Just recently, my family and I went on a trip to Tokyo, Japan. Like in our other previous trips, we did not join a tour group. We made our own itinerary based on what we want to do and see. We did not want to be confined to a pre-set schedule and preferred to do the exploring on our own. We got lost at times, but that was part of the adventure. From the minute we landed in Narita, we loved every minute of our stay in Japan. Here are some of the reasons why:
Coming from a scorching summer in Manila, the cool weather of Tokyo was a welcome breather. Days were cool and nights were chilly. Even during the early afternoon hours when the sun would be at its peak, it was still cool enough for a thin jacket. It rained on our second day there, but we did not let that get in our way.
Going around shortly after arrival
2. Efficient transport system
To get around, we took the subway, the train or the bus. Cabs are expensive in Tokyo. There is an extensive network of subways and trains, so there’s bound to be a stop near your destination. The trains arrive on time and leave on time. That way, you can schedule your activities more effectively.
On our first day there, we got the Tokyo Metro 24-hour ticket (JPY 600) for each one of us. That allows unlimited rides on the Tokyo Metro for 24 hours. Aside from that, we also got Suica prepaid cards for everyone. Suica is a reloadable card that can be used to pay for train, bus or subway tickets. It can also be used in convenience stores. It is very easy to use and saves you time, since you don’t have to line up to buy tickets.
Everything we ate in Japan was delicious. Prior to the trip, I was not a big fan of ramen. But I became a convert after eating ramen in Japan.
Ramen and gyoza in Ippudo
We also enjoyed the katsudon, gyoza, tempura, sushi, Harajuku crepes and Japanese cheese tarts. It didn’t matter where you got them – from big restaurant chains, mall food courts, department store basements, train stations, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. They were all delicious!
4. The sights
There’s much to see in Tokyo. There are temples and parks and gardens. There is a huge Gundam statue outside Diver City in Odaiba.
The highlight of our trip was seeing the majestic Mt. Fuji. We were really hoping to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji while we were in Gotemba. Cloud forecast that day wasn’t very encouraging. So we were surprised that the peak of Mt. Fuji was visible throughout the day that we were there. Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain peak in Japan and is a famous symbol of Japan.
5. The lack of noise
Tokyo is a very vibrant city, with lots of tall buildings, cars, busy people walking along the streets, but it is relatively quiet. Even with all the tourists crowding around in Nakamise Dori or in front of the Senso-ji Temple, there is no shouting or yelling. There is no mad honking of horns or loud music in malls.
Tokyo is a very clean place. Most restaurants observe a “clean-as-you-go” system, where diners are expected to bring out their plates and utensils and wipe the tables clean after eating. The streets, train stations and even public bathrooms are clean.
7. The Japanese people
Everywhere you go, Japanese people are very polite. Even if they do not understand English, they will try to help you in any way they can.
All of us enjoyed our stay in Tokyo. This early, the kids are already asking if we can go back. There are so many other places in Japan that we’d like to see. Until the next adventure.