Free and easy Tokyo

Jes , 8 Comments

Japan is one of my favourite countries to travel to for these simple reasons: Everywhere is so clean, even the toilets, the food is great, the people are so gracious and they have so many scenic spots to explore. Hokkaido is still the prettiest but the buzz of the city and the vibrant life of Japanese can only be found in Tokyo.

Not forgetting that Japanese Yen has depreciated so much so it is more affordable now! It's only recently that Singapore has budget airlines, Scoot and Jetstar to get there. Japan is definitely within reach for budget travel now. The moment you have booked your flight, please remember to get the JR Pass online. You can only get it before you go Japan and it will save you so much money as you travel on it everyday and particularly if you travel to other cities on the bullet train.
The most important is the green line with all the attractions... (Source: japan-guide.com)
Day 1
To start off, plan an early flight to Japan so that you can head straight to Tsukiji market after checking into your hotel. This will make sure you tire yourself once and for all. Many people tell me it is not worth their sleep to observe their 5am fish market auction and I agree but well, that's up to you to decide.
A butcher at work!
Giant fishes and seafood are on display and it's nice to walk through the market. It's not a surprise that everything is arranged orderly and it's not that smelly too. Seeing all the gigantic fishes is definitely quite cool.
All the fish bones... 
After all the looking around, you should be feeling hungry. However, the queues are quite scary for these famous restaurants. I had to queue in line for 1 hour before I was admitted and their sushi course was not cheap. I think it is around S$50 per pax for 12 fixed types of sushi. Horrified by the price but it's quite worthwhile for the fresh quality. Going budget and all, I shared only one course with my buddy but I don't think I will want to queue 1 hour ever again.
Queueing is our favourite past time anyway...
Really fresh and good and salmon is too inferior to serve here..
I went to check in after Tsukiji market and stayed in a budget hotel called Ueno Touganeya Hotel just opposite of Ueno Station. It's small, basic and most importantly, it's cheap at S$95/night and only 5 minutes walk from the train station. With the JR pass, it's really convenient.
My budget, simple, no-frills hotel
It's indeed small but how much time do you spend in here anyway
The street next to Ueno station is my favourite place to shop! It's called Ameya-Yokochō market and it sells the low to mid prices sort of like Bugis Village or Namdaemun. That is exactly what I prefer as a budget traveller. From bags to shoes to spices and herbs, there is no lack of variety of things to shop here. I could spend the whole afternoon walking around here and eating the street food! If you want some good takoyaki, the ubiquitous Gindaco is also located here.
The open air market sells a wide variety of things! (Source: Wikipedia)
It's like a local's market with fresh seafood too!
This is a yummy pancake with cabbage and sinful sauces!
Time to get some shopping done! The Orchard Road of Japan is a lovely place called Ginza.  You can reach there by walking a short distance from Yurakucho JR Station or by walking a short distance from Tsukiji market. Indeed, Ginza looks better at night and more lively with the wide array of lights and advertisments. Basically, it's just shopping for high end stuff like Mikimoto pearls and Hermes which I am not really into. However, there is a cool 4-storey toy store called Hakuhinkan Toy Park and it's pretty fun to explore there.
The streets in Ginza is more for upmarket (Source: Wikipedia) 
There is a nice Shabu Shabu here that is great for dinner. It's called Shabusen Ginza and located at the middle of the shopping street.  The wagyu beef is really soft and succulent and we had a really great time dining there.
Their specialty is their special sesame dip!
Really nice wagyu beef...
Day 2
To start off the day, we checked out the ancient history of this country. Yasukuni Shrine, the famous shrine that could raise the hackles of world leaders. Recently, PM Abe visited this shrine to pay respects but China and many other countries felt that it is a shameless act to respect the people who brought about World War 2.

