Japan Travelog- Day 3 (Tokyo Disneyland)

I visited Tokyo Disneyland on my third day in Japan. Every little girl’s dream and disney lover is to go to disneyland and meet our favourite princesses and other disney characters. I just had mine fulfilled. Adults are filled their heart with childhood dreams and children are filled their heart with the imagination. Disneyland was to be expected amazing! There are lots of rides,parades,amazing restaurants and finally the charming Disney Characters.

Most popular rides had queue times exceeding one hour, even with fast pass use. It’s a nice idea of having Fast Pass for those who managed to get it, because its just limited. It’s a virtual queuing system that allows guests to avoid long lines at the attractions on which the system is installed, freeing them to enjoy other attractions during their wait. The service is available at no additional charge to all park guests. I got fast pass in few best attractions, so make sure to choose the best attraction first when you visit. Get all the best rides out of the way first. Depending on your taste when entering (assuming you get there when they first open) run to your favourite ride.

After riding on those best rides I grabbed for some food at Plaza Restaurant in Tomorrowland. They offers a variety of Asian dishes served in those cute mickey mouse plates. I couldn’t find a seat because it’s so crowded and there’s one courteous local family offered a seat and I shared with them. I had nice conversations with them and the kiddo was so happy sharing about his teacher from Philippines when he knew that I am from Philippines. It was just a quick conversation as we need to enjoy the park. It is always so good to meet these kind of people, like also those service crew in all the souvenir shops, restaurants, push-cart stalls were all polite and friendly, even though some can’t speak English. They tried to help by all means.10606205_10153256617679048_1570333588452117194_n

Lines get extremely long for everything. However, this does not dampen any spirit in there. Before the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade starts I grabbed some turkey leg, I am quite full but it urges me to buy because the queue was crazy but its worth it. The legs are massive and should be shared with someone you love. Taste like smoked ham where it can get messy, so make sure to bring lots of napkins. 11083905_10153257024799048_1749279992814074456_n

The parade started and it was awesome. You should pay attention to when the parades take place. When the parades started there were masses of people gathering around the street.

The final show at the end of the day was excellent. Even though I am not lucky enough to get excellent seats in front of the castle, it was a perfect end to a great day!

Lastly, make sure you get there early and make the most of your day as its awesome. The real issues are that everything is in Japanese. Some places accept credit and others don’t, so take cash just in case. Too crowded with limited time. Queues were too long, and very late notice given of fireworks cancellation. Nevertheless, I certainly enjoyed my trip there and one day is surely not enough to try all the attractions.

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Japan Travelog – Day 2 (Mt. Fuji & Fuji Five Lakes, Shinjuku and Robot Restaurant)

Second day in Japan, I made a day trip to Mount Fuji. Woke up early, ate my free breakfast at the hotel but not so impressed. The free breakfast supports the phrase that you get what you pay for. Croissant and salad or toast, boiled egg- served in cold and salad, but I felt the beverage choices are good and the 2 option breakfast good enough to start off the day. Saves me time walking around to look for cafes.

Seeing the snow-capped peak of Japan’s no.1 volcano, Mt. Fuji, is the top of my list of things to do. Just like any first time traveler to Tokyo, the urge to see the beauty of Mount Fuji is so strong and I just can’t ignore it. Mount Fuji is beautiful in photos but it is more amazing when you get to see it up close with your own eyes!

I am not familiar of the routes but base on my JR Pass map the easiest way to get there is by taking the JR Chuo Line from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station. From Otsuki, take the Fujikyu Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station. The JR Pass is not valid between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko. I bought an express ticket getting there, then for the returning journey I took normal train because that was the earliest train, thinking to reached early on my destination it was an opposite as it ends up so long to reach my destination, so for fastest way of getting to your destination I suggest pay an extra bit of bucks.

As you know Rail Transport in Japan is a major means of passenger transport, especially for mass and high-speed travel between major cities and for commuter transport in metropolitan areas. Estimated journey to get there should be around 3 hrs but it took me 4-5 hrs to reached because I was so confused with the platforms in the train stations, and its quiet few platforms which took me time to review again my map and asked the locals. On the positive side, I also found new German friend and yes I am not just alone who is confused and lost by that time. We both keep changing trains for few times till we managed to get to our destination. But as we were looking out for which platform we gonna board, a boy came to rescue. Not only did he give us the directions but sensing that we was bit confused, he left his own track to escort and guide us on our way.

