a first timer’s tips and 5 day itinerary in Japan

This was the itinerary I made during our recent Asia tour. In my first blog, I mentioned options, suggestions on how to get to Tokyo from Narita airport. (Narita airport is far from the city and it’s Japan’s International airport). Itinerary in Japan depends on what you wanted to explore. what you wanna see. it can be cultural, western, or even a nature trip. we explored western part. Honestly, 5 days wasn’t enough. There’s too much to see in Tokyo alone. I suggest 7-9 days if you were to go for day trips in nearby places like Kyoto, Fuji five lakes, Yokohama, Osaka. Though Tokyo to Osaka can take around 4 hr train ride (bullet train) and would cost around $140+ one way. I suggest, maximize the time in each area and come back and visit another city on your next visit. Thats what Im planning anyway.

As mentioned on my first blog, I check for promo fares, and most promo fares gives you sh*tty flight schedule-really early flight, or really late flight. late night flights leaves you nothing to do on your first day which is a bummer. Im glad our Japan flight schedule was ok.

Japan is almost 5 hour flight from the Philippines. We boarded 0545H and landed Narita 1030ish. When i was planning the itinerary, I told myself,oh perfect! that gives us enough time for atleast a half day tour on our 1st day. wrong! it isn’t as easy as the countries I’ve been. I admit I do a lot of research before going to places to save time and to maximize the time while I’m there. Japan was different coz not everyone speaks english, it kinda consumed most of our time finding places even though we already have the pocket wifi. For some reason, whenever I use google maps on my iPhone, it shows me different directions at times. Probably coz my phone is programmed in Canada? Probably why it doesn’t recognize streets or places in Asia? i don’t know.

anyway, here was our itinerary:

Day 1:

ETA Narita: 1040am (can’t remember the exact time so i would leave it at 1040am)

after going through immigration, grabbing luggages from the baggage carousel, renting pocket wifi, trying to find which train we use (JR or Seikei) to Tokyo, it was already 1230noon.

ETA Nippori station: pass 1pm

we didn’t know we can take the train from Nippori to our hotel so we took the cab. The cab driver took 30 minutes trying to figure out where we going when I was giving him the direction and was showing him the google map from my phone and he can’t speak english at all. He asked for the hotel’s phone number, I googled it, and gave it to him. He spent probably 10 minutes on the phone, when the hotel is only 17 minutes away from Nippori station, Ive learned from that mistake and NEVER took a cab in Tokyo.

we got to the hotel almost 230pm. Upon checking in, we forgot that the hotel in Japan was only booked and wasn’t payed for unlike the 11 destinations we’ve been before Japan.(chose book now pay later on booking.com) So we had to get money changed to yen coz we RARELY used credit card during our trip. My husband NEVER used his, and I used mine twice the entire two months we were in Asia. We rather used cash.

by the time we got back to the hotel, it was already 330pm and we havent even ate yet (lunch)

good thing, the hotel is near almost everything, a mall, some restaurants, convenience store, train station. It was convenient.

We ate at a restaurant nearby.

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can you tell how hungry we were? for this amount of food, we only payed $17+ that’s only like a meal in Canada. It’s cheap! But again, this restaurant is not one of those fancy restaurants, its a tiny one with an ok food.. Nothin special. Loved the gyozas though. It was just perfect for our hungry tummy- something quick and near.

After our late lunch, the day was almost gone, so we figured, we should just check out Shibuya.

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myself in the famous, shibuya crossing.

I was told by some people i know who live in Japan to check Don Quijote for souvenirs so i tried to search that in google map while we were in the streets of shibuya,  but failed. So we just took a walk. lots of shopping malls, restaurants and stuff to see in this area.

this trip wouldn’t be complete without a picture with the famous dog of Tokyo, Hachiko. His statue is near shibuya train station, station where he waited for his owner for 9 years, 9 months and 15 days. He never left that station till he died hoping his owner( who died from hemorrhage) would come back.

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while walking in the streets of shibuya, we found a disney store, so we thought of purchasing tickets to disneyland there.

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here’s the price for disney land/disney sea tokyo as of October 2015

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the tickets. we chose disneyland instead of disney sea. Disney sea is only in Tokyo. there’s no other disney sea in the world. So if you want to see something that they don’t offer in any other disneyland all over the world, try disney sea. I’ve been to Disney land Hong Kong and its nothing like the one in Japan so it doesn’t mean you’ve been to one, it’ll be less fun or exciting.

