After enjoying our time in Sensoji Temple, we saw Tokyo SkyTree from the ground. My sister and I were wondering what Tokyo looks like from the tower. Then, without really planning to visit Tokyo SkyTree we randomly decided to try it and found ourselves together with our parents on our way to the tower. From Sensoji Temple area, we walked towards Asakusa Station in Tobu Line and took train to Tokyo SkyTree Station.
After we reached Tokyo SkyTree Station, we asked few people for some directions and then followed the crowd as it seems that most people were visiting Tokyo SkyTree tower. While following the crowd, we passed floors from 1st to 4th floor and we just used escalators, the 2nd and 3rd floors are called Tokyo Solamachi which we haven’t really explored as we were focused to reached the top of the tower. When we reached the 4th floor we saw the very long queue that were waiting to buy their ticket. I started to get worried and nervous because we had few hours left for SkyTree.
We approached international visitors booth that we saw, I thought to myself, there may be some hope to bypass the long queue for foreign visitors, there’s a woman guide standing near the booth and I asked her if we can buy the ticket at the foreign visitors booth, she confirmed that we can and we felt relieved. The booth is dedicated for international visitors. This means that we do not need to be burden with the long queue just to buy the ticket. And in few minutes of waiting we had our ticket and we queued in the elevator together with other foreigners.
Sumida and Taito Tokyo Area
Ueno Park from Tokyo SkyTree
Chuo Tokyo Area
Arakawa Tokyo and Adachi Tokyo Area
Sumida Tokyo Area
Sumida Tokyo and Katsushika Tokyo Area
Sumida Tokyo, Edogawa Tokyo and Koto Tokyo Area
Koto Tokyo Area
We arrived at Tembo Deck with an altitude from the ground of 350 meters. The deck was pack of people in every corner of viewing window, just realized how many people were there like us too curious to see Tokyo from above. At the deck there is cafe, shop and restaurant that visitors can indulge with while enjoying the scenery at the top. My family and I spent our time taking photos together every time there’s empty glass window with the view of Tokyo.
Tembo Deck, includes floors from 340 to 350. While Tembo Galeria has 445 and 450 which is the highest point that the visitors can go inside Tokyo SkyTree. The ticket for Tembo can only be bought at Tembo Deck. At that time, I decided not to buy the ticket anymore as I saw there’s a queue as well to go up and this will consume our limited time.
We arrived at 350 and this means to see other parts of the deck, we descended to 345 and 340 floors. At 340, we found the glass floor to experienced watching the ground from it.
The nearby Special Ward in Tokyo are visible from Tokyo SkyTree. The following Special ward that we saw from the top are: Sumida, Taito, Chuo, Arakawa, Adachi, Katsushika, Edogawa and Koto.
A bit of information that I learned about Tokyo Skytree tower that made me realise how amazing the tower is. It is the Tallest Free-Standing Broadcasting Tower in the world. It also received the Guinness World Record – World Tallest Tower in the World last 2011. It is also recorded as second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
From Ameyoko, we continue our stroll and we never noticed immediately that we reached Okamachi Station which still along JR Yamanote Line. Because we are looking for some souvenir products that we can bring home, we decided to go to Asakusa. From Okamachi Station we went back to Ueno Station. Then, we switch train line to Ginza Line and got off at Asakusa Station.
What I was only expecting when arriving at Asakusa area was to find a market with a lot of Japan souvenirs that we can buy as it seems the name of the place is quite famous for it. Outside Asakusa Station, I already liked what I saw. As we walked along in an alley near the station with half-dome glass roof, I observed that the place is indeed a tourist destination, as each alley has stores lined, up to its end.
Half-Dome Roof Walkway
We followed the half-dome roof walkway, to look for a place to have our lunch, after our lunch we walked again until a our feet brought us to where most of the crowds are going and coming from. Few minutes passed, we found a nearby market on the way to the temple and we discovered that the temple is Sensoji. The temple was in my list when I’m doing the itinerary plan, but I not realized that the temple is in Asakusa area.
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street (Facing Kaminarimon Gate)
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street (Facing Hozomon Gate)
We continue our walk, we followed the crowd until another shopping street existed before Hozomon Gate, I learned later that the shopping streets is called Nakamise. A lot of people, I can say a crowd of people are passing Nakamise. A lot people were kept on looking and buying stuff and I myself enjoyed the street while passing it going to and coming from the temple.
