1. Shibuya Crossing, 2. Nagano Snow Monkey Park, 3. Harajuku
Observing the juxtaposition between the Chinese and Japanese was one of my favourite experiences throughout my travels. Without travelling to a country, you don’t truly get to witness the mannerisms of the people and the culture of a country. From living in my own western culture bubble I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I didn’t realise just how different the mannerisms, cultures and cuisine between the two countries were.
The Japanese were polite and respectful, but very quiet. No one came up to ask for photos, you were merely another citizen within their busy sphere. The trains were awfully quiet regardless of the multitudes of people on each train. It was pleasant, but it was different to China. In China, everyone laughed and smiled at you, even though they couldn’t communicate with you. They wanted your photo, they included you. One similarity that didn’t change between countries, was the mass of people on the trains. At all hours of the day.
4. Senso-ji Temple, 5. Ramen, 6. Cute cafe with panda and bear buns
Day 1- Senso-ji Temple and Ueno Park
My first day in Tokyo was the first day it had snowed in 54 years in November. I’m from Australia, and it never snows where I live so at first I was excited. Sitting inside in the warmth of my hostel, gazing out of the window watching the white fluffy snow gently fall to the ground was peaceful. But reality struck hard when I stepped outside. It was freezing; my toes were cold, my nose was cold and I couldn’t stop complaining about the (dramatised) hypothermia I was experiencing.
We had ventured out to the Senso-ji Temple, which I thought was a very simple temple compared to the intricately detailed temples we saw in China. As you walk towards the Senso-ji Temple there are numerous souvenir stores which did have some very nice knick-knacks.
We then caught the train to Ueno and walked around Ueno Park, which was nice but it was still rainy/snowy. Just near the park on the right hand side (I didn’t catch the name), there was the cutest and yummiest bakery with other little fast food chains in there too. We got panda and bear shaped buns! This was a highlight of my trip, as I am absolute sucker for anything cute and especially shaped like a panda.
For the whole day we purchased a one-day multi pass for 1000 yen. I recommend purchasing this if you plan on going to a few places throughout the day. We probably went on about 10 trains.
7. Nagano Snow Monkey Park, 8. Me in Harajuku, 9. Meiji Jingu Shrine, 10. Drinks at Vowz Bar
Day 2- Shibuya
Shibuya Crossing was possibly my favourite tourist attraction in Tokyo. Catch the train to Shibuya and walk out into the crossing to be apart of the atmosphere. Once you’ve experienced the walk for yourself, you’ll want to photograph it. Walk towards Starbucks and go to the look out in there. If the sun isn’t working in your favour, look out over the crossing and you’ll see a glass overpass, this is part of the train stations shopping centre. This is where I got my photographs.
We walked around the Meiji Jingu Shrine, which was peaceful and relaxing. Then we went to Harajuku and walked through Takeshita Dori. Allow about an hour to wander through and try a crepe from one of many crepe stores.
At night we went to Vowz Bar, which was a recommendation from a friend who recently visited Japan. This was located in Shinjuku and was the funnest thing we did in Tokyo. The drinks were the best alcoholic beverages we’ve ever had! The barmen were also lovely and accommodating. Make sure you try the complimentary crispy noodles! Stick around late enough and hopefully you’ll get to be apart of their chanting/praying, which was quite the experience.
11. Nagano Snow Monkey Park, 12. Panda and Bear Buns, 13. Chiyoda, 14. Mum and daughter at Meiji Jing Shrine
Day 3- Chiyoda
I was also recommended to check out Chiyoda, which was a really beautiful park. All the leaves were different fall colours with a city backdrop, which made for a lovely photograph. We were also lucky and spotted a black Shiba Inu and it made a curly blep!
15. Nagano Snow Monkey Park, 16. Chiyoda, 17. Tokyo Government Building Observations, 18. Vowz Bar
Day 4- Nagano Snow Monkey Park
We caught our first Shinkansen to Nagano! This was an adventure on its own and something you have to do when you’re in Japan. From Nagano, we caught a one hour bus to the Snow Monkey Park which was an extra 1,400 yen each way. There were other modes of transportation out to the Snow Monkey Park, but we thought this was the easiest way. Once you’re at the Snow Monkey Park, it will cost you 500 yen to enter the actual area.
This was such a great experience, witnessing the monkeys run past you in the wild like a house hold pet. The monkeys are not vicious but definitely don’t shove a camera right in their face or try to pat them. Observing them bathing in the hot springs was a truly mesmerising moment.
19. Nagano, 20. Nagano Snow Monkey Park, 21. Fried banana, ice cream and yuzu sherbet
We stayed at Anne Hostel Tokyo. This is nice, granted you don’t get stuck with a room mate who snores very loudly for three nights in a row. They also provide you with a complimentary breakfast which is always an added bonus!
- Get the JR Pass if you are going to be travelling across country
- Within Tokyo, if you are going to be using the subway a lot in one day, get the one-day multi pass
- Get a sim card and don’t throw away the packaging (like I did). You can get these from a vending machine in the airport, or I was told Akihabara (the electronic district) also sells them and sets the sim card up for you.
- If you fly into Tokyo, figure out where your hotel/hostel is before you arrive and get the airport train shuttle to the vicinity you are staying in. We had intended to get a taxi as we arrived late in Tokyo and it was going to cost us $250AUD, so instead we got the train which cost $15AUD.
- Be prepared if you don’t like fish. Most dishes have (raw) fish in them.
- Be prepared if you’re a vegetarian, there are basically no vegetables in all of Japan and I very nearly contracted scurvy (not quite, but I imagine it feels somewhat how I was feeling)
- For a decent meal you’re looking at paying around 1,500 yen.
- The clothes are very expensive, so if you plan to do a lot of shopping, do a lot of saving first!