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the back of the ticket indicate the date it was bought and expiry.. once bought, you have to use it right away or before it expires. it’s not an open-date ticket.

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SK II products can be found anywhere in Japan. Its a famous luxury skin care brand of Japan which can be bought in Sephora US site. It is pricey when bought abroad, cheaper in Japan. When I say cheaper, it’s still not cheap lol but comparing it with the price overseas, it is cheap-er. the prices in this picture is ranging from $245-$401. these sets would cost more than that when bought abroad (outside japan).

While in Shibuya, you may come across these souvenir vending machines.. Note: took this souvenir vending machine picture from google.

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after about 3-4 hrs of walking in shibuya, we decided to eat. Since were in Japan, we thought, might as well try their sushi!! Used the pocket wifi and it was the nearest sushi place to where we were. Genki sushi.. It’s affordable. we’ve seen few sushi place that had a long line up.. this was once of them.

our 1st day was pretty much familiarizing ourselves with Tokyo’s metro.. It isn’t as hard as New York’s but it can be confusing esp Tokyo train station as it is the centre of all trains i believe. It was the busiest train station too.

Day 2:

Whole day at Tokyo Disneyland!! Hours of operation: 8am-10pm. We kinda slept in till 9am and didn’t leave the hotel till almost 11am i believe. If you wanna maximize the time, don’t sleep in like we did. we needed that extra hour of sleep coz we’ve had 11 destinations prior our Japan trip.

The train station near Tokyo disneyland is the Maihama, Chiba. From Otsuka train station (the train station near the hotel we stayed at) to Chiba is about 30 minutes. Disneyland is far from the city but if you have kids, or your a kid at heart, then go check it out.

Things to keep track on:

  1. parades. check the tokyo disneyland guide map for times.. We actually missed one parade (electrical parade dream lights) coz we were in a line up.
  2. once upon a time. The venue for this one doesn’t change coz they use the castle by the entrance. pls allot enough time if the show is at 6pm, try to be there around 530pm coz it can be really packed! they normally do it night time. Im pretty sure when we went, it was 8pm. See the video below. witness how they bring the disney characters to life. the video may seem like were really far from the castle but were not. it’s just how gopro camera is. it would’ve been better if we got there early so, like i said, allot atleast 30 minutes of your time. trust me, its gonna be hard to keep track of time while there esp if you’re in a queue (ride, food, meet and greet or any kind of attraction)
  3. meet and greet of the characters- we actually didn’t care much about this one coz the line up is pretty huuuuggeee!!

if you can, please do buy a fast track ticket, it will save you all the troubles big time coz the line ups are huge!! wait time can be an hour or more!

Day 3:

Odaiba course of the sky hop bus. We purchase the 48 hour hop on/off bus tour which costs 3,500Yen ($35) I honestly don’t suggest this. learn from our mistake. Coz the hop on hop off bus in Tokyo isn’t the same as the usual hop on/off bus anywhere else. The bus interval is per hour only. If you miss the bus, you have to wait for another hour. we ended up buying train tickets.Another thing, their bus stops aren’t really easy to find. Just buy day tickets instead. The only thing i liked about the sky hop was we were able to go to Odaiba without the hassle of finding the way to get there.

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1st stop was at tokyo tower.

 

 

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Main observatory- 900 yen ($9), special observatory -additional 700 yen($7)

2nd stop was at fuji television. this stop is near diver city where you can take some snap shots with the famous gundam statue, and on the other side, you will find the view of the rainbow bridge and the statue of liberty of Tokyo. They have madam tussauds too (decks odaiba)

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If you are a kitkat fan, you might wanna purchase some at diver city.. they have 100+ kitkat flavour so you might wanna try some (might as well). They are not easy to find as well (except for the green tea ones-you can find them anywhere in Tokyo)

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Madame tussauds is near the statue of liberty.

We spent probably 3-4 hours in Odaiba (we had to figure out ourselves how to get to diver city etc) we walked a lot so we decided to eat some sushi for snack.

