Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 1 in Japan: Exploring Tokyo



No matter how prepared you are for your trip, there will always be uncertainties that lie ahead of you. You don't have an idea what's in store for you in the next few days. Prior boarding our early morning flight to Tokyo-Narita, there were a few gaffes - the immigration counter opened thirty minutes late causing a long queue, and I was awake for almost 24 hours. Despite these, I still felt giddy and excited as we settled inside.

Narita is four and a half hours away from Manila by air. There were occasional jolts en route due to the weather system off the southern coast of Japan. As the plane started its final descent towards our destination, the landscape below us started to unfold - the lush dipterocarp forest and patches of agricultural land heavily carpeted the coast of Chiba Prefecture and covered by a light mist. I can hardly believe that I am flying over the Japanese soil.

There are two main gateways in Tokyo: Narita and Haneda. The former serves the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan while the latter is closer to downtown Tokyo. Both are accessible by bus, taxi, or train. Depending on your train line, it takes at least an hour before reaching downtown Tokyo from Narita International Airport.

Chiba Prefecture

As we cleared the immigration, Doms and I bought the 3-day unlimited pass of JR Line which was, by the way, a costly mistake in this trip (I'll explain it in the succeeding post). My tummy kept on grumbling because I haven't eaten for the past five hours and I was on the verge of losing my sanity. Add the fact that we took the slower train which was another costly mistake. We thought that the Narita Express train wasn't included in the JR Line pass. We were wrong.

We endured another 90 minutes inside the train with no food nor drink. As we passed by through different stations, the surroundings gradually changed. The verdant forest became residential buildings, which are reminiscent of Nobita and Doraemon's neighborhood. Minutes later, the houses became mid-rise commercial buildings. As we neared the city center, the buildings got taller and denser. We transferred to a different train line and walked a few hundred meters to our hotel at Koto-Ku Ward. There, we met up with my long-time travel blogger friend, Joey.



After we settled our things, we walked around the neighborhood to find some place to eat. I can't help but notice how clean and organized the streets were. It didn't take us too long to find this hole-in-the-wall restaurant. This was my first meal in Japan: a legit tonkatsu ramen.



Tonkatsu Ramen.



The restaurant had only two staffs and you have to pay your order first to an automated cashier. You just have to give the printed receipt to the cook and he will prepare your order right away. The serving was quite big and overwhelming. I ate it with so much gusto that I almost forgot my name. LOL. But seriously, it was really good. Since we already have filled our empty stomach and gained energy, we went to the main attractions of Tokyo.

Our first stop was Odaiba. This is where you can find the Japanese replica of the Statue of Liberty (it's on a smaller scale, of course), and Gundam. The weather that time was cool at 17 degrees and I didn't mind taking long walks. I even watched a street show where a man juggled three swords while maintaining his balance on a platform. Hirap kumita ng pera, bes!

Tokyo architecture.

This is how you juggle work and leisure. LOL


Odaiba, Tokyo.



Obligatory OOTD shot because #OOTD is life!

Thanks Doms for this pic.

Next stop was Harajuku, the de facto fashion capital of Tokyo. Harajuku will always remind me of Taipei's Ximending and Shilin Night Market sans the numerous street food stalls. Joey told me that Harajuku gets even more interesting during Halloween as the locals get dressed. They take the costume party very seriously.



Typical Harajuku crowds at night.

Hey, Timon!

A trip to Tokyo would not be complete without visiting Shibuya Crossing - the world's most photographed intersection. After taking obligatory shots of Hachiko, we crossed the intersection at least three times. Crossing an intersection with so many people can be quite overwhelming but, it was an experience like no other. Everybody knows that I hate immersing in huge crowds but, I never felt uncomfortable. It seems that the locals follow a rhythm and it's already innate in them.

Hachiko and friend


Bright lights of Shibuya

Next stop: Roppongi. It is one of Tokyo's commercial districts. Before we continued our shopping spree, we first ate dinner and tried their curry. Throughout my stay in Japan, I have never eaten that was not delicious. Don Quijote is one of the famous outlet shops in Tokyo, and they sell almost everything under the sun ranging from apparels to homewares. I bought a coat there for only JPY 2990! We took a photo of Tokyo Tower before going home.






Japan did not disappoint even if I had already set a very high expectation for this trip. Tokyo may look dull from afar, but the locals and its culture made it more colorful. I have never been in a huge metropolis that is so clean, so efficient, and so organized.

I know we haven't explored the entire Tokyo, but the city had already left me an excellent impression. I would love to go back here and discover more things about this city.







2 comments:

  1. Aaaaah! I couldn't agree more on your statement that seeing some of the buildings in Japan somehow reminds us of Doraemon. LOL!

    Wonderful pictures you got there. I went to Shibuya Crossing as well, one of the most busiest intersections in the world. But I liked it so much there!

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha I thought I'd accidentally bump off with someone from the Doraemon show. Gosh, I LOVE JAPAN!!! AAAAHHHH SEPANX GOT REAL

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