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Monday, March 28, 2016

7 Things To Do in Tokyo, Japan

Whenever Boon and I talked about our past travels together and which place is our favourite one of all, we would unanimously agree that we had the best time in Tokyo, Japan. Every destination has its charms, but we found Tokyo to be exceptionally captivating. We spent 10 days in Tokyo itself, yet we still did not finish exploring the beautiful city. I think we could spend months in Tokyo and still not get enough of it!

We've been to Osaka and Kyoto, and we loved both places. But we still agree that there's nothing quite like Tokyo. The abundance of top quality Japanese food everywhere (just walk into any random restaurant and you'll likely walk out satisfied), easily accessible and ultra efficient transportation system (train is ALWAYS on time), clean streets (smoking is not allowed on the streets!), diverse cultures (step out of any train station and you'll be greeted by a different culture and vibe), courteous citizens (they go out of the way to direct us to our destinations), safety, and many others. What we love most is that Tokyo is always bursting with life and offers a variety of unique experiences!

I can seriously go on and on, but for now, I'm going to just share 7 (out of the many) things to do in Tokyo that are my personal favourites!

1. Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market

If you asked me, "Is it worth waking up at 3am, travel to Tsukiji Fish Market and queue for hours just to have a few pieces of sushi?"

The answer is, YES.

The freshness of the salmon, tuna, sea urchin (I literally taste the sea!), and all the other sushi served was second to none. Located right at the heart of the fish market, the seafood were fresh off the waters and is apparent in its taste. I must say they tasted even better after queuing outside of the shop for at least an hour (if you arrive past 6am, you could end up queuing for 3 hours or more).

There are a couple of sushi restaurants at Tsukiji Fish Market, with the popular ones being Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa (owned by father and son respectively). I visited Sushi Daiwa as the queue at Sushi Dai was just too insane. Reviews have it that both offer the same quality of freshness, so we went with Sushi Daiwa instead.

Read my full post on Tsukiji Fish Market HERE.

2. Dine at a standing sushi bar

When we came to know that there were standing sushi bars in Tokyo, we knew we had to go for it just for the experience! There are a few of them in Shibuya, but we only visited one of them called Uogashi Nihon-Ichi. We enjoyed it so much that we returned again for the second time. Apparently they have a total of 20 branches all over Tokyo!

Standing sushi bars are typically small, narrow shop lots that can fit only 6-8 patrons at a time. As the name suggests, there aren't seats provided. Customers stand throughout their meals and leave immediately after they're done eating. Nobody stays on to chit chat with friends as it is a fast-moving restaurant.

It may not be the most comfortable "refuge" to be at after walking the streets of Tokyo for hours, but it sure is a great place to get a quick sushi fix! Turnover is fast so you can be sure that you'll get to feast on your sushi within minutes.

Their price is reasonable without compromising on quality. They are, of course, not as fresh compared to the ones you get from Tsukiji Fish Market, but they're really good enough to lure us back for a second visit. Prices start from 150yen (approx. RM5) for 2 pieces of sushi, which is about the same price we get back home in Malaysia!

For exact addresses and operating hours (varies from branch to branch), visit their website!

3. Catch a full view of Mount Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko

Without a doubt, Mount Fuji is a must-see when in Tokyo. There are a few spots that allows you to get a full view of the majestic mountain, the popular ones being Hakone and Lake Kawaguchiko. Since we didn't intend to go for the onsen (popular attraction at Hakone) cos we didn't want to be separated from each other (lol), we chose to go with Kawaguchiko this time around!

We took a train from Shinjuku station to Kawaguchiko (5600yen/per return ticket, approx.RM200) which was about 1 hour and a half journey. When we arrived, I kept looking out for Mount Fuji and remember thinking, "Why is Mount Fuji no where in sight? I thought it's a very huge mountain? Why is it so hard to spot?"

Then, we took the cable car to a hilltop overlooking Lake Kawaguchiko, in hopes to catch a glimpse of the mountain. It turns out that Mount Fuji indeed was hiding...behind thick clouds. *cries*

Expectation vs. Reality

We had no one to blame besides ourselves for not checking the weather forecast first. The forecast for the day was cloudy all the way, which explained why Mount Fuji was covered by thick clouds throughout the day.