The Japanese people are polite, courteous, kind, generous and always happy to help you explore their wonderful country. The courteousness in Japan began from the first day itself, in fact moment I step in the country. Their humility, friendliness, genuine eagerness to help flavoured my senses. Actually I met so many people like these on the go and all of them helped me out in some way or the other, many times leaving their own works for mine.

Getting there is a bit challenge to me, normally for many they would go with tour because if you are not familiar with the routes its quite confusing but I like embracing the spontaneity and whimsy associated with discovering the best parts of a location by wandering the streets, experimenting with tourism books and maps, talking to the locals and to travel with freedom. Without a tour group or guide suggesting plans,and can make my own choices and follow my interests while travelling.

When I reached Kawaguchiko station around 11 in the morning, I went to the Fuji Visitor Center is an information center for travelers to Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes. An information desk on the first floor provides details about climbing and weather conditions, as well as about tourist attractions around the mountain. Before I decided to look around the attractions, I had my early lunch first. I found a restaurant opposite the visitor center, which by far you will see the magnificent view of the mountain. I got some lavender ice cream and start to look around the attractions.

If you want to enjoy Mount Fuji at a more leisurely pace and from a nice natural surrounding, you should head to the Lake Kawaguchiko. I rode on Lake Kawaguchi Pleasure Boat, it’s like a 20 minute loop in the lake with the stunning views of Mt. Fuji. A nice way to see the lake and more views of Mt. Fuji, so be sure to take your camera.

On the boat I went on, you had a choice of being up on the roof, out the back or inside on more comfortable chairs (and a warmer temperature). I managed to be up on roof of the boat so need to be extra careful with your belongings as its windy.

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I didn’t have a lot in mind when planning this trip, but I knew I wanted to see the Kachi Kachi ropeway. The cable car ride was short, but it provided great views of the town, Lake Kawaguchiko, and Mt. Fuji. If you came here, you can see many rabbits and raccoons statues everywhere. The rabbit and raccoon are the characters of story “Kachi Kachi Yama”. That story was set in mount Tenjo and described about a story of a rabbit who gets revenge on a thieving tanuki (Japanese raccoon) by setting him on fire and drowning him in a river.

On the top got souvenir shop and beside that they sold rice cake with Mount Fuji stamp, sakura mochi and hot ocha. I grabbed some but the taste is hmmm not so so so… maybe I am not fan of rice cakes.

Other interesting spot is the bell of Tenjo. Some people said that your wish will come true if you ring the bell while watching mount Fuji. I tried and hoping my wish will do come true 🙂

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When I took the ropeway down, the officer bow to the visitors. It’s so touching as I felt like she really thanked us for our visitation.

After my Kachi Kachi Ropeway experience I grabbed some fujiyama cookie and went back to Lake Kawaguchiko to see the reflected image of Mt. Fuji on the lake surface is known as the “Upside-down Fuji.” Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch this view. So, I just took photos instead.
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I consider my self lucky as I got the clear view of the mountain. The upper part of the mountain was still blanked by a thick covering of snow.

Note however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of the mountain. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer, and in the early morning and late evening hours than during the middle of the day.

After my Mt. Fuji experience, I headed down back to Tokyo for a night life experience in central ward of Tokyo Shinjuku. Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. I visited the robot restaurant, don’t worry about getting the dinner just get the show! It is quite strange, the show structure consists of few short performances which lasted about 15 minutes each, followed by interval in between. Somehow the combination of beautiful Japanese women dancing and fighting with robots. It’s loud,colourful and crazy. It’s one of those “so bad it’s good” shows where you are left confused and also entertained, it was a new different experience though.

I left Shinjuku around 11:45 in the evening and wow the trains are still operating and there are still a lot of commuters as well. I reached at the hotel late night and felt hungry, if you think convenience store food is limited to potato chips and dodgy dried meats, then come to Japan, where chains such as Lawson’s, Family Mart and 7-Eleven offer salads, pasta, fruit cocktails, and sushi. I grabbed some then went back to the hotel with a smile on my face for this great experience.10561712_10153254930609048_1160685322065471146_n

Well that’s how I spent my 2nd day in Japan.