How to get there... (Source: www.yasukuni.or.jp)
It is actually quite a long walk from Iidabashi JR Station to Yasukuni shrine and you have to walk pass a garden. You will not see many people walking along the same route so I kept wondering if we were lost. Perhaps we did because we took more than 10 minutes to get to the renowned shrine.
A nice place to walk by to get to the shrine
Not to pay respects, but just to see their shrine and exhibits. I still abhor wars and the brutalities that we can inflict  on each other and I am just glad I do not have to live through it like my grandparents.
Yasukuni Shrine looks peaceful... (Source: wikipedia)
After which, time to head to the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan at Asakusa. Sensoji looks nice and the streets in front of it is just perfect great for souvenirs shopping! Prices are slightly higher than Ueno because this is a touristy place but it's a nice place to walk around. I reached there by changing to the subway at Ueno and alight at Asakusa station. You will have to pay 160 yen for the subway as it is not included in the JR pass.
The temple is right at the end of the shopping streets and it looks so pretty as the backdrop. 
At night, Shibuya comes alive and is also a good shopping place for young adults like me who prefer mid to high range clothes. Ginza is mainly for branded products. It's a good place for shopping and people-watching and the atmostphere is vibrant and infectious. 
More walking and shopping!
After reading so many reviews, we decided to splurge and try the most famous Tonkatsu restaurant called Maisen. Surprisingly, I saw one of their branch in Central World, Bangkok. However, this place is freaking hard to find a few years ago and Google maps was not accurate at all. Nowadays, it's updated so rest assured you can find them easily near Shibuya.
The best tonkatsu in the city!
The crumbs are so light and crispy and does not taste oily at all!
Shibuya is also a foodie paradise where the best ramen is. One of the branches of Ichiran is at Shibuya. This ramen is so good that I could have it everyday and the price is so affordable at around S$10. The soup broth is surprisingly addictive and packs a punch and will definitely beat Ippudo in terms of taste. Do try it out!
My favourite ramen of all time!
Day 3 
Harajuku is one place that everyone will want to visit to people-watch. The fun part is spotting many people in costumes or cosplay as this street is well known for. Definitely a lot of cafes for teenagers to hang out and accessories trending towards those in high school. 
Something gothic and demonic...
Sweet young things all dresed up!
Bonus!
If you still have time, you can explore Shinjuku where there are lots of departmental stores. There is also a red light district nearby at Kabukicho. For something more family friendly, you can take a walk at Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Anyway, you can go to Shinjuku instead of Tokyo station to board the Shinkansen (bullet train) to go other cities. All in all, there is something to do for everyone there! 
Another shopping place at Shinjuku (Source: wikipedia)
3D2N itinerary in Tokyo
Day 1: Tsukiji Market + Ueno Park + Ginza
Day 2: Yasukuni Shrine + Asakusa + Shibuya
Day 3: Harajuku + Shinjuku

Taking the bullet train for the first time! How exciting.... and the expenses are all included in my JR pass luckily. If not, the single ride ticket is almost the same price as the JR pass. And off I head to Hakone.... 

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Some bento box for lunch?
The high speed bullet train

Jes

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8 comments:

  1. Hi Jes

    After Hokkaido and now this!!! Aww, you are making me missing Japan so much!!!

    I went to Central Japan for my honeymoon and I love it so much. I went to play the baseball at the Kabukicho there (red light district) and saw some interesting people there. :)

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    1. Hi B,

      Thanks for reading :)

      Seems like you have been to most places that I have been, haha! I think you just need a vacation... take a break... enjoy some romantic time :P Oh...Pretty cool,Mt Fuji would also be a nice romantic honeymoon location.

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  2. Replies
    1. Hi Jimmy,

      Nah not right now... and not to Japan. I went there previously for company trip which is really cool because it's all expenses paid :D You can start planning for the long August holiday!

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  3. Ooh, that's a pretty rush 3 days in Tokyo, Do you think it's worth staying in Tokyo longer?

    Seems like you didn't find the sushi at Tsukiji worth the wait? Had heard from other friends who enjoyed the sushi so much, they went back for more.

    Am planning a 6D5N trip in Sep. Hope the weather is better then, even though it's also typhoon season. Must be pretty hot right now.

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    1. Hi Lizardo,

      Actually it's not really rushed but definitely needs lots of walking. It depends on what's your interest.. if you want shopping then staying longer in Tokyo would be a good idea. I prefer to get out of city life and take a look at some of their best scenery that is outside of Tokyo. So for me, 3 days is sufficient :)

      I had pretty good sushi elsewhere and not at Tsukiji so I would rather not queue and waste time on my holiday. I think if it's your first time then you should really try it! You can also try Ladyironchef's recommendations:http://www.ladyironchef.com/2013/11/tokyo-affordable-sushi-restaurants/

      6D5N all in Tokyo? I am surprised you are not travelling during the long weekend in August. Yeah it is hot and humid but autumn in Japan is so pretty.... *envious*

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  4. Thanks for the info. Have always enjoyed going to Japan. Although this will be the first time on our own.

    Am going in September where there is a Thu public holiday. With 3 days leave, that gives me a 6D5N holiday. *heh*

    But I think it is still late summer, and not yet autumn. The temperature should be going down, or so I hope. Else it will be quite unbearable.

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    1. Hi Lizardo,

      Just checked online and the temperature would be at most 26C so it's perfect! However, there will be more rainfall so better prepare an umbrella. Anyway, after traveling on your own, you will not want to go back to tour groups unless you are really lazy to do research.

      Correct me when you return and have a safe trip! :)

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