Sensoji Temple Map
Main Hall (Kannondo Hall) Hondo
Interiors of Main Hall (Kannondo Hall) Hondo
Five Storied Pagoda
After passing Nakamise, the first structure to see is the Hozomon (Niomon) Gate. It followed by the Main Hall (Kannondo Hall) of the temple. The other significant structures to be found within the area are Five Storied Pagoda, Yogodo Hall, Awashimado Hall, Nitenmon Gate and Asakusa Shrine.
Bronze Statue of Uryu Iwako
Tomb of Toda Musui
Aside from halls, we found some tombs existing in the vicinity of the temple:
Kaminarimon Gate is the gate structure of the temple before reaching Nakamise.
From Tokyo Station, we took JR Yamanote Line to Ueno Station. We got off at Ueno Station to visit Ueno Park. The park entrance is just beside the Ueno Station and because of this no one will ever miss the park by any visitors. We checked the map and search for things we can see around the area. There are lots of places to see in the park and all these places had their own entrance tickets. Because that day was our last day in Tokyo, we wanted to make a wise decision because we wanted to see more places as we can in a limited time that we have.
Tokyo National Museum
Therefore we decided to walk around the park and not to enter to any museums. Near the entrance we passed the The National Museum of Western Art Tokyo. Next, we saw the Grand Fountain wherein at the time of our visit, beside the fountain was the temporary day market. As we walked further we found The Tokyo National Museum. During that walk I used Triposo app to see if we can see interesting areas in the park aside from museums. Facing The Tokyo National Museum main entrance gate, we turned right and found The Ueno Rinnoji Temple (Rinno-ji Ryodaishi-do) which is a Buddhist temple which enshrined two priest. The temple is part of cathedral of Kaneiji temple. Beside Rinnoji temple, the Kaneiji Temple Imperial Cemetery. After taking few photos around the temple we walked back towards The Tokyo National Museum until we were near the Gate of the Inshu-Ikeda Residence known as “Kuromon (Black Gate)”.
The Ueno Rennoji Temple
Kuromon (Black Gate)
Kuroda Mermorial Hall
In the same corner of Kuromon, we saw Kuroda Memorial Hall. The hall was part of the estate of Kuroda Seiki which considered as father of modern western-style painting. Kuroda Seiki offered the part of his estate to be used for furtherment of the art.
From the corner, we turned right and walked until we found the Kaneiji Temple. Kaneiji temple is also a Buddhist temple. I just learned that the whole Ueno Park are grounds of Kaneiji which converted into the park after it was destroyed during civil war and the temple has been relocated to where it is now. We spent time for taking photos in the surroundings of the temple and left to continue our stroll in the park.
Prince Komatsu statue
Ueno Park – Famous in Cherry Blossoms During Spring Season
We walked back to the center of the park by taking the same path we took on the way to Kaneiji Temple. After reaching the Kuroda Memorial Hall again, we walk the pathway where we found the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. We passed the main gate of more than century old Ueno Zoo. Along the way we saw the statue of Prince Komatsu. According to Wikipedia, Prince Komatsu Akihito was a member of Fushimi-no-miya, one branches of shinnoke of imperial family of Japan and eligible to Chrysanthemum Throne if the main line died out.
Some Fish found in Boat Pond
We walked in the middle and main walkway of the park. The said pathway is the famous area for sightseeing during spring season where visitors expecting cherry blossoms. In the nearby area we found the Benten Gate and Benten Hall which surrounded by ponds such as Uno Pond, Boat Pond, Shinobazu Pond and Hasu Pond. Benten Hall was dedicated to Benten a goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge.
The Shitamachi Museum
From Benten Hall we walked towards The Shitamachi Museum (Museum of Down Town Customs). The said museum was dedicated to its traditional culture of Tokyo’s Shitamachi.
After leaving Ueno Park, we walked in the nearby market called Ameyoko (a short name of Ameya Yokocho – candy store alley). Based on history the market was black market before second world war where most of American products were available. But even this time, it seems that if follows the history, because the said market still selling lots of various western products and common store sellers are not local Japanese but foreigners.
After watching sumo tournament in Ryogoku Kokugikan, we spent some time in Akihabara to check what things can be seen in the famous place. From Ryogoku Station we took Chuo Line to Akihabara Station.
Near in Akihabara Station
My thoughts about Akihabara is a place of manga and anime. Where all the famous anime or cartoons from Japan can be seen. There are lots of stores selling anime character products such as posters, cards, video games, electronics and others. There are lots of computer game shops in the surrounding areas where not only accommodating for young but adult fanatics too, since it was evening when we arrived in Akihabara, we just had a limited time to stroll around the place. We went inside of one of the electronics mall named – Yodobashi-Akiba.
