It’s the middle of May and since my last post, I’ve traveled to 2 countries – Japan and Thailand thus my lack of updates. My mind was still savoring the experiences. You know how it feels right? They do say that when you travel, leave only footprints and take only memories. We’re all here for responsible traveling!
Now presenting the second post of my Things We Wish We Knew series (check out Korea
here). In this series, I stumble, try new and odd experiences and make mistakes for you so you guys don’t have to go through it (though feel free to make your own mistakes and learnings and share them here as well). I want to save you guys the trouble and hassle that goes with traveling.
12 Things We Wished We Knew Before Going To Tokyo
1. Reserve the Best restaurants in advance (LIKE 3 MONTHS)
My Best Sushi Meal at Kyubey <3
Foodies would know that Tokyo has the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world. They also have the cheapest and most expensive ones in Tokyo. But it is VERY TRICKY to get a seat/reservation because Tokyo as a concrete jungle, only has limited space and so do their restaurants. It is cramped and there is only limited seating. You have to reserve 2 months AT LEAST to get a seat (I would suggest 3 months in advance to be sure) at the top restaurants. Now I didn’t follow this advice and lost the chance to eat at the best sushi restaurant at Sushi Saito. I did thankfully get a reservation at Kyubey because they had a lot of branches and Nakajima does not even accept reservations. For those that do not accept reservations, eat a light meal before going to you won’t starve while waiting through the LONG LINES.
I recommend you call ahead of time at places like Sushi Saito
and Jimbocho Den
(please prepare cash as these restos are NOT CHEAP. I would even say that you can eat cheaper in Europe but you are in Tokyo. Indulge this one time and experience it. This gives me a reason to come back to Tokyo and oh boy my wallet and my body will be so prepared then.
Another thing, you need help from your hotel or Airbnb host to reserve for you as they only accept reservations in JAPANESE. If you can speak Japanese, be my guest.
Look at that OOTORO!!
2. There are elevators/escalators in every TRAIN station
As budget travelers, my friend and I opted for the cheapest route to get to the main city from Narita Airport which is by train (the regular and not high speed one). It was actually lovely because OMG the view when the train passes through the countryside looks exactly like the ones in anime. Japanese houses are so quaint that I want my own Japanese country home.
But this would mean having less legroom and space for your luggage as the trains are way smaller. Travel time is also longer and we had to switch multiple train lines. We were in a hurry so when going from one train line to another (from underground to the second floor), we carried our 2 large size luggages UP THE STAIRS. I am not a light packer so this was a struggle for me. And… yeah no one helped us but I was so glad that we were able to carry it up all the way!
After speaking to my Japanese friend, there is an escalator/elevator in every station, we just had to find it and it is usually located at the ends of the station. So my advise my fellow heavy packers, FIND THAT ESCALATOR. Do not give up until you find it!
Exploring while I stored my luggage somewhere (I actually left it at a random condo beside Nakajima. Japanese people are so honest because it was still there when I returned to get it)
3. CHECK THE WEATHER REPORT
Before booking a flight, always check the weather. If you can’t do anything but book a trip in advance because you got awesome promo fare, check the weather 3 months in advance and then plan your trip accordingly. Make sure to check both high and low temperature so you would know what clothes to pack. You don’t want to freeze to death and you also don’t want to spend unnecessarily on new clothes.
My friend and I went to Mt. Fuji as a side trip from Tokyo and I completely forgot to check the second day. We spent the first day at Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park and we had a GLORIOUS DAY. It was perfect. Check out the photo.
PERFECT WEATHER <3
RIDE THIS OMG!
Being suspended 121 degrees never felt better because at least you were staring at majestic Mt. Fuji before dropping to your err… doom? haha! I did not bring my SLR on this day because we were only going to be riding rides.I planned for Kachi Kachi ropeway the next day because I really wanted to get a good shot of Mt. Fuji but.. HOLY COW, CLOUDS ALL OVER, PEOPLE! Mt. Fuji hid behind clouds and I felt disappointed 🙁 I did get good shots of this baby up there. So my friend and I decided to stroll around Lake Kawaguchiko instead and it proved to be a good decision because the sky cleared up around 3PM. Still, it could have been better if I checked. I could have switched Fuji-Q and Kachi Kachi Ropeway but I didn’t because… sighs. Forgot to check the weather.
Thank you clouds for cooperating on Mt. Fuji Day 2!
4. Research on best DAYS TO GO TO festivals
No Shibazakura but there are Sakuras around Lake Kawaguchiko!
Tokyo has wonderful festivals and events. Kisty
recommended going to Shibazakura Festival and when I saw the photos, I was determined to go. It was a beautiful backdrop to Mt. Fuji. But… I never researched on what is the best month to go. Apparently going on the first day of the flower festival was VERY WRONG. Only 30% of the flowers had bloomed and thankfully, the ticket operator at the bus station advised us not to go. He was like “Are you really sure you wanna go?” to every passenger. Some pushed through but I wanted my first experience there to be worthwhile so… yes, I will go back to Mt. Fuji someday for this. And also go back to Fuji-Q!! Man, that theme park is awesome.
5. GOING TO FUJI-Q? DON’T RIDE THESE KIDDIE RIDES
This ride HURTS.
