It will be almost a year since my coworkers and I went to Japan last November. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and it has been on my bucketlist for as long as I can remember so I was really excited when our boss announced that he’ll be sending us to Japan. This was also my first out-of-country ever since I went to study abroad in Xiamen way back in 2009 when I was just fourteen. Anyways, looking back, our 6 days in Japan went by real quick, it almost felt like I was dreaming when we were there.
11.11.2016 Day 1: Shinjuku, Ginza, Yurakucho
Tokyo Narita Airport.
We took the Airport Limousine Bus on our way to our hotel in Shinjuku.
Saw Tokyo Tower 🗼 on our way from Narita. I thought that I just had to go there before we leave Tokyo to Osaka (because OP feels 😭).
It took around an hour to get to our hotel in Shinjuku. We stayed in Hilton and this is our view from our hotel.
It was freaking cold outside. I think it was around 10 degrees at that time.
Saw this building when we were walking and was fascinated on how tall the building was. I searched for the name of the building and realized that it was Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, a 204-meter 50-story educational facility. According to wikipedia, it is the 2nd tallest educational building in the world and 25th tallest building in Japan.
We also rented a pocket wifi in a not-so-nearby convenience store since we forgot to rent one while we were at the airport.
It was already 4pm when we opted to have our lunch in Itamae Sushi Shinjuku.
As soon as we rented the pocket wifi, we had our lunch in this nearby resto because we were starting to feel hungry. We weren’t disappointed tho. The food tasted really good!
We still roamed around the streets of Shinjuku after we had lunch. I remember going inside on this department store and each of us bought umbrellas since it was slightly raining. After that, we road the subway going to Ginza.
We spent the rest of the night roaming around the streets of Ginza. Ginza is a high-class major shopping district in Tokyo.
The largest branch of Uniqlo in Japan. It has 12 floors!
It also houses the infamous Hattori Clock Tower in Wako Building. (I often see this in mangas I read lol).
The evening was chilly and it was only 6pm when we decided to take a rest from all the hustling and bustling and had coffee in Le Cafe Doutor.
Sipping coffee as we watched people hustle.
My officemate also suggested that we try this resto somewhere in Yurakucho, which accordingly had good reviews. It was a good long walk and we got lost as we explored our way on foot. According to Google Maps, it was supposed to only be a five-minute walk from our last stop, but we got lost on our way finding it. I don’t actually remember the name of the establishment where we dined in but I do remember walking underneath train tracks, tunnels and alleyways.
Lol at us struggling to find the place. I remember walking around in circles!
We went back to the hotel via taxi afterwards. We were surprised to find out that traffics here were infrequent. And also, taxi doors open automatically lol.
11.12.2016 Day 2: Asakusa, Shibuya, Harajuku
The next day, we went to the infamous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, which is also known as the oldest temple in Tokyo.We went from Shinjuku Station to Asakusa via the JR line.
It would have been quite a walk from our hotel to the Shinjuku Station but luckily, we found out that Hilton actually has a shuttle bus which could take us directly to the station.
While inside the bus, I couldn’t help but take photos of the beautiful surroundings of Japan.
I didn’t expect to see a lot of people flocking in and out the temple. It was really crowded.We also happened to try the Omikuji Paper Fortune which only cost 100Yen. Disappointed, I had terrible luck and drew an awfully bad fortune. 😭I saw a lot of locals wearing traditional kimonos as they strolled through the streets of Asakusa. There’s actually a kimono store nearby wherein you can rent them for a day but we opted not to since we didn’t plan on staying in Asakusa for so long.
They sell a wide variety of Japanese fans, Katana swords, etc. All of which are some of the cool things to buy in Japan while you’re at it – that is, if you’re a fan of the Japanese martial arts.
We tried this one since this drew the most attention plus it’s only around Php80 when you convert it. I’m not sure what it’s called but losta people were actually lining up for this street snack. To be honest, it wasn’t as good as people hyped them up to be. It has a sweet taste but the sauce was super sticky and it can get all over the place.
