I don’t know about you, the best part about travelling, after the travelling itself, for me, is the planning. Four months prior to our flight, I researched every possible must see destination, shops, malls, parks, museums, you name it. I wanted to make this trip as worthy as possible. I did research on the web, read tons of blogs, bought magazines; I couldn’t miss any single information. It wasn’t until I became stressed out did I realized I was being paranoid. I wanted to cram every inch of Tokyo into five days. It is not possible. I knew I had to take a break and give the other members a chance for input.
Long story short, one of the member, who use to live in Tokyo, was the person who set out the structure of the whole trip and I was the one who added the cherry on top. The trip ended up being a taste of everything, best of worlds. We included everything from shopping, to leisure biking to an extraordinary day at Disney Sea. I wouldn’t have changed anything about it and teamwork defiantly made a big difference.
Take a look at the itinerary we follow.
Warning! Pack a good pair of shoes because there’s a lot of walking involved.
–>Arrive at Haneda Airport (For us it was 3a.m. Japan Time)
–> Sleep at the airport till 6a.m. to take the subway
Transport: We bought the Common One-day Ticket for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway, which is available at the airport, allowing unlimited access to all Tokyo metro and Toei subway lines for 24hours.
For transport route you can download their JR-East Train for a guided route.
–> Breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market
🍴 See the food we tried at Tsukiji fish market. You won’t get sushi fresher than this
Note: They are scheduled to move to Toyosu in November 2016.
There are lockers at most subway stations for luggage but it’s quite pricey. For a big locker it cost about 700yen, unlimited time.
–> Tokyo Skytree
📍The Skytree is a defiantly worth seeing, coming out of the subway station and peering up, you’ll see the grand observation tower looming over you. It is also the tallest building in Japan!
–> Tokyo Solamachi
👜 If I had to pick my favorite mall in Tokyo, this would be it. There’s a wide variety of shops and the levels are very organized. It has many “have to go to” shops including the Loft, Uniqlo, Plaza and it also has lots of shops that sells souvenirs.
Head over to Asakusa
–> Asakusa Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate)
📍A popular point for tourists, and usually packed with people trying to take photos. Take some photo and go.
–> Nakamise Shopping Street
👜 Walk through the Kaminarimon and into the bustling Nakamise Shopping Street filled with shops selling food and souvenirs.
📍Keep walking and you won’t miss the Sensoji Temple. Being one of the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan it is also one of the busiest.
–>Drop off luggage at the place we stayed
We stayed at Lai’s house because the owner was Taiwanese and thus making communication a lot easier. It’s also very decent and clean at a fairly low price. I would defiantly recommend Lai’s House.
We stayed at the one in Shin Okubo so it was also really close to the shopping district of Shinjuku.
Go crazy, there are too many malls and stores to choose from you won’t know where to start.
Day 2: Karuizawa
Transport: We bought the JR Tokyo Wide Pass the day before, which allowed us to travel to further places, away from Tokyo metropolitan. To avoid having no seats, it’s advised you reserve your seat at a JR service center a day or two beforehand. Check out their website to find our more.
–>Arrive at Karuizawa
–> Rent a bike
Across the station you’ll find bikes available for renting. Fees depends on the period of time you renting out and the type of bike you renting.
Note! I suggest you rent a electric bike. They are so much fun and requires less effort going uphill.
–> Shop at a Antique Shop
👜 Sadly I can’t find this little shop anywhere on the internet and I have no idea what the name of the shop is called. It’s owned by a local grandma and sells second hand antique. Keep an eye open for this gem while riding along the main road to Harunire Terrace. It’s on the side of the main road and the most significant feature is a large wooden table filled with antique plates outside the store. Good luck.
–> Harunire Terrace
👜 Spend some time shopping at Haruire Terrace with its inviting environment in the midst of a forest. The buildings are all made from wooden terrace divided into numerous stores, restaurants and cafes.
🍴Eat Nagai Farm‘s Pure Milk Gelato. Rich, creamy, heavenly.
The small cup of gelato will make your mouth water and crave for more.
🍴Enjoy lunch at Harunire Terrace with a wide variety of options.
Afternoon & Evening
–> Stone Church
📍 Its name derived from the material the church is made out of, apparently a natural phenomenon. The beautiful, unique church is unlike anything I’ve seen before, the interior has an open altar and wooden pews, instrumented by the soothing sound of trickling water. It’s a demanding wedding venue and often the waiting list is at least a year.