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the best california roll i’ve had! yup! thats eel or unagi as what they call it.

after snack, we decided to head back to the bus stop and continue on our tour. There were stop we really didn’t care for. Just because we were only in Tokyo for 5 days that i actually thought would be enough for us to explore the city. Boy was i wrong. there’s too much to see and do..

we switched to a different bus to go to a different route. By the time we got to the bus, it was almost closing time, so we figured, we won’t hop off till the very last stop of the Asakusa-Tokyo sky tree course which was Nihombashi station. It gave us time to see more of the city and figure out which stops should we go the next day so we don’t have to hop off each stop.

was able to see the Tokyo skytree at night.

took a snapshot while on the top deck of the bus (front seat) was already tired at this point.

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we went to harajuku- takeshita dori we got there around 730pm and the stores closes at 8pm so that didn’t help at all. So we decided to check whatever stores we can. Unfortunately, I learned i really gained weight coz i use to fit clothes on the mannequin, and most clothes that look cute on the mannequin use to look nice on me as well, but not no more! lol I love japanese fashion tho. Took some pictures of some. see below.

since it was supper time, we decided totry yakiniku. searched on google best place to try yakiniku near us, and it gave me seiko. My husband loves meat so it’s perfect coz it was unlimited meat.It was good!!

 

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we ordered the premium course. 3,800 Yen for each person ($38) the menu tells all the inclusions. You get more good stuff in the premium one so we decided to order that.

Day 4:

bought tokyo banana (famous “pasalubong” from Japan) in their store near tokyo skytree. I recommend buying the cookies instead of the sponge cake ones.. Aside from the longer shelf life, the cookies are more tastier. The sponge cake ones are similar to twinkies except they are banana flavoured.

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bought all the flavours they have. You can find them in Narita duty free as well but just the regular ones.. (yellow box)

Below is the tokyo skytree during day time.

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here’s the admission

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i highly recommend purchasing the fast sky tree though it cost more. It saves you from the LOOOONG wait and line up. We did the fast sky tree which costs 2820 yen ($28+) which includes the access to tembo deck. Note that they won’t prioritize you anymore when leaving. You have to wait for the elevator. The fast skytree “privilege” is only for the way up.. The tembo galleria ticket (highest floor) can only be purchased at tempo deck. My husband went there by himself coz I’m afraid of heights. extra fee applies for anyone who want to go to galleria.

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view from the tembo deck.

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they also have the glass floor like calgary and macau tower. (above picture)

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below is the video taken by my husband while he was in the tembo galleria (450m)

next stop:

Senso-ji temple

 

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the temple where you will find lots of japanese people wearing kimono and you can actually see geisha. Theres also a strip of stores pass the temple where you can find some souvenirs..

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if you know someone who loves cats, you are in the right place coz Japan has lots of souvenirs for cat lovers.

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some purse shaped like dress (above)

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the famous japanese dolls (above)

if you are going to buy souvenirs though, go to don quijote. wasn’t able to go check one but i heard its affordable.. here’s a link to show you some stuff you can buy there.

[JAPAN] DON QUIJOTE – The Most Awesome Discount Store in Japan

went to ameya yokocho, candy store in english aka ameyoko market and bought kitkat and pocky

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street sign

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was only able to buy few kitkat flavours.

Ive heard of chocolatory where they sell premium kitkats. wasn’t able to check that out due to lack of time.

Akihabara is one spot we weren’t able to check as well. place where you can find cheap electronics. not too sure how cheap but will definitely check it out next time we come for a visit.

the 4th day was mostly shopping coz we were leaving the following day.

we could’ve done and seen more if we didn’t have a hard time finding some places, shops etc. There were some restaurants, bar, tourist spots that we wanted to see but wasn’t able to due to lack of time. getting lost in the streets of tokyo definitely consumed most of our time.. For first timers, esp if you don’t know any locals, maybe stay for 7-9 days. btw, do check out Tsukiji market for sushi. cheapest and freshest. you don’t have to be there early for it unless you wanna join tuna auctions.. They also have a restaurant that serves king crab! wasn’t able to take picture of the place but you will know coz theres a big crab on the facade.

Don’t forget to buy some royce chocolates on your way home. Its cheaper in Narita than anywhere (Canada, Singapore or even Philippines)

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might have to edit this and add few more details that i missed. just have to finish it coz its already 3AM lol

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