See? I have to draw the outline of the mountain for you to sorta "see" it :'(

I cannot begin to tell you how devastated I was. We travelled all the way to find that the reason we were there was no where to be seen.

We waited all day in hopes that the clouds would go away. Well, they did...slightly. And this was the best sight that we could get from that day.

On a good, cloudless day, Mount Fuji would look like this at Lake Kawaguchiko.

Photo Source:
Isn't it beautiful? *cries*

So do learn from our experience and make sure you check the weather forecast before making plans to visit Mount Fuji! If it's raining the night before, chances are it'll be a cloudy day the next morning!

Thankfully, Lake Kawaguchiko itself is a real beauty and we enjoyed ourselves strolling along the lake and around the vicinity nonetheless.

 It was a breath of fresh air (literally!) after spending a week in the bustling city of Tokyo. This was considered our one-day retreat to just slow down and take our time to enjoy the gorgeous nature.

4. Spend a day (or two) at Tokyo Disneysea

We spent a day each at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea. Whenever our friends asked us which one we preferred, without a shadow of doubt we answered, "Disneysea, hands down".

Disneyland is always nice. It was a dream come true for me to finally step into a Disneyland, marvelling at all the familiar Disney stories and characters, enjoying every ride. As child-friendly as the attractions may be, I still very much enjoyed walking down memory lane and being a kid all over again. After visiting Disneyland, I thought nothing could beat my great experience there. Nope, not even Disneysea.

Oh, how I was greatly mistaken! The moment I stepped into Tokyo Disneysea, I knew I had to take back my words. It was none like I'd ever seen. The scale of each attraction, genius behind every ride, and intricate details of every architecture took my breath away.

There are altogether 7 different "realms" at Tokyo Disneysea- 

Mediterranean Harbour, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island. 

Each of them having its own attractions and rides that are extremely exciting and entertaining to say the least.

I would say Tokyo Disneysea is more suited for adults, though kids are allowed to go on most rides too. This is a legit playground for grown ups, and I highly recommend anyone who visits Tokyo to prioritise Tokyo Disneyland as one of their must-see's!

We arrived at the park before it opened its doors in the morning and stayed on all the way until it closed at night, yet we didn't get to go on every single attraction (even though we really wasted no time at all). So if you want to fully enjoy and cover the park, I would suggest taking a 2-day pass just for Tokyo Disneysea alone.

For the latest ticket price, check out Tokyo Disneysea's official website HERE!

5. Check out the life-sized Gundam at Odaiba

Whether you're a Gundam fan or not, you wouldn't help but to marvel at the sight of a 59 feet tall RX-78-2 Gundam statue standing right before your eyes.

Located right in front of Diver City Tokyo Plaza Mall, the Gundam statue's eyes lit up, head turns left and right while chest vents emit smoke at 12noon, 3pm, 5pm daily. The statue is lit up everyday from 5-11pm, while at nighttime, the wall behind the statue acts as a theatre screen that display featured short films while the Gundam is decorated in special lighting schemes.

Boon being a huge fan of the Gundam series (he follows religiously!) and avid collector of Gundam figurines (he assembles them from scratch. we have too many at homeeeee) was more than excited to witness the life-sized Gundam right before his very eyes. He couldn't help but to boast about just how on-point and intricate the details of the huge Gundam statue was.

Of course, for a true Gundam fan, just looking at it wasn't enough. Inside Diver City Tokyo Plaza mall is Gundam Front, a museum and store themed after the Gundam franchise. Fans are even allow to sit in a life-sized Gundam and feel what it's like to be "controlling" the Gundam just as in the anime!

For the latest Gundam Front admission ticket price, 
check out Gundam Front's official website HERE.

6. Picnic / People-watching at Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park, also known as Yoyogi Koen is one of the largest city parks in Tokyo, featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested areas. Located in Shibuya-ku, it is next to Meiji Shrine, and 5 minutes walk away from Harajuku Station (Omotesando exit) on the JR Yamanote Line.