We also often get dehydrated after all the walking lol. But we didn’t have to worry because vending machines could be found almost everywhere. They’re all over the place. A bottled water costs ¥100 or equivalent to Php45.
After leaving the temple grounds, we decided to do a little detour and go to Tokyo Sky Tree because we all thought that it was already very nearby since the tower was already visible when we were roaming around the streets in Asakusa. On our way, we discovered that there was a Studio Ghibli store. My sister wanted a Totoro music box as a souvenir. When I entered the shop, I was lucky enough to find a music box. I didn’t want to let the chance slip through my fingers when it was already right in front of me so I bought it right away. I got her this one, which was around ¥5,000.
We had a chance to walk past Azumbashi Bridge in Asakusa which was only a walking distance from Sensoji Temple. Our itinerary didn’t even include Sky Tree at all. Our next stop should have been Meiji Jingu, but whatever, curiosity kills the cat! The Sky Tree just drew all of our attention towards it.I saw this one passed by under the bridge but I’ve actually no idea on what type of marine vessel it was lol. After crossing the bridge, we rested for a while in the Sumida Park. This was also the last time we got to get a glimpse of the Sky Tree and the closest to where we could get to it. My officemate told us that it still seemed quite far if we walked from where we were so we got back to our original itinerary – which was Meiji Jingu. Goodbye Sky Tree! I’ll visit you when I get a chance!
To get us on track, we rode the subway station. Lol at us eyeing those cold drinks vending machines!I recommend trying this one. It’s cheap but the flavor’s good. Fun fact: Did you know that Georgia Coffee is the world’s highest-grossing, ready-to-drink coffee brand? According to wiki, it was launched in 1975 by Coca-Cola (Japan), named after Coca-Cola’s home state of Georgia. It has since expanded to markets in Singapore, South Korea, India, Bahrain, and the U.S. And they don’t have this in the Philippines.
Unfortunately tho! It was already closed by the time we got there. It was 5pm and I think the place closes at 4pm. Lol super fail.
We went to ride a cab going to Harajuku afterwards. My officemate really wanted to check some place out. She told us that she just couldn’t afford to miss it.We found out that she was particularly interested in shoes. There were quite a number of shoe stores and they sell a wide variety of brands/models/colors, etc. Most of them were discounted too. I’m not quite a fan of shoes in particular and we were only on the second day so I urged myself not to splurge.
We also tried Eggs n’ Things. And we had pancakes for dinner lol.But boi was the line long! I think we waited for around 45 minutes just to get in. At first we were supposed to stay outside the resto but we requested to eat inside since it was really cold (but not as cold as the first day).After eating, we rode a cab again and went to the infamous Shibuya! As soon as our driver dropped us off, we were amazed on how bright the city lights were!And you know what happens next? We took multiple photos of us crossing the streets non-stop lol! We were all jiddy and happy, and we’ve never been this excited to cross a street! I’ve a video stored in my phone but I can only posts photos here so-I think we’ve crossed the streets a dozen of times but we weren’t the only ones. We saw a woman in a long red gown having her pictures taken while she was crossing the streets of Shibuya. I think it took around 30 mins or so since we spotted her from the moment we stayed in Starbucks until we decided to go home. (Tho it isn’t in the picture)Foreigners stopping by to have their pictures taken ob the Shibuya Crossing seemed pretty normal to the locals there. I’m sure they’re already very used to seeing them.
11.13.2016 Day 3: Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo Tower
Since we weren’t able to go to Meiji Jingu Shrine on our second day, our itinerary for the third day was to immediately head to the Meiji Shrine, where we spent the rest of the morning in.
Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine founded in 1920 dedicated to the defied spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. Inside, we spotted a huge collection of sake barrels.
Everything felt peaceful at that time. The weather was cool yet bright and sunny.
As with the case in Sensoji, there were lots of people especially kids in kimonos.
This practice is called Omairi.
For ¥100, we tried Ohmi Gokoro, a waka poem card composed by Emperor Meiji or Empress Shoken.
“Amidst the raging storms of life, never flinch o heart of man- No more than the wind-tossed pine deep-rooted in the rock.” – Emperor Meiji. This was what I needed after getting a bad omen from our previous trip to Sensoji Temple. 😭
Traditional Japanese Shinto wedding procession at Meiji Jingu.
