It’s been a week since my week-long trip to Tokyo, Japan! I think it’s a good time now to recall what I think is the best of Tokyo from my travel there recently. It was my first trip to Japan and you can bet many things were new and interesting, even though I was the one who planned the itinerary.
#1 Trying (Naked) Hot Spring at Oedo Onsen Monogatari (with a Friend)
So here’s the thing. I’ve never tried onsen (hot spring) where one has to go naked. The idea of stripping everything in front of people that you don’t know is terrifying. But that’s not it. I tried with someone I actually know but have never seen naked. Totally awkward. Totally nerve wrecking. But the twist is…we loved it after we tried it. To clarify, we loved the relaxing and the calming vibe of the onsen. We slowed down. Our muscles relaxed after many days of intense walking. It was both a treat for the body as it was an eye-opening cultural experience to enjoy hot spring without any clothes on (no pun intended).
#2 Experiencing Japanese Festival at Kawagoe Matsuri
One of the recommended things to do when visiting Japan is to attend a Japanese Festival. I can’t agree more. I swapped out our only Sunday to travel 1 hour outside of Tokyo and I loved it. I’m generally OK with crowd and I thought the crowd at the festival was bearable. In fact, I found it less overwhelming than weekend night crowd at Shibuya. Thanks to the festival, Kawagoe the old town of Japan, became very happening. It was fun to see lively crowd shopping and eating around, and occasionally bumping into decorated floats that went around town.
#3 Day Tripping to Witness Mt Fuji During Sunset at Lake Yamanaka
Mt Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan with an iconic snow cap. RK was adamant about taking a day trip to Mt Fuji and I’m glad we did. We were lucky enough to catch it on a clear day too 😍. We were so close to not seeing Mt Fuji in all its glory but we made it after many detours in our roadtrip. We even changed our sunset sighting location an hour before sunset. The original plan was to head to Lake Kawaguchi, the most popular lake to view Mt Fuji but we were late for sunset so we decided to gamble on Lake Yamanaka because it’s nearer to us. It happened to be nearer to Mt Fuji too. Best of all, there was no tourist at Lake Yamanaka!
#4 Eating and Drinking at Japanese Bar with Friends
When we first arrived at Tokyo, we met up with a high school friend, who has been residing in Japan for 7 years. She told us the locals hangout at izakaya (Japanese bar) with friends and coworkers for drinks. We went for two rounds of izakaya on our final night in Tokyo and it was interesting! Firstly, because we had three Malaysian friends who have been in Japan for 3-7 years to tell us about the good, bad and interesting things about Tokyo. Secondly, because we saw the noisy and loud side of the drunken Japanese — total opposite of the average Japanese we saw the past week 😆.
#5 Eating Japanese Food Every Meal for a Week
I don’t think I’ve eaten that much local food during a trip — especially not in that many variations — and still left Japan feeling there’s so much more that I haven’t eat. We ate ramen, onigiri, tonkatsu, yakizakana, natto, curry, teppanyaki, donburi, okinomoyaki, sushi, sashimi, udon, soba, street snacks (i.e. dango, taiyaki, kenpi, taroyaki, karaage), yakiniku, tamago, korokke, yakisoba, oyakodon and things I don’t even know. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even sick of Japanese food after eating it in every meal because there’s just so much variety. My taste buds approved Japanese food.
#6 Seeing the Different Vibes of Tokyo
Tokyo is so huge: 2188km² with 9.3mil population. To give perspective, it’s almost 3 times bigger than Singapore and just 20% smaller than Hong Kong. It has bigger population than these two countries. We spent 7 days in Tokyo, which was considerably long compared to average tourist but I still missed a few popular locations that I wanted to visit. During our week-long travel, we saw the old Japanese town at Kawagoe, a glimpse into futuristic Japan at Odaiba, the gaming and anime culture at Akihabara, the seafood galore at Tsukiji, the ‘atas‘ and glamorous Ginza, the serenity of Hakone and Mt Fuji, the touristy shrine at Asakusa and the Japanese Disney at DisneySea. Psst. I liked Odaiba the most 😊.
#7 Flying to Tokyo via Full Service Airline to Meet Friends “Midway”
I’m the social class that benefited from AirAsia’s “Now Everyone Can Fly” campaign. I’ve only flown on budget airline before this trip to Tokyo. Well, it’s not that I got rich but Tokyo trip was an impromptu holiday planned by RK and my friend in US. We had to match dates and the dates chosen were not the cheapest via AirAsia. At similar pricing, we got 20kg of baggage each, transit at Vietnam, entertainment unit, on-board meals, and a much bigger, comfortable and quieter plane. Here’s how I’d describe the on-board meal: I woke up from snooze mode when I smelled the appetizer bread during our first flight 😂. It’s also pretty fascinating (and cool) to meet friends from US “midway” at Tokyo. I’ve never imagined doing trip like this before. It sounds expensive and honestly, it was 😂.
#8 Going Anywhere and Everywhere via Tokyo Train and Subway
Yes, it confusing when you look at Tokyo train and subway lines before you attempt to take one. But with the help of an app and Japanese “Touch N’ Go” (Suica or Pasmo in Tokyo), it’s so convenient to take a train or subway in Tokyo… Except for Hakone and Mount Fuji, which we decided to rent a car because we wanted to take routes less taken, we reached everywhere else via train or subway. Do note that while it’s convenient, it is also pricey so buying a tourist pass and sticking to the designated lines would be cost saving. Another tip: the stations have nice toilets. The toilets were consistently better than some toilets we used at the malls 👏.
So I guess that’s it! I would have expected DisneySea to be on the list above but unfortunately, it’s a bit hard to include it because it rained half of the day! 😭😭😭 And we also wanted to go snorkeling since I’d packed the best full face snorkeling masks. Also, the magical experience was dampaned by language barrier. Only critical instructions (mostly safety related) were translated. It’s different when you don’t understand the storyline and were just following the crowd blankly.
I’d love to write more about Tokyo trip, especially because my daily Insta Stories from Tokyo received a lot of interest. It’s also my most expensive trip so far so I better preserve as much memory as I can right? 😂😂😂
On a final note, RK enjoyed travelling with another couple for this trip because he had someone else to talk to besides just me 🤨. That’s his best of Tokyo highlight. Right… 🤔