24th May, 2018
As soon as we stepped foot off the plane, we knew that Japan was going to be a huge contender for favourite country to date!
We’d been waiting ever so patiently for April to come around, to get over to Japan just in time to catch the end of the cherry blossom season, as well as catch up with some friends from back home who were visiting at the same time as us. The time had come and we were all pumped and ready to go!
Tokyo is an incredible city. So much to see and such a contrast from one place to the next!
We stayed in a self-contained apartment in the Minato ward, which is about 10kms from the CBD. It was brilliant for us and our little neighbourhood had all we needed for our week in Tokyo.
We had done our research in regards to the public transport available in Japan, and decided not to worry about arranging the JR Pass (Japanese Rail Pass) before we arrived and rather wait until we were there to work out the best mode of transport for us.
Whilst JR is very convenient – it does prove quite costly for a family of four.
Prices for a 7 day pass start at $350AUD, up to $715 for 21 days.
Kids are half price.
We stayed in Japan almost a month, so the JR Pass would have been over $2,000AUD.
Even including the emergency Shinkansen (bullet train) trip we had to take due to missing our flight to Osaka from Tokyo, we still weren’t close to $2,000, so it worked out well for us.
We used the subway and the trains almost every day. Very simple to use once you get the hang of the ticketing system. The staff at each station are always very friendly and more than happy to help, so if we ever got stuck, we would just ask. We had a few language barrier issues at times, but nothing Google Translate couldn’t fix!
As always, we did a lot of walking. We find some of the best places when we’re out exploring on foot.
Cute, quirky and a must see if visiting Tokyo. We discovered some brilliant places to enjoy a meal, down the little side streets and lane ways.
The place on most people’s lists in Harajuku is the famous Takeshita Street. We visited here a couple of times. The kids loved the little novelty stores. Crepe stalls, ice-cream and lolly shops. It was a colour explosion and definitely worth the visit.
By 8pm, all the stores begin to close which we were a little surprised with.
Rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world – we just had to see what all the fuss was about. Andrew had read that the best spot to view the crossing in all its crazy glory was from the Starbucks store on the corner of the crossing which is on the second floor, so we headed up and luckily got a spot right in the window. It really was the best spot for people watching!
The Meiji Shrine is also located in Shibuya, and stepping foot inside the grounds of the shrine, you very quickly forget that you’re in one of the busiest cities in the world! The grounds are absolutely stunning. Thick with gorgeous old trees and vegetation. Little streams running through. It’s very beautiful.
We caught a bus up to Mount Fuji from Shibuya Station in the city through Highway Bus. Tickets can be reserved online but we like to push our luck, which of course meant we missed the 1st bus. Thankfully there were many more and we were able to get a spot on board the next one. A very beautiful drive and we arrived ahead of time, in just under 2 hours.
Fuji is very hit and miss. We had friends who went the day before us and had a stunning clear blue sky day. We had the total opposite. One day apart!
Apparently only 30% of people who visit Mount Fuji, actually get to see the mountain.
We still had a great time and clocked up on 8km of walking, exploring the town.
A very cool open air market in downtown Tokyo. It was raining the day we visited, but we still loved it. Loads of different stores and stalls for shopping from clothing and sneakers, to fresh fish and vegetables. Beautiful souvenir shops, and novelty stores.
The kids loved it.
Where and what to eat:
The kids and I don’t eat egg or seafood, but thankfully this wasn’t an issue. We found so many walk-in places in Tokyo.
Ramen, gyoza, panko chicken, katsu curry. SO many delicious meals to be had!!
Prices range from as little as $30 to $80 for the four of us, with drinks.
You can also find a juicy burger if you’ve had enough Japanese.
While we all enjoyed Shake Shack one afternoon for lunch, I don’t know that it was worth the $85 price tag…
You will also find great meal options at the supermarkets. 7-Eleven, Lawson stores and Family Marts have some really fresh and tasty ready-made meals and salads for under $10 each, so finding good food in Japan doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
Dollar, Dollar, Dollar:
At the time of our visit, we were getting approximately 80¥ to $1AUD.
We found the cost of living was very on par with Australia. Accommodation was quite costly the closer to the city, but if you stay a bit further out you will save a little and as I said, public transport is cheap and so easy to use.
Bathrooms and Toilets:
I was very pleasantly surprised when I first had to use the restroom at the airport soon after arriving in Japan. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say…heated seats, music, electronic everything, and you leave squeaky clean…! You will just have to get yourself there one day to try one out and you can thank me later!
Tokyo was a brilliant introduction to Japan. We did face a few communication issues at times, but it is amazing just what two humans can work out with a friendly smile and hand gestures! We found the Japanese people to be just so sweet and lovely. Always willing to help and so considerate.
Next up, Kyoto!!!