|Our first apartment in Ikerjiri-Ohashi|
My trip to Japan took place in the beginning of 2013. After years of dreaming, talking and finally excited planning, myself and three friends from high school left Sydney Airpot on the 22nd of January
Being that we travelled to Japan during Winter and we were four young women we hadn't exactly packed light :/ We had four bulky suitcases to somehow transport (most likely very awkwardly) through the busy city of Tokyo.
TIP : Using the Black Cat luggage service (located on your right after entering the arrivals area of the airport) was an absolute god send. For a reasonable sum (I think only around $15 - $20) I was able to have my luggage sent to were I was saving and travel light and stress free. Our luggage arrived that night around 7pm.
|On the Shinkansen from Narita to Shibuya|
The train ride from narita International Airport to shibuya station was over an hour long and we spent it mostly sleeping. Trains are the way to go in Japan. They are clean, orderly and regular, but be prepared; when we got off the train it was GO-GO-GO. Stations can be VERY
TIP : To minimise time spent searching for coins in the bottom of your bag and buying tickets from vendors, get a PASS-MO. These are like prepaid credit cards that you just tap before and after your train ride. There are places in pretty much every station to top these up and they even work on buses. NOTE these are only useful in Tokyo.
For the first part of our trip we based ourselves in a suburb called ikejiri-ohashi, which was only one short train stop away from Shibuya :D. It was a much calmer are that Shibuya but we still had access to supermarkets (Mamma Plate), Post Offices, Restaurants, cafes etc.
|The main street in Akihabara|
For our first full day in Tokyo we travelled to akihabara - Electric City. To me it screams modern day Japan !!! There is some seriously great shopping around here, especially as far as Technology, Manga and Anime enthusiast go.
|Our very first purchase in Japan, Akihibara|
TIP : This is a great place to go to find Maid Cafes as well because there are people handing out flyers left right and centre along the main road!! Its such a fun experience and one I would definitely recommend. If you don't know what a Maid Cafe is, basically its a themed cafe where all of the waitresses dress up as Maids (Japanese people love all things cute XD) Haha maybe google it before hand so as its not a shock to you when you do go; there isn't really anything like it in Western society.
Next up we caught the train to asakusa, which was probably one of my favourite places to see in Japan. It took us a long while to find (we got VERY lost) but eventually we came upon SENSOJI TEMPLE (which for future reference is just to the right of the station :P). The markets leading up to the Temple are such a great place to pick up all sorts of souvenirs, traditional as well as kitschy modern. The temple itself was, simply put, beautiful and humbling.
TIP : A great gift to pick up for friends and loved ones, is a charm from the temples that has been blessed by the monks. There are all sorts of charms - Love, luck, education, wealth, safety etc.
|Outside Sensoji Temple Markets|
|Outside Sensoji Temple|
Day two took us to yokohama - China Town, a maze of streets with more great shops and stalls (opportune for souvenirs) and AMAZING places to eat. Yokohama also houses the Cup Noodle Museum (:P haha yep thats right, cup Noodles are a big thing in Japan and we practically lived off of them for a while), a small amusement park and Yokohama Shopping centre, which has some great clothing and makeup shops without the crazed madness of shopping in Shibuya.
I probably wouldn't really recommend ginza to younger travellers, just because its where all of the high end shops are located (and lets be honest we younger explorers probably aren't rolling in it). However we luckily chanced upon some sort of street festival/parade that had closed off the main road in Ginza.
TIP : If you have trouble taking money out of regular ATMS (which we did....cue PANIC) try either using the city bank ATM or use the ATMs in Post Offices (JP ATMs), these were the only two that worked for us. It was in Ginza that we found a City Bank :)
From Ginza we caught the train to central tokyo and took a nice (and really, a bit long) walk along to the imperial palace, where funnily enough we chanced upon an outrageously large group of people preparing to take part in a marathon (are you an enthusiast maybe you could join in?)
|All the girlies at the Imperial Palace|