Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tokyo for First-Timers


Sharing with you my experience in Tokyo.


Last July was my very first time in Tokyo. I've visited a few neighbouring cities such as Osaka and Kyoto a few years ago but I heard that Tokyo is a whole different place. Tokyo is the more modern part of Japan. It's filled with bright lights, unconventional fashion, rich culture, and Michelin star restaurants. I already maximized my leave of absences at work but there was no way that I was skipping on the opportunity to visit the capital of Japan. My family and I were there for a total of five days. However, on my 3rd day, I got sick with food poisoning. I was in bed for a day and a half in a foreign city that I could've been exploring but instead, I was confined in my hotel room. It was horrible but with God's grace, I found the strength to make the most out of my last day. I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted to but I'm happy that I was at least able to check off another city off my bucket list. 

Getting There

We took Philippine Airlines (PAL) to fly to directly to Japan. My mom booked it during Philippine Airlines' anniversary so rates were relatively low. Each roundtrip ticket cost around $300 dollars or Php14,000. Other airlines that fly from Manila to Japan are: Cebu Pacific (CEB), Japan Airlines (JAP), and All Nipon Airways (ANA). 


Where To Stay

My family and I wanted to stay somewhere in the middle of the city so it would be easy to tour around. When you scan for hotels, you'll notice that the ones in the city are more expensive and a lot smaller (Think around 20 square meters ONLY) compared to if you book outside of the city. We didn't mind getting a small hotel room as long as it was near everything. After all, we were going to spend more time going around. Hotel Sunroute Plaza was quintessential because it was located in Shinjuku. It's just 10 minutes away from the subway and there were so many places to eat nearby. The Metropolitan Tower, Samurai Museum, and Gyoen National Garden are some of the attractions walking distance from the hotel.




View from our hotel room

Food

Japanese cuisine is my favorite. I could live on tempura and sushi for the rest of my life. What I love about Tokyo is that in every corner there's a good restaurant. Normally the restaurants near the tourist sites are always overpriced but not worth it. In Tokyo, you will definitely put on some weight. ALl the restaurants (even the ones in the subway station) were delicious and authentic. It's too bad that I got sick. I wasn't able to try their ramen. 



I apologize for not listing down the restaurants I went to. Most of the names were in Japanese!


My first meal in Tokyo. (This was on the streets of Shinkuku)


The Japanese like to mix raw eggs with their rice



.... BUT careful before eating raw eggs. On our second day, I ordered a soft boiled egg (see photo above) and it made me sick. I woke up with high fever, an upset stomach, and the constant need to vomit.


I couldn't eat solids because my stomach was still upset from the food poisoning. I had to stick to just soup and rice. I just watched my family eat their katsudon.


I ordered a kiddie meal to make myself feel better.


As soon as I was well enough to eat solids, I was craving for Korean food.


Omelette with Cheese


Takoyaki


Tokyo is famous for their cheese tarts. You can't leave without trying Pablo's. 

Transportation

Getting around Tokyo is easy. They're public transportation is so advanced it makes ours in the Philippines look sad. The only difficult part is that almost all the signs are in Japanese. You have to ask the locals to help you out.







Culture

If there's one thing I observed about that the Japanese it's that they love to go out. After work, they have dinner and drinks before going home. The streets are extremely busy and loud. They stay up until wee hours in the morning but they are always prompt for work the next day. Talk about responsible!



The Japanese drink sip soup straight from the bowl and not with their spoons


The main religion in Japan is called Shinto. They worship their gods by praying at the temple.

Sites to See




Metropolitan Tower
Go up to the 45th floor to get a view of the entire city. Entrance is free. You can see Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Jingu and Tokyo Skytree from the observation deck.









Tokyo Station
Yes, even their subway station is a tourist attraction. Just look at that! There's a hotel inside the station and it's ranked to be one of the most expensive hotels in Japan.






Walk around the Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace was the primary residence of the emperor of Japan. Although what you see standing there today is just a part of what it originally was. Most of it was destroyed during World War II. It is now a park open to the public.







 Harajuku
I wanted to spend more time in Harajuku if only my feet weren't killing me. (Note to self: Don't wear boots on a walking tour) Each store had it's own character. They sure know how to draw you in! Once you're inside, you're pretty much screwed because it's impossible to leave empty handed. I ran out of money because of all the cute stuff they had to offer.






So many kawaii finds



Buy fresh seafood at the Tsukiji Market
I think it's safe to assume that the Tsukiji market has the best sashimi in the world. Once you get a bite, you will understand what I mean. 

Uni


Tuna


                                                            The Inner market is where you can buy fresh seafood




While the outer market is so dry food





Ginza
Ginza is a high-end shopping district. Big labels like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel can be found here. 







Shopping at Don Quixote
Don Quixote is your one stop shop for everything. They have Japanese snacks, make up, electronics, designer items, and even Halloween costumes.







Take a photo with Hachiko at Shibuya
If you've seen the movie Hachiko, you'll recognize this statue. (See photo on the left!)

There was a shiba visiting Hachiko








 Get lost in Odaiba
Odaiba isn't a popular destination on travel blogs. Probably because it's a bit far from the main city but it's worth going to. They have a man-made beach and their own version of The Statue of Liberty.










I'm coming back for you, Tokyo!

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