The mall has 9 floors and just spending time inside this mall will consume mostly of our time. We found a lot of electronic stuff inside the mall. As we entered the mall, the first things we saw are mobile phones, tablets and computers. Next, we continued to the 2nd floor where mostly are PC accessories and printers. We stop a bit in 3rd floor as I saw a lot of digital cameras, I was looking for different lenses for my Canon DSLR and wanting to buy one but I did not. We climbed again to the next floor which is 4th floor where we saw mostly music related products such as head phones, the last floor we visited was the 5th floor, even though there still up to 9th floor. At 5th floor, we saw a lot of household products. We’re almost wanted to buy things but we stop the idea as we knew the customs in my country where you will be tax heavily for the products bought outside the country. We just enjoyed looking at difference products displayed in the mall.
We felt hungry and decided to leave the mall and find a place to have our dinner. After our dinner, we decided to go home as it’s getting late and we concluded our day.
At first I had this impression that Sumo Wrestling or just Sumo was kind of violent sport. Yes I am aware that it is the traditional and national sport of Japan, without really knowing stuff about it, I was curious how this sport is being played. I visited sumo site prior to traveling to Japan and found that during our travel in Japan there will be Grand Sumo Tournament. I saw in one site the Sumo ticket sale will be available soon. I booked the ticket at the 1st day of ticket sale. And to be honest booking the ticket was already an experience because the box seat tickets near the center for most of the 15 days tournament were immediately sold out in a matter of hours. And because of that I immediately bought 1 box seat (4 people) to make sure we have seats in one of the days that the sumo tournament is happening while we are in Japan. I was glad that even there’s not much festivals happening during our visit (September is low peak month of visitors) at least we can watch the most ancient Japanese sport – The Sumo.
We watched sumo on our 4th day in Japan and it was Monday. I planned that day to just watch Sumo as I wanted to balance the itinerary that we have for the consideration of my aged parents. That day, I allowed all of us to regain long rest as the main event of the Sumo was scheduled at 2PM in the afternoon that day.
From hotel, we took train from Kayabacho Station and transferred to Akihabara Station and took Chuo Line going to Ryogoku Station and got off at the same station. From that station, we walked few minutes to Ryogoku Kokugikan. We found that a lot of people were at the front gate and noticed that people seems waiting for something or someone as people were lined-up to both sides like there some parade coming, until we realized that some of the Sumo Wrestlers are coming. We felt excited too when we saw them. I got excited because our activity that day is uniquely a Japan culture.
I brought the printed order ticket at Ryogoku. Before passing the entrance, we saw the booth beside it which designated for tickets bought online. And then, I requested for help from assistant which just standing by at the booth. With the printed document I have in my hand, we were able to retrieved the tickets after verifying the credit card I used to order the ticket online. Before entering the gate, there’s a big announcement that the ticket was sold out for that day. It was a good relief that I bought ticket online. It secured us that day for guaranteed seat to be able to watch Sumo comfortably.
When we entered The Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, we felt good, we saw the human board of famous Rikishi (wrestler) at the entrance and even though we don’t know them, we stand beside them and took our photos. When we were inside the stadium before entering the sumo arenas, people are going back and forth and most of them are buying food in the surrounding stores inside the stadium. We did the same thing, we bought lunch boxes for all of us. When were done buying and looking around, we went to the door nearest to our seat.
Sumo arena are divided into two, the lower ground is called box seats while the balcony or upper level are called arena seats. The ticket that we bought were in the box seats and the unique experience we had in box seats was were going to seat in the floor with cushion and we will sit in Lotus position where we cross our legs.
At the center of the stadium we found the Dohyo, a stage with circular ring on it and with suspended roof similar to the Shinto shrine with four giant tassels hanging to each corner that signifies the seasons of the year (information from Sumo official website).
Rikishi’s (Wrestlers) Bouts (preparation time during warm-up period)
Rikishi In Action
We waited for almost an hour before the tournament started. And then the sumo arena were filled with people. When we enter the stadium and went to our assigned box seats, there were some Rikishi that are fighting in the Dohyo. I got a paper for the Torikumi or Sumo Bouts for 2nd Day. From the paper that I got there were two bouts, one is Juryo and one is Makuuchi. Based on my understanding in Banzuke (Banzuke-hyo – offical document of rankings of professional sumo wrestlers) Sumo rankings, the upper division of Rikishi is called Maku-uchi which includes the five positions of Rikishi order from highest to lowest rank: Yokuzana, Ozeki, Sekiwake, Komusubi, and Maegashira. The lower division includes Juryo, Makushita, Sandame, Jonidan, and Jonokuchi. As per Sumo official site, below Makushita ranks does not get to wrestle on each day of tournament. The tournament for day actually started in the morning and low ranking Rikishi bouts happen on that time. The main event of bout starts in the afternoon which includes Juryo and Makuuchi bout.
