Friday, March 31, 2017

Tokyo free and easy : Meiji Shrine

We decided to take a bus down  instead of the train. Firstly, it is only like 3-4 stops from our apartment and the busstop is just 3 mins walk away. Secondly, it was the first time that we are taking a bus in Japan. We followed Google map instructions and have no problem for our little bus ride.
You can also use your Suica car for the bus ride.

We were quite happy that we actually took a bus. We got off at Kitasando Entrance.There were beautiful ginko trees along the road on the way to Meiji Shrine. Such a beautiful sight. Autumn is a good season to travel as there are lot of vibrant colours and the weather is not too cold and not too hot. It was easy to navigate to Meiji shrine as we just followed the google map. After the entrance, we still need to walk around 5-10 minutes  to the shrines.

We did not know the day we went on the day of Harvest festival at Meiji Shrine. It was a pleasant surprise. There are a lot of decorations by fruits and vegetables. It is held at the around late November.

There is english fortune telling poetry costing 100yen.

Traditional Japanese wedding

There are a lot of locals dressed up for the event especially children. It is so cute to see them walking around. 

After watching the display at Meiji Shrine, we make our way to Harajuku. 
There was a Chrysanthemum exhibit. Not a very bit display but it was beautiful nonetheless. 
There are a lot of Chrysanthemum display in Japan during the month of November. 
If you are into nature, November is month of the vibrant autumn leaves, the Chrysanthemum flowers and yellow ginkgo leaves.

It is quite easy to navigate from Meiji Shrine to HArajuku. It is not that far but walking will take around 10-15 minutes depending on your speed.
It is good to plan both location together. 
After a walk and exploring Meiji Shrine, it will be time to feast and shop at Harajuku.

There is a museum at Meiji Shrine that displays a lot of historial items including items being the Emperor and Empress. Entrance fee is 500yen. I never been there so I can give a review on it

Meiji Shrine: From Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line 
 Meiji-jingu-mae Station on the Chiyoda 
Or you can take a bus like what I did. 
It depends on where you are starting your journey from.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tokyo Free and Easy : Tokyo Tower

Can see the Tokyo Tower from the station exit. You can definitely find you way there.


There are a few stationS available to reach Tokyo STation. Definitely will choose the one with the least walking time unless you have a day pass to make use of.
I got off at Akanebashi Station and follow signs and exits and definitely my Google map. Navigation is not hard. Just follow the crowd.

There are 2 paths leading to Tokyo Tower, the closer one is a steep slope and the path further down is flat. If you with eldery or not one who like slope, walk further down and take the shorter and flat path

My favourite shot.

JCB card members will have complimentary tickets for Tokyo Tower. That is why mine is 0 yen

Tickets for Main Observatory:
Adult 900 yen and child is 500 yen.
Tickets for One Piece Tower and Main Observatory Set Ticket:
3900 yen for adult
2000 yen to 3600 yen for students/child

Main Observatory Business  Hours are 9am - 11 pm ( Final Entry at 1030pm)

Tokyo on piece Tower Business Hours ar 10am - 10 pm ( Final Entry at 9pm)

For any tourist who did to do their snack shopping.
MOst snacks are available at airport unless some more unique ones.
However, airport has quite a long queue and a big crowd so go to DFS early if you intend to purchase souvenirs at the airport.

  We did not go to the Tokyo One Piece Tower. However, there are some images which you can take photos with.

Tips :
1. If you are exiting at the same station as me, choose the right path to the Tokyo Tower unless you don't mind slopes.
2. Apply for the JCB card, you save $10
3. Go around 1 to 1 .5 hour before sunset. Google sunset at Tokyo. It will give you ample time to take photos of the Tokyo tower in daylight and also a clear view of the buildings and landmarks. It will be hard to spot Mount Fuji and other significant landmarks.
4. Choose a clear and bright day. The views will be better and clearer and the sunset will be beautiful. I did not manage to catch any sunset as it was too cloudy. I was quite disappointed. 
5. If you are into night scenery, a tripod will be good.
6. Do not plan to have your dinner at Tokyo Tower, the food choices was very limited. The food court food was just average. Not really worth my time and money.

I never been to other observatory towers in Tokyo so I can't give my comparison.
It is definitely worth going for me as I did not pay for the tickets. 

