Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 1 - Arrival & Shibuya

We left on the midnight flight to Narita. Flight timing is great, and it took us slightly over 6hrs to get there. It's a nice change from having to fly over 12hrs to get to Ireland. It's bearable enough for me. For that alone, I will visit Japan more. Hahaha. Subject to approval by the hubby hehe. But this time, we have to stay in a hotel with wifi! The poor guy was cut off from the world throughout the trip, truly suffering for him. Not just that, he was dragged around to go shopping most days. It was funny watching him check on wifi connections wherever he went. To make up for the lack of internet access, we were rewarded with a nice and big room (by Japan standards). I hear that most rooms there can only fit a queen sized bed. We were lucky to get such a nice-sized room, even though we stayed in Shinjuku (a half hour walk away from Shinjuku station, or maybe 45mins for me). I will try as best I can to recall our journey starting from our arrival. The exciting thing was that we flew on the A380 over but we didn't realize it until the day itself, or we would have asked for the seats upstairs. Hehe. All in, loved the aircraft, indeed more spacious in terms of personal space.

We arrived at 7am plus and upon disembarkation from the aircraft, it was an unbelievably long walk to immigration and customs clearance. My suggestion? Go through Haneda airport. It takes not more than 10mins to walk from one end of the terminal to the other, unless you get distracted by the shops along the way. ;P Not only is it a very small airport, you will save more on the price you pay for limousine service to the city. From Haneda to the city, it costs 1200yen (adult), and 600yen (child). It takes 1hr on the airport limousine as opposed to over 1-1/2hrs from Narita to Shinjuku West station. For Narita to Shinjuku, it costs 3000yen (adult) and 1500yen (child). As I was saying, after customs clearance, you exit the arrival hall and facing you on the left and right are Airport Limousine counters where you can purchase tickets on the spot, to get to town or the hotels that they service. We didn't have to wait long for our ride. The service is very regular. We got into town around 9plus and took a cab straight to the hotel. Unfortunately we were not able to check-in till 2pm, so I decided to give cousin a call before arranging to meet up with her and her family at H&M, Shibuya. We were totally exhausted from not having slept on board the plane, so even though the hotel receptionist said the station was a 3-4min walk away, it really felt like a 20min walk. Our first stop was at 7-11, 4 doors away, and princess wanted a sushi roll as she was feeling hungry. It became our daily stop when we got back after a day out, be it for cup noodles, bread, or her daily dose of sushi roll, the same chicken-flavoured roll as the one she had on the first day. There is also an atm in the shop which allows our local atm cards to be used.

Arriving at the station, it took us a while to make out the train fare as the entrance was at a side gate, not a main station, thus there was no one there to help us. After figuring it out (thanks to hub), we went on our way to Shibuya, and that was our introduction to the Japan metro system. It takes a while to get used to. Getting to Shibuya wasn't a problem, thanks to directions by the hotel staff, but finding H&M and meeting cousin at appointed time was. We eventually met an hour after our appointed time (as they too couldn't find the shop), and had lunch together, followed by a bit of window shopping before hubby couldn't take it anymore, and we went back to check in. I think he went to bed around 6pm till the next morning.

We stopped by an udon shop directly across the road from H&M. Food was reasonably priced and affordable.

Kitsune udon is my all-time favourite. I love the fried beancurd skin and this one did not disappoint. It was a rather large piece, unlike the ones we get here which are only a quarter of the size.

Hubby had the Tori Karaage with rice which came in a set with the plain udon below, which the princess ate. I think this set cost around 500yen (approximately S$8).

Hubby also picked out a piece of sweet potato, while I got a couple of tori karaage for the girl and a potato croquette for me. They were fried to golden perfection and the croquette was gorgeous with the very natural taste of potato. I think the ones we get here are made with potato powder as they taste nothing like potato except in texture. These cost in the region of 150yen each.

After filling up our tummies, we took a walk around Shibuya and make our way to a shop called 小黑屋 in Shinjuku to get discounted tickets to Disneysea. This chain has a few shops dotted around the city which I later discovered while on my bus rides. The discount wasn't significant, only 100yen less than the normal price you'd pay for a ticket. It wasn't worth our while. My advice is to get your tickets in Singapore before you leave.

The streets of Shibuya.

A very famous landmark in Shibuya is Hachiko the faithful dog. It's a popular meeting point.

Hachikō, an Akita dog, was born in 1923 and sold to a well to do family in Tokyo while still a puppy. The father of this family, Eisaburo Ueno, a Tokyo University professor in his 50's, loved Hachiko very much and doted on him constantly, taking him for long walks, always brushing him, and even taking baths with him inside the home. He treated him truly as one of the family.

Up until Hachiko was two years old, he always walked to the station with the father and after the father went through the stalls he would go home by himself. But, then he would return every day to wait outside the stalls to meet the father coming home. All the locals and train station people knew this man and this dog had a special bond.

One day however, the father died while he was teaching at the university. Hachiko went to pick him up but he never came. And, Hachiko never stopped waiting. Every day for about 10 or 11 years he went and waited. The story was picked up and popularized by Japanese newspapers, and Hachiko became a minor celebrity while he still lived, attending the inauguration of his own statue in 1934. He passed away the next year, but his story lives on — and you can still pay him a visit in the collections of the National Science Museum in Ueno.

Now, let me take you on a tour of our room, our home for the next 7 nights.

We had a queen sized as well as a twin sofa bed. It left us with very little space to walk, but otherwise, it was a nice sized room.

Right beside the sofa bed was this wash area.

My most favourite place of all - a little kitchenette where we had the use of kettle, microwave, toaster, electric cooker, fridge, a cooker hood, pots, pans, plates, bowls etc etc, a fully functional kitchen.

Guess which was our favourite button on this control? ;P

The ever famous Japanese toilet bowl. Wish we could install one in our home. :) This one was very basic. I saw others which had buttons for sounds, fake flush sounds, perfume etc. There were also ones which came with warmed seats. Those are perfect for winter. Hubby and girl said there were also ones with blow dryer which I didn't notice. Ours only had the water spray and it made a fake flushing sound when you sat on it.

We managed to pack some food back to hotel from Odakyu foodhall in the basement of Shinjuku station.

These cream puffs are to die for. They have a beautiful custard within that just flows out the minute you bite into them. We brought 2 of these home, reason being they were the last 2 left on the shelf at 7-11 that evening of our return. Hubby got addicted to these after I made him try one.

Lovely bento from the boxes above. There is glutinous fried rice, two pieces of siew mai, tomato sauce chicken, and some pickles. It wasn't too bad but would have been nicer had I put it in the microwave first. I didn't think to do that.

Princess preferred to get her dinner from 7-11. The pokemon is a bubble gum, a gift from cousin.

That ended our first day in Tokyo.


Yeapies said...

Nice room! I only got "dog houses" whenever I was there... :(

SIG said...

Hahah, poor thing.