Japan Travelog – Day 1(Arrival, Tokyo Tower, Euno Park-Sakura)

I used to travel alone but I normally don’t do blogs. This is my first ever blog  and I’m gonna blog my awesome trip in Japan. My flight to Tokyo was 00:45 am, the hours flew by and soon it was time for my flight. I bid farewell to Singapore and got on my flight. I went through the entire night without sleep! I knew I couldn’t always sleep during flight! After 10 hrs of flight, including transit of 1.5 hrs in Taiwan, I finally arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun “JAPAN”. It was the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring, as I am used with the tropical weather it was freaking cold for me when I arrived. Oh well! I knew it is cold and I already prepared my self for it, yeah importantly clothing.  So here goes my Japan adventure begins……

Arrival at Narita Airport.
Arrival at Narita Airport.

Well, first and foremost before entering to Japan I have to go through immigration.
So I presented to the immigration officer my valid passport with valid visa affixed and ED card (embarkation and disembarkation card: normally distributed in the plane during flight but also available at the port of arrival). I did my fingerprints and facial photograph, everything goes smoothly and so fast.

After I arrived, first thing I did when I finished in the immigration was to look for a  wifi pocket, yes indeed you really need it because most of the areas in Japan are not free wifi zone and yes I need it for my maps and GPS though. Communication barrier is kinda hard so I need it for some translation as well. So, why I did it first than other stuff? Well, wifi pocket are just limited and have to rent fast before its too late. I went to the first rental store and yeah like I said it’s limited so there it goes its finished. I went like 3 stores till I got it,like finally! But not yet time to explore Japan, have to get my sightseeing passport to Japan “JAPAN RAIL PASS”. If you are travelling alone and need to go few places I think its advisable to have a JR Pass. With a national Japan Rail Pass you can use all the trains on the JR railway network as well as JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, JR West, JR Center,JR East and JR Hokkaido. Of course, you will have access to local and express trains but also to the fast bullet trains, ‘Shinkansen’, that connect most of the main cities in Japan.  I went down at a JR Pass exchange office and present my exchange order and obtain my JR Pass. You have to turn in your Exchange Order (with your passport) to receive your JR Pass. By the way, JR pass requires to order earlier or before your flight online as you can’t have it in Japan.

Gotcha! my sightseeing passport. It’s time to ride in fast, convenient and pleasant Narita Express, directly connecting Narita International Airport with major urban areas in and around Tokyo.

Indeed it was tiring to have all those stuff till I managed to fall asleep moment I sit on the train on my way to the hotel, after 1.5 hrs of journey I reached at my hotel. I stayed at  Sotetsu Fresa Inn, really good standard hotel – with a good location in regards to getting to the metro; and hence around in Tokyo. Tokyo Central station 15 minutes walk or Kayabacho metro 1 minute walk. Room is on the small side but that’s Japan compact and functional.

I don’t like to waste my time in the hotel when I am travelling. So, after checking in, taking all my luggage into my room and freshen up I started my adventure by visiting the Tokyo Tower- it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations. The shops were your typical shops in an attraction such at the Tower. I guess you have to do it once, but it didn’t really live up to my expectations and I wouldn’t bother with it again. However, pretty touristy.

Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower

After my Tokyo Tower visit I headed down to Ueno park, since its spring season this park comes into its own during Sakura when thousands of Tokyoites descend en masse to revel in the blossoms. Of course! I don’t wanna miss enjoying the transient beauty of flowers “Cherry Blossom”. It is a great visit as the cherry blossoms are in bloom. They have around 1000 cherry trees in the park. So visiting there in the hanami season is a mesmerising experience. Parties go on literally until dawn with food and drink. There are also a number of incredible specimen Camellias plus the zoo, museum, and pond with paddle boats.

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By the time I finished I was absolutely exhausted. All I wanted was a quick dinner and to go straight to sleep. While walking back to my hotel I found small canteen. At the entrance to the dining area was a vending machine with no English instructions or menu descriptions. I am not sure what I was meant to do. As the saying goes there’s no harm in trying, I did tried it where you place an order via the vending machine, pass the ticket on to the staff for fulfilment and wait for your food to be served.This sounds so simple right? But I felt unsure of myself, even a little intimidated by my own ignorance…The process of ordering food via vending machines in the restaurants is very common in Japan. So give it a try!

Vending Machine at Noodle Shops in Japan
Vending Machine at Noodle Shops in Japan

Less than an hour later, I was tucked into bed, snoring gently and dreaming of tomorrow…