The other 2 Obversatory Tower.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to travel around Tokyo Metro Subway Jr Keio Line Suica Map

Tokyo train lines maybe complicated but with Google Maps. Things has become much much easily.

Suica/PAsmo Card

If you are doing a free and easy in Tokyo, you can buy a Suica / Pasmo card at the airport. For theThe card will cost 2000 yen, a deposit of 500 yen is automatically included in the price. The deposit can be claimed back ONLY in Tokyo, at by JR East stations for Suica, and participating private railway and subway stations for Pasmo. You can purchase both cards at the airport. There is no significant difference in price most of the time. Mainly is for the convenience of checking out the fare and queuing up to buy tickets and having to take out your money every now and then. However, it can't be used for shinkansen, limited express tickets and airport bus.

For me, I bought the Suica card, it can be used in some other parts of Japan which include Osaka and Kyoto which I also visited.

MOre information on Suica Card and where to get it

More information on Pasmo card and where to get it

Good read on both cards

One-day Pass

There are more than 1 type of one-day pass available.

If you do want to save some money, you can buy the pass only on days that you travel extensively.

1. Metro one day pass Adult 600 yen Child 300yen

At trip on the metro cost around 170-310 yen. If you make more than 3 trips, this is a good deal to get. However, not all places are accessible by the metro. Do your research and plan those metro trips together, it will help you save quite a significant amount of money. This is valid for 24 hours.

2. Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro One day pass. Adult 1000 yen child 500 yen

This is valid for Toei Subway and Tokyo. However, this is only valid for the day of purchase

3. Tokyo Combination ticket (Tokyo Furii Kippu) Adult 1590 yen Child 800yen

This allow unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar (Toden), Toei Bus (except for buses with fixed seats, etc.), all sections of Nippori-Toneri Liner as well as all JR lines within the Tokyo metropolitan area. This is only valid on the day of purchase

4. Tokunai PAss Adult 730 yen child 360 yen

This is for JR trains (except JR express trains) running within the 23 wards of Tokyo as many times as you want.

This is valid on day of purchase.

5. Toei One- Day Economy pass Adult 700 yen Child 350yen kyotso ichinichi Josha-ken

This is available on Toei streetcars, buses and from ticket vending machines at Toei Subway stations. This is avilable on day of purchase

6. Yurikamome One-day Open ticket Ichiniichi JOshu-ken Adult 800 yen Child 400 yen

Availble for Odaiba (Tokyo Bay area)

The one day pass is available at the train station itself. The Metro pass will be available at the metro station.

More information on one day pass

GOOGLE MAP: How to navigate your way around Tokyo

As I mentioned, Google maps work very well in Tokyo and other parts of Japan.

Before you set off, you can plan your route. Google map will show you the different options available. If you have the metro pass, you will try to choose the one that suggest metro rides. And if you are someone on a budget, you can choose the one that is the cheapest or walk. If you are with elderly, choose the least complicated and the one with least walking.

Key in the place you are going. You can choose my location. As I am back in Singapore, I can't choose my location. Walking is the cheapest. Jr line seems to the cheapest but takes the longest time and the walking time is almost the same as walking straight to the location.

Fakutoshin line will be the metro line. The bus caught my interest the most as I have never taken the bus in Tokyo before and the walking time is shorter. I asked the hotel about the bus route, but they do not know anything about it.I went during autumn so the weather was good for walking. If you are going during summer/cold winter, maybe walking is not a good choice. The bus is good if you are not good with stairs but bus stop is not as clearly marked as train station. The good thing about walking is sometimes you catch some beautiful sights that you clearly don't expect to see.

I am a bit paranoid about getting lost so I will be check whether the walking route is complicated as sometimes we missed a turn and we end up walking a much longer distance. I will keep my GPS on till I reach the destination to ensure that I don't missed out anything

1. Taking the bus to Meiji Shrine

Click on the options for more details like walking distance. The number of stops. Fairly close by bus stop.

Bus stop is near to the shrine which means I can take a nice walk around the gardeb before I reach the Shrine.

