As most of you should know by now, our 10D9N Japan trip was also Little misschewy’s 2nd birthday trip 🙂 We had been to Phuket, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Penang as a family last year. This time, we decided to venture a little bit further and made Japan the holiday destination of our choice! A visit to Japan in the month of March this year was almost perfect – cold weather and cherry blossoms! I used the word ‘almost’ because the weather was actually quite cold and many times we found ourselves freezing lol, and also the blooming of cherry blossoms didn’t reach its peak only until end March. But it’s ok! We saw plenty to keep us happy till our next trip to Japan. LOL! We took advantage of Singapore Airline’s promotional offer and booked our air tickets early. Red-eye flight to Narita Airport for us! Little misschewy fell asleep in the Tula toddler carrier before we boarded and woke up at 4am on the plane asking for drinks and snacks. She stayed wide awake throughout the rest of the flight and kept pointing at the window, “Go out!” This girl ah!
Upon arriving at Narita Airport, we made our way to the JR station and bought our JR Narita Express tickets to Tokyo, specifically Ikebukuro station because that’s where our Airbnb is! The Narita Express departed the station at 8.13am and we reached Ikebukuro at 10.02am. About 2 hours’ journey! The fare cost ¥3190 (S$39) one-way per adult. We didn’t use our JR Pass as it was meant for the second half of our trip and didn’t get return tickets because we would be flying back to Singapore from Osaka. The NEX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket is available for foreign travelers at a discounted rate of ¥4000 (S$49) for a two-way trip from the airport to Tokyo and back within a 2-week period. Something worth considering if you are planning a trip to Japan! We didn’t consider the Airport Limousine Bus because the time taken to reach Tokyo is much longer and is subjected to traffic conditions. It is also by no means cheaper than the JR Narita Express. However, if you are not hard pressed for time, the Airport Limousine Bus is a convenient choice too! There are many ways to travel from the airport to Tokyo, but if you are travelling with children, the JR Narita Express and Airport Limousine Bus are your best bets 😉
After meeting our Airbnb host and her baby girl, we took the public bus from the bus stop at Ikebukuro to Sensoji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. The hubs and I had been there separately before and we agreed that Asakusa Temple is one of the heavily commercialized temples in Tokyo. Even so, we still made it our first stop in our Tokyo itinerary. Haha.
A photo with the iconic giant red lantern!
Hordes of tourists were there to offer their prayers.
Omamori are Japanese amulets that are commonly sold at religious sites such as temples and shrines. They come in different colors, sizes and designs. It is believed that these omamori provide various forms of protection and luck. Interestingly, there is almost an omamori for everything – love, marriage, childbearing, smooth delivery, health, wealth, studies, safety for driving, and many more! The price of an omamori typically ranges from ¥500 to ¥1000 (S$6 to $12). Some street peddlers and shops in Japan also sell omamori but for obvious reasons, people prefer to buy them at religious sites.
We also observed the purification ritual whenever we visited a particular temple in Japan. Before entering the temple, there is a purification fountain for visitors and worshippers to purify themselves. The steps are fairly simple; scoop the water from the purification fountain by using the ladle. After rinsing both hands with water from the ladle, proceed to rinse your mouth but do not transfer the water directly into your mouth with the ladle. You should use the ladle to pour some water into your hands to rinse your mouth before spitting the water at the side of the fountain.
Not surprisingly, there was a queue to enter the temple as worshippers took their time to pray fervently. Do you know the significance of this 5-yen (Go-yen) coin? In Japanese, Go-yen sounds like ご縁 which translates to fate, bond and relationship. I think that it also sounds like 有缘 in Mandarin. Therefore, it is only naturally that worshippers prefer to use the 5-yen coin when praying at a temple or shrine. It makes you feel that your prayers are more likely to be heard and answered.
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street is located right outside Asakusa Temple. There are plenty of shops selling omamori, souvenirs and street snacks.
There was a long queue for melon pan so we joined in as well!
As we were strolling and nibbling on our melon pan, we saw another queue for Senbei, a type of Japanese rice crackers.
I really liked the Wasabi flavoured ones! So good!
Plenty of late night shopping at Ikebukuro!
If you are planning to visit Tsukiji Fish Market and wish to witness all the action at the wholesale market, please be there early. Like, really early! We knew right from the start that we wouldn’t mind giving it a miss so we slept in a little after our trip to Disneyland 😛
Tsukiji has an outer market, which is packed with rows and rows of stalls selling fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, etc.
