Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 3 – Shrines and Shopping

On our third day, I woke up already feeling anxious about leaving Japan the next day.  There were a lot of things in my mind that I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit – but there’s just never enough time each time. I got pressured thinking we only have 2 and a half days left.

But before that – a “blogger” pose from a cool wall in one of the subway stations towards our first stop.

Where did I drop that 100-yen coin?

Our first stop for today is Meiji Jingu. I have been here before but as it was Hannah’s first time, we had to take her there so she could make her wish. Stepping into Meiji Jingu is like traveling back in time, or to a place that is opposite of one’s idea of Tokyo as a modern city. I guess this is what I love about Tokyo, you can be at different kinds of places within a train ride.

A refreshing welcome

Cleansing ones hands and mouth before entering the shrine

Once inside, we checked our fortunes by drawing sticks (Omikuji). Last time I was here, I picked up something about being a wayside pebble to becoming a polished gem. This time, it’s something about being left behind when one makes no move at all.

Drawing lots!

Why is this so true?

After getting our omikujis, we bought some charms and then went in the shrine to make our wishes and prayers.

Peoples’ wishes for the day

So, what do they do with the wishes?

Writing down her wish on the votive tablet

We took a few more photos within the area before heading to our next destination.

Golden tori

Saw a Japanese wedding procession!

One more photo!

We were already hungry at this point – our initial plan was to go to Tsukiji Market and have lunch there. But – the subway train going there is 700 meters away, which is around 20-30 minutes walk.  We were almost thinking of just eating within the area but as this is our last chance to go to Tsukiji (we won’t have time tomorrow), I’m happy I pushed them to walk!

A long walk along a quiet street!

When we got to Tsukiji, the first thing we did was look for a place to eat! We didn’t have enough energy to go through several places and pick one so we just went in the first restaurant we saw. I can say though, thank goodness we forced ourselves to come!

Various kinds of sushi!

The KING of sushi – fatty tuna belly (o-toro)!

Itadakimasu!

I still dream of that o-toro up to today. After eating and regaining our strength, we went around Tsukiji a bit for sight-seeing. For those who are worried about coming to Tsukiji late in the day, don’t worry – there are still a lot of stores and restaurants that serve fresh seafood. You don’t need to be up at 3AM and witness the fish auction – if all you want is to eat the best sushi and sashimi in the city, just come to Tsukiji anytime!

I wanted to eat here, too!

Fresh seafood!

Those are big tuna heads!

Our next stop was Sensoji temple. To get to Asakusa from Tsukiji, we had to walk a bit to the train station. We passed by a Kabuki Theater which looked very grand! There were a lot of people outside the building so it was good to see that Kabuki is still popular!

Kabuki-za

Senso-ji is one of the most touristy places in Tokyo. There’s just a lot of people visiting the shrine, and a lot of shopping going on in the surrounding shopping streets.

Kaminarimon

Senso-ji Temple

We tried some street food, as well as shopped around some more for souvenirs. We spent over an hour walking around aimlessly again!

Trying out this crab street food

One of the many shopping streets surrounding Senso-ji

Afternoon chill

Yatai street! I was tempted to drink!

We rested whenever we found chairs or seating areas. When there was none to be found, we went in a coffee shop, mainly to sit down – but damn, that coffee was good, too!

Rest #1, a random empty chair on the street

Rest #2, a coffee shop called Ginza Ranzu

This was very good coffee!

When we went out of the shopping street, it was already dark! We still had a lot more shopping to do since today was our last evening in Tokyo. The next day, we would be checking out of our Airbnb already so we won’t have time to properly pack anything that we’ll buy on our last day.

We went back to Shibuya to continue our shopping. Hannah had to get some cosmetics and gifts (shoes, earphones) for her family. I didn’t really have anything particular that I wanted to buy so I just went along and looked around. There was a Don Quijote store 1 block away from our Airbnb that was open 24-hours so I was going to buy my omiyage there.

Shibuya at night

Weekend crowd

We went back to our Airbnb after the shops in Shibuya closed. We had dinner at a restaurant nearby where we saw the other day that they served omurice. To our surprise, they didn’t serve omurice – they had an omurice looking one but with noodles inside.

We thought this was omurice!

Not wagyu, but good enough beef!

Tired but happy!

After dinner, we went to Donki to buy even more snacks and souvenirs before calling it a night. This day passed by so quickly – I felt so sad because we’d be flying back to Manila the next day already.

Check the rest of our 4-day trip here.

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 2 – Spring is coming

To be honest, we (almost) had nothing on our itinerary. This was just going to be a “do-whatever-we-want-to-do” trip, except for one or two which Hannah wanted to visit. One of these is a store with 7 floors of anything you can put your hands on (to do creative work, I mean) – Tokyu Hands in Shibuya.

Before that, we stopped for breakfast at one of my favorite “fast food” restaurants in Japan (if you can call it that). Sukiya is a competitor to Yoshinoya in terms of affordable and delicious Japanese food (you can already get a nice set meal for 600 JPY).

Sukiya for brunch!

 

Hannah’s Sukiyaki-don and a big bowl of miso soup!

