Yes, It’s been a while.
Back in Fall 2016, I get to finally visit Japan. After ticket hunting since the start of the year and a long wait (yes, the sacrifice for a affordable but legit plane ride), it was another “big trip” of the year. Travelled there with my friends, we simply can’t stop smiling along the way. 7 hours of a plane ride with forced sleeps in between, we were just overly excited. Having somewhat an expectation built from simply watching TV or looking at photos.
It should be good, right!
It was during the fall season, maybe close-to-winter back when we were there so the weather was constantly gloomy. Out of 9 days, I think we only had about 1 or 2 days of sun!
Arrived in Narita, Tokyo, we decided to go to our apartment (BnB) in Uguisudani just to drop off our (super heavy) luggages before taking a stroll somewhere around Tokyo. And you of course gotta go for the Japan train ride while you’re there. Taxis in Japan are expensive! Save your money for the food or shopping.
Living too long in Singapore with the already-pretty-efficient public transports, I can’t help but compare the public transport, especially trains, in each country that I visit with the one in here. I must say, indeed Japan is one of the most efficient.
We had our 7 days Japan Rail Pass ready to travel all around Tokyo. This is one of the cheaper way to explore around Japan, rather than paying each trips separately. Simply put, JR Pass allows you to take unlimited train/bus rides during your stay. There are different types of the pass depending on your needs. There are some train lines that aren’t JR Pass friendly so have a read beforehand.
Uguisudani, where we stayed for our first night in Tokyo, is considered suburbs but still within the Yamanote Line which is one of the main train lines that is easier to access, especially to go to/from the central Tokyo or places like Shinjuku or Shibuya. Yes, you may heard or read that Uguisudani is a pretty shady neighbourhood with all the love motels around it.
Well, Yes, there was a lot of love motels but it was not an uncomfortable area to live in. And again, here’s the thing. Unless you’re gonna spend the whole day in your apartment, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. Even at night, there was no weird encounters other than super often ambulance sirens that goes back and forth.
Tokyo welcomed us with a strong cold wind that day.
After dropping off our luggage, we took a train ride to Ueno as we planned to see the ‘fall trees’ where it unfortunately ended up as a failure as the fall was pretty much over in that spot. Good thing we had a local friend who showed us around, through the market nearby and supposedly to see Tokyo Sky Tree. It was my first encounter with that cold of a weather, that it hurts my nose. I had that red nose, I thought it was going to break!
After taking a stroll through the market, shop a bit, experienced the Japanese photo box(booth), we arrived in Asakusa. Where we stand around Sensoji Temple junction, we were hoping to have a sight of the Tokyo Sky Tree as it was supposedly one of the nicest spot to to take photos. Unfortunately, the cloud was so thick that it covered more than half of the tower. All you see is white sky, as if there’s another life above that layer of clouds. Haha it was that thick.
I think Sensoji Temple is one of the happy place in Tokyo. Inside, you can find a whole bunch of small shops selling japan merchandise as well as local foods! Foods makes you happy, I said so.
But it was so jammed inside and the lighting was bad due to the gloomy weather became the reasons I gave up taking photos and decided to just get my self to walk through the crowds properly and enjoy the sights as much as possible.
After escaping the whole crowd, we were pretty drained. Especially after the long-haul ride with very little sleep and the crowd was just not helping. We decided to take another stroll to try our luck visiting yet another ‘fall trees’ spot in Sumida River (Sumidagawa) nearby. And yes, we were lucky enough to experience this beauty.
After taking plenty of photos with the trees, we head to Tokyo Dome just to wrap up the day. Another unfortunate-ness, it was a concert day of some singer (that I have no idea who he was) making the whole place was just jammed up with human. Or fans! But at least i have this shot of the building. It was a huge dome indeed.
After that, it was time for our dinner. We were pretty exhausted so we decided to just go back to our apartment to yet face another AirBnB drama. Long story short, our apartment was not cleaned after the previous guest. It was 9pm and was still untidy. But we finally could end our day to properly shower and sleep though without knowing how to on the heater from the aircon. But thankfully we survived the whole cold night.
Tokyo is amazing so far.
Japan Survival Tips, Public Transport:
- JR Pass price can vary depending on the exchange rate. Do check often and check prices from different websites/seller. If you have the alternative to buy with another currency or in another country where the exchange rate is not that bad, do it. We bought ours on an Indonesian website just because the IDR exchange rate was much more better than SGD at the time – makes it a cheaper price.
- Taking the train during rush hours (morning or after work) can be very challenging. It’s either good or bad depending on how do you want to experience it. We experienced how packed (and I mean, skin-to-skin not even 1cm apart packed) the train was in the morning.It’s like, accept it or wait till the rush hour is done.
And the funny part was, people are still very much quiet! We find it amusing as usually crowded train rides in Singapore can sometimes be very noisy.