Never in a million years would i have pictured myself writing this post with the Mount Fuji majestically standing right before me; peeking sheepishly from between the trees. The cold is creeping from the cracks of the window while the heater is roaring from the corner of the room. I’d like to imagine i am in the midst of the battlefield between those two and in this very moment, the cold is lamentably winning. It is about two degrees as i write this.
For about a week, i woke up to the sound of civilisation in Tokyo. Neon lights blinding the street with foreign words i could not grasp. The trains were our only mode of transportation besides our heavy feet. We were staying at the Asakusa View Hotel. After a 7 hour wonderful flight from Kuala Lumpur with ANA, we arrived at Haneda Airport at about 10 o’clock at night. We took a train [The Kekyu Line] from the airport to Asakusa-eki and had to wheel our big luggage for about 20 minutes to our hotel. That was not a good onset to our holiday. I wish i had known earlier that there was a closer station next to our hotel, which goes by the same name – Asakusa station…. Unfortunately, it was apparently ‘too’ near for the taxis to take us. But walking the streets of Tokyo at night was rather magnificent otherwise. Tokyo is truly beautiful when the sun is asleep. The streets that were constantly thronged with people during the day are now vacant and you get to stop in the midst of nowhere and grasp the beauty of every alley and every monument. The city was undoubtedly clean and incredibly organised. I love strolling around the place and stumbling across unique alleys that could easily leave me in awe. This time around, i was in charge of this holiday in its entirety. From accommodations to the itinerary. From the reviews, i could easily conform to the fact that the hotel truly has the best location. Although it is a bit further from the city centre, there is a train station 200 meters away from the hotel that could bring you to everywhere you could possibly imagine.
After checking in, we’ve soon to realise that by Japanese standard, the room was enormous compared to most of the places we had stayed. If you’re planning to stay where i stayed, there is a Turkish kebab store that serves the best kebab i have ever tasted at the end of the street, somewhere opposite of 7-11, the same row with the hotel. It is a tiny place but you should give it a try. That was gladly our supper for a few nights.
Although i have prepared my itinerary, we had to improvise due to the fact that we are a group of 10 – two families. I will gladly share the itinerary with you guys, perhaps, someday, the hours that i have spent working on it could be useful to you. We started our day by walking to the Kaminarimon Gate that leads us to the oldest temple in Japan, the Senso-ji temple. We passed through the nakamise-dori, a shopping street for food and souvenirs and yukatas and had our brunch at a café nearby. We had egg sandwiches and the bill gave myself a quick slap in the face–RM200 for sandwiches and coffees for six. I’d advise you to never opt for random restaurants or cafes but to fill up your tummy with the street food along the nakamise-dori instead if you’re travelling in budget.
The Senso-ji temple is truly a must see when you are in Asakusa. It was indeed fascinating to stand in the corner and watch people go about with their ritual. I had a wonderful opportunity to visit it at night too and it was truly magnificent. Little to no crowd, thus, accentuating its beauty in its entirety.
That evening, we walked to the Tawaramachi Station that was about 800m away, recharged our Suica card (It is akin to Touch & Go) and took a train ride to Shibuya. To recharge the card, you would have to use a machine at the train station before entering the gate. I have decided to load 3000 yen into the card and that was enough because we only had to use it in Tokyo. If you have overcharged the card, you could always get your money refunded. I was initially concerned about how intricate the subway system is but i am very much used to it now. It is a bit overwhelming at first but if you are a beginner, Google Map is your best friend. It tells you which train you are getting on, which platform, the fare, the colour of the line etc. And if you are still unsure, you can always ask the staffs at the station. Yes, they can speak English!
Within a few stops away, there we were, finding ourselves in the midst of thousands of people. It was where the Hachiko statue was. If you have absolutely no idea who Hachiko is, do watch the movie, Hachiko. Spoiler: Get your tissue box ready. Next to it was the Shibuya Crossing where Tokyo Drift was filmed and possibly, the busiest intersection in the world. The crowd was insane. It was truly a new experience for me, to be able to witness thousands of people at an intersection. We had our dinner at Genki Sushi, a conveyer belt sushi restaurant nearby. Another new experience for us. All we had to was order from an iPad and our plates will be sent to us through the conveyer belt. It is quick, pretty good and the price is very reasonable.
The next morning, off we went to the Imperial palace. We had our breakfast at the Kitchen Street in Tokyo Station. RM600 for 10 people. So that was another smack in the face. We strolled along the Marunochi. It is akin to NYC’s fifth avenue and it was beautiful as it was encircled by the yellow trees, tall buildings and men in suit. A short walk from the shrine will bring you to another shopping street, the Takeshita Street where you will find delicious crepes and odd costumes. I must say, it is one of my favourite streets to say the least. It was colourful and somewhat, lively. After about twenty minutes walk, we arrived at the Imperial Palace and the autumn sight of the garden was breathtaking. From the imperial palace, off we headed to Harajuku! We began with the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the torii gate, the entrance to the shrine was undoubtedly beautiful.
The Hachiko statue
The cotton candy from Totti Factory
The crepe was delicious and the cotton candy….tasted like cotton candy?
And that marks the end of our second day in Tokyo.
More pictures to come soon!!