Because a friend is going to Tokyo, Japan for the first time soon and I so badly want to go back, I will just reminisce on the places we’ve visited there. Just a glimpse and a bit of recommendation. I hope you’ll enjoy your trip as much as we did!
You can find this giant robot in Diver City, Odaiba
Rainbow Bridge taken at night.
Tokyo is huge and each place has something to offer. There’s Gundam in Odaiba. Tokyo Sky Tree in Sumida. Imperial Palace in Chiyoda. Sensoji buddhist temple in Asakusa. Meiji Shrine, the famous Shibuya Crossing and the equally famous dog Hachiko monument in Shibuya. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which is a popular park for Sakura in Shinjuku. Harajuku area for trendy stuff. Kilometer Zero milestone in Nihonbashi. Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu. Tsukiji Market. Akihabara for electronics and toys. Ginza for high end shopping (which I didn’t do because I don’t have a budget for it!.. ha!ha!) and a lot more that I will still explore and discover on my next trip. See, I plan to go back. 🙂
Lots of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) trees can be found in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Note: Admission ticket is Y200)
This beautiful place in the heart of the city.
Walking towards Meiji Shrine
Before entering and afterwards…
Entrance to the Shrine
Inside Meiji Shrine
We explored Tokyo mostly by walking. We rode the train to the place we wanted to explore for the day and from there we walked from one place to another. I’ve no idea how many miles we’ve explored on foot but boy did our feet hurt! So my advice, use sturdy and comfortable footwear at all times.
Shibuya Crossing at night
Tokyo Sky Tree – the tallest structure in Japan with a High Speed Elevator to the viewing deck. Admission tickets: Adult – Y2,060 / Kids – Y930
Night time in Tokyo viewed from the top of the Sky Tree!
Kilometer Zero landmark and bridge in Nihonbashi
Imperial Palace East Garden. This is the only place we can go in and it’s for free! You can’t see the Imperial Palace from this vast amount of space in the heart of Tokyo because this is only the perimeter.
I’ll post more of where our itchy feet took us in the coming days. But if you want more information, tips and recommendation for your Japan trip you might want to visit the site that has helped us a lot: http://www.japan-guide.com
the traveling KANGaroo
There are many ways to travel from Kansai Airport to the city. It’s too expensive to go by taxi and so the alternative and cheaper way is by bus or train. On our first time, we rode the bus because our hotel in Umeda area was near the final stop. It cost us around ¥1500 per person (adult) and about half of that amount for a child at that time. If you opt to go by bus, you just go outside and the ticket machine is to the left and right. The machine will let you choose the English language to buy the ticket, if you can’t read Japanese. Bus ride took us about 60-70 minutes to Osaka. Money changers can be found after you exit from the baggage claim area / customs.
Arrival Area in Kansai Airport
The succeeding visit was via train because we stayed in Shinsaibashi area. It cost approximately ¥1,200 for adult and half of that amount for kids from Kansai to the station where we changed into the subway train towards our final destination (hotel). Deciding on your transportation really depends on where you will stay during your visit and your budget. Try to research and find out the easiest way to get to your hotel. We tend to look for the nearest train station to/from our hotel because of our luggage. Actually, it’s more of “choosing a hotel that is near the station”. It’s too much of a hassle to be carrying or pulling our baggage for miles. Note though that you have to be mindful with the train station stops. On the way back to the airport from Osaka, we missed the stop where we were supposed to change trains to go to Kansai Airport and ended up in some place where we have to wait for 15 minutes for another train to come by. Good thing, we had plenty of time and there’s no rush to catch our flight back home.That was the highlight of our trip then and unforgettable til now. Ha!ha!ha!
The station where we realized we were not on the way to the airport!
Fret not because it is very convenient to travel within Japan. Their transportation system is really good just like in Hong Kong, Singapore and London. The arrival time of the train or bus is almost always correct and down to the dot. I get so envious and wish that in my country our transportation system will improve and be at par to theirs. I guess it will happen in the future but will still take a very long time.
You can read more information at the following:
the traveling KANGaroo
Japan is a food haven for a lot of people. So many good places to eat and satisfy your cravings for ramen, sushi etc that I will no longer dare mention where is the best place to eat as I’m sure you’ll find out for yourself. Or, have read it in food blogs or other sites. Some are pricey, some are not.