We also wrote our own personal prayers and wishes.
It looks so magical from the inside.
We tried their Takoyaki too and it was the best one I’ve ever tasted! Ever since we came back in the Philippines, the takoyakis in Japanese restos here can’t even compare lol. I miss it a lot.
For our next destination, we headed to Tokyo Disney. There were several train transfers in order to get to Tokyo Disney.
We unintentionally arrived at Tokyo Disneyland when Tokyo Disney Sea was our actual destination.
Upon arriving in the ticket booth, we were advised to take the train in order to get to Tokyo Disney Sea.
At Tokyo Disney Sea where we just roamed around and strolled. Unanimously, we agreed to just go all out in Universal Studios when we go to Osaka. In our opinion, the rides were more child-friendly here.
This is the line for the train ride which lets you see all the attractions inside Disney Sea.
We actually just spent an hour inside since we still had to go to Tokyo Tower in Minato.
It looks so pretty even from afar!
And this is what the tower looks like up close!
Tokyo Tower wasn’t really included in the itinerary set by our boss. But to heck with that lol! I told my co-workers that I wanted to go to Tokyo Tower when we were having breakfast in the hotel. I confessed that I could even miss not going to Tokyo Disney Sea just to see Tokyo Tower. I reassured them that I can manage myself to go there alone. I actually spent studying how I could get there before I went to sleep the night before. I just couldn’t miss this opportunity.
Tokyo Tower houses an official One Piece Mugiwara shop plus a mini-indoor theme park. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived and purchased our tickets, we were told that we were late by 5 minutes, so by the time we got there, the theme park was already closed.
However, we were still glad to find out that the observatory and the official shop were still open.
I bought a lot of merchandise goods from the store – posters, magnets, painting from the author itself, Thousand Sunny Ship Model (which I haven’t assembled yet until now) figurines, and mugs for me and my friend. Basically, OP haul!
I was the happiest kid on earth lol!
Btw, we were also lucky to have seen and witnessed One Piece Snow Globe in front of the main entrance of Tokyo Tower, which only lasted for 3 months from November until February. Accordingly, this was the biggest snow globe in the country with a diameter of 6m. This is in the motif of the episode, “Bloom in Winter, Miracle Sakura.” I crai it was so beautiful and I was touched. 😭 I don’t know – it might be because I suddenly remembered that episode or maybe it was because of the sounds. But at that time, seeing it made me really emotional lol.
After Tokyo Tower, my co-worker found a lounge wherein we could have our dinner. It was our last night in Tokyo so we all agreed that it was okay to try out a fancy restaurant.
We dined at The Sky Lounge Stellar Garden located at the 33th floor Prince Park Tower Tokyo Hotel.
It offers a really nice view but the food was super expensive.
Drinks were okay.
Downside was that we looked out of place and the service wasn’t good. The bar tenders kept on staring at us, and were talking amongst themselves, perhaps wondering how a bunch of young kids in their 20s something be there. I mean, we were surrounded by a lot of older men, mostly Indians in their suits (probably businessmen) in their 40s.
11.14.2016 Day 4: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Osaka
Our room on our last day.
We began to pack even before we went to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is just a walking distance away from our hotel. And it’s the tallest building in Shinjuku.
This is the view from the 45th floor. Accordingly, on a clear day, one can even see Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the skies were a little bit too dark when we visited.
Local bread store when we were on our way to Osaka from Tokyo.
I recommend trying their melon bread. It’s so good!
Total fare from Tokyo to Osaka via Shinkansen was ¥ 19,230 or roughly equivalent to P 8,700.
Shinkansen, which runs at an average speed of 320kph is one of the fastest high-speed trains in the world and also holds a perfect safety record. We left Tokyo by 3pm and arrived in Osaka by around 5:30pm. (We actually got a difficult time transferring lines and messed up at the last minute so we had to rebook our schedule – we originally had to leave by 2pm.)
This is the view from the inside.
We stayed in Hilton Osaka and this is our room. We opted for the traditional type of room this time.