Juryo Dohyo-iri Ceremony
Juryo Dohyo-iri Ceremony
Past 2PM that day, the main event started when Juryo Grade did their entrance both from East and West teams (please take note that Rikishi from different team does not fight for team, the fight does not have any relations which ever team the Rikishi belong) did their colorful dohyo-iri or “entering the ring” ceremony. I saw all Rikishi in queue wearing their kesho-mawashi (ceremonial aprons) and climbed to the dohyo. Each Rikishi, when they were all in the Dohyo did their short ritual ancient in sumo tradition wherein they raise their hands. That ritual is very unique which I really enjoyed watching.
After the Juryo Dohyo-iri ceremony, it followed by Juryo Bouts. We witness their bouts and my family enjoys the ancient sports of Japan.
Juryo Grade In Action
I also observed that the Dohyo was frequently swept after the bouts and after Rikishi’s entrance ceremony, it was mentioned that Dohyo was made of special kind of clay and covers some think layer of sands, this is the reason why few people assigned to swept it.
Gyoji (Referee) at the center
My curiosities were not only focus to the Rikishi who fough inside Dohyo. Other people were also noticeable such as the judges of sumo which called as Shimpan and the referee whose inside the sumo stables are called Gyoji. As I watch the fight of Rikishi, I learned that sumo is a sport where the wrestler aims their opponent to be out of the ring or their opponent parts of the body touch the ground aside their feet to be able to win the game.
After the Juryo Bouts, it followed the Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony. The whole stadium was jam pack of people which signifies that people are more curious of the Makuuchi’s fight as I understand that being included in Makuuchi ranking is really important in this sports.
Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony
Makuuchi Dohyo-iri Ceremony
Yokuzana Dohyo-iri Ceremony
During the tournament, we were able to watch as well a Yokuzana which is the highest rank of grand sumo wrestlers and represent all sumo’s participants entered the Dohyo and did his Dohyo-iri ceremony with greatest dignity.
After the entrance of Yokuzana in Dohyo, it followed by Makuuchi Bouts. And we felt the heat of Makuuchi fight as people reacted more in every action seen inside the ring.
Makuuchi Bout In Action
Before the tournament of the day ended, there was a bow dance which done by Makushita Rikishi, which shows the expression of satisfaction on behalf of the victorious Rikishi of the day.
Bow Dance – A Makushita Rikishi performs Yumitori-Shiki
I observed the whole tournament while enjoying the Rikishi wrestled with their opponents. By watching the sumo, I learned that the sumo sport is not really violent sport, it’s very traditional and cultural sports which strictly following the sumo ancient rules. All my bad impressions regarding this sport was gone, it was replaced with utmost respect with this ancient sport and to all Rikishi.
I can truly say that we had a such great time discovering and watching sumo tournament.
Before ending our first day in Japan, my sister and I decided to walk a bit in areas near the hotel leaving our parents behind and let them have enough rest. Our accommodation was located strategically in Central Tokyo, as it is accessible via metro subway train. While walking we got a chance to see some part of Tokyo at night. It was Friday night, we left the hotel for a walk around 8PM in the evening. We walked along Eitai Dori, then we turned left and continued the walk along Chuo Dori. Here, we saw line of buildings where most of the ground level are stores and restaurants. Some buildings are malls. Along Chuo Dori, I already enjoyed the lined-up of buildings in it. Though we only did a quick walk, the impression I had while passing the buildings, I felt the relaxing ambiance of the surroundings even though it’s an urban place, though I’m not sure if the feeling is the same case during the day.
We walked at Chuo Dori because it leads us to Ginza where one of the popular shopping district in Tokyo can be found. As the peak hours had passed, we haven’t seen too many people in the road. Probably some just began having good time with their Friday night or majority of them gone home, leaving the downtown for the weekend for a while. During the walk, my sister and I observed that people we passed by looks like they came from work as both Japanese men and women were in their professional dress code. One thing to note, the fashion style we noticed specially for Japanese women from hotel to Ginza area were wearing modern and yet conservative clothing because most of the dress or skirt length they wear were up to knee-length. Honestly, I like the way they dress because it shows their character and values of simplicity.
