As I went from merely a travel buddy to a travel organizer during the past years, I learned more and more on how to strategize how one should create an itinerary--thanks to so many trial and error.
I used to just research the must-visit places, and then copy-paste all these interesting Googled information in my Word document before arranging them to fill up all the days on my trip--complete with time and number of hours we should stay on one point. I am a bit of a "just wing it!" person not in terms of just going with the flow and not listing places I wanna go, but more of just relying on asking people for directions and mode of transpo on the day of the travel. But all these mistakes I made along the way, wasted money on taxi fares because I didn't know they don't have trains in Jeju to go around the city, or wasted time in Japan because I didn't know that some places are just too far IRL, made me learn my lesson. Be prepared, yes, but also be a little bit more forgiving for your travel mistakes.
Good morning, Ikebukuro! First full day out, and Deegee decided we already take our OOTDs in the pretty sidewalk right in front of our guest house. His test shots are already perfect for my Instagram feed, hehehe.
Since I am generally in charge of this trip's activities, I asked Deegee prior our departure if he has anything on his Tokyo bucket list. He sent me photos of places he'd want to see, Shibuya easily on top, but most are also far off Japan that will entail riding the bullet train.
I arranged and rearranged my precious 11-Day Tokyo Itinerary every night, reading online blogs on the usual 5-day Tokyo schedule, stretching it, making sure to have a good mix of nature and city, and modern and old cultures. Also, I wanted to make sure a Tokyo first-timer will enjoy, while I still get to see new sights on my third time in the city.
So I dedicated 2 days for Eastside Tokyo's Odaiba, Ginza, Asakusa, and Ueno, and then another 2 days for Westside Tokyo which includes Yoyogi, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, and Roppongi. On the remaining days, I had a Tokyo side trip tour to the Mount Fuji, a theme park day (Disney Sea), and a free day for our last minute pasalubong shopping.
Since it was our first day, Deegee and I were so excited to try out the nearest cafe from our hostel. This one's a branch of Doutor, which I first tried in Ginza. We had pastries and of course I had my morning coffee.
We were so excited to start our day, but first, priorities--we had to get our Tokyo Metro Subway Pass for the whole trip. I know of Hong Kong's Octopus card and Korea's T-Card, but I have never tried Tokyo's. There's the JR Pass, but it's too expensive for just a pure Tokyo trip, so I decided to look for the unlimited 24, 48, and 72 hour ticket for all Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines which I've already tried before.
It is not available in Shibuya after checking the travel agency where we bought them last year, so the next day, Deegee and I searched for the office that sells these cards in our station in Ikebukuro. The place is so huge so we had a bit of difficulty looking for it, but we did! My plan for the day was pretty ambitious, an autumn side trip outside of Tokyo, but after the stress of just looking for the place where you can get these Tokyo Subway cards, I decided that we bump our next-day city scheds and just go with it already!
Lesson number 2: Be flexible.
This is the office where we were able to buy the unlimited subway cards. We bought three 72-hour passes already, since a card expires counting only from the first time it is used.
Here are the available Tokyo Subway Tickets and their corresponding rates. A 3-day unli train card is just around Php 660, perfect if mawalain din kayo and always enter the wrong line haha! Better to make free mistakes than pay for every wrong swipe of the card. 😅
Make sure to bring your passport when purchasing, I think this is only available for tourists.
It comes with a small Tokyo Subway map which I didn't use (just download an app). If you don't want to get into the long search for these tickets in the train station like we did, you can purchase your Tokyo Subway Ticket online even before your trip! You just have to claim them upon arrival in the airport.
And now we proceed to our first stop....
I've seen Korea during the peak of autumn, but there is no autumn foliage like Japan's (I am so sorry!). Korea knows my heart, haha, going back again and again in their country, but when it comes to seasons, Japan is seriously the champ. Even for spring, sparkling white and shades of pink all playing right before my eyes, hanging on trees with branches that hang low, touching either a stream or the ground....
...I never thought that there will be any sight to beat this, till I saw Japan during fall.
The whole time, Goblin's Hush was playing in my ears!
So Ueno Park is HUGE! This is also a spring destination, but it's only my first time here. They have museums, a zoo, temples, and generally a huge public park.
For a first stop, it satisfied our autumn OOTD goals, haha! Kahit saan tumayo, photogenic!
Since we can't go to Kyoto on this trip, I was glad to see these lined red-orange torii and tell Deegee, "parang ganyan din yun". Haha!
Extra-Futuristic Tokyo: Odaiba
This is one of those places I've been to already, but I still added on our itinerary for Deegee, our Tokyo first-timer. Odaiba is said to be a large artificial land, and they have interesting structures from the rainbow bridge, Lady Liberty, and the Gundam statue. Aside from these, they basically just have shopping centers so if that's not your goal, then a short trip here will do.
We also bought a separate ticket for Odaiba since our Tokyo Subway Ticket can only reach till the Shimbashi station. We transferred to the Yurikamome line where we bought this 320 Yen pass for Daiba Station. Again, winged this complex route by simply asking around, hehe!
The driver-less train ride takes around 15 minutes, I always enjoy this route's spectacular view so make sure you go to the far end of the carriage.
I've read somewhere that daiba literally means fort, the purpose for building this man-made island back during the day: To protect Tokyo from attacks from the sea.
Hello again, Statue of Liberty! This was given to Japan by the French during the 90s in commemoration of The French year in Japan.
Two Odaiba icons: the Rainbow Bridge and Statue of Liberty:
Gundam in front of Diver City shopping center:
We went inside the mall to eat and shop. I think this was our late lunch? We went for food court, where I checked out this Curry Shop that serves veggies. Price is a bit steep for a simple lunch, but panalo naman any food we tried here in Japan.
We walked around the mall, and entered the character stores and of course GU. We spent hours inside the Japanese clothing shop that is said to be Uniqlo's sister, and even parted ways so we can "focus" with our shopping, haha! First gastos for this trip! I spent a few bucks for sweaters and coats I will not even use in Manila, hahaha.
I also saw GU's Sailor Moon collection:
When we went out, Odaiba was already glowing:
We were walking to the train station from Odaiba, when we saw that we're already near Ginza. I had plans of going to Ginza on weekends (for the closed streets ganap), but Deegee insisted on dropping by already and so we did. It was weird seeing Ginza at night, and the roads filled with cars instead of shoppers. It was still early for us, I think around past 8?, but most of the shops were already closed. We decided to just go back on another day.
Back in Shibuya for Ichiran!
If you ask me, the day was already sulit, quotang quota nako! I've been saying this in my past travel posts how much I hate wasting a day, but well for this trip not a second was wasted! Haha.
We went back to Shibuya to look for a dinner place, since it's the only area we are most familiar and comfortable in, and also because it's in the middle of where we were and where we're staying.
The popular rotating sushi belt we looked for was already soldout / closed by the time we arrived. And so we ended up...
HAHA! In good ol' Ichiran! Day 2, Round 2 of Ichiran ramen coz why not!!!
I also bought the instant Ichiran box for my family. I still have a dilemma whether I want Ichiran to open up here in Manila, or I want to keep that excitement of having Ichiran whenever I go to Japan. Hehe!
You will usually get this Order Sheet after punching your orders in the vendo.
I have everything I needed for the night in this tiny cubicle:
Deegee and I were wondering if there's anyone who leaves Ichiran with a filled bowl. Not us, though!
Shibuya Crossing before we headed back to the train..
To be continued....
(Sadly, this was the day where I wasn't able to save my Instagram stories - even though I thought I did hindi pala sya nag save and I didn't checked huhu).