We walked down the street to Tokyu Hands and took our sweet time looking at colored pencils, art materials, different kinds of pens and paper, and other cool things. I had to stop by the Gunpla section to look for a model my brother wants (RG Wing Zero).

Right most Gundam at the back – Wing Zero is out of stock! 🙁

We realized we hadn’t taken any photo until we reached the top floor!

Tokyu Hands is really a must-visit for creative people. There’s a lot of things you can buy that’s not really available outside Japan (or if they are, for a hefty price).  I wanted to get some colored pencils but I know I’ll only be slacking so I decided not to. Next time, when I do get the passion to draw and make art again – I will definitely buy some good stuff!

We spent over an hour inside Tokyu Hands, so we were tired when we got out. I spotted a Doutor coffee shop nearby so we stopped over for some coffee and a mille crepe cake.

Another mandatory group photo…

 

This is a mille crepe cake, if you didn’t know what it looked like. Just layers of crepe and cream!

Our itinerary as mentioned was sort of blank, so while I was browsing through Instagram – I saw a post from a friend living in Japan of pictures of plum blossoms, almost in full bloom! We couldn’t hope for cherry blossoms at the time of our visit, so this was like an unexpected surprise. We had to go! This was at Shinjuku Gyoen. On the way to the train station, we stopped by a few stores to look for bargain deals – and snagged a few at Bershka.

Bershka’s cool interiors (and Mhealler)

It was a very windy walk to Shinjuku Gyoen from the nearest train station. But the moment we got there, we were just taking photos non-stop! Hannah and I got our old “photographer” hats on and just shot away!

Hello there white ones!

Pink ones too!

Spring was on its way!

Of course, we had to take some “model” shots – which was a lot of fun to do! If only I could show you blooper pics, which is around 90% of the shots.

Mhealler’s throw-that-jacket-behind-your-back pose

Hannah’s look-fierce-while-fixing-your-hair pose

My “I-need-to-go-to-the-toilet” pose

Photo shoots are tiring! We realized after this that we can’t be models! After laughing so much, we got so tired that we spent a good 30 minutes lying under a tree in the park.

Obviously, Mhealler is not done posing for the camera

Tired but happy!

My view while lying down!

As the sun was about to set, it was also time for us to go to our next destination. We had a really good time in Shinjuku Gyoen – it’s a very nice place to relax, maybe read a book on the weekend – I was thinking scenarios in my head for when I will live in Tokyo (wishful thinking). Anyhow, after all the day dreaming, we wiped the grass of our behinds and headed off to Harajuku!

It was already dark when we got to Takeshita street in Harajuku. The place was packed. We just walked around the area until I stumbled upon my favorite ramen shop in Tokyo! Yokohama style Ramen!

The busy street of Takeshita

3,000 yen bags, anyone?

At the other end of Takeshita street (the one without the JR Station), sits my favorite ramen place in all of Tokyo. On my first time in Tokyo, our Airbnb host brought us to a ramen place in Ikebukuro where I had my first “authentic” ramen moment. It was the best broth my tongue tasted and I have been craving for that taste ever since. We didn’t go to Ikebukuro this time, but we stumbled upon a branch of the same ramen place in Harajuku! What luck!

For me, still the best ramen in the world. So far.

I couldn’t read the kanji, so I took a photo of the front of the store and asked my Japanese friend to read the name to me. This is for me to search for it next time, wherever in Japan I may be.

After eating, we didn’t go back to Takeshita street, but explored the alleys near this ramen place, and we ended up in Omotesando!

This was our route in Harajuku/Omotesando.

After Omotesando, we found our way back to the other end of Takeshita street and had a crepe. We were already so tired at this point.

Which one to order? They all look good!

While walking back to the train station, we passed by Daiso and did a shopping spree of gifts to bring back home (omiyage) as everything was for 100 yen!  Our feet were at the point of giving up already and the nearest train station was a JR station, which is not covered by our Tokyo Metro All Day pass. We didn’t want to walk any further so we took the JR train back to Shibuya!

When we got home, we slept for an hour. At around 10 PM, we decided to go out because it’s such a waste to be sleeping in Tokyo! After walking around our neighborhood, we stumbled upon another chicken place that served drinks!

My favorite part of traveling, walking wherever our feet will take us!

Mhealler’s high ball!

I also had a big high ball, Hannah got a small one!

We had a few more drinks after these photos. In short, we went home buzzed enough to get a good night’s sleep! It was indeed a long day, by the time I was about to sleep, I had already forgotten what we did in the morning!

Check out the rest of our trip here!

Tokyo in 4 Days – Day 1 AM – Tada Ima!

We arrived at Narita Airport at around 7 AM, with intermittent 5 hours of sleep on the plane.  Prior to exiting the plane, the flight attendant said “It’s very freezing outside, please keep warm.” She was right! We walked from Terminal 3 (JetStar) to Terminal 2, where the train station is located. We rented a mobile wifi device and bought our Tokyo Subway Tickets before leaving the airport.

