Travelling in Japan Part 1 (Tokyo)
Friday 28th December: Travelling to Helsinki
Our journey to Japan began on Friday 28th December 2018 in Manchester airport. We boarded the 5.50pm flight to Helsinki excited to be spending a night in Finland before heading to Tokyo. We landed at Vantaa airport in the freezing cold, surrounded by thick snow. I've always loved the snow in Finland. It makes everything look picturesque.
We headed to Espoo and met the family and had a sauna before bed. We got up early the following morning and took Gapu and Reku for a walk to the nearby forest. We came across another dog, a chocolate lab, who's owner told us he was from the same guide dog school as Gapu and Reku. We then went to Sello to buy a few bits and pieces before our flight in the afternoon. It was nice to see the Christmas lights and decorations were still up.
We had lunch, packed our bags and headed for the airport. We took the train and got through security very quickly. Our 9.5 hour flight was delayed so we found some loungers to rest on until it was time.
Saturday 29th December: Travelling to Tokyo
We boarded the plane. It was big and we were seated near the wings. We had lots of extra leg room and special Marimeko gift bags that had an eye mask and tooth brush set inside. We also had a pillow and blanket.
We watched a funny Finnish film called Happier Times, Grump and the flight didn't feel too long. The meals were very nice and we also got a glimpse of the Northern lights.
As we approached Japan, we could see Mt. Fuji above the clouds., We landed at Narita airport and got through security quickly. We got our rail passes and wi-fi for the trip and headed to the train.
Sunday 30th December: Arriving in Tokyo
We arrived at Tokyo central and it was so busy! Our hotel was a 20 minute walk away so we headed out to find it. We stopped at a 7-11 on the way to try the crispy chicken they sell and have a coffee to keep us awake.
The hotel was nice. The room was small but comfortable. We had a shower then took the metro to Rainbow Bridge to see the replica Statue of Liberty and the huge Gudam anime robot.
By now it was dark and Tokyo started to light up. We got onto a very busy metro and went to Shibuya where the huge crossing is. We walked around looking at all the bright lights above us. We explored some of the smaller back streets where the tiny restaurants were, many only seating 4 or 5 people at most. We got some atsu curry at CoCo curry house and then wen for a drink at a nearby bar.
After a wander through Akhibara, we were extremely tired so we headed back to the hotel to sleep. We woke up at 3am but managed to get back to sleep.
|Gudam unicorn robot in Odaiba near the Rainbow Bridge.|
Monday 31st December: Day trip to Kyoto
We woke up early and decided to take a day trip to Kyoto. We headed to Tokyo central and got onto a Shinkansen bullet train. It took nearly 3 hours to get to Kyoto. The train station is amazing. It has a viewing deck showing all of Kyoto. We also discovered Mister Donut in the station. The first trip there, of many! We headed to the Fushima Inari Shrine where the hundreds of vermillion coloured torii gates were. With it being new year, the shrine was busy as it us tradition for people to visit shrines over the new year holiday. I loved the colour of the gates, which seem to last for miles up into the forest. The route to the shrine was filled with people selling street food
We got an espresso at a coffee shop nearby then headed to the bamboo forest. There were lots of rickshaws and more shrines and temples. It started to rain so we decided it was time to head back to Tokyo. The long train ride tired us out so we headed back to the hotel to sleep. We spent New Year's eve sleeping rather than partying. The jet lag was very bad at this point.
Tuesday 1st January: Exploring Tokyo:
We decided we wanted to go to Tokyo Tower to have a good view of Tokyo. We went up to the observation deck and could see for miles. The coffee shop served delicious cakes too. We went to a nearby shrine, Zojoji Temple, which was very large and beautiful and walked through the Gate of Daitokuin Mausoleum to Tokyo Prince park.
|View from Tokyo tower|
After a sleep, we headed out to see the Harajuku area, which was known for it's youth culture and interesting fashions. The street was crowded with young people and lots of clothes shops. We went to Shibuya to get some food. We ended up in a ramen restaurant then went for a walk but most of the shops had closed early.
Wednesday 2nd January: Tokyo
The next morning we went to the Asakusa shrine which was very large and had lots of street food stalls around it. People were queuing up to throw coins into the water at the front of the temple. Nearby people were selling lucky charms. There was a lovely garden nearby with a pond and some large carpe fish. There was a lovely pagoda nearby as well surrounded by buddha statues.
|Asakusa shrine entrance|
|Near the Imperial Palace gardens|
For dinner we went to a restaurant near to Tokyo station. We had shabu-shabu. We were given the food raw and had to cook it in a boiling bowl. It was an interesting way to eat food. We took a quick monorail to Rainbow bridge before heading back to the hotel. The following day were were to head north to experience two onsens and mountain monkey park.
|Enjoying a Shabu-shabu|
- The vending machines: They were everywhere and kept us hydrated after all the walking we were doing.
- The shrines and temples: They were both beautiful and peaceful. It was nice to see a different culture and how they observed new year.
- The vermillion torii gates: The bold colour of all these gates together was gorgeous.
- Tower Records: It was great to go to a record shop and see all of the Japanese release, they make special displays unlike most countries.
- Kyoto Train Station: Unlike the other train stations, this was large and not congested. The architecture was extraordinary and was unlike any other building I've ever seen.