|the giant lantern at Asakusa Temple
I was privilege to get a chance to visit Japan, one of the countries that has stayed on top of my bucket list for a long time.
So when I saw Japan will be my transit hub before heading to New Caledonia, I was dancing with joy. Literally! I sincerely hope I can visit this place again my my family, especially Bo et Obi, my kids. I bet they will enjoy Japan so much!.
With so many places to visit and a high dose of excitement, I came to realize that I only visit Japan for transit. A long transit, as a matter of fact.
So I have to ensure I can maximize my time during my 2-time transit.
With my limited knowledge on this country, almost-zero comprehension on Japanese language (expect the name of my favorite Japanese food and arigato), I was a bit worried that it might be tricky for me to do this solo traveling. I did ask a lot from my friends who are residing in Tokyo and get so many valuable info as well. Moreover, I browse a lot and see most of the choices I have, particularly since I only transited for certain period of time.
Nevertheless, with all the helps I got from friends and websites, I had listed some places to visit and things I could do while transiting in Tokyo. Read more on Hello Tokyo in previous post.
Before I decided where to go and what to do in Japan while transiting, there are a few things that I consider thoroughly for my trip.
To start with, I flew from NYC to Narita Airport, not Haneda Airport.
As you know, Japan has two international airports in Tokyo and the surroundings.
This is the starting point as the place where you landed pretty much determined my itinerary while transiting, as well as the place where you can stay overnight.
Of course you are more than welcomed to stay at the airport and explore the city of Narita, but I wanted to see Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures.
Next, I calculated the time I have.
My first transit time is around 20 hours (overnight) and the second one is for 10 hours.
That gives me some flexibility indeed.
As I wanted to see Tokyo, I decided to go out of Narita Airport taking the public transport.
For my first trip from Narita to Tokyo, I took Skyliner and stayed in Ueno as it was the most practical one although not necessarily the cheapest option.
Skyliner is the super fast train that takes you from Narita to Tokyo. There are other options as well like Narita Express, but it's was slightly longer. I took the Narita Express on the second leg of my transit as I wanted to stop at Tokyo Station. I will get you more details about traveling in Tokyo later.
So, with that in mind, I have set my heart on visiting Ueno and the surrounding areas, then exploring the rest of Tokyo on my second transit.
Here are some things you can do while transiting in Tokyo, Japan.
For sure, this is only one of the many options that you can have while visiting Tokyo.
Visiting and Exploring Ueno
Ueno is one of the oldest parts of Tokyo.
So if you enjoy beautiful parks surounded by temples, museums, ponds and Japanese traditional stores, then Ueno will be perfect for you :).
So, Ueno is my first destination in Japan.
As soon as I arrived in Narita Airport, I feel at ease as the signs and information for everything we need as a tourist who has just visited Japan for the first time (or even more frequent) are clearly displayed. First thing I do is getting my check-in luggages stored in one of the bag storages near the check-in counter. I decided to get one closer to the check-in counter of my next airlines, which is Air Caledonia.
I chose Ueno because it is one of the most practical places to stay for those traveling to and through Narita Airport. As I had my connecting flight to Nouméa the day after from Narita, I booked my hotel here in Ueno in order to see more of Tokyo. I considered staying in Narita as it has so many hotels' choices as well, but I feel like exploring Tokyo as much as I can.
I stayed in APA hotel Ueno, 5 minutes from the Skyliner station, and 7 minutes away from Keisei Ueno Station. Very convenient.
|The Cherry blossoms at night
As soon as I stepped out of the station and looked for my hotel, I was welcome by the beautiful sight of cherry blossoms. Even at night, they look wonderful!
That night, I directly visited the Ameyoko Market.
Ameyoko Market is very famous for its lines of variety stores ranging from cosmetics to Japanese traditional food and souvenirs, from fresh fish to fruits and cookies. Complete!
It was only 5 minutes walk from my hotel and I walked there before heading to Keisei Ueno Station, where Hard Rock Cafe Ueno is locates.
|ready to shop?
The next morning, I decided to go out at 6.30 AM and explored the area.
With Ueno map on my hand, I walked along the park and enjoyed many interesting spots around here. I went to Kiyomizu Kanno-dō, the Buddhist temple; monument to Shokusanjin; Toshogu Shrine and the Five-story pagoda of force Kan'ei-ji; and Bentendo Temple at Benten Island, near the Uno and Hasu Pond.
All covered in 1.5 hours walking around the complex.
I feel bad of missing the Ueno zoo and didn't see those cute pandas. But I had decided to go to Asakusa so I really try to manage my time.
In Ueno, when the time is right, you can definitely enjoy the cherry blossom.
I did get a chance to do so at the Ueno Park.
Read my post on Cherry Blossoms at Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
Ueno is also packed with museums, like Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, and the Ueno Royal Museum, among others. Too bad I had limited time so I skipped them. But if I get the chance, I will surely visit at least one of them.
Exploring Harajuku and Takeshita Street
I decided to got to Harajuku and Takeshita Street as well that night.
It was not so far from Keisei Ueno Station and I took the JR subway to get there.
In order to travel around in Tokyo , I used my Suica card which can be easily bought at the station.
I can practically go places with public transport in Tokyo and even use the Suica card for shopping. Love it!
Well, Harajuku and Takeshita Street need no further introduction as this spot has been famous for the 'Harajuku Style'.
Inspired by Japanese idols and manga comics, this place is beautifully dotted with stores selling cute costumes. Takeshita Dori is not only for idol-custome lovers, but you can easily find more stores with sweets, bric-a-brac, cat's cafe (yes, you read it right) and halal food as well as cosmetics!
Now you see why I insisted on coming down here.
And here's the halal cosmetics I found at Takeshita Dori
Enjoying the oldest Temple in Tokyo, the Asakusa Temple
Visiting Japan but missing the temples?
Well, your journey won't be complete.
That's why I insisted on traveling to Asakusa, dragging my cabin luggage taking the subway, to visit Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
Sensory Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, built way back in the year of 628.
And as you can see, this temple is pretty much well-known for its giant brilliant-red lantern hung at the main gate, Kaminarimon Gate.
And around the complex, you can find the 5-story pagoda as well.
For sure perfect for all selfies and pictures :).
Trying the local cuisine
My first love with Japan is through its exquisite cuisine.
And don't get me started!
Sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, ramen, soba, tempura, onogiri, crepe... those are just a few of them!
And I was again lucky to try many of them while I was in there.
So, without further ado, let's see what I have tried!
|The vegetable fritter
|One of the best ramen I have tasted!
|one of the local ramen vendors
|What filling you love to have in you onogiri? I love them all..
|Want some crepes?
Shopping till you drop
Don't forget that Japan is also famous for all the technology and all those cute, world-famous products!
And shopping is one of the joys I have while transmitting here.
What to shop? I don't even know where to start!
My luggages are packed with Japanese sweets, snacks, cute souvenirs and cosmetics.
On my second transit, I also managed to have some shopping time at Ginza and explored those huge malls.
So, those are 5 cool things you can do while transiting in Tokyo, Japan.
Obviously, you have tons of choices to enjoy Tokyo however you want.
This travel note is just a humble suggestion based on my trip.
And I will certainly be back with part two where I enjoyed Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Odaiba, and Tokyo Station before I was heading to Paris.
See you on the next story!