Our walk that night, made me amazed because in simple thing that I witnessed, the discipline that Japanese has in crossing the road. Even the road is like an alley and even no vehicle is passing through, if its red light they really stopped and waited for green sign to cross the road. At the back of my head, I myself practice it as well even in my country but sometimes I myself neglected following traffic rules and being impatient, some of my country men doesn’t do it, specially if the vehicle are on park mode while waiting for green light, even it was stop sign, people are crossing to almost all kinds of roads, which shows of people being impatient in waiting or let’s say people with no discipline at all even in small thing such as road crossing.
As we approached Ginza area, the bustling lights coming from different stores along Chuo Dori were imminent. Because the lights are quite intoxicating we took photos of ourselves with the stores, we took selfie photos, and we took some photos with the road.
It’s almost 9PM in the evening and we were looking for western food chain like Mc Donald’s or KFC as we were hungry (we’re not really type of people who adventures local food but we’re open to taste it). From Chuo Dori road we turned right at Harumi Dori towards Tokyo Expressway then turned right again at Sotobori Dori and walked for a short distance until we found KFC. That night, we found out that food are quite pricey in Japan, compared to other countries we had visited. After dinner, we had some takeaway food for our parents. We took Metro Subway to return to the hotel, from Ginza Station to Kayabacho Station.
My impression to Ginza area, I think a lot of people will enjoy the place as there is lot to see specially if preferences of the visitors is into shopping. The area is a place of combined shopping centres, dining places and entertainments.
When I am researching information about Tokyo, there is a curiosity about the history of one of the popular or famous city in the world. Tokyo’s former name was Edo which was part of old Musashi Province (information from Wikipedia) wherein fortified by Edo clan. Edo was a small fishing village around 18th century, but seeing Tokyo right now, as I knew that it was a city until I understand that it’s not just a city but a metropolitan prefecture of Japan. It is the most populous metropolitan area of the country and where Japan’s government located.
After seeing some part of Tokyo, knowing what it was before is an amazing thing to discover. Realizing how far it progressed from where it was before is truly considered exponential growth and success of the small village.
A Metro To Remember
The inbound flight that I was able to book to Japan was through Narita Airport. The said airport is 1 hour train to Tokyo Downtown. At first, when I started planning my family’s itinerary, Narita area was first on my list to visit while in Japan with the reason that it is near from the airport and considering utilizing our time. Then I changed the list when I was finalizing the itinerary, I replaced Narita with Tokyo.
We left home from Dasmarinas Cavite around 1AM of September 11, allotting 4.5 hours before the scheduled flight. The past few days that week in my country had gloomy weather as almost every afternoon to evening, in Metro Manila and its outskirts had been raining. We left early as we were trying to anticipate road traffic challenges that may arise if the weather will be the same. I was really glad that Friday early morning, the road was quiet as we travel on the way to the airport. We had smooth travel from home to the airport and the good thing about that morning, it wasn’t raining at all. Around 2AM we’re already at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.
At the airport, we followed the norms of people traveling international such as paying travel taxes and flight checking-in. After checked-in, since it was still early and we had ample time to spare, we had our breakfast at local food chain in the airport. Next, we went to immigration gate. After passing immigration, we went straight to the airline’s gate. While waiting at the designated gate of our flight, I was thinking about Japan. In my mind, in just less than an hour or so, I will be on my way in a country called “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country which for me was only a dream. At that moment of my life, I felt excited because soon the dream in my mind will become a reality. And the momentous about it, I’m traveling with my family.
The flight was more than 4 hours. The plane took off around 5:30AM in Manila. We landed in Narita International Airport past 10:35AM. Japan was 1 hour ahead in Philippines. We disembarked the plane and walked towards immigration section. Standing in one of the airport in Japan was the realization of my thoughts that I was really in Japan. When we passed the immigration officers, that was the time I believed we will really see and experience Japan.
After the immigration, one of the first thing that’s unique with Japan at the airport is their toilet where you have a lot of options to do aside from the normal stuff that people does. What I’m referring to is that, their toilets has options to play some music or soothing sounds while doing your business. And most of the manual stuff like flushing before and after, it will be done automatically for you. Well, in my country that’s not the case, though some malls has toilets with automatic flush after doing your business.
