We had an amazing time in Japan and can't wait to share it with you. We self planned our entire trip (except for Mount Fuji) by searching on TripAdvisor, blog posts and recommendations from amazing friends. We thought we would collate everything into 13 blog posts and hopefully you (or your friends) can leverage off our posts!
We've taken thousands of photos and hundreds of videos *exhales* but I won't be bombarding you with countless selfies and blurry photos - you guys get the good stuff like picturesque landscape and scrumptious food shots ;) I've managed to nail it down to about 50 photos per post!!
Here's a brief snapshot of what's coming up on the blog:
Day 2 (Hapineko Cat Cafe, Shibuya Crossing, Restaurant Okonomi Yukari, Kiddy Land, Takeshita Dori Street, Meiji Jingu, Self-order Ramen and Street Takoyaki)Day 3 (Kanda Myojin Shrine, Anime Centre, Ueno Park, Ameyokocho, Sumida Skytree, Electric City)Day 4 (Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi, Mt Komagatake, Hakone National Park)Day 5 (Shinjuku Gyeon National Garden, Sunshine City, J-World, Pokemon Centre, Piss Alley aka Omoide Yokocho)Day 6 (Odaiba, Takoyaki Museum, Aqua City, Rainbow Bridge, Palette Town, Diver City, KAIO Kaitenzushi)Day 7 (Last day in Tokyo - Imperial Palace and One Piece Tokyo Tower)Day 8 (First day in Osaka - Dotombori, Shinsaibashi, Ebisubashisuji)Day 9 (Exploring Kyoto - Tenryu-ji Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Monkey Park, Kinkaku-ji)Day 10 (Exploring Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Taisha, Nijo Castle, Menbakaichidai Ramen Restaurant)Day 11 (Universal Studios Osaka)Day 12 (Osaka Castle, Osaka Castle Park, Minami Temma Park, Umeda Sky Building)Day 13 (Den Den Town, revisit Dotombori, shop again at Ebisubashisuji)
We purchased the 7 day JR Pass to use in Osaka and Kyoto but picked it up from Tokyo airport. We also pre-purchased the 14 day pocket Wi-Fi which was a lifesaver and we heavily relied on it (like most people do with technology). The pocket Wi-Fi never let us down and reached speeds far greater than our 4G! This pocket Wi-Fi allowed us to really experience Japan as we walked through suburban streets of Kyoto and Osaka. If you are planning to do lots of sight seeing and using the bullet train then we highly recommend calculating the cost of your trip and seeing whether it is right for you.
The Narita airport is HUGE! To get from one side to the other it estimates a 10-15 minute walk! Thankfully majority of the walking was on their ever fast escalators, taking us the whole way to immigration.
I don't like airplane toilets (who does anyway?) so the first thing I do after a flight is to visit the bathroom! I was confused with the high tech toilet system. I stood there for a good minute trying to figure out how to flush.... #losttourist
Matt purchased N'EX Tokyo direct tickets from the ticket machine and reserved seats for us. I was lining up to get our Japan Rail Pass. The N'EX ticket machine and Japan Rail Pass Office was opposite each other and the queues were quite long. The multi-tasking paid off as we were able to catch the next train out of the airport!
Track the progress of your train journey with N'EX - this provided us with a little bit of comfort and security (knowing where we are going in a foreign country).
Upon reaching Tokyo station, there were still hundreds of people passing trough the gates, it resembled the peak hour we experience in Sydney but at 10pm!!! Everyone seemed to have been either finishing work or after-work drinks. The station is actually bigger than the airport as has many underground shopping tunnels. I'm loving the fact that each restaurant/cafe has food displayed beautifully in the store front!
We decided to have a quick bite at McDonalds where we ordered a Cheezubaga, Biggumaccu and Furido Potato! Can you guess what we had? ;)
We were also reluctant walking around 10:30pm on the streets of Tokyo/Ginza district, but it was perfectly fine. Surprisingly I felt more safe walking there at night, then most days in Sydney during the day!