What I want to share are some of our family’s favorite cheap finds in Japan.
- Ohsho – founded in 1967 and known for its low-priced fare is a Japanese restaurant chain serving gyoza (fried dumplings) and other Chinese-style food. There are over 600 restaurants in Japan. It is everywhere in Osaka and Kyoto. Unfortunately in Tokyo, we had a hard time looking for one. The only restaurant we found there is located somewhere in Shibuya.
Gyoza no Ohsho Restaurant
Fried Rice with Roasted Pork and Egg
Shrimp with Chili Sauce
Look for that bottom sign!
Ohsho Menu to give you an idea..
- Pablo – cheese tart that we found in Shinsaibashi, Osaka and Shibuya, Tokyo. You will not miss this because the locals are lining up to buy this melt in your mouth creation. The family devoured this in seconds.
Pablo in Shinsaibashi, Osaka
Inside the store
Pablo in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Shirokuma – Japanese curry house that we found in Osaka near our hotel in Shinsaibashi. Quite good and the staff was very friendly plus there’s free wi-fi. This is a “counter style” place as in most of the places to eat in Japan. People go in, eat and leave.
Shirokuma Curry House
- Yoshinoya – although it can be found in our home country (Philippines), this is one of our favorite go-to fast food restaurant in Japan. It’s a good place to fill the tummy especially for a family with picky eaters (kids) and it is reasonably priced too.
- Sukiya – another fast food restaurant that is abundant in Tokyo. Cheap and will fill your hungry tummy after miles and miles of walking. Quite good but beware because the crew is very lean. Sometimes there’s only one person serving the whole restaurant. Japanese are efficient and there’s no question that they can do it but you’ll also get lost in translation because some of the crew don’t understand english. My daughter complained that she ordered curry but got served with beef bowl. ha!ha! Check out their menu at: http://www.sukiya.jp/
- Hidakaya – a very good and affordable ramen place in Tokyo. Offers smaller size bowls at a cheaper price. They offer gyoza, chicken karaage and fried rice too which is great because my kids are not too keen on eating ramen. Look for this sign and you’re in the right place! Their website is: http://hidakaya.hiday.co.jp/
- Lotteria – started out in Japan in 1972 but is more popular in South Korea. The kids love this place and their order is always “the big boneless fried chicken”. It’s an alternative to McDonald’s. My personal favorite is the Shrimp Burger. I just don’t know if they offer it all year round. Again, this place is value for your money. Here’s their website: https://www.lotteria.jp/
Aside from these places, one should not miss going to the local market where you can find more places to eat sushi, sashimi and a lot more. In Osaka we went to Kuromon Market. Not only can you eat good food in the market but you can also shop for kimonos, food stuff to bring home etc.
The trip is not complete if we don’t step in at McDonald’s where they served Green Tea shake. It is the kids preference when they get tired eating Japanese food. They also love 7-Eleven, Lawson’s and Family Mart because of the many food choices in these convenience stores.
Another way to find good and cheap food are bento boxes sold in the grocery/supermarkets. When you visit a department store, try to check out the basement where the grocery is usually located. It is where you can find good stuff and where some of the locals buy their meal.
Of course, when you go and explore places you are bound to discover something that will interest your palate. Or there will be recommendations from other food blogs on what and where to eat. Just savor it. Enjoy every moment and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Lastly, when you are in Dotonbori area in Osaka, don’t forget to eat Takoyaki!
the traveling KANGaroo
Japan is becoming a popular destination now for a lot of people from my country. I fell in love with this place in 2008 when I first set foot in Osaka. Not only are the people polite but their culture in itself is interesting. Never mind that you’ ll get “lost in translation” along the way for there are so many things to discover in this country. With the gorgeous Sakura or Cherry Blossoms during spring time, shrine visits, food trips and shopping, your trip will be worth it. If you are planning to visit Japan, I recommend going to Osaka and Kyoto first before discovering Tokyo. Osaka is a big city too but I find it more laid back than Tokyo and easier on the pocket for budget travelers like me and my family. He,he,he…
Kiyomizu Dera in Kyoto
Autumn in Osaka Castle grounds
Seriously, if you have the means (and even if you don’t), I strongly suggest you save some money and find time to visit this awesome country. You will enjoy it and would definitely want to go back even when you are still there!
the traveling KANGaroo