We were adjusting in the airport and I was thinking what’s the next thing to do, we tried to figure out how we were going to Tokyo downtown. We found Skyliner desk, Skyliner is a train line that directly goes to Nippori and Ueno Station (another option is Narita Express train line that goes straight to Tokyo Station). I chose Skyliner because our Japan Railpass was not yet activated and it has only 7 days, we will be in Japan for 10 days so we were saving the other 3 days. I also knew that we still have chance to experience Narita Express train once we return to the Airport, for our scheduled flight back to Manila. Skyliner is just one of the great trains that we were able to ride while in Japan. I bought the tickets for four and then I looked for ATM to get some money. We went upstairs (where the departure floor is located) to pickup the pocket WiFi in Japan Post Office that I reserved for rent prior arriving in Japan, WiFi will enable us to connect to internet while roaming around the country which is a LTE connection, unlimited data and cheaper for 10 days compared if I will activate data roaming in my mobile from my country and the best of all, all in the family can connect internet seamlessly. After I picked-up the wifi, my father told me that he lost his jacket somewhere and it seems he left it after we passed the immigration officers. My father and my sister went to Information Desk at the airport and requested to looked for the jacket. It was a good thing that we had some photos of the jacket and we were able to show it to airport officers. In few minutes of waiting, my father’s jacket had been returned to him immediately. That kind of experience in a new place was really a great thing. I appreciated how people in that place were so efficient and trustworthy that they can easily find my father’s jacket. It may be a different situation if we were in another country.
Because of the incident, we came back to the Skyliner train desk where we bought our tickets and we requested to replace our tickets as the ticket schedule has passed already. They issued us new tickets for next train which will be leaving soon. We hurriedly went down to the train platform but the train doors were already closed when we arrived and its departing, we missed it for the second time. I came back upstairs and let my family wait in the platform as it’s quite inconvenient if all of us going up with our luggage. I talked to the train officer and advised me to get new ticket. I returned to the Skyliner for the second time, the third schedule given to us was at least an hour waiting time, a very sufficient time for all of us not to miss the train. Missing the train is not really something that’s surprising for us to experience because its our first time to find the train platform and it’s also first time to ride a train in Japan.
From Narita Airport Station (because there is Narita Station which different station), we arrived at Ueno Station after an hour. Japan is a country where train is the most common and most efficient public mass transportation. After arriving in Ueno Station, we started to use our Passmo card I bought together with the Japan Railpass. Passmo card are usable to all trains and buses around Tokyo, but it cannot be used for long travel. Passmo card are accepted to many cities in Japan, maybe in the next coming years they have one card for all transportation which I will be looking forward to in the future. I did my research about public transportation in Japan and understood that there are specific tickets for some train lines. That’s why I made sure that we have the appropriate ticket for the train line we will be taking. From Ueno Station, we transferred to Tokyo Metro Subway and took Hibiya Line towards Naka-meguro and got-off at Kayabacho Station where our hotel for 4 consecutive days in Tokyo is very near and the hotel we will be staying is Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Nihombashi Kayabacho.
Honestly, based on my plan, after we arrived in Japan, we planned to see some places in the afternoon as part of our activity to end our first day. The original plan was to visit Ueno Park, but the plan did not happen because both of my parents were already tired as we haven’t slept due to early flight that day, I decided to cancel the planned activity.
The following places we visited in Tokyo are: Ginza for the first day, Ryogoku, Akihabara for the fourth day and Ueno, Azakusa, Tokyo SkyTree for the 9th day in Japan. Detailed stories of each places are posted or will be posted separately on the link given below.
Our second and last Saturday in Japan spent another day in Tokyo. Early in the morning, we took Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo. We left Kyoto Station around 6:23AM and we arrived in Tokyo Station around 9AM. Though these two cities far from each other, the Shinkansen train made us felt that both are just near each other. The estimated distance between Kyoto Station and Tokyo Station are around 500 km and it only needs more than 2.5 hours travel within the two stations. It was 3rd time we had Shinkansen Train, though it was not the fastest Shikansen, but it still comparable in terms of its speed, for what I’m aware of the Shinkansen train we took just late of 10 minutes compared with the fastest bullet train. Because it was long weekend (as September 21 is a public holiday in Japan), I anticipated that a lot of people were traveling and we reserved our ticket a day before and it’s almost fully booked when I reserved our tickets, the seats we got were not beside each other and one seat was in another car train. I let myself apart from my family as I can be on my own and let my youngest sister be with my parents in another car train.
When we were at Tokyo Station, we looked around for luggage locker because our hotel for the night is near in Narita International Airport. After checking-in our luggage, we roam around again for the last time in Tokyo.