–> Seijo Karuizawa Drugstore
👜 Japan is iconic for its ubiquitous drugstores and you’ll be surprised to find out what the fuss is all about. Do your research before hand because the employees cannot speak English, the best way is to show them a photo of the product you want. Seijo drugstore is one of the cheapest drugstore compared to most other drugstores elsewhere and very big too!
–>Return your bike
–> Walk to Prince Shopping Plaza Outlet
👜 This place is humongous and houses majority of the internationally acclaimed brands. When you think of outlet the picture in your mind is out-of-date old, scruffy stock but not Prince Shopping Plaza. This place is damn fine man. High class, top notch stuff.
🍴Enjoy dinner at the Prince Shopping Plaza food court
Day 3: Mt. Fuji/ Lake Kawaguchi
Transport: Use the JR Tokyo Wide Pass to get to Lake Kawaguchi. We had to change trains to get to Lake Kawaguchi.
–> Arrive at the Kawaguchi Station
📍A Tudor style architecture with a view of Mt. Fuji when facing the station.
Note! You can buy a combo ticket for the Retro-Style Sightseeing bus, Kachi Kachi Ropeway and Kawaguchiko Excursion Ship at the information center at the train station to get a discount.
Transport: Take the Red line of the Retro-style Bus, there’s one approximately every 10 minute, to stop 11. (Sightseeing Boat/Ropeway Ent.)
–> Kachi Kachi Ropeway
📍Although the duration is only 3 minute and the line for it usually take hours I would still go on it. The ropeway takes you up the “Crackling Mountain” while narrating a story of a raccoon and a rabbit (in Japanese). On top of the mountain the whole raccoon and rabbit theme is carried out featuring artifacts devoted to different prayers. The Usagi Shrine enshrines two guardian rabbit. Rubbing the “dreaming rabbit” ‘s head will grant you wisdom, while rubbing the “Fuji rabbit”‘s legs will grant you stronger legs.
–> Lunch at Houtou Fudo
Transport: Take the Red-line to stop 17. (Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum)
🍴Order their signature Houtou and get a taste of what the locals eat. You’d be wishing you were a local.
–> Kawaguchiko Music Forest
📍🍴Enter the world of enchanting castles and flowing rivers, music and shows, tea and dessert. Basically how to feels like drinking tea like the queen.
Note! Get the special ticket of entrance fee plus tea and dessert for only 100Yen difference.
If time allows visit the Kawaguchiko Museum of Art at stop 16
–>Kawaguchiko “En Soleil” Excursion Ship
📍Watch the sunset as the En Soleil set sail on the tranquil lake.
–>Head back to Tokyo for dinner
Day 4: Tokyo DisneySea
Morning, Afternoon & Evening
–> Tokyo DisneySea
📍👜🍴 Spend a whole day at Tokyo DisneySea and soak up the magic of the park.
Day 5: Harajuku, Shinjuku, Takeshita
–>👜 Takeshita Dori, packed by midday, is where you’ll find the Flamboyant, the Decora, the Preppy, the Lolitas and if you are lucky enough, the Cosplay. One more, the teenagers sauntering around in their paradigmatic uniforms. No wonder it’s named the birthplace of Japan’s fashion trends.
–>📍 Meiji Shrine
Be amazed at how majestic the toriis are and do some soul seeking while strolling through the peaceful forest.
–> Lunch at Wolfgang Puck
🍴Yes, Wolfgang Puck, the Austrian-born American celebrity chef.
If you want a break from Japanese food this American style restaurant is a great option.
Transport: Walk from Harajuku to Shibuya. There are lots of great shops along the way, there was even a street selling menswear, everything from bespoke suits to skateboards.
👜 Shopping heaven.
📍 Tokyo’s trademark. You just see all the go pros and cameras above the heads of people.
–> Haichiko Statue
📍 Another “must see” point, right outside the Shibuya Station, enclosed by a wall of willow tree. Seeing the statue got me all chocked up again.
–>Tokyu Food Show
🍴Endless rows of food of every kind!
–>Jimbocho Book Town
👜 A hidden gem, perfect for bookworms like me, and collectors.
👜🍴 If you are not broke yet, head back to Shinjuku to do more shopping and have your last meal in Tokyo!
What was your trip to Tokyo like? Leave a comment!