Monday, 17 August 2015

Tips on Traveling to Tokyo

Here are some humble tips from me in case if one wishes to travel to Tokyo as first timer.


1.Train System

There are 2 main train systems in Tokyo,one is JR train and the other one is Metro/subway.Last time we were in Tokyo,we used Metro most of the time because from Asakusa,where we stayed at for several days,only Metro is available and no JR nearby.That made us stick to using only Metro for a couple of days when we were there.Besides,if I am not mistaken Metro is cheaper than JR.

Also,if you plan to use a lot of train,it's always recommended to buy the SUICA or PASMO card so that it's easier for you to top up the ammount of the fares as much as you like.But for us,as we were not in hurry,so we would rather buy ticket by ticket everytime we wanted to take the train.

 In the Metro/Subway

 Buying Tickets at the counter


2.Special Train line

There are also many other train systems/lines,either the sub of JR or operated by other companies.For example,when we wanted to go to Odaiba,we have to take a special train on the YURIKAMOME LINE at SHINBASHI Station.This is like a short train line operating to connect the main Tokyo to Odaiba crossing the Rainbow Bridge.

Inside the Yurikamome Train bound for Odaiba

Also,going to Tokyo Skytree,we used the special TOBU ISESAKI LINE from Asakusa to TOKYO SKYTREE Station,although one can also take the normal Metro train to Oshiage Station.


3.How to get to the central Tokyo from aiport?

For the record,there are 2 big international airports in Tokyo.Narita and Haneda.Narita is a bit far from central Tokyo,taking around 50 minutes of train ride and Haneda is a closer airport to Tokyo.Last time we landed at Narita Airport and from Narita there are few alternatives of transports to get to/from the airport to/from central Tokyo.Central Tokyo here refers to several main stations that connect to the airport.For example,Shinjuku,Ginza,or to our stay place which is Asakusa,we took direct Keisei Limited express,going straight from Narita Airport to Asakusa Metro station.It's cheaper than Keisei Skyliner,but we didn't mind much since we also cannot check in just yet upon our arrival at Asakusa :P

Inside the Keisei Limited Express from Narita Aiport

Others inlude NEX(Narita express),the most expensive one,but very fast,or Keisei Skyliner amongst others.


4.Accomodation

Well,when I was studying in Japan,it was not a big deal at all to find accomodation when going traveling in the country,because I can simply stay at friends' houses who were scattered all over Japan.But,since I lived in Japan,everytime I went to Tokyo ,I prefered to stay at backpacker hostel or hotel.And Asakusa was always my choice.Why?Because Asakusa is a lovely area,less high sky buildings or business district,making it silent at night.

 Asakusa area at night

But,I'm sure any other districts also offer many hotels,be it expensive or budget hotels.For us,as we didn't stay the whole day at the hotel,we didn't mind to stay at a cheap hotel,but comfortable as we traveled with a small baby.


5.Food

This is always a hot question for muslim people who travel to places that Islam is not a major religion.Fret not.Japanese are very much aware of Islam,they understand mostly what we can and can't eat.The awareness of Islam in fact has increased a lot since I left Japan.Last time we were in Japan,I found several halal japanese restaurants serving authentic Japanese food.And the experience of tasting the local food everytime we travel make it more meaningful.In Asakusa area,I found a halal Japanese restaurant Shabu shabu(The japanese style bbq).

Or,even if one eats at a non-halal-certified restaurant,one can still eat seafood,or vegan/vegetarian friendly food.It is always recommended to ask the waiter/waitress what are the ingredients in the menu,because in japanese food,sake(alcohol) is considered as a major ingredient to increase the taste of the food.Even for certain menus,we can always opt to not have the sake in the preparation of the menu.And as a japanese culture,customers are considered as kings and will be served the best,so the shop can always prepare the food according to what the customers ask.

Ebi Furai/Fried Shrimp set I ate at Tokyu department store in Shibuya

Or,if you're on budget,there are endless number of convinience stores all over Tokyo,be it Lawson,Family Mart,7Eleven amongt others,so you can always buy snacks,onigiri,sandwiches...
It's always better to check the ingredients each time,or when one doesn't understand what is written,can always ask from people around or simply ask directly to the salesperson.They might not be able to speak good english,but poor english would help as well :)

All kinds of drinks sold at convinience store

Or,you can simply check Zabihah.com for more infos on halal restaurants or cafes.


 6.Other interesting places outside of Tokyo

In fact,there are many other interesting places outside of Tokyo.It is just a matter of time and budget.When I was in tokyo during uni days,I prefer to go to Disneyland or Disneysea in Chiba Prefecture,or to Yokohama,a port city.There is also a famous place for flower garden where visitors can view the Mount Fuji when the weather is clear called Shibazakura.One day trip should be ok to access to any of these places.


7.Baby-friendly facilities

If you use train,please take note that not all stations have elevators.Even in the same station,some lines may have,some may not.As from our observation,many japanese people prefer to use small-framed strollers or just use baby carrier.

Not all places are facilitated with elevators,some may only have escalators and stairs,or some other places may only have stairs!
 
Baby wearing is another option to avoid the trouble when at stations without elevators

For the changing rooms,do not worry because at almost every place we went in Tokyo is facilitated with baby changing rooms.But as what we observed there is a preference that for some places which don't have baby room,there is still changing table available,but only in ladies' toilet.This might be from the culture that women are supposed to do the baby thing rather than the guys do it :P

Well,I didn't really find it troublesome,maybe the culture there and in Europe is different.Hehe.Well,a lot better than in Malaysia that finding a baby room,or even a simple changing table is like finding a treasure!If you know what I mean :P


8.Weather

For the record,we went to Japan in Summer,to be precise,hot and humid summer.So,personally I do not recommend people to go travel to Japan in Summer,because I'm sure many people can't tolerate with Japan Summer because it's very hot.But we had no choice because we don't live in Malaysia,and to travel 14 hours of direct flight with an active baby just for the sake of traveling is not ideal at all.

My favourite japanese tea to quench my thirst in hot summer

So,the best time to visit Tokyo or Japan in general is in early to middle April because this is the peak time of Sakura/cherry blossoms season.What is Japan without Sakura.In fact,this country is famous worldwide because of Sakura.

Sakura season from late March till middle of April,picture taken in Nagoya during my uni days :P

Or in middle November till early December as during this Autumn season,one can have chance to see Momiji(japanese maple leaves) in full red color,and during this time,it is not too cold but also not hot anymore to travel in Japan.

 An example of red momiji leaves.Picture taken in Arashiyama,Kyoto

Please try to avoid traveling to Japan in July till late August.


9.Festivals

In Summer especially,there are so so many festivals.Be it the firework festivals that take place in every place in Japan,or the summer festival where many people go to festival in their traditional costumes,and also in some places there are street cultural performances,especially in Summer.

So,if you have time,try to experience going to their festivals.


10.Tokyo Souvenir 

I would recommend Ueno evening market,Asakusa Nakamise shopping arcade,Akihabara Duty free souvenir shops,Tokyu Hands or simply from 100 yen shop haha!

Bought these Sushi erasers,souvenirs for myself at Tokyu hands

Fuh,long entry it seems.I guess that's all some tips on Tokyo Travel from me.Till next post!

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