2. For the walking part, I will definitely recommend you keep the GPS. They will tell you when to turn at every little junction. Will get there safe and sound and shortest possible time. Zoom in to see the important landmarks to make sure you are on the right track. And there is a little arrow when you are walking. Make sure your arrow is pointing to the direction of the road you are supposed to talk. I sometimes do a 360 turn to make sure I am starting on the correction direction.

Below is the preview. You can analyse the route to decide if it worth the walk. However, when you are walking and the GPS is on, you can instant update of your location so you will not be lost.

3. Going by Metro. They will show you the stops and time so if it is a long ride. Can just space out and play with you hp. press the individual options for more information.

I am not an expert on Japan transport but I hope this helps.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tokyo free and easy : Ameyoko Market

Ameyoko market.The name "Ameyoko" is a short form for "Ameya Yokocho" (candy store alley), as candies were traditionally sold there.

Take the Jr to Ueno (Hirokoji Exit and cross the road and walk alone the right lane) or Okachimachi (North exit and cross the road and walk alone the left side) station. Ameyoko is a long stretch of shops so both stations are fine.

I visit Ueno park before walking to Ameyoko Market. Hence, I got down from Ueno Station.

Reason why I love Ameyoko MArket

1. Food

Sashimi by the roadside.  Price range from around 800 yen to 100 yen. 
It is situated near the snack store. Place your order, find a seat and enjoy your food.
When I first visited Japan 8 years ago, lot of locals dine there. I think because of the influx of the tourist, most people who eat here are tourists and the food serving did become smaller. However, it is still sashimi at reasonable price and it is an interesting to try eating by the roadside. There are also a lot of similar small eateries serving this for people. There are eateries selling sushi and other food. No worries if you don't take raw food. There are also small shops selling takoyaki and other snacks. A great place for lunch and there are food to snack on while you shop.

2. Big supermarket with snacks and cuttlefish

I cant really pinpoint the exact location of the shop. But it is just beside the shrine. There is this big supermarket selling all sort of Japanese snack at reasonable price. You can cart home a lot of snacks at reasonable price and the best of all, the packaging are simple. You are not bringing back air and cardboards. The best part of all is you spent 10 000 yen( please check with the staff whether it is 5000 yen or 10000 yen as I can't remember), you get tax refund.  
I love cuttlefish and this is the place to get them at reasonable price.

3. Fresh seafood. 

You can either just take a look at them and just enjoy seeing the locals peddling their seafood. Or buy some and enjoy it in the hotel if your apartment has a kitchenette or microwave.
It is an interesting sight.
Avoid new year eve as it can get really crowded.

4. Shopping

 There are sport apparels, anello bags, luggage, clothes, spectacles shops. Some of the sport apparel are having quite good deals.  Be ready to shop.
There is a 100 yen shop located near the snack shop too. The selection may not be as good as daiso but there still some interesting finds.

Ameyoko has changed since I last visited 8 years ago. Now, it cater slightly more to tourists. However, it is still an interesting place to be at, with delicious food, shopping, snacks and fresh seafood. And it is conveniently located near the train station. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tokyo Free and Easy: Ueon Park

How to get there: Ueno JR line.

There are a lot of attractions at Ueno Jr line.
Firstly, Ueno park which is a great place for cherry blossoms. Ueno park's entrance is also free. Just follow the exit to Ueno park, cross the road and follow the crowd. You will get there in no time. You can also being food for a nice little picnic. However,  I went in November,  I only manage to catch autumn colours.
There are shrines, museums and a zoo nearby. Great for family with kids. 
Within walking distance, there is the Ameyoko market which has a lot of eateries, sells seafood, bags, sport apparels, snacks and a lot more.

The park is not very big. If you are fast, within half an hour. If you taking photos and strolling around slowly. Maybe an hour or two. If you trying to take the perfect ootd photo, is dependent on photographer.

The Tokyo national Museum is just nearby.

There are shrines at the park for you to explore. 

I did not visit the zoo and the museum so i can't say much. But I did hear my friends mentioned the kids have a great time there.

For more information

After the park, we walked a to Ameyoko market for lunch. Just walk along the main path, opposite the direction to the museum. From the founation, it wil take around 15minutes or so. We stopped by the shrines here and there so we took quite a while to reach Ameyoko Market

my post on Ameyoko Market