We went to Dotonbori on our first night. That night, it was so cold since it was raining.
Since it was raining, we went to eat inside first.
We also shopped around for a bit before we went home. The color looks good so I bought this one for my sisters.
11.15.2016 Day 5: Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Kyoto
As usual, we saw lots of locals in their kimonos.
Also, there were a lot of students who visited the Shrine when we went there too.
Clearly, Fushimi Inari is the head shrine of Inari in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousand torii gates.
I couldn’t imagine seeing it in real life since I was used to only get to witness this infamous shrine when I watch animes.
I believe that from here, this is already overlooking Kyoto. And from this point, we were starting to feel exhausted.
But we continued to explore our way up the trails a bit more.
When we reached the Yotsutsuji intersection, we rested for a bit.
Where we happened to talked and met a local who climbed all the way Mt. Inari just to play Pokemon Go lol. He even showed me some of his Pokemon collections ㅋㅋ.
By this time, we decided not to continue and walk our way back down the mountain. Accordingly, the trails also do not offer much variation beyond said intersection. Plus, it was beginning to rain and it wouldn’t be a great idea to spend our time until evening here.
We decided to head back to Osaka by this time.
We spent the rest of the night in Dotonbori.
Where we chose to dine in Matstukagyu Yakiniku M.
It was also very cozy inside since you get to eat inside a private room all by yourself.
The three of us ordered a premium course. Their beef was the best one that I’ve tasted from all the places that we’ve tried in our whole stay in Japan. Definitely recommended!
I had a slight migraine at that time when they asked me what beer I wanted to try. I passed and just enjoyed my meat.
11.16.2016 Day 6: Universal Studios Japan
We spent the whole day in the Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan.
Btw, the Japanese were in a craze for all things minion-related lol.
The minions were the trend.
1. Jurrasic Park: The Flying Dinosaur – We could hear the screams from all the way up. The line was also hella long. Tbh, I’m not really a fun of extreme/ thrill rides but my co-workers wanted to try it so I joined them. Plus, there were younger kids and oldies as well so I was able to muster up my courage after seeing them kinds of crowds.
We were screaming and swearing at the same time all throughout the ride but it was crazy fun lol.
I survived The Flying Dinosaur!
We also saw this lone T-rex scaring people around.
We stopped to eat ice cream in Baskin first before we went on to our next ride.
The special effects and acting were amazing. If you don’t want to get wet, I recommend seating on the right side instead lol.
Passed by Mel’s Drive-In on our way to the World of Harry Potter.
3. The Forbidden Journey – I have to admit that I’m really not a big fan of Harry Potter and the line got super long but it was worth it. The experience felt incredible and the closest one here in the Philippines is when you watch Imax 4D in MOA lol.
By nighttime, we went exploring around the area near our hotel. We first went to Yodabashi in Umeda, then went on our own separate ways since we all had different places we wanted to visit. I went to Grand Front Osaka as well as Daimaru where I found out that they had a Pokemon Center. My sister wanted me to buy her a Pokemon when I get to visit a Pokemon Center so I took the chance to check it out.
I bought 2 of them.
11.17.2016 Day 7: Dotonbori
For our last day in Osaka, we decided to still go on our separate ways. I headed to Dotonbori as soon as we were finished with our breakfast while they still explored around within the hotel vicinity. We just had to make sure that we were back in our hotel by 12nn.
Since it was our last day, I still had enough pocket money with me so I decided to buy lotsa pasalubongs. I chose to buy a bag for my mom, a running shoes for my dad, teas for the oldies, coffee and grounded beans for my siblings, parents and aunts, hoarded make up for my sisters and lotsa sweets – chocolates, and candies and magnets – the usual. I didn’t realize that I’ve already bought a lot of stuff until I felt that what I was carrying was getting stared at lol. I even had a trouble packing my things since I had completely filled our 30kg luggage just with the pasalubongs lmao. My officemate was shocked to see me carrying a heavy load full of stuff.
This summarizes our trip in Japan, where we spent a total of 6 days in Tokyo and Osaka last November.
What a long post!