Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to get away from Seoul for one week in order to explore Japan in all its glory. I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, and had the most wonderful time. My friend Diana joined me in this adventure and so we left last Saturday to explore Tokyo for the first two and a half days.
Tokyo Day 1
We headed for Tokyo first, and got to the hostel late at night. We stayed at Japanize Guesthouse, which was located right next to Bakurochō Station. This was extremely convenient, because it meant we didn’t have to carry our backpacks very long, and we were very well connected to the subway lines. I can recommend the hostel, in case you don’t mind sleeping in a 20-bed dormitory.
We decided to make the most of our trip by getting up fairly early, in order to explore more and take advantage of all the city has to offer. The first thing we did was head to Ginza, the high-end shopping area. The streets there are very unique and they reminded me of Europe quite a lot, because of all the paving stone sidewalks and the overall feel of the district. From there we went to Hamarikyu Onshi Garden, which is a beautiful garden surrounded by water. This is exactly what you imagine a Japanese garden to look like. With several ponds, and a beautiful traditional Teehouse in the center, it has a beautiful peaceful atmosphere. The thing I liked best about this garden was, that it is surrounded by huge buildings and skyscrapers, which reminds you that you are in the middle of Tokyo, even though you can easily forget where you are in such a beautiful garden. From there we walked to Tokyo Tower, the Asian Eiffel Tower. During this walk, the streets were very different from what we saw in Tokyo, and you could experience the futuristic vibe of the city, with many roads stacked upon each other.
After seeing the orange and white painted Tokyo Tower, we headed for Zojo-ji Temple, which had rows and rows of little figurines wearing red hats and holding colorful flowers. This was very unique to this temple, and we didn’t see anything quite like it during the rest of our stay in Japan. We were also very lucky and experienced a festival/convention about Myanmar on the temple grounds, where you could taste foods and buy artifacts from Myanmar.
At this point, we wanted to see more gardens, which is why we went to the next one, Shinjuku Gyoen. This garden is significantly different from what we had seen before. It is enormous in size, and is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring. Of course, we did not get to see those, because it is the beginning of December, however, we did get to see the beautifully colored leaves during autumn decorating all trees in the park.
Because this park is located so close to Shinjuku, we walked around this neighborhood, and this was the first time we actually saw huge crowds of people and super bright lights, which absolutely gave me the feeling of being in Japan.
We took the subway to Harajuku, which is a famous district in Tokyo. Even though it rained quite a bit, we walked from Harajuku to Shibuya. We did a bit of shopping on our way, and were even able to take amazing Japanese photos in one of the famous photo-booths. This in itself was an amazing experience, which I highly recommend. You can find these photo-booths in almost all arcades, and sometimes you can even borrow costumes for free and take pictures in all the crazy costumes! Our goal was to walk to Shibuya in order to see the famous Shibuya Crossing. Because of the rain, the blinking lights gave the crossing a very special feel, since all lights reflected on the streets, making it even more spectacular at night.
After this successful first day, we went to eat some Sushi, at Ginko Sushi. This restaurant is very special, because you order your Sushi on an iPad and it is delivered to your seat via a magnetic strip that is built into the entire restaurant. This was a very special experience and the Sushi was great!
To see what we did on day 2, click here!