Day 1 - Tokyo Disneyland, Restaurant Hokusai and 7-Eleven food
We bought cup ramen noodles to have for breakfast (they were only 100yen) and slurped it down before we headed out for our first adventure to Disneyland! When we arrived, we saw so many school kids and couldn't help but wonder... why are they not in school? NOOOO our hopes to go on a weekly utterly backfired as the park was just as busy as it would be on a weekend :(
We decided to view the sights around Disneyland before going on any rides. This may have been our first mistake...
Word of advice guys, PLAN your day. We cannot stress that enough. Make use of your fast track ticket. It doesn't cost more than your purchased ticket. You just have to bolt to the ride, scan your ticket and you will have an allocated time for the attraction. This was something we regrettably DID NOT do. But we made sure we did a similar thing in Universal Studios Osaka.
All the Disney characters came our on the street to greet us, needless to say after 30 minutes of waiting we finally got a couple of snaps with the duck man himself, pluto and a couple of other characters! Yeah, we were um....waiting in line with all the other 5 year olds............ #noshame
The streets are so colourful. Each shop looks inviting and it resembles that of a Disney cartoon itself! Make sure to drop into the Disney Museum! It felt so nostalgic seeing some of our favorite Disney characters along with their different forms of evolution over the years. Can't believe how angry Mickey Mouse used to look!
For the lazy ones out there, here's your alternatives around the park - a 5kmph vehicle populates the footpath! We were so excited to learn that you can actually walk inside of the castle! The Cinderella attraction takes you up to the 3rd level of the castle!
I think we can both tell who is enjoying this more... :)
YOSH! Time to eat. Itadakimasu!
We ate at the Restaurant Hokusai where they take your name down and place you into their cosy little waiting area.
The menu was quite simple and cheap. The place itself was actually quite busy, it is hard to tell with this picture, but this was only one small portion of the restaurant.
We both decided to get a set meal to keep us going throughout the day.
Tempura Set with Cold Udon
Considering the size of this set, it was quite cheap. The tempura was very light yet crunchy at the same time. The noodles were no different than other ordinary udon noodles, however the broth was really delicious. It was clear and had a strong but not overpowering taste of salt throughout.
Pork and Fried Burdock Variety Udon
Matt ordered the Pork Udon. The broth was very similar (if not the same) as my dish. However the added pork cuts made it something else entirely. There was also a ring of pork fat which tasted very soft and slimy when eating, but doesn't matter as the broth was flavoursome and truly made the udon quite unique in that sense. They also provided two little mickey-mouse shaped fish cakes which were obviously too cute to actually eat.
The total (including a drink) was roughly $35AUD. Still pretty cheap when comparing it to Sydney prices.
The Sweetheart Cafe lured our already bloated stomachs in with its aroma of freshly baked sweets. We just HAD to by something from here, so we decided to try the Mike Wazowski Melon Bread! It was a nice snack while we waiting in line at the Monsters Inc ride!
Boss. Nuff' Said.
The Monsters Inc ride was fun, but compared to the Looney Toons ride it was nothing spectacular. We waited in line for this ride for 2.5 hours by then we discovered the Express Tickets we mentioned earlier. We were unable to go on many of the rides we wished to have experience because of the ridiculously long wait times (4 hours was the longest I saw). Each ride gives you an estimation based upon the number of people waiting currently and it was not really worth the time. We decided to give up on the rides and explore the park instead. We should have come first thing in the morning, done all the rides and then explored. Learn from our mistakes!!!
We went crazy trying on novelty hats/head warmers - whatever they were!
It was shockingly COLD at night. We had layered up at this point, but unfortunately Japan won and we managed to fall sick. In comparison, this was worth it as we got the experience the Tokyo Disneyland Electric Parade (a truly unique experience). We actually filmed this and might share it later on. But for now, please enjoy the photos!
By the time we had finished buying souvenirs from the Disneyland store, it was quite late. So we decided to try some of the famous "cheap" meals from 7-Eleven! For roughly $12AUD we were able to treat ourselves to a small feast you see below. Christine had the pasta, Matt had the Bento Box and we both shared the Gyoza. Surprisingly, the food was better than most actual restaurants you will find in the city of Sydney!
And of course there is room for dessert! Tokyo station also has a whole selection of dessert shops. I miss this place already....
We hope you enjoyed this post and stay tuned for Day 2! Disneyland was an easy day which didn't require lots of planning but Day 2 is where our real Japan experience begins! :)
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