Ah Japan, just the thought of it makes me teleport again in there 🙂 Before I start showing the pictures from Tokyo a few useful things to know.
* Tokyo has 2 main airports, Haneda and Narita. Haneda is definitely the closest one and it’s really easy to reach the city centre. If you have a Japan Rail pass (which I recommend you that you d0), you can use the monorail and the trains without any extra cost.
We’ve ended up using both, as British airways landed in Haneda but our flight took off from Narita. Narita takes more than 1h to get there by train and it’s a lot more expensive too. Plus I found the airport really boring, almost no shops and restaurants available. If you have a choice, go via Haneda.
Japan has a lot of private managed underground networks, but there’s also trains all around the city. Most of the time we’ve manage to use only the JR line which is included in the JR pass. The JR pass is the best way to travel around Japan. If you are only staying in one city it’s probably not worth it, but as soon as you want to visit a different city and use the shinkansen (bullet train) it will be worth it. The best is to pick your JR pass at the airport, but expect quite a big queue! Pretty much all tourists landing in Japan will be on the queue to get their pass as well. The price of the pass will depend on the number of the days you need it for.
Access to 3G / Wi-fi
What we normally do when we travel to a different place is to get a local sim card and use it for the 3G services. It’s a lot cheaper than rely on roaming. You can do this in most parts of the world, except in Japan. Only if you live in Japan you will be able to get a pay as you go card. You can check online as there are companies that allow you to buy one online if you are a foreigner, which is what we did. We choose to pick up our card in the post office of the Haneda airport. What we hadn’t considered is that there are several terminals in Haneda. We’ve landed at terminal 1 for international arrivals and the post office was terminal 2 (I think). Anyway it was well worth it. Can’t survive without google maps.
In most places you can get free wifi, but if you are on the move you might want to have 3G on your phone. It was really handy when in our flat in Kyoto we’ve ended up without any wifi!
I don’t need to cover food or safety. Food is internationally known and safety… well Japan is one of the safest places in the world!
Right, Tokyo. As soon as we’ve reached Tokyo we’ve headed for Shibuya where we had our AirBnB reservation.
Tip: AirBnB is not necessarily legal in Japan. It’s one of those grey areas where it’s not a crime, but it’s not necessarily legal either, so you need to be mindful when getting into your flat. Ensure you’re silent all the time and avoid unnecessary attention. You already look like a Gaijin (foreigner). I do however recommend AirBnB quite a lot, as it’s a lot cheaper than the hotels in Japan and you will be able to afford a better location
After we left our bags in the flat we’ve headed for a walk and food. Shibuya is one of the most famous areas within Tokyo, as you have the famous Shibuya crossing as well as lots of really nice restaurants
One of the most famous temples is also in this area: Meiji Jingu. It’s really easy to forget you are within Tokyo once you reach the garden area. So peaceful and beautiful, even with the number of tourists in the area as well
We were so tired that we’ve decided to head back to the flat and have a proper nap.
Next day we’ve started our day by heading to the famous Tokyo Fish Market. You can only visit the Fish Market in the original location until Nov 2016, after which the market will move to a different location. So timing wise we were really lucky to go this year. You can visit the auction that happens quite early in the morning, but only 60 people are allowed at a time (in total only 120 people can go in per day). For all other regular visits you can only go after 09a.m, which is what we did.
Before we’ve headed to the market, we went to the Startbucks at Shibuya which offers quite a nice view of the crossing
I took this photo with my phone rather than the camera
After the market and a quick lunch we’ve headed to the imperial gardens
That evening we’ve ended out going out with a friend of a friend that happens to work in Shibuya! This was quite a nice story actually, a friend of ours noticed that we were posting pictures of Japan, so he introduced us one of his good friends that was living in Japan. We’ve agreed to go out for dinner that evening. Meeting point? The Hachiko Statue which you might recognise from the movie (Hachi)
I’ve cried loads watching this movie!
For dinner we went to a Yakitori place, called Jomon.
Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The preparation of Yakitori involves skewering the meat with kushi, a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire.
Really delicious food!
Next day time it was time to travel to Kyoto.