Picnicking at Yoyogi Park has got to be one of our top favourite things to do in Tokyo. Best of all, it's free! We loved the experience so much that we had to go back a second time before we left for home.

We basically takeaway food and drinks from convenience stores such as 7-11, Family Mart and Lawson nearby Yoyogi Park, find a bench and just chill while enjoying the wonderful weather and people-watching.

We were there during late-Autumn, so the leaves have fallen in preparation for the winter season. If you visit in mid- itself, you would get to witness the Ginko Tree Forest in its full golden glory.

Yoyogi Koen is one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo in Spring. Aside from that, it is a favourite place all year round for people to congregate for picnics, club meetings, practices and rehearsals, etc.

It also draws all sorts of talents, from horn players to hip hop dancers gathering at the park's east side entrance on Sundays grooving to pop tunes from the 50's. If you prefer a more relaxing way to spend your day, you can rent a bicycle for just a few hundred yens northwest from the central field.

Else, you can always bring your own entertainment from home! A kind Japanese grandpa let me have a try this that got me all excited like a little kid again.

Definitely a great place to relax away from the everyday hustle, bustle of the city.

7. Soak in the Anime culture at Akihabara

Anime (and gadget) lovers, this is YOUR turf!

Akihabara (also known as Akiba) is famous for being home to many electronics shops, as well as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture with many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga. Simply put, it is every boy's dream destination!

With so many electronics shops around, it is unlikely that you cannot find the gadget that you're looking for here in Akihabara.

Even though I'm not a fan of anime and mange, I found Akihabara to be a very interesting place to be in due all the entertainment outlets at every corner of the district. Tall buildings of gaming centres, arcades, toy shops, maid cafés, and adult shops dominate the electronics town.

Even I, the anime and gaming illiterate had some fun myself!

Kendamas and Yoyos of every kind.

There's also a Gundam Café in Akihabara. Aside from the little details found in the food and drinks served that relates to the Gundam series, it isn't really worth dining in. We would recommend spending the money playing your heart out at one of the many arcades available instead!


I can go on and on, but for now, here you have the 7 things to do Tokyo, Japan that I personally feel is worth seeing and doing.

The Spring season is here and it's time for an influx of tourists eager to witness the beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan! Spring is no doubt, the most beautiful season to be visiting Tokyo, and I cannot wait for my turn!

I've been checking out this flight and hotel booking app called Traveloka for quite some time now, and I love just how it makes me life easier surveying for the cheapest flights and hotels!

To start, simply select your travel dates and destination.

Traveloka will shortlist the cheapest flights available from various airlines. You can also sort and filter your search according to your needs! Best part is, all prices shown are final (already inclusive of tax), unlike booking on airlines websites where prices are not inclusive of tax and so on.

With Smart Combo, you can enjoy full-service facilities from premium airlines such as Japan Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, etc. at low cost carrier rates (up to 40% discounts), if user flies return trip on the same airline. What a deal!

Select the flight of your choice, and proceed to fill in your contact details.

Review your booking and contact details.

Proceed to payment, and voila! 
You have secured tickets to your dream destination!

You can also book your hotel via the Traveloka app, and filter your search according to your preferences. While selecting for hotels, you can see in one glance what facilities the hotels offer, and also read reviews from past travellers and see the ratings by TripAdvisor before making your booking!

I love how instead of reading from the hotel's official website or the TripAdvisor page separately (which is what I always do), you can make your decision solely based on the Traveloka app itself. How convenient!

To make things more convenient, you can fill in your credit card details on the TravelokaQuick feature once and never have to fill them up again the next time you book a flight or hotel via the app, enabling you to book your tickets with just one tap.

Now you can book cheap flights and hotels all under one app, and get your bookings secured within minutes! I personally love how simple and user-friendly the app interface is, and how easy it is to manoeuvre around the app. Travel made easy for our convenience!

You can also make your flights and hotel bookings from Traveloka's Official Website!

Hope this post helps make your travels easier! :)
Happy travelling, folks!

love, Careen.
This post is filed under: TravelTokyo.

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