Wanting to experience all the rides at Fuji-Q, we even got on the “safe” kiddie rides. But omg, do not ride some of them because not only did it feel unsafe, the rides were ROCKY and kept making sharp turns. It was uncomfortable and honestly gave me a headache. Warning for those who want to ride Mad Mouse and the Hamtaro ride. @_@
6. SHOULD YOU GET THAT UNLI-PASS?
Compute your subway fares using hyperdia
. Fares are quite accurate and the site correctly gives you the departure and arrival times. This will definitely help you in your decision whether to buy unli-pass tickets or not. There is a 3-day unlimited pass for every train line like this Tokyo Metro + Toie Line so make sure you know which line you’re using to get around. JR lines are not included in this line. We didn’t purchase this unli-pass because my friends and I went to a few places + we used the bus more.
7. Take your time. Sight see at most 2 major areas in 1 day
Odaiba needs 1 WHOLE DAY!!
This is actually a tip for ANY place that you’re going to. This is to maximize the area/district that you are in. You don’t want to just be a passer by to that place right? Plus I’m sure that you guys want to shop and eat to your heart’s content so time is your best friend during the trip. I don’t want to sound like an oldie but you don’t have to rush on every trip. You don’t have to stress yourself out to cross everything off your bucket list in one day. Take your time and plan accordingly. Have mercy as well on your feet and bellies!
Case in point, we thought we could visit Miraikan, Tokyo’s awesome museum, and Odaiba malls in one day but… nope. We couldn’t do it.
Spent half the day at the Game exhibit. They let us play with the VR! OMG It was amazing!
Creepy Android at Miraikan :O
8. The pokemon mega center tokyo IS NOT MEGA
Still happy I got to buy some Pokemon things!
I expected the Pokemon Mega Center to be a whole floor full of Pokemon items but it was just a store inside a mall that was kinda hard to get in xD It’s located in Sunshine City near the Ikebukuro Station. My friend then told me that if I wanted to go to a bigger one, I had to go to Yokohama. It’s farther but bigger. So friends you have been forewarned. Set your expectations!
9. Train stations have lockers – you won’t run out.
Photo found in a forum
Lockers. Rent a locker and go explore the wild wild world of Tokyo but since everyone is thinking what you’re thinking. You will think that you’ve run out of them. This was the case of our first day of misadventure when we wasted around 45 minutes looking for one on the ground floor of the station because EVERY SINGLE LOCKER was fullybooked. We were so frustrated and I wanted to give up but lo and behold, some nice guy checked out and we were able to rent 1. I had 2 luggages so I just decided to drag my smaller suitcase around (NOT A GOOD IDEA) as we ate and shopped.
Now let me tell you a secret… THERE ARE MORE LOCKERS ON THE OTHER FLOORS. Check the basement, check the second floor, check EVERYWHERE and not just the ground floor. We found this out when we came back and used a different train line. Wanted to smack myself on the head so much. So my friends, never give up on the search for a free locker. Check the other floors! Btw, there are lockers in the big subway stations like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo.
10. First Thing To Do At Disney Sea – Get Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania
Waiting to Play! IT IS SO CLEVERLY BUILT!
Okay before you do that though, check first the Disney Sea Crowd Calendar in this link
. It has saved the time of countless Disney fans like me so as mentioned in point #3, plan your battles!
Let me be frank with you, Disney Sea’s Toy Story Mania attraction is the BEST attraction in Disney Sea so far. This guide is honest and I am telling you this to save you the time in research. I will now present to you the first ride that you need to go to is this. If you’re the first guy in line before the park opens, then be my guest and go ride this. If not, you still go to the attraction and get a FAST PASS. Thank goodness Fast Pass is free for Disney Sea so you just just go back as indicated in your fast pass. You can go to the other rides in the meantime (Tower of Terror is right beside it so you could go there), I am telling you that the ride is amazing because it is probably around 8-10 minutes in length and it’s VERY INTERACTIVE. Quite tiring though. Don’t worry, it’s child-friendly 🙂
Oh and watch the show at the Mermaid Lagoon! It is AWESOME as well and no tickets needed.
11. BUY A LOT OF THIS ON THE WAY HOME. JUST DO IT. Also souvenir stuff are cheaper at the airport
This is the best “pasalubong” (take home gift) that you can buy. Buy a LOT if you can. Just do it. It can be found in Narita Airport duty free stores. This little snack brought me to Hokkaido. I swear. It’s heavenly cheese crackers <3
And you can actually buy cheaper items when bought at the airport because… TAX FREE! It is a great time to be a traveler!
12. Japan is WEIRD.
You think you’re prepared for Japan’s weirdness but you never will be. There will be creepy old men AND women (oh gosh, there was this pervy woman in the food court O_O) in most train stations and public area. There will be people wearing random costumes walking around. There also seems to be thousands of people in the same suit and carrying the same brief case everywhere but don’t worry. This is Japan’s normal/weird and you will never be prepared for it so just enjoy your trip!
I swear. Tokyo is one of the best cities in the planet and though delicious food is PRICEY as hell (quite like Paris), I will never tire of this place. I want to go back RIGHT now if I could. It is a wonderful city and I’ve only explored only an inch of it. Living there would be quite an experience. I think I’d like that. Shout out by the way to my friends Franz, Izza, Steph who contributed point number 6 in this post. 🙂
I LOVE TOKYO AND SAKURA BLOSSOMS! <3