We wanted to eat at Sushi Dai, which to many, is Japan’s best sushi restaurant. However, we ended up at another sushi joint instead because Sushi Dai placed a sign “Unfortunately, we cannot accept any more customers for the day.” at the end of the long snaking queue. 🙁
The hubs had included Ueno Park in our itinerary because he thought that it would be nice to sit and have a picnic, while admiring the blooming cherry blossoms around us. However, the reality was, there was only ONE cherry blossom tree (the one in this photo) and everyone was queuing to take a photo with it. LOL!
We spent some time walking around Ueno Park, which is a large public park next to Ueno Station. Great place for small kids to run around! Little misschewy was so happy that she could finally be out of the Tula for awhile 🙂
We saw another cherry blossom tree as we were leaving Ueno Park!
Just across Ueno Park is Ameya Yokocho Market, where you can buy souvenirs, clothes, shoes, snacks, cosmetics, etc. I bought my Sana Namerakahonpo Soymilk products there, along with some face masks, which were eligible for tax rebate after meeting the minimum spending.
We spotted this claw machine full of Japanese food keychains as prizes! So cute! We didn’t try our luck at winning any of these because we know we are not professionals. Better don’t waste money. Hahaha.
Had absolutely no qualms about spending on ice cream though! 😛
Yummy matcha flavoured ice cream in cold weather!
I had actually shortlisted a handful of cafes to visit in Tokyo, but somehow, we only managed to go to Fujiya Peko-chan Milky Restaurant in Shibuya for Little misschewy’s birthday cake! The strawberry shortcake was delish!
Back in Ikebukuro, you can find Sunshine City, where the Mega Pokemon Center is! There were some items which we wanted to buy, such as the Life Sized Snorlax and Graduation Pikachu but they were no longer available when we were there 🙁
Get one of these life sized plushies if your luggage allows it! Hahaha. If not, you can always choose to hand-carry and snuggle with one on the plane 😛
Another night shopping area which we would recommend is Takeshita Dori at Harajuku, where you can find plenty of trendy shops and fashion boutiques.
Little misschewy had her first conveyor belt experience at Sushi-Nova and she was surprisingly well-behaved, considering she sat really still in misterchewy’s lap and ate some of the cooked food.
We walked past the Croquant Chou ZakuZaku store and decided to try one of the almond-coated chou pastries. The special custard cream is made from milk obtained from free-range farms in Hokkaido. Really yummy!
Back to where we stayed in Ikebukuro! Honestly, I was pretty freaked out most of the time when we walked back late at night because the entire place was really dark and quiet.
Our first Airbnb experience! Our host’s family had lived here before moving to another part of Tokyo so this is like a real Japanese home which we found comfortable and cosy! When it got really cold at night, we would turn on the portable heater only when Little misschewy was asleep as the place is rather small and we didn’t wanna risk having her go near it.
This is something that will stay in our memories for a long time! Sometimes we felt lazy to take the underpass to cross over to the other side, so we would wait for the trains to pass and then dash across the street.
On our last day in Tokyo, when we were in a mad rush to get to the train station to go to Osaka with three luggages, we waited for about 15 minutes before we could cross! Hmph.
We have pretty much covered our itinerary in Tokyo and will be blogging about Osaka next!
THE CHEWYS’ MARCH 2016 JAPAN 10D9N ITINERARY
(Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago)
Day 1: Singapore to Narita Airport > JR Narita Express to Tokyo > Check into Airbnb at Kita-Ikebukuro > Asakusa Temple & Shopping Street > Shopping and dinner at Sunshine City
Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland
Day 3: Tsukiji Fish Market > Ueno Park > Shopping at Ameya-Yokocho Market > Tea at Fujiya Peko-chan Milky Restaurant > Pokemon Centre at Sunshine City > Dinner at Ichiran
Day 4: Tokyo DisneySea
Day 5: Fujiko•F•Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum) and Doraemon Cafe > Shopping and dinner at Harajuku
Day 6: Shinkasen from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka > Check into Airbnb at Shin-Osaka > Osaka Castle > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)
Day 7: Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto > Kiyomizu-dera Temple > Kimono rental and outdoor photoshoot > Dinner at Kichi-Kichi Omurice > Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka
Day 8: Thunderbird Limited Express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa > Check into Hotel Nikko Kanazawa > Kenroku-en Garden > Kanazawa Castle > Lunch at Sushi Zanmai > Omicho Market > Higashi Chaya District > Tonkatsu dinner at Tomikinton (富金豚)
Day 9: Nouhi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go > Sightseeing around Shirakawa-go > Nouhi bus from Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa > Thunderbird Limited Express from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka > Dinner at Dotonburi (Namba station, Midosuji line)
Day 10: Kansai Airport Limited Express “Haruka” from Shin-Osaka to Kansai Airport > HOME SWEET HOME
We will be covering more on our Japan trip, so do stay connected with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/missuschewy and on Instagram @missuschewy for more updates! 🙂