Continuing our Japan Rail Itinerary…
SS Tip: Ensure phone battery and pocket wifi are fully charged as you will be relying a lot on Google maps for trains, walking routes and finding restaurants.
Day 7 – Tokyo
- We first headed to Tokyo Skytree mall which was right opposite our hotel. We went to Tourist office to get some maps and figure out ideal metro pass (multiple lines and different type of tickets). We then bought our Nikko pass (Read Nikko itinerary for more details). SS Tip: While we skipped going up Skytree, foreigners can buy timed tickets in advance online to avoid long queues.
- We then headed to Akihabara (Suica card for Metro). The place is exactly what I thought Tokyo would look like– high rise buildings, lot of people and cut-outs of large colourful characters (home for anime fans). We went over to Laox to buy the metro pass – just show your passport and buy based on number of days you will be there. After checking out some cool electronic stuff, we headed back to station. After this point we used the Metro Ticket for most of the Tokyo travel.
- Next stop was the contrasting location of Ueno Park. Similar to Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York, this huge green space is centrally located in Tokyo. The park has museums, temples, shrines, gardens and even a zoo! We roamed around the park – and spent most of the time around Toshogu shrine. Apart from the pagodas and stone statues at the entrance, the majestic golden entrance makes this place stand out. SS Tip: Lot of stations to access this place. Chose whatever Google maps throws up as fastest route
- For some really good ramen, we visited a vegan place called TanTan, located in Tokyo railway station. This is a famous restaurant chain – so there can be a long line of people waiting outside. After a quick meal, we walked over to Imperial Palace gardens (free entry). Unlike the Kyoto Palace, where you can see the structures used by Emperor’s this place is more about the huge fort walls and open gardens. The grounds are large and you can easily spend a long time wandering here. After all the walking around, we settled in the lawns for much-needed rest!
- We then headed to Disney Sea for the evening. While I am a huge Disney fan, this trip was too short to dedicate 1 full day to Disney. As there are not many unique things to do in Tokyo at night, this was a good option for the evening. Disney Sea has specific night passport (6-10 pm) for people like us which is priced at 5,400 Yen. What made this park unique is the giant volcano spurting out fire/ smoke!
- We took JR train and reached Maihama station with enough time to spare. After a quick bite at the Disney restaurants outside station, we walked to Disney Sea (15 mins). We bought the tickets and then got into a line to enter the park– very organised queue, mainly teens and couples. Perfectly at 6 pm they started bag check and entry.
- We first headed to get tickets for the musical show, ‘Out of Shadowland’ (while it’s in Japanese, it was fun watching). We then headed to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Raging Spirits’ which have separate (and really short) line for single riders. It was then time for fireworks at 8 pm. After that we got time to go to ‘Tower of Terror’ and ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’. It was soon time for the parade – which was on the water! Characters were on boats/ cruises and the effects were very different from what you would see at other parks. People can stand all around the lake to see the spectacle providing lot of good options. At 10pm, we took the Disney monorail (use Suica card to buy tickets before boarding) to get back to JR station.
Day 8 – Tokyo
- We started the day with trip to Sensoji temple in Asakusa. It’s a short walk from the Asakusa station. The temple has 2 main gates and between the 2 gates is a street bustling with shops on both sides. This is a nice place to sample street food and buy small souvenirs. Beyond the second gate is the colourful temple (free entry). Visit this place just for the experience!
- We walked from Sensoji temple towards the river pier. We were in time to take the Himka Boat cruise to Odaiba (around 1500 Yen). The 50 min ride in this sci-fi boat is fun. You get to see Tokyo from a different perspective and can appreciate the buildings while you sail through the river.
- Odaiba is an island from the future. With Transformer type robots and futuristic car exhibitions, it is rightfully the venue for Future museum. There are few outlet shops in the malls, which have good range and affordable stuff. After some window shopping, we took the monorail to get back to central Tokyo (pass doesn’t work – so need to use Suica card).
- We headed to Chiles Mexican Grill in Harajuku for late lunch. For desserts, we went to the creperie next door. This surrounding area is a shopping market and cool place to checkout Tokyo fashion (clothes, accessories, bags). The place has a youthful feel with lots of cafes and colourful stalls. Close to this is Yoyogi park and Meiji Shrine. We were amazed to see the huge sake barrells which have been dedicated to the shrine. While shrine entry is free additional charges apply to enter certain areas.
- We then headed to TMG (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) Building – which is a surprisingly free observatory in middle of Tokyo. Not only can you see the typical Tokyo sites like Skytree, Yoyogi Park, etc, but also Mt Fuji! There are 2 towers, each with an observatory. Take the one which has shorter line – views are similar from both. There is no time limit either – but 30 mins would be adequate.
- We then headed to Shibuya for seeing the famous crossing. The crossing is right outside Shibuya station. Grab a coffee and head over to the first floor of the Starbucks. You will get a glimpse of how orderly Japanese are when you see the sign go green for pedestrians! Shibuya is also a good place to buy chocolates (especially multiple flavours of Kit Kat – we bought strawberry, green tea, wasabi, pumpkin and many more …)
- We then walked over to a lil Japanese vegan meal near Shibuya crossing. They had short tables and we had to kneel and sit on mats. Food options were limited but it was a nice way to end our day on this Japanese note…
Day 10 – Return home
- We took the Narita Skyaccess train to reach airport (Suica card again). Quickest and most convenient (no change of trains) from our hotel perspective. Staying in Oshiage ensured we had spacious room and were close to metro stations for travel.
- We split up and returned our pocket wifi and Suica cards (slightly long line).
- It was then time to bid adieu to this lovely country! SS Tip: If you want to buy Yamakazi, you need to buy it in the city as it is not available in the airport. However, you can load up Roche chocolates (very cheap compared to prices back home)!