Last time, I wrote about me and my family’s adventure in Osaka (read blog here). Now, let this blog take you to Tokyo as I continue to share our two weeks adventure in Japan in this two-part blog. Warning: Photo heavy. Mamunako Japan!
So right where we left off! Last part of my Osaka blog, we were bound to Tokyo where we spent our New Year with our cousins. From Osaka station, we rode the Shinkansen bound to Tokyo. We left the station around eleven in the morning. We wanted to be early because we only bought Shinkansen tickets without reserved seat and given the time (holiday season), we already anticipated influx of people to be able to pick a good seat for ourselves.
And oh boy, we underestimated the promptness in Japan. During travels I always anticipate delays so I always put buffer times however since it’s Japan we arrived in Tokyo earlier than expected. My aunt (my dad’s sister) was the one who picked us up in Tokyo Central Station after her work. Since we are early, my aunt decided to tour us around Tokyo Central Station (this station is so big you won’t run out of things and places to discover) and Shibuya.
As I’ve said, this station is so big you won’t run out of things to discover. The best part for me? THERE ARE A LOT OF RESTAURANTS AND CAFE. Actually we didn’t eat until we got back from Shibuya, but just for this blog be organized, I’ll just clamp it by destination.
Tokyo Station is one of the main station in the city— located in Chiyoda, Tokyo. This station has two main entrance/exit: Marunouchi Exit on the west side and the Yaesu Exit on the east side. The one on the Marunouchi is where we took some of our shots and where the countdown for the 2020 Olympics was located. Also Marunouchi Exit is near the Imperial Palace. Since we were still fresh and early from the tracks and my aunt wants us to visit Shibuya, we decided to leave our baggage first in the lockers around the station. There were so many locker areas within the station however, due to the holiday, we also spent an hour to find ones that fits our luggage.
After our Shibuya trip, we went back to the station to fetch our luggage and have dinner.
New Tokyo Beer Hall (Tokyo Station Yaesugushi): Omurice, Tempura, Marinara Pasta and Coffee
We spent a good hour searching where we will eat. At first we planned to dine at a restaurant in Tokyo Central Office since we were craving omurice but it’s fully booked. So we went back to the station and found this restaurant. Good thing is that the whole place is big so they can cater more walk-ins.
TOKYO POST OFFICE
Just beside the Tokyo Central Station is the Tokyo Post Office. Originally, my aunt wanted to dine here but most of the restaurant were fully booked so we went back to the station. This post office have five floors and on the top floor was a viewing deck that you can see Tokyo Station. the whole place have this kind of posh ambiance. It’s modern and with lots of shops inside too!
As soon as we found lockers to store our luggage temporarily, we immediately boarded the subway to Shibuya station. Right of the station is the most popular landmark and the busiest crossing in Tokyo which is the Shibuya crossing. We also got to have our photos taken in Hachiko statue beside the station, which has a long line of tourist by the way.
HARAJUKU, ASAKUSA & AKIHABARA
For the first day in Tokyo, my cousin was the one to tour us around to the three popular destination in Tokyo. We also planned to meet with my cousin who just got deployed for work in Japan the same time we went there.
First destination was Harajuku. We got to see the old Harajuku station before it got demolished last year. We almost got to Harajuku around 11 in the morning so my cousin decided to let us have our lunch first around the area. After lunch, we got to tour around the place. Harajuku offers a lot of stores, restaurants, cafes, and is packed with people. We had fun strolling around checking shops after shops. There was this sticker shop we also bought some stickers from. The place is like the shopping district of Tokyo.
Afuri Ramen is one of the best ramen I’ve tried while in Japan. The place is small but quite a good place. Afuri ramen have this tangy and citrusy flavor that is so good my mom can’t stop saying ‘sarap’. You can smell the aroma of the broth and noodles once you get inside the shop. Got us some nostalgia since the aroma resembles the one in our favorite pancit loglog place in Bicol. No wonder it’s quite popular around the area and quite a long queue before you can get yourself a bowl.
This place is magical. Asakusa is where the Asakusa Sensoji Temple is located. There was a large lantern you will see before you can enter the whole compound. And as soon as you enter you can see a lot of shops that sells food, charms, and some souvenirs (omiyage) you can bring back home. I bought some health charms for both my mom and dad and some study charms for my sister.
After the set of shops was the temple. There was a store inside where I bought some Omamori for my friends and let it be blessed inside the temple. Note that this omamoris can’t be gifted to yourself. You need to have someone give you one.
Before we went to Akihabara for dinner, we rest for some time by the bridge that overlook the Tokyo Skytree. There are several coffee vending machines in the area so the cold never bothered us.
Beef cutlets with savory soy sauce wasabi sauce. Plus you can cook on the stone plated they provide. Experience + taste. The shop is located in Sotokanda Okuyama Building. A long queue is what’s gonna welcome you but it is surprisingly quick to get you accommodated.
NORN MINAKAMI SKI RESORT
For Day 3, my uncle thought it was a good day to go up the mountains and ski. It was our first winter in Japan so we are quite excited about snow, ski, and MORE SNOW! We prepared quite early for this day. Up by 5AM, we started our travel up to Minakami. The original plan, I guess, was to Niigata but we just settled to Minakami since it’s much closer to Nikko.
What’s cool about this was we got to have stopovers in highway rest tops on the way to Minakami. The rest stops in Japan are quite big and one of the things we do there besides resting and eating was stamping our travel cards. In every stop there are stamp station where you can stamp your destinations cards. Stamps have the name of the place/location you are in. Once we got to Minakami, it’s close to noon. We got to change our shoes before we run up the snow slopes. The ski resort was packed with people but sad to say that their ski lift is closed so we just got to play in the snow and built some snowman.
I’m such a sucker for sunset and watching it in Nikko by the lake gave me so many emotions. It’s so picturesque and so vibrant the saturation of the skies kinda made me happy to experience one. It was a good thing my uncle is a nature lover. He knows where he could take us for memorable visits in Japan.
Days 3-6 will be next! Destinations for our remaining days is Kawasaki where we visit Costco (where my aunt work and bake us super delicious muffins!), Shin-Okubo K-town, Odaiba, & up to Mt. Fuji! See you next blog!~
For more visuals, you can watch our Japan mini-vlog in youtube: