Michael Brian Tina

Experiencing life while taking down notes

7 Days in Tokyo, Japan

It was in December of 2018 that I was able to go to one of my dream places in Asia, the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. It also marked the first time I was able to travel with my girlfriend and her family and we spent one whole week in the capital of Tokyo.

DAY 1 – Tokyo Skytree

It was also my first time to actually depart from the new Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA). I’ve got to say, it’s a really beautiful work of art from both the outside and inside.

Mactan Cebu International Airport

After narrowly missing our flight on Cebu Pacific, we arrived in Narita International Airport in the early afternoon after flying for about 4 hours. We collected our luggage after clearing immigration.

If you plan on doing some of the attractions, it would be best to book it in advance and just pick up the tickets from one of the counters in Narita Airport. We picked up our tickets for Tokyo DisneySea, as well as our pocket wi-fi. I would highly recommend getting the pocket wi-fi as it was super helpful for directions when we would get lost, or to search for restaurants or nearby attractions. We also already bought our 72-hour Tokyo Subway ticket.

Narita International Airport

While the subway routes seemed confusing at first, each train line is color-coded and there are lots of signages that make it easier to understand, the more you ride the subway. The Japanese citizens don’t understand much English, but they will go out of their way to help you. The 72-hour pass will work for most of the colored train lines. I recommend getting an all-day pass if you plan on moving around a lot within the city as it’s much more convenient to just have one card rather than buy a separate ticket each time you get on the subway. You can check out a map of the various train lines here. (please do note that this is just for the train lines in the city itself, if you plan to go outside Tokyo, you’ll have to take the Shinkansen, which are those famous bullet trains)

After getting lost for a while, we finally made it to our stop on the Ginza Line, G-18/Tawaramachi Station. We located our AirBnB and met our kind host, Eiji. We settled in and then rested for a bit.

7/11 and the rest of the convenience stores will be your best friend while you’re here in Tokyo! They’ve got lots of delicious and fresh food for sale, and about all of the supplies you might need, they probably have it. It was always fun to just go into random 7/11’s and browse through their shelves.

After resting for a bit, we made our way to the Tokyo Skytree. We met up with some of my girlfriend’s relatives and had dinner at the food court at Tokyo Solamachi, which was this huge mall at the base of the Skytree. We then proceeded to take lots of pictures of the iconic Tokyo Skytree during the nighttime with all of the beautiful LED lights. It was really cold outside too, about 8-10 degrees. The wind didn’t help any, so we were shivering while smiling for the camera.

You really have to prepare for the winter time in Japan with the appropriate gear. An outside layer that will act as a windbreaker, and then an inner layer that will act as insulation to keep the heat and warmth on your body. I highly recommend Uniqlo Heattech Warmers.

Tokyo Skytree

DAY 2 – Odaiba

On our second day, we visited Odaiba. It’s kind of like this separate area of Tokyo where you need to ride the Yurikamome, which is this train that goes over a bridge and gives you a beautiful view over Tokyo’s harbour. From our area in Asakusa, it took us about an hour to get there. However, please note that this is a separate train that isn’t covered in the 72-hour pass. Odaiba offers a lot of quirky and interesting sights, so you better allot a whole day for sightseeing and shopping.

Palette Town

We got down at the stop for Palette Town and it was this huge mall with a lot of shops for both food and shopping.

Toyota Century

Right beside Palette Town is the Megaweb Toyota City Showcase. It’s a Toyota museum and showcase which features all of their vehicles, concept cars, simulator experiences, and test rides. If you’re a fan of cars and Toyota in general, you could spend half a day here!

Right after you cross the Toyota MegaWeb, there’s this giant ferris wheel. We didn’t ride it but it probably would have offered some awesome views of Odaiba with how huge it was.

Our main purpose here was to check out this attraction called teamLab Borderless. It’s sort of like this collection of rooms that each offer an experience that stimulate all your senses. If you’re a fan of Instagrammable places and are open-minded to new experiences, you’ll definitely like it here. If you’re interested, you can learn more about ticket pricing and scheduling on their website. Try to go on a weekday if you can, as weekends can be chock full of people and might lessen the overall experience.

Crystal World

Millions of LEDs working in unison, glowing in different colors and patterns to tell a story. The mirrors on the floor give it a feeling of infinity. It’s pretty amazing to say the least.

Forest of Lamps

The most Instagrammable room in the whole exhibit. These lamps also light up and shine in different colors. You might end up waiting 45 minutes to 1 hour on a busy day for this room as they only allow a couple of people in at a time.

Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather

There are also lots of interactive exhibits that change and evolve, and sometimes, the exhibits even move to another room and area and interact! It’s pretty crazy. There are still tons of rooms I didn’t cover, so you may want to check their website gallery for a better idea of the experience. All I can say is, it was definitely worth the price of admission for a unique experience like this.

Diver City Tokyo Gundam

After the teamLab Borderless exhibit, we took a quick break and then made our way to Diver City. It’s another huge shopping mall which is a short walk from Palette Town, which features a lifesize Gundam replica! It’s pretty cool. I recommend going during the evening so that you can see it light up and change with the music. It’s free, and it’s especially cool if you’re a fan.

Fuji TV Building
Rainbow Bridge & Statue of Liberty

After enjoying the life size Gundam statue, we admired other sights such as the Fuji TV Building, as well as this replica of the Statue of Liberty, and the Rainbow Bridge. Lots of photo opportunities here, as it can get pretty touristy as well. You can choose to dine at one of the many malls in the vicinity. There’s tons more to visit around Odaiba. Definitely, include it in your itinerary if you can!

DAY 3 – Senso-ji Temple

We spent our third day in one of the most popular spots in Tokyo, the Senso-ji Temple. It’s a few kilometers away from the Tokyo Skytree and is definitely worth checking out! We ventured around the Asakusa area as well.

Ekimise

But first, Ichiran Ramen! It was pretty good. I was amused at the ordering process as you order from a vending machine before you are handed a table. The noodles were much thinner than I was used to, but would definitely consider going back.

Ichiran Ramen

There’s so much to see and do in Senso-ji Temple. It’s not in the pictures below, but you can have your fortune told, shop for some trinkets and charms, you can offer some incense sticks, and wash your hands and drink some water, and offer your prayers and coins at the various temples. It was pretty cool to participate in their traditions and pay your respects.

After we were done in Senso-ji Temple, we did some shopping along Nakamise Dori. It’s a whole shopping district full of interesting and unique items, ranging from touristy souvenir shirts to samurai swords! Even if you don’t end up buying anything, it can be fun to just stroll and take a gander at all of the wares.

Nakamise Dori

Of course, we also tried various street foods and delicacies. Being a foodie at heart, this was more up my alley than straight up shopping!

We ended the night by trying out this Conveyor Belt Sushi place in the Asakusa area, and topping it off with some shopping. It was fun to see all of the different dishes rotate around the conveyor belt. It was both affordable and entertaining to say the least.

DAY 4 – Tokyo DisneySea

The happiest place on Earth! There are actually two resort parks in Tokyo, one being Disneyland, and the other being DisneySea. Whereas there are different iterations of Disneyland all over the world, there’s only one DisneySea in existence! So that makes it pretty exciting, and that’s what we chose. In order to save time, make sure you buy your tickets online in advance, and try to go early. I also recommend checking out this article for a guide on the crowd calendar so you can estimate when the best day would be to visit. Other tips would be to maximize your fast pass opportunities (these are within the park and are free!) and try to schedule out your day properly if you plan on watching the popular shows and rides. The official map is pretty helpful.

The famous globe ft. Suezo family
Here we go!

I was giddy like a child when we entered. There’s this tinge of excitement and happiness that you just can’t explain. It’s kind of like being a kid again.

Mediterranean Harbor is the first area you encounter. There’s lots of restaurants and shops here, as well as a huge lake in the middle, which is home to a lot of the famous park shows. People also line up to ride the Venetian Gondolas here.

Mediterranean Harbor

You see that volcano in the distance? That leads up to Mysterious Island, where the notable rides of Journey to the Center of the Earth as well as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea are located.

Mysterious Island

You then eventually make your way to Mermaid Lagoon. This place is mostly for the kids in terms of the rides and attractions, but it’s a colorful spectacle nonetheless! My girlfriend was pretty sad that the Mermaid Lagoon Theater was closed, so we weren’t able to watch the “Under the Sea” show. Maybe next time!

Mermaid Lagoon

Next up is the Arabian Coast. Lots of interesting visuals here, with it being most reminiscent of being straight out of Aladdin!

Arabian Coast

The Lost River Delta features the ruins of an ancient civilization in the remote Central American jungle, with notable rides such as Indiana Jones Adventure and the Raging Spirits rollercoaster. Too bad they were closed when we went! We ended up having a late lunch here. The food in the park is definitely not cheap, so do make sure to bring lots of money! You’ll find that if you try the different snacks such as popcorn and ice cream, and have a meal at a restaurant, it adds up real quickly.

Lost River Delta

Port Discovery is this futuristic sea harbor which has lots of cool aqua-themed rides and attractions like Aquatopia and Nemo & Friends SeaRider.

Aquatopia

We headed back to the Mediterranean Harbor at around 5:30 PM to watch the Funtasmic! show. It’s one of the most popular water shows in the whole resort. A word of advice, try to find a spot 30-45 minutes before the show actually starts so you have a great view.

Funtasmic!

After the wonderful show, we made our way to the last section of the park, the American Waterfront. There’s a lot to see and do here such as the Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania. I would say this is the most picturesque area in the whole park, and the way it lights up during the night time is just beautiful.

American Waterfront

We had dinner at one of the restaurants here and decided to call it a night. There’s still so much more shows and rides that I didn’t get to experience because of time constraints, but it was a beautiful experience to be a kid again, even for just a day.

DAY 5 – Shinjuku

Shinjuku is this huge district with lots of skyscrapers, and is a hub for loads of restaurants, department stores, arcades, and lots of other attractions. You’re bound to be overwhelmed with the sheer number of people and sights lurking around each corner.

Kabukicho is one of Japan’s largest red light districts. You’ll be amused at the sheer number of shady shops and suggestive signages or posters of scantily clad women. I’ve heard not-so-nice things about this area, but if you just stroll around, it should be fine for some laughs and giggles. An area worth exploring!

Kabukicho Entrance

There’s also a Don Quijote store in the Shinjuku area. It’s this massive discount shopping center which sells a whole range of goods and souvenirs. There are also lots of shopping centers like Isetan, as well as electronics stores like BIC Camera.

Check out the godzilla head!

There are lots of arcades which offer Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, as well as your traditional game arcades. There are also tons of these claw machines as in the picture below, where you just drop some coins, and try your luck. It’s way more deceptive than it looks but those prizes can certainly be alluring! Just don’t expect to get anything out of it though.

Shinjuku is also known for the Robot Restaurant. They say it’s a very bizarre experience and is worth a try. We didn’t have the time to try it out, but by the looks of things from the outside entrance, it certainly looked like it would have been interesting.

After dinner at one of the department stores, I took the 15 minute walk from Shinjuku station to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It was very imposing, especially because it was glowing in red during the night time, but it was a sight to behold.

It was already around 9 PM, and as far as I know, there are two observatories with different opening and closing hours, so you’ll have to do a bit of research, but this was the view from one of the observatories. Price of admission? Free. View? Priceless.

DAY 6 – Tsukiji Fish Market & Akihabara

The Tsukiji Fish Market is a very popular choice if you want to go on a food trip or if you want to go shopping for lots of different kinds of food items and souvenirs to bring home. There are actually two sections, the inner market, where they hold fish selling auctions super early in the morning (as early as 4AM), which actually is no longer in Tsukiji, and then the outer market, where you can dine in restaurants and try out various delicacies. Although we knew that the inner market was no longer present, it was still worth it to stroll around the outer market of Tsukiji.

But first, more conveyor belt sushi!

It was raining when we went to the market so we ended up buying some umbrellas, since the outer market is just these series of streets and stalls.

They were selling lots of different kinds of souvenir items such as these handcrafted specialty kitchen knives.

Aside from the shopping, you can’t help but try out the different kinds of street food. I was really curious to taste Wagyu beef, and even though it cost an arm and a leg, it was really juicy and delicious. They weren’t kidding when they said it would melt in your mouth!

2000 JPY for this piece of Wagyu beef!

There were tons of different delicacies such as grilled scallop and other seafoods, specialty coffee, white strawberries, tamago, and the like. You’d end up spending a fortune if you wanted to try out everything, so just make sure you try the ones that look most appealing or interesting. The freshness of the ingredients is not something you’d have to worry about since it’s straight from the market.

Grilled Scallops
Uni or sea urchin

After that fun stroll around Tsukiji Fish Market, we made our way to Akihabara Electric Town in the afternoon. We spent most of the afternoon actually just strolling this huge, huge department store called Yodabashi. If you’re into shopping, you can definitely spend half a day here.

Right outside Yodabashi is the Square Enix Cafe. I’m a huge Final Fantasy and Square Enix fan, so this was a welcome treat. I actually didn’t buy anything because the souvenirs were pretty expensive, but it was nice to just look at all of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts themed drinks, food, and wares.

We met up with my girlfriend’s cousin and his wife, and they treated us to a delicious meal of Tonkatsu! Paired it with some beer and Japanese Sake.

Also got to try out the tarts from Pablo. These are really well known and are a favourite delicacy to bring home from Japan. They did taste pretty good!

Pablo Tarts

We ended the night by strolling around some of the areas in Akihabara. Unfortunately, it was already pretty late so we didn’t get to go around the different arcades and maid cafes, so maybe I’ll have to come back some other time.

DAY 7 – Harajuku & Shibuya

Our last official day in Tokyo! We made our way to Harajuku and checked out the Meiji Jingu Shrine as our first stop. I’ve heard that the shrine itself is pretty huge. We just managed to take some pictures from the entrance and walked in for a bit for some photos before heading back out.

Torii Gate of Meiji Jingu Shrine
The famous sake barrels (and me trying to look away from the camera)

Next was the famous street called Takeshita Dori. You can tell how quirky and funky this place is based on the entrance alone. It’s hard to describe this place, as it’s a mixture of crepe shops, crazy avant garde fashion stores, and just a colorful and vibrant cultural experience with a lot of people in a crowd. You can find a lot of fun souvenirs here. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Takeshita Dori (and me trying to make sense of this place)

I’ve got to admit, the crepes were pretty delicious! It’s worth a try to get a crepe and just eat it at the corner while admiring the rush of colors and craziness that Takeshita Dori has to offer. That’s if you aren’t swept away by the sheer number of shopping stalls and stores.

You won’t find any of the traditional shopping stores or brands here. It’s all about edgy and unique fashion, which attracts a lot of the younger generation as well as the tourists.

After that, things calmed down when we got to Omotesando Street. This is the street directly after Takeshita Dori, and it’s more of the high-end and luxury brands. Notable places are the cool mirror installation at the Tokyu Plaza, as well as lining up (for 30 minutes!) for some delicious milktea from The Alley. If traditional high-end shopping is more of your thing, you’ll find all of the usual brands here.

After Harajuku, we made a stop in Shibuya. This place is known to have one of the busiest intersections in the world and the Shibuya Crossing is an experience you just have to try out for yourself! I recommend getting some coffee from Starbucks and then getting a good vantage point to watch the scramble unfold.

Shibuya Crossing
The view from Starbucks

Of course, we couldn’t leave without taking a picture of the famous Hachiko dog statue. Hachiko was a fiercely loyal Akita dog that waited for his master even 9 years after his passing. People use this statue as a meeting place of sorts, and they even leave little gifts and tributes at the statue. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend watching the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

Hachiko Dog Statue

We made our way home after that and had some grilled yakitori for our last dinner. I did some last minute shopping at Don Quijote, and walked to the Senso-ji temple again (it has a different vibe in the evening!), and just wandered along the streets of Asakusa, just taking it in and appreciating the experience that we had the last week.

We left for the airport early the next day, and our AirBnB host and my girlfriend’s cousin helped us along the way. I felt a bit bittersweet about leaving Tokyo, as the magnificent sights, culture, food, transportation, and experiences were definitely up there with the best. There were still lots of places in our itinerary which we weren’t able to go to, and there’s still much more to Japan outside of just Tokyo, like Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Osaka. I can’t wait to come back someday! But for now, this would have to do. It was an amazing week.

I hope you enjoyed scrolling through the pictures and reading my travel diary experience. I know it was a long read, but I hope it was worth it. If you have any questions or comments about Tokyo, Japan, please feel free to sound off in the comments section, and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Until next time. Cheers!

2 Comments

  1. Looks like you had such productive time in Tokyo! I just got back and wished I had more time! We missed the imperial palace as it was closed so that was a pity. But loved Ueno Park!!

    • michaelbriantina

      June 17, 2019 at 10:44 am

      I had a wonderful time in Tokyo! Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip as well. I wasn’t able to visit the Imperial Palace or Ueno Park, so there’s still a lot of places to visit in Tokyo for sure. I really want to visit Kyoto and Osaka as well. =)

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