It’s been a month since Pao and I went to Tokyo and it’s just now that I’ve gotten around to sorting our photos and videos. Note to self, don’t sort through travel photos at night if you ate really good food where you went. Seeing that bowl of Ichiran ramen on my laptop screen made me have really bad cravings at 1:00 AM in the morning. 😦
DAY 1 (Check out my vlog of Day 1 at the end of this post!)
Pao and I booked our tickets late last year. Our roundtrip flights which included 20kg of luggage allowance cost us around USD 210 each. We departed from Manila on March 10 at around 6:00 AM and arrived in Narita Airport at around 11:00 AM. Japan is an hour ahead of Manila. If you’re wondering what clothes to bring during this time, because I did since early half of March means Spring is not yet full-blown, I suggest you bring clothes you can layer and, very important, a warm coat or jacket. Pao had to buy a fluffy hoodie this one time we were out after being defeated by the cold and harsh wind.
At Narita airport we bought tickets for the Narita Express which will take us to Tokyo Station. Best to know your itinerary for the flight back home before you purchase your tickets. Roundtrip tickets are sold for a way lower price than 1-way tickets so if you’ll just be retracing your steps backwards for you return flight, buy roundtrip tickets.
We were greeted very pleasantly by Tokyo as soon as we exited Tokyo Station. The weather was a cool 13ºc and the air felt absolutely clean and crisp even with cars along the road. For someone who lives in Manila, this was gold. Pao and I paused just outside the station feeling so happy to be where we were at.
Our first photos in Tokyo! “Your turn, my turn” in taking shots haha!
From Tokyo Station we went to Otemachi Station where we rode the train to Itabashihoncho Station – our main station for the rest of our stay. We had a bit of a bump finding our Airbnb because the poster we were looking for where we were supposed to turn left has changed. Good thing we have the Japanese version of our address; we sought help from someone on the road who pointed us where to go. For 9 days and 8 nights, our very decent accommodation was a steal at around USD 360. I’ll make a separate entry about our Airbnb which I’ll link here once done.
We were FAMISHED by the time we finished checking in. A dry mouth, cranky mood, kind of famished so we decided to go for the first okay-looking restaurant we can find. We settled for this tempura place near the Itabashihoncho Station entrance and had our first meal in Japan. Blame it on the intense hunger but boy did it hit the spot! Pao sacrificed his allergic reactions for the yummy shrimp and said it was worth it haha!
We unfortunately couldn’t get the English name of this place which cured our hunger
After eating we went to Shinjuku. From Itabashihoncho we went to Sugamo to change lines for Shinjuku. We bought our Suica pass cards at Sugamo station. I’ve read that JR Rail Passes are worth it if you’re leaving Tokyo so since we were not leaving Tokyo, we decided to just load up as we go along. JR Passes cost around JPY 29,000 for 7 days. With the Narita Express tickets, our overall commute for our 8-day stay is around JPY 10,000 per person. I think we made a good call. Commuting in Japan is expensive!
I signed us up for a free walking tour and let me say this is one of our best decisions ever. We learned a lot of things from our guide which we most likely wouldn’t have known if we wandered off by ourselves. I think it’s a good mix to go on tours and spend time on your own in travels. I mentioned some of the cool things I learned in my vlog (below) but you’ll get to hear so much more if you join the tour. Our tour guide Dai studied for a while in the States where he experienced going on several free tours. He felt there wasn’t much of such given in Tokyo so he started his own. I promise you it’s worth the time and effort so make some space in your itinerary for this. Pao and I went to 2 out of 3 free tours they were offering that time, this Shinjuku Night tour and their Tokyo tour. You can check out and book for their tours at www.tokyolocalized.com. 🙂
The tour took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Perfect. Perfect hunger level. Perfect time to eat. At the most perfect ramen place in the whole wide world.
I was never a fan of ramen. I never get to finish a bowl except for this one time in 2013. But Ichiran… I’m almost in tears typing this I swear haha… Ichiran is so exceptionally good that finishing an entire bowl to myself is no problem. I don’t even have words to describe it aside from it’s sooo good. And ever since I’ve been back in Manila, I find myself just looking at our Instagram posts on Ichiran and thinking when I could have some of it again. The craving is just that insane. Pao and I get the ordinary bowls at JPY 890 and add extra egg at JPY 120. If you get to eat there and you can handle a bit of a kick, get spiciness level 2 or up! And comment here so together we can rant about our cravings haha.
After eating we headed back to Itabashi. Dai said that Shinjuku Station gets really full at 11:00 PM and in the last train rides, people are jammed together like sardines in a can. Leaving at 10:30 PM from the station showed us Dai wasn’t lying! Back in Itabashi, before heading home, we stopped by the Family Mart near our place. I love how they have convenience stores every 10 meters! Possibly more stores per are than in Taiwan! We bought things to snack on and breakfast for the next day. We then headed back to our place, settled down, and called it a night.
Looking back on our first night, we thought we had so many days left in our vacation. But it’s always never the case. 😦 Haha!
Ending this post with a vlog of our first day in Tokyo. Enjoy! 🙂