit Japan as well. I must say that we did not follow our itinerary completely, as we left out some things due to time constraints, or that we were running out of time and money haha, but we had a fun and fulfilling trip nonetheless. Without further ado, let’s go 🙂
Day 1 (16 Dec 2016)- Flight and arrival in Shinjuku
From Singapore Changi Airport, we took an early morning flight to Narita Airport. We flew with ANA and it was a pretty long but pleasant flight, although Kelvin keep saying how the pilot can’t fly the plane properly.
We were served breakfast on the plane, having a choice between the Western breakfast or the Japanese breakfast. The food was pretty good although I found it weird to have chocolates for breakfast, but then again, there’s always a time to have chocolates haha. The downfall is that they give the same set of cutleries regardless of what you’re eating. They didn’t provide utensils for the porridge (only fork and knife) so I had to eat it with a teaspoon.
After a bumpy 7-hour flight, we finally landed at Narita Airport. From there, we took a Limousine Bus to our hotel. That was probably the worst decision we ever made because it turned out that there was a massive traffic jam on the way, and Tokyo’s traffic jams are super scary during peak hours. After close to 4 hours, we finally arrived at our hotel.
For the first 3 nights of our trip, we stayed at Shinjuku Washington Hotel (Main Building). The room was really small, but clean and cosy. They also provided all the amenities that can usually be found in hotels (towels, soap, toothbrushes…). It is surprising that although the room did not have a closet or enough space for our baggage, the tiny bathroom had a decent bathtub. Some five-star hotels I’ve stayed in do not even have bathtubs in their smallest rooms. Do Japanese people love taking baths?
We were starving, so we just grabbed food from the Family Mart at our hotel. Wasn’t fantastic, but we were hungry so….
Day 2 (17 Dec 2016)- Harajuku & Ikebukuro
For our first full day in Tokyo, we planned to visit Harajuku and Ikebukuro. First off, breakfast.
After our breakfast, we headed to Shinjuku station and bought our Suica cards. It is a transport card where we charge money in it to pay for trains and buses. We can even use it for vending machines. Depending on which station you go to, you can either purchase a Suica or a Pasmo card, both of which works fine for the trains in Tokyo 🙂
Harajuku is conveniently located along the Yamanote Line, just two stops down from Shinjuku.
First thing of the day is to go to the Meiji Shrine, located near Yoyogi Park. Near the station, we came across the Meiji Bridge, which is the start of the walk to Meiji Shrine. The weather was cold, with a slight bit of warmth from the sunshine, which felt really pleasant. I love morning walks in Japan.
Upon reaching near the entrance of the shrine, there is an area for us to “cleanse” ourselves before entering the shrine. We pour the water on our hands and then take some water to rinse our mouths. The water was really refreshing, but it was FREEZING.
The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Built in 1920, it was destroyed during WWII, but rebuilt shortly after. If you are lucky (which we were), you could observe a traditional Japanese wedding procession going on inside the shrine compounds. We saw many people coming here to pay their respects, and also to buy amulets for health and safety, among others.
After, we walked towards Takeshita Dori. Got a little lost finding our way there (even ended up walking to Omotesando), but we made it thanks to Google Maps.
Takeshita Dori is basically a street lined with shops, restaurants and snack stalls that cater to the young. There were many school kids and young couples walking along the street. Since it was a Saturday, the street was especially crowded. The atmosphere was vibrant and lively, with shop promoters yelling and loud music blaring from inside the shops. Walk further up into the little corners of the street and we found a few indie shops and cafes. I was especially excited to check out the street food they have on offer.
Our first stop was at the Calbee+ store, which sold premium Calbee products. Their speciality is freshly-made chips made in-store! We had the double cheese flavoured one, with cheese poured over our freshly-fried chips. Never thought of this combination before.
We wanted a sweet treat, hence we headed to look for a place to eat crepes. There are many crepe stalls around Takeshita Dori, but we settled on Marion Crepes.
We also visited the multi-storey Daiso, and bought lots of snacks, all at only 100 yen!
After going back to our hotel to rest, we headed out again to Ikebukuro, few stops up from Shinjuku along the Yamanote line. Why are we there you may ask? To visit the Pokemon Center, of course! The Pokemon Center is located inside Sunshine City, at the second floor. The layout of the building is quite confusing for a start, but we just followed the crowd and the signs around to get to the Pokemon Center.
Kelvin and I are huge fans of Pokemon, and when we got there, we knew that we were home.
Upon reaching the Pokemon Center, we spotted this huge crowd gathering at one corner of the Center, and that’s when we saw two cute Pikachus hopping around. I was just as excited as those kids who were sitting there and waving at them.
I wanted to buy everything at the Pokemon Center, but everything was so overpriced and expensive, and I figured that I didn’t need all these plushies anyway, but we had a great time looking at everything that was on offer.
Soon it was time for dinner and we walked to this wonderful ramen place called Mutekiya (無敵家). We reached the place at 6.40pm and by then, there was already a short queue lined outside the restaurant. Finally after about 30 mins, we made our way into the restaurant.
We had the Mutekiya Ramen (1080 yen) and oh my, one bite of the noodles was enough to blow me away. The noodles were firm and springly, which was the perfect bite for me. The soup was creamy and slightly garlicky, not too greasy. For me, the highlight was the char siew, which melted in my mouth and had just the right amount of fat in it. I quickly lapped up the whole bowl in no time. Of course, a bowl of ramen would not be perfect with some gyoza at the side.
And that concludes the first two days of our Tokyo trip, congrats for reading thus far! There will be more posts coming up, slowly but surely, so stay tuned! 🙂