The other day I shared about our day trip to Mt Fuji and Hakone. Today I thought I’d share with you what we got up to on the other days that we were in Tokyo, mostly being out and about in the city. Disneyland happened nearer the end of the week, but that will be it’s own. Here we go then!
Flew from Auckland to Tokyo
On Tuesday we explored the suburb that our hotel was in, which was called Shinjuku. It’s this fantastic area full of food and shopping. There was a rabbit-warren of streets right near our hotel with food places and small shops, and just past the main Shinjuku train station (the busiest train station in the world apparently) were streets and streets of shopping, complete with several big malls.
Near Shinjuku is a huge park called Yoyogi Park, and in there is a great shrine. On Wednesday we walked down to the park and wandered through until we found the shine. We were really lucky, because at the time we were there, there were two weddings happening. It was really neat to see a wedding from a differently culture. I hope they didn’t mind that all the tourists were taking pictures of them on their wedding day. Eek.
Through the park and out the other side, we walked through Harajuku. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of the crazily dressed teens I was hoping to see, but it may have been we weren’t in the right area, or we were there are the wrong time of day. Roz was actually sick that day, with a heavy cold, so she took a taxi back to rest at the hotel, and the rest of us went to the Shibuya crossing, which is this crazy pedestrian crossing with people moving in literally all directions.
Hachiko the famous dog has a statue outside the station there, so I got a picture with him. If you haven’t heard his story, you can read it here. We did a bit of shopping, then walked back through Yoyogi park to the hotel.
This was our busiest day. We braved the Metro system (super easy, by the way. Just like the London underground), and bought a day pass. We took the metro to Tokyo Tower, and took the elevator up to 150 meters to check out the sights. From there we got on another train, and headed to the Imperial Palace Gardens.
We didn’t go in, because you have to book tours, but we spent a good time in the gardens that surround the palace, and had lunch on the lawn under the ginkgo trees. From the gardens, we jumped on another train and headed to the Sky Tree. We arrived at about 4pm, and were hesitant about whether or not to join the incredibly long line. But then Nikki remembered that tourists get to go in the fast lane. We rocked on up to the tourist counter and within about 5 minutes we were in the elevator, travelling up to 350m in 15 seconds. Amazing.
Because we went in the late afternoon, the views were hazy and a bit smoggy, but it was still amazing to see the contrast of the Tokyo Tower that morning, going up on 150m, and 200 metres more. There was yet another viewing area at 500m but you had pay more for that. We stopped at 350.
Was Disneyland! There will be a post all about that soon!
Being tired from the week and Disneyland, we had a leisurely morning, and headed out and about in Shinjuku again. We managed to find shops we’d never seen before, and did all our souvenir shopping. In the evening we visited the free viewing platforms at the top of the Metropolitan buildings, just a 2 minute walk from our hotel. It was neat to see Shinjuku at night time with all the lights. We had yakitori for lunch, which we had been looking out for all week. Yum!
We checked out, wandered around a little bit, grabbing some lunch in a local park, and then headed to airport.
We arrived back in Auckland at about 9:30am on Monday, which was a public holiday (good timing, guys!), and I walked the others to the domestic terminal because they were heading back home to Wellington area.
What an awesome trip! There were some things we didn’t end up doing that we had looked into, like the Ghibli Museum, seeing crazy teens in Harajuku, eating okonamiyaki, heading down to Tokyo Bay and seeing all the things down there, seeing some of the other suburbs like Ginza and Roppongi. But there’s only so much you can do in a week, and I think we did a good job.
It was super easy to get around, and never felt unsafe at all. Everyone speaks at least a few words in English, but it was very easy in shops because they show you the price, you give them the money, they give you change, and that’s it. Everything is done in cash, except some big stores which may take international credit cards.
There’s a lot more I could say about the whole experience, and I might yet write something up, but let me know if there’s anything you’re wondering about and I’ll tell you all my Tokyo wisdom. I kid. But I will answer any questions! Please don’t hesitate to ask me!
Stay tuned for Disneyland post next week, and I also might share my Disneyland haul with you too, because everyone loves Disney!