Monday, October 22, 2012

5D4N Tokyo Trip

Tokyo 東京 is an amazing place. For those who have visited the Land of the Rising Sun, I believe you will raise up both hands and legs in agreement that the food and the shopping are one the best in the world! Putting cost aside for the time being, the shopping is probably the biggest I have been to in my life. And the food (Sashimi & Ramen) IS THE BEST in the world!

So is 5D4N enough for just touring around in Tokyo? Personally, I think it is just enough. Too long, you may run out of interesting places to visit, too short, you will miss out some of the essential tourism or non-tourism areas.

In a nutshell, we visited the common places you will find on Google, like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Asakusa, Harajuku, Tsukiji Market & Roppongi. But in addition to all these wonderful places, I would recommend just 3-4 more places less visited and definitely worth the trip to go – Tsukishima, Yoyogi Park, Shimokitazawa, Nakameguro.

Since this trip to Tokyo was our 10th year wedding anniversary trip, we sort of planned it to be a very relaxing trip with time just to explore the more interesting lifestyle of the Japanese that we have heard of so much and watched on those Japan Drama. The flight was a 8-hour flight from Singapore to Tokyo Narita Airport via Hong Kong. My recommendation is to check out the Natas Fair as we got our tickets just slightly under $1400 for 2 pax. That is pretty cheap on Cathay Pacific.


1st Day – Ichigaya, Shinjuku & Harajuku

Once you have reached Narita Airport, remember to buy a Suica Card for travel on the JR East train lines. For ¥5,500 you will be able to buy a 2-way Narita Airport Express and a ¥2,000 value stored in your Suica Card.


From the airport we travelled for about 1.5 hours to our local host’s house at Ichigaya. Read Kless’s blog about Roomorama. Ichigaya is a housing area so there aren’t a lot of shopping, but still it’s a busy town because the Ministry of Defence is just one street opposite our lodging. It’s very common to see the men all dressed in formal suit for work.


My suggestion is to rest for a while after your check-in especially after a long flight. Then head out to Shinjuku. This district is famous for it’s skyscrapers and premier hotels. The streets are also full of shops from level 1 to 4, selling almost everything and anything for a totally exhilarating shopping experience.



If you still have energy or time for another round of shopping or just not ready for bed yet, then travel to Harajuku. Harajuku is among the top 3 shopping paradise in Tokyo, with Shinjuku and Shibuya. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street), which is lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, food outlets, etc. Just a note that most of the shops closes around 8pm on a usual weeknights.



Head back to your hotel or apartment for an early night, cos tomorrow will be a long day.


2nd Day – Tsukiji Market, Asakusa, Roppongi

A trip to the famous Tsukiji Market is a must for all who travels to Tokyo. If you are willing to pay for the early cab fare, try to reach the market at 5am where you will be able to witness the popular Tuna Auction. It’s a first-come-first-serve basis up to 120 visitors per day. Only those who travel to the market can register on the spot, no reservation in advance. However, if you are like us who prefers to just have a more relaxed trip, you can choose to reach the place after 7am to walk around the market and check out the place.


After the visit, be sure to have an early lunch at one of the many shops selling the freshest sashimi you will ever have. Even now I can only dream about going back again just to taste the sashimi.


Okay, after your stomach is filled. It should be a good timing to make you way to Asakusa. The main attraction in Asakusa is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple. The entire district is like Tokyo in the past decades, the old streets are filled with variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs.



You can easily spent the whole afternoon at Asakusa before you head off to Roppongi for dinner and what else but more shopping and walking. Roppongi is also the night life district in Tokyo. You will be able to find the most happening night clubs and bars in this area (beware some are for adults). The shopping are on the high end side, trending more towards the international brands.




3rd Day – Tsukishima, Akihabara, Shibuya

One important tip for everyone, you need to wear good walking shoes. The amount of walking we did for the entire trip is more than most Singaporeans in 3 months.

Tsukishima is a man made island in Tokyo. It is best know for monjayaki, a kind of runny pancake with different ingredients such as seafood, meat and vegetables.


The old streets and shops are always a fascinating thing for both Kless and me.


Akihabara also called Akiba after a former local shrine. This district is equivalent to Singapore’s Sim Lim Square, just that it is probably 100 times bigger and 1000 times more complex and interesting. Besides being famous for its electronics shops, in more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the centre for diehard fans of anime and manga.



Now to one of my favourite places in Tokyo, Shibuya. This place is Tokyo’s most colourful and busy district, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs. Shibuya is the centre for youth fashion and culture, and the birthplace to many of Japan’s fashion trends.



4th Day – Shimokitazawa, Nakameguro, Shibuya

This place is one of the off-the-grid places I would highly recommend in Tokyo. Shimokitazawa is usually considered one of the hippest neighbourhoods among young people. The atmosphere and fashion is pretty similar to Harajuku but is usually less crowded and has a much more laid-back feel.



Time passes fast in this laid-back place, initially we thought of spending just the morning walking round the neighbourhood, but we were there until late afternoon, soaking in the culture and spending a relaxed afternoon. Sweet!


Next we went to a nearby Tokyo suburbs – Nakameguro. This is a place where you can stroll along the streets looking at some of the shops favoured by designers, artists, musicians and all round creative type.


On the last night in Tokyo, the best place to be has to be Shibuya. This is the never sleep district and your last chance to rush for the rare purchase or simply just hang out at the many cafes people-watching.


5th Day – Yoyogi Park

Contrary to many people’s understanding, amidst the busyness of Tokyo streets and districts, Yoyogi Park is one of the largest city parks. And in this park lies the Meiji Shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The main complex of the shrine is situated right between Harajuku Station (southern gate) and Yoyogi Station (northern gate).




This has been one of the most enjoyable trip for Kless and I. The weather was perfect (ranging from 15-22 degrees). The food was excellent. The people are very nice and pretty. In fact, we are quite sure we will be visiting Japan again, maybe Osaka or Hokkaido.

If you are reading to get more information about traveling in Tokyo, do drop by again as I will be posting more photos and detail reports on some of the selected places I recommended in this post.

Click here for all my Tokyo posts.

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