After taking our time with photo shots in Tokyo SkyTree, we decided to go down as we need to catch-up train going Otsuka to attend an event. From Tokyo SkyTree Station in Tobu Line, we returned to Asakusa Station, then transferred to Ginza Line. We got off at Ueno Station. At Ueno Station I just realized that I have to cancel our travel in the place that my family need to be, due to my unintended mistake, we had to take train to Tokyo Station instead to Otsuka Station as we need to catch-up the last trip of Narita Express train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport Station, as our hotel for our last night in Japan was near the airport.
At Tokyo Station we walked so fast as we need to find the luggage locker we used to checked-in our luggage and bags at the station. We arrived at the train platform for Narita Express train at least 5 minutes before its scheduled departure as we were catching our breath. For all of us it was really a nick of time because if we missed the train, we have to take a taxi which was really expensive coming from Tokyo to Narita.
We arrived past 9PM at Narita Airport Station. Then, we took the shuttle bus to the hotel we booked. We checked-in at the Narita Tobu Airport hotel before 10PM. Before we ended the night, we had a wonderful and delightful dinner at the hotel as both of my parents complimented the food we had that night and I felt relieved to what I heard.
We woke-up early and did last-minute packing of our luggage and checked-out the hotel. We took the shuttle bus back to the airport. We arrived at the airport, had enough time before our flight. I went back to the Post Office booth and returned the WiFi device I rented. We checked-in in our flight and passed the immigration. We went to the designated gate of our flight and waited for our departure. At that time I felt that days passed so fast. I remembered 9 days ago, we just came in to Japan and yet that moment we’re about to leave the country. I sensed that in few hours I and my family has to go back in reality of our lives again.
I had a great time in Tokyo and oveall in Japan, though there are lots of places that I haven’t seen but we had wonderful time and we had fun as Japan offered us a lot of places to see to enjoy our trip in this country called “Land of the Rising Sun”.
I know that it’s been a while since my last post. After being busy in a project at work, I was busy planning my next out of the country adventure this year together with my family.
Traveling in a country with visa is most likely a dream to me because your chances to see that country is whether the visa application is approved. If the visa approved we are really lucky. If not, the hope will probably gone as there’s no way to come to that country in a normal and legal way.
When I heard that Japan loosen a bit of its strictness in processing visa specifically for tourists visa to promote their tourism, I put some thought to visit the country since last year. Then, I waited my chance for cheap airline ticket since I am planning to travel together with my family (with my parents and my youngest sibling). Last February this year, I received alert email from one of the budget airline in my country and I grabbed my chance to book tickets for myself and my family. Honestly, it was difficult to get cheap ticket with combined promo rate both for departure and arrival flight but with perseverance I was able to find combinations of dates for our travel.
Almost 7 months had passed and I’m still not sure if we can really travel to Japan for many reasons. And last August, I processed all our visa applications and submitted it to one of the authorized travel agency of Japan Embassy as their office does not accept anymore applications directly from applicant. I completed all the requirements and prepared for the visa fee. I applied a single entry for all of us. And after 3 days of processing, the agency called me and notified me that the visa were already approved. I was ecstatic when I heard the news, because the major worry of the travel planning if we can push visiting Japan got resolved. When I returned to pickup the passports, I was surprised for one thing. I received a multiple visa for 5 years in Japan while the rest of my family just got single entry. For me and my family, being approved even for single entry in Japan was one of the great things happened because it gave us a chance to see the country even for once. I just thought that if there is a need to re-apply for visa, it will be probably easier because we’ve had a record that we had visited Japan.
Even before visa application processing, I already started searching places to visit in Japan. Since after the booking of our flight, I have hope that I will be able to see Japan. When our visa approved, that’s was the time I made a real itinerary. I planned the places to visit and the accommodation where were going to stay. I aligned all the accommodations that we need to all places we planned to visit. Since I’m always on a budget, I selected hotels walk able to and from the train station, as I learned that taking a cab in Japan is quite pricey. I also bought necessary advance tickets such as train pass and sumo ticket to reserved guaranteed slot for my family.
My family and I traveled the country within 10 days, these includes two flights to and from Japan. In total we spent at least 8.5 days roaming around in Japan.
Here are the following places we’ve got a chance to visit.
Our trip was really quick by I tried to see as much as we can since I was with my family. In the next coming post. I will described the experience that myself and my family had in our first visit in Japan.
Chromatic Outlook (Post#23) : Saigon Central Post Office
One of the significant building to see while we’re strolling around the downtown of Ho Chi Minh (also known as Saigon) was its French building Saigon Central Post Office. This building was constructed in 1892 with a neo-classical architectural style when the country was still part of French-Indochina. Photo captured last March 2011 during my backpacking adventure in Vietnam.
