8-Day Backpack Tour of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka: Day 2 – Tokyo

a shinkansenWe took a leisurely breakfast in Namba and purchased our one way Shinkansen (bullet train) ticket to Tokyo at the JR office there.  I made a major mistake and should have bought a JR pass instead:(  The JR pass would have allowed us to use unlimited JR trains for 5 days for only Y22,000/person.  Compare that to the one way fare we paid of Y 13,240/person.  JR, Japan Railway Group, has a very extensive network of trains and buses all over Japan.  When planning your Osaka-Tokyo-Osaka trip go to Hyperdia and un-click Nozomi because the JR pass does not cover Nozomi Shinkansens.  Click this to know more about the JR pass.


HARAJUKU.  An area where Japanese teenagers hang around dressed up in cosplay (costume play). If you want to buy a costume or try some edgy, fashion forward clothes explore Takeshita Dori nearby. Buy Japan's famous crepe along the way. They say best time to visit is on a Sunday afternoon. Read more about Harajuku.


Then hop on the train  to visit SHIBUYA (one stop away).  It is a shopping and entertainment area.  Try to be at the large intersection of Shibuya in front of the station's Hachiko Exit shortly after office hours. You will be amazed at the sheer number of pedestrians crossing and the brightly lit neon advertisements scattered all over.  It's like Times Square in New York!  Read more about Shibuya.

Hachiko Exit in Shibuya Station

CAN SKIP PLACES: I think you can skip the TOKYO TOWER, it ain't no Eiffel tower.  Though it is said to be 10 meters taller than its model Eiffel Tower, I found it ordinary.  The parks UENO and YOYOGI PARK are just simple parks for locals to visit.  IMPERIAL PALACE is a park area surrounded by a moat and massive stone walls.  Apart from the moat you see on the outside there is just a big grass park inside.

Upper left is Imperial Palace, Upper right is Tokyo Tower, Lower Left is Yoyogi Park,  Lower right is Cherry Blossoms inside Imperial Palace

Upper left is Imperial Palace, Upper right is Tokyo Tower, Lower Left is Yoyogi Park, Lower right is Cherry Blossoms inside Imperial Palace

WHERE TO STAY:  In Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan,  proximity to the station is key.  You should be looking at hotels that are less than 0.5 km away from the station.  We stayed at Hotel Sun Members located at the back of Washington Hotel which according to Agoda has a 0.7km distance from Shinjuku - it took us 20 minutes to walk to the hotel! (Note:  I was traveling with kids and 2 senior citizens)

Also coordinate with the hotel in advance which exit to take.  There are 200 exits in Shinjuku station!  Ask them to e-mail you a walking map.  It is such a challenge finding the hotel!  But then again that's part of the experience:-)

WHERE TO EAT:   There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from and  all are delicious.  Even the restos in the train station where you order from a vending machine is yummy.   But for some fine dining, try Gonpachi Restaurant in Nishi Azabu.  It inspired the set of the iconic Kill Bill movie of Quentin Tarantino and has drawn Hollywood celebrities visiting Tokyo. I find the food average but the ambiance compensates for it.  Expect to spend minimum of $50 per person.  Reservations are recommended.

Image from themarkeworld.com.  I wasn't able to take decent pics:(

Image from themarkeworld.com. I wasn't able to take decent pics:(

WHERE TO SHOP: GINZA and OMOTESANDO for high end shopping.  HARAJUKU for fashion forward and cutting edge styles.  SHIBUYA for casual shoping. DAIKOKUYA, KOMEHYO and DON QUIJOTE for pre-loved (used) branded bags ranging from Hermes, Gucci to Louis Vuitton.  I was able to buy an LV in Don Quijote in Shinsaibashi, Osaka and another one in Daikokuya.  I felt bad that I didn't get a Gucci bag from Komehyo, I should have:(   Buy Shisheido products,  they are all over Japan at half the price or even lower than in Manila.  Also,  bring your passport when buying a bag to get tax rebate:-)

Shops selling Pre-used Bags in Japan

HOW TO GET THERE:   From the station nearest you, ride a train to Harajuku.  From Harajuku ride a train to Shibuya. take Hachiko exit.  Or you can take a 20 minute walk to Shibuya from Harajuku.  Then if you want to head to Gonpachi board a train for Roponggi, exit 2.  If you plan to shop,  plan your commute through Hyperdia (route search engine for whole Japan).

EXPENSES IN US $ AND PESO PER PERSON (room rate though is twin sharing):

Detailed expense in Tokyo

Note:  Children below 12 years old enjoy half fare price. Fares/charges or routes may differ at your time of travel.  Please just use this as your general guide.  For exact time of train departures and arrivals,  please use Hyperdia.com.  Just input the destinations in TheGoMom's guide (be careful of spelling - misspelled destinations will result in area not found).

Click this for my Day 1 Post - 8-Day Backpack Tour of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka: Namba Osaka

Stay posted for 8-Day Backpack Tour of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka: Day 3 Mt. Fuji and Hakone

Travel Happy!

Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 6.07.03 AM