Tokyo, Japan 2013 (DAY 1)

Links to my Tokyo, Japan 2013 blog series:

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Before I begin, let's get this geekiness over with and let me post the current Internet speed of the hostel's WiFi that I'm leeching (Take note: NO WIFI PASSWORD!!!):

Kelan ba magiging ganito ang Pilipinas??!!

As of writing, it's already 9:56 PM in Tokyo, an hour ahead from Manila.  We've just arrived here some eight hours ago, and quite honestly, already dead tired from the trip. However, given the speed of the Internet, how can I resist some semi-real time blogging, kung wala pang limang minuto eh na-upload agad 'yung mga DSLR pictures ko sa Flickr?

MNL-NRT

We took the JetStar JQ79 flight bound for Tokyo. Usually, budget flights to Japan from Manila are taken via Cebu Pacific Air.  Those flights, however, only go to Kansai International Airport in Osaka, which is an overnight bus ride away from Tokyo.  Good thing we were able to find a cheap-ish flight to Tokyo via JetStar, 'Yun lang, we decided to get it one-way, and get CebuPac's KIX-MNL flight going home.  For what reason, I can't really remember, basta malamang gusto namin makatipid.

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Tokyo ni ikimasu!!!

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:50 AM, but due to the dreadful runway traffic in NAIA, we were delayed for a good half hour or so.  Thankfully, the pilot made good time that we were able to arrive in Narita International Airport a few minutes after 12 noon (Tokyo time).

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Goodbye, Manila... Hello, Japan!!! WAAAAA SAKURA!!!!

We were already starving by the time we were done with Immigration and Customs, so we hung around the airport a bit to find something to eat.  I wasn't really feeling sushi or ramen that time, so we settled for good ol' tonkatsu at the restaurants' row above the check-in area in Terminal 2.


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Ge had the tonkatsu set, while I had the tonkatsu curry set (1,300++ JPY each).
The set comes with miso soup, spinach sides, and unlimited cabbage salad.
They also gave us house tea of different varieties, before and after the meal.

NRT Airport Tips for Tourists:
  • Japan is not a tipping culture.  So don't worry about tipping.
  • (At least for Terminal 2) WiFi is free in the airport.  All you have to do is register your email address when prompted.
  • Currency exchange rates are more or less standard in Japan, so it wouldn't matter if you exchanged all your money and/or withdrew your cash via ATM there.
  • Yen-to-Peso conversion shortcut: More or less, divide the Yen value in two, and you get the Peso value.  E.g. 1,000 JPY roughly converts to 500 PHP
  • WiFi on-the-go! If you can afford to rent a mobile WiFi gadget to not be hassled by finding free WiFi hotspots all the time, try out www.globaladvancedcomm.com. They have the lowest rates per day, and they deliver the gadgets to the Terminal 2 post office, once payment is confirmed.

Heading to the City

Much like all the other international airports around the world (dito lang 'ata sa Pilipinas ang hindi), Narita International Airport is situated some 60km. outside the city center.  This being said, our next challenge was finding a way to commute from the airport to the city at the least possible cost.  Prior to the trip, we already weighed the options, and we decided to take the train.


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The whole concept of ticket automation may intimidate you at first,
but once you get a hang of it, you'll never want to purchase your tickets from a cashier again.

We chose to take a route with that includes one transfer (i.e. from an express train line to a subway line), and it was interesting to see that the ticketing machine already computed the transfer in the total amount of the ticket, AND produced only one stub for the whole trip. Galing.  Such ease of public commute in a foreign country, considering that you don't even speak the language, always leaves me in awe.  Sana ganito din sa Pilipinas.


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So, what we took was a Keisi Access Express train to the Oshiage Station,
and from there transfered to the Toei Asakusa Line to alight at the Asakusa-bashi Station. (1,240 JPY)

Where to Stay

We were looking for the best (i.e. least cost) accommodation available within the city center.  Being novice backpackers (trained by Travel Factor and its backpacking trips), we're not really looking for five-star quality places. Basta malambot ang higaan, may A/C (or heater), and hot/cold showers, ok na 'yun!  Our choices narrowed down to the Khaosan Tokyo group, and Khaosan Tokyo Ninja was the hostel that was able to accommodate our schedule.

Rate: 3,000 JPY (Twin Private per night)**
Address: 2-5-1 Nihombashi Bakurocho,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo
E-mail Address: ninja@khaosan-tokyo.com 
Contact Number: +81-3-6905-9205

** Rates may change depending on season
*** Accepts online reservation only


Sakura, Sakura, Sakura!!!

Truth be told, the reason why we chose this schedule to go to Tokyo is because we wanted to be in the middle of the hanami (i.e. Cherry Blossom Viewing) season.  See, the sakura (i.e. Cherry Blossom) is one sneaky tree, blooming only once in a year for a span of one to two weeks.  During our last trip to Japan (we only got around Osaka and Kyoto that time), we were a week early for the hanami season.  Just when we thought that we got it right this year, climate change threw a curveball and caused the onset of sakura blooms one week too early.  So, the first thing we did after checking in is to go to Ueno park (arguably the best spot for hanami in Tokyo) to see the blossoms before they fall out.

And see them we did.


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Aren't they beautiful? <3 <3 <3

The sun was already setting that time, and it was also a bit cloudy.  If not for the ISO and aperture settings of my camera, the pictures will look really dark.  We plan to do more sakura sightseeing tomorrow morning and early afternoon, so I hope I am able to get better pictures then.

Food tripping

Before heading back to the hostel (it was getting really chilly already that time - we weren't wearing the right clothes for that climate), we stopped by the nearby food stalls to have a taste of some of the Tokyo *street food* (500 JPY for most of the food being sold there - ang mahal talaga sa Tokyo!) We had Yakisoba and Salt and Pepper Chicken Yakitori.  Yummeh.

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That's all for today; I need to catch some zzz's as we will be starting our day early tomorrow, to attend the only English mass in Tokyo.  Happy Easter, and hopefully I can post another Tokyo-releated blog post soon.

Ja, mata ne!

Comments

  1. om! Nice blog! I got really excited for our honeymoon after reading this. Are they stick sa pag process ng tourist visa? Baka kasi mag book na ko ng flight tapos mareject ung visa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Thanks for viewing my blog. :) Hope this response finds you well; not sure if Anonymous comments are notified by replies.

      Anyway, AFAIK as long as you are able to submit complete and authentic requirements, there are enough passport stamps to back your travel history, and that you're able to show that you can financially support your travel to Japan, you should not have any issues getting the visa. :)

      Ang alam ko, medyo aggressive sila sa tourism nila ngayon kasi naka-recover na sila from the tsunami incident a couple of years ago.

      Good luck!

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  2. thanks!

    baka gayahin ko na lng din itinerary mo plus Sanrio Puroland.

    btw, what I meant is strict no stick lol

    jackie :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice!!! Hindi na nga kami nakapunta sa Sanrio Puroland tsaka sa Disney resorts eh. Pictures na lang pag nakapunta na kayo doon ha? :) Best Wishes!

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  3. Tokyo is one of the greatest city. I am really impressed by your blog and soon planning to travel to Tokyo with my spouse for the great fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by! Good luck on your travel plans, I'm sure it will be loads of fun and adventure. :)

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  4. how much is the pocket money? thanks

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  5. Very nice blog! After visiting Tokyo, for me is one of the best city to visit in the world ^_^

    I really like Asakusa area! For me it is one of the best places to stay in Tokyo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Asakusa is indeed a backpacker's paradise!

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