Abu Dhabi is the capital emirates of United Arab Emirates or UAE. I was here only for one day but it was a worth visit. This boat post with the name of the city can be found at the front of Marina Mall in Al Marina near the parking area. UAE is divided by seven emirates, each emirates represent a kingdom. If there is a kingdom there is a king and that’s what UAE has. Since UAE is the capital emirates or capital city of the country, their kingdom represents the President of the country and while Dubai emirates represents the Prime Minister and from what I learned it is always that way (please don’t quote me on that). The significant place I visited in this city is “Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque”. Photo snapshot captured last August 2014.
One part of our itinerary during our visit in the capital city of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur is its famous tower named Menara Kuala Lumpur or Kuala Lumpur Tower. Though we never went to its observation deck, we just stroll around the area which is a great place to chill out. Looking at the KL Tower from the ground by imagination from where I coming from, its tower tip is beyond my reach. But this kind of tower enable the human to see things far from its limitation and made our vision see it for real.
Arts and Craft (Post#1) : “Silence” By Adrian Mauriks
After I sailed along Yarra River in Docklands, within Victoria Harbour in Melbourne one of the public art display noticeable when I passed NewQuay Promenade is the art display with the title “Silence” which made by sculpture Adrian Mauriks. The art display become a playground for the kids strayed in the area. I as searched more information about the art public display, below is what I found.
Sculptor Adrian Mauriks has described this work as “a series of forms arousing to the mind, appealing to memory, reminding you of natural things – clouds, a tree, a forest – questioning and gesturing, and at the same time promoting sustainability in all things.” The work has a quiet presence, suggesting gentleness and an opposing view of the chaotic world outside.
For me public art display makes the place or the surrounding more alive because of a unique and genius craft that adds spices to unadorned spaces. Photos captured after my sailing adventure last March 2013.
One of the things that I admired in Singapore while living there for almost a year was about their Reservoir. This kind of place made me felt that I was really near with nature. Singapore in overall impression it is a country city. Yes, right now it thrives to be more nature friendly country but if you never goes to green places such as parks, most likely what you will see are vertical buildings of residences, offices and even factories because of the country’s limited land space. Bedok Reservoir was one of the places that I like immediately after I saw the place. A nearby walking and jogging trails can be found in the place and that was the reason I got to know the place. My friends and I were scheduled to exercise near the reservoir and I was not aware that its really a scenic and serene place. One of the good things to know while reading something about the said reservoir was how it was developed. It was a sand quarry before which used to reclaim some areas in Singapore and this became the place to collect water storm during storm weather season. And now, the reservoir is a great place for outdoor activities. Photo collections captured last April 2010.
Interior (Post#2) : The Block Arcade – Elizabeth St Interior Walkway
One of the things that I really enjoyed in Australia while strolling around in its different cities are its century old arcades and one of them is “The Block Arcade” or simply “The Block”. The said arcade is located almost at the center of Melbourne CBD. When I got a chance to enter in this European touched arcade I was really amazed. Looking at its interior design, you will really feel the building’s history and culture. Photo captured last July 2013 while walking around the city.
City of Digital Lights was the first place that I visited where everything it prides are artistic and colourful lights. Based on the city’s information, it proud to have more than a million LED displayed. The place is within the vicinity of I-City in Shah Alam, Selangor in Malaysia. During our visit, we enjoyed different kinds of lights display and we both admired the unique, bright, colourful and artistic lights that made the place wonderful and alive specially at night. The photo above was lights display at the side immediately seen from the road. Snapshot captured last December 2012.
Experiencing backpacking usually comes with the exotic food tasting, if not really eating or dining at least trying to taste it is already important as experiencing it. We found the exotic food displayed in the photo (which composed of spiders, cockroaches, frogs and worms, I was only able to tried small frogs tasted like chicken) was captured during backpacking adventure last March 2011 while walking around in Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Even though we never took a Hop On-Hop Off tourist bus while in Kuala Lumpur, we got souvenir photo of the bus. The name in print on it already signifies the place itself. I took this photo while strolling around the city last December 2012.
Jogyesa is a temple few meters away from Insadong (famous traditional market in Seoul). At the time we visited the place, the lantern festival in the temple was few weeks over but the colourful lanterns were still hanged and displayed in surrounding area. Around this area the temple of the Jogye Order (one of the sect of Korean Buddhism) stands. One thing to see around the temple is the Baby Buddha which shown in the photo at center. Snapshot captured last June 2014.