Photo op before boarding the train

Our Airbnb accommodation is two stations away from Shibuya Station, at Sangenjaya. We bought a one-time use ticket from Narita Terminal 2 to Nihonbashi station (Narita Skyaccess), and used our Tokyo Subway Ticket from there to Shibuya.

We were starving when we arrived, but we didn’t want to eat at the airport, so we headed out upon arriving at Nihonbashi station to look for a nearby Japanese restaurant. A lot of the restaurants we passed by were closed, so we ended up picking the first open restaurant we saw.

Katsudon set for brunch!

After eating, we headed back to Nihonbashi station to continue our commute towards Shibuya.  We had a couple of hours to kill since our check in time is at 3PM. So, we decided to start exploring Shibuya central area while waiting. We left our bags at the coin locker near the station so that we could enjoy walking around.

But first, photo op with Hachiko!

The famous Shibuya crossing

We went into Tsutaya to have coffee from the 2nd floor Starbucks and watch the Shibuya crossing action from there, but there were no window seats available. So, we ended up listening to some of the latest music from Japan’s top artists instead.

Perfume’s Tokyo Girl was playing EVERYWHERE

After checking out the entire Tsutaya building (record stores, books, and a posh cafe on the top floor), we crossed the street to L’Occitane cafe, which also had a good view of the intersection. Although this cafe was quite pricey, we got a taste of the best ice cream ever.

The ice cream on these creme brulee – best ever!

We spent a good hour people watching as we were seated right by the window. We also took a time lapse of the whole Shibuya crossing action.

At around 1:30 PM, our Airbnb host texted us that we could already check-in in advance as the unit was already ready. We finished our coffee and went back to the station, excited to wash up and rest a bit!

This already feels like a long post, so Part 2 of Day 1 will be in the next entry!

Tokyo Subway Ticket Pass – Travel Cheap

Going around Tokyo can be expensive. Train tickets can cost from around 200-400 JPY for a one-way trip (depending on your destination), and for tourists who are basically commuting the entire day, this can easily go up to 1,000 JPY a day.

The Tokyo Subway Ticket 72-hour pass costs only 1,500 JPY per adult – and that puts your train ticket costs to only 500 JPY a day. You can use it on all Tokyo Metro and Toei Lines.

Tokyo Subway Lines; source: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/

To easily identify these lines, these are the ones that have letters enclosed in a circle when you look for routes on Google Maps. Net – if you have this ticket, avoid those lines that don’t have a similar logo!

JR line vs. Subway line; Fukutoshin Line is a Subway Line (Circle with the letter F)

Where to buy?

Before you leave the airport, you can get these Tokyo Subway passes from the Keisei Bus counter, near the exit of Narita Airport Terminal 2. For other airports, you can ask Information where you can get them. You can show them this picture and they’ll point you in the right direction!

Tokyo Subway 72-hour Ticket

Using the Tokyo Subway Ticket

You simply need to insert this ticket in the slot at the entrance of the different subway stations. Make sure you get it back since you will need it to exit, and for your future trips. On your first use, the ticket will be stamped with an expiry date/time. You can use your ticket as long as it is within this time stamp.

Expiry time stamp

In the above example, if you rode a train at 10:50 AM on February 19, you can still use the same ticket to get out even if it’s at past 10:55 AM (expiry on the ticket).

Can I use the Tokyo Subway Ticket to go to Tokyo from Narita?

The answer is no. You can purchase one-time use tickets from ticket counters in the airport as there is no Subway Line directly connected to the airport.

You can learn more about the Tokyo Subway Ticket here.

Tokyo in 4 Days – Itinerary

Tokyo is for me, what New York is for others. It’s my ideal city! There’s so many things to do, that you can’t possibly fit it all in a month! But, given the circumstances of a working adult, where you can’t really leave work that long, we have to settle with shorter trips. I am sharing with you my 4-Day Tokyo itinerary which my friends and I used just this February.

We took the 12:50 AM flight from Manila, arriving in Narita at around 7AM. Our flight back was at 7:30 PM on the fourth day, so we were able to utilize these days for activities.  It’s important to book flights that do not take up most of the day especially on short trips.

Time Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
7:00 AM Arrive in Narita Airbnb (preps) Airbnb (preps) Pack up
10:00 AM Brunch in Nihonbashi Shibuya (Breakfast at Sukiya, Tokyu Hands, Dotour Coffee) Meiji Jingu Airbnb Check-out
12:00 NN Shibuya (Hachiko, Shibuya Crossing) Akihabara (Lunch at another Ramen place)
2:00 PM Sangenjaya (Check in to Airbnb) Shinjukugyoen (plum blossoms) Tsukiji Market (late lunch) Shopping at BIC Camera; Anime coffee shop
4:00 PM Sangenjaya area Harajuku Takeshita Street Sensjo-ji Temple Travel to Narita Airport
6:00 PM Dinner Ramen Dinner Asakusa Shopping Dinner at the airport
8:00 PM Tokyo Tower Omotesando Shibuya Shopping Fly back to Manila
10:00 PM Home Drinks in Sangenjaya Don Quijote (Sangenjaya)

Ready to roam Tokyo!

I will post the details of each day in the next posts.