Sunday, April 1, 2018

Japan, So Fun!

Some have been asking about our Japan itinerary so I thought of writing it down here, not only for those who would like to know but also for myself so that I would not forget :-) . We were in Japan for 8 days, but only had 6 days to roam around (first and last days were for flying out to japan and returning to the Philippines, respectively). Without further ado, below is our itinerary to the land of the rising sun, ironically though, we didn't see much sun during our short trip. Having said that, kindly check on the weather forecast before deciding on your activities.  You'll find out later why this is important.

Day 1:  Tokyo Disneyland

To be a kid again, if only for a day 😝

Going inside Tokyo Disneyland

The Kingdom of Dreams and Magic - Tokyo Disneyland! Entrance to the amusement park where one presents his Disney pass for rides and attractions

Inside Tokyo Disneyland where shops selling Disney souvenirs abound

One of the many shops inside Tokyo Disneyland selling Disney merchandise

Another shop inside Tokyo Disneyland where souvenirs can be bought

Tokyo Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. We braved the long queues for this and I must say that enduring the long lines was worth it. The only problem was that it was narrated in Japanese and so I didn't understand a word. The impressive visual effects made up for the language barrier though. Taking photos and videos were not allowed inside.

Another attraction that we lined up for was Tokyo Disneyland's  Western River Railroad. Seeing how long the lines were could probably scare anyone who hates waiting in line. And yet again, we queued to get up those tracks to witness something wonderful. 

When it was finally our turn, we boarded this train and it took us around to some fascinating sights.

Tokyo Disneyland's Western  River Railroad. Aboard the moving train, I was lucky enough to take a snap of this lovely scene.

We spared some time to Meet Mickey.  Wait time from this point was 70 mins, as indicated. I can't speak, write nor read Japanese, but I guess the sign means just that 😎 . I must say though that the line was still so very long before this point. Lining up to see Mickey was a test to my patience. And after queuing for something like 2 hours, I was able to meet Mickey for less than 5 minutes, plus 1  photo from my friend's cellphone. (Strictly one  photo per visitor, unless you are willing to pay for a couple thousand Yens 😭)

The rest of the day was spent roaming around Disneyland, snacking and checking out the many shops inside the park. We waited for the much anticipated fireworks display but because of the bad weather, it had to be cancelled by management. I was so looking forward to it because I wanted to see if it was better than Hong Kong Disneyland's fireworks. But I guess there wont be any comparison as yet. 😣

Tokyo Disneyland Transportation Corporation. Looking so cool, really. Unfortunately, I didn't get to ride it.

Cinderella's Castle. Regardless of my age, this will always be my fairy tale 💖

Day 2: Tokyo Disneysea

The only Disneysea in the world is in Tokyo and so my group didn't pass the chance to see it, of course. But our excitement was dampened by the rain and chilly breeze. I wasn't able to get as much pictures as I wanted to because of the bad weather.

We went to see a live show entitled "Out of Shadowland", which was in full Japanese singing and narration; taking of pictures was not allowed. We queued for more than 2 hours for "Finding Nemo",  which was in 3D with effective, true-to-life simulations. However, this too was in Japanese,  plus taking pictures was prohibited.  Later in the evening, we had the opportunity to watch a musical from the "Big Band Beat".  As with the previous shows we've seen at Tokyo Disneysea, no picture/video taking was also allowed for this.

Since the fireworks display for Tokyo Disneyland was cancelled the night before, we were hoping that Tokyo Disneysea wouldn't cancel theirs.  But judging from the strong winds which brought with it heavier rains than the previous night, I was skeptical that the fireworks display will happen for Tokyo Disneysea. I was correct in my assessment. Without the much awaited fireworks display at Tokyo Disneysea, I actually felt that we were going home empty handed.  But much to my surprise, they had an open-air presentation of stunning visual effects set to some of the most popular Disney tunes. However, everything was played in Japanese, including the narration. I tried to take pictures and even videos, but the rain was really too much for me and the cold breeze was making my fingers stiff.  To cut the story short, I didn't get any good photo or video of the presentation. Sigh. 😔

Below are some of the pictures I managed to take, defying the heavy downpour.

Inside Disneysea. The grounds were obviously wet from the downpour

Pixar Playtime. Entrance to the Tokyo /Disneysea Park

Tokyo Disneysea Park. Not a very good time to stroll around and even to take pictures

Tokyo Disneysea. Inside the theater, stage for "Out of Shadowland". Waiting for the show to start.

Defying the rain and trying my best to take a snap of the outdoor evening presentation at Tokyo Disneysea

Trying again for another picture, despite the cold bothering me, anyway 😰😉 Tokyo Disneysea evening outdoor prsentation

Day 3: Kimono Wearing Experience

I was traveling with 5 girls, so this activity getting included in our itinerary was not surprising at all hehe!😜 Girls want to dress up, naturally. What better way to give in to that natural inclination 😛 than to play dress up in Japanese Kimono for a day.

When we first booked for this Kimono wearing experience, I had my reservations. I mean, we would be walking down the streets of Asakusa wearing a Kimono. Really? Yes, really.  But heck, this happens not even once in a blue moon. More like once in a lifetime hehe!

We went to the designated shop and chose our own Kimono to wear. Never mind if you're tall or short, slim or in the heavy side, because a very skillful attendant will dress you up accordingly and make sure that the Kimono fits you just right regardless of your body issues. Wearing a Kimono is no  mean feat. And this I need to say, you cannot wear it by yourself. At least I cannot.

The girls looking so lovely in their chosen Kimono

Day 4: Mount Fuji 

Perhaps my most favorite part of our Japan vacation is the day trip to Mount Fuji. I have seen countless times of this Mountain's grandeur from television, postcards, animations, and even on candy wrappers 😀 and so I was really excited to finally see Mount Fuji in person. The night before our tour, I was hoping for clear skies in the morning so that we'd be able to get a good view of Mount Fuji's beauty. With 2 cancelled Disney fireworks because of bad weather, I was having doubts as to Mount Fuji's visibility on our day trip. 

The skies were clear. We were obviously favored. Mt. Fuji looking so sharp and crisp.

 Mt. Fuji. I was in awe. I just stood there and stared, imprinting everything in my mind. 

Mt. Fuji. Was that a bird? A plane? Maybe it was Superman. Missed him again hehe! 😜

Giving you an idea where I was taking pictures from. Perhaps we just had our lunch in the Tea house? I nearly got lost going back to my group after taking my Mt. Fuji pictures 😂

Mt. Fuji. I think we had lunch in one of the rooms inside. I can't say for certain having already lost my way 😀

I did find my way back with some help from a kind Japanese lady. One last look and saying goodbye to Mt. Fuji  😢

Day 5. Strawberry Picking and Eat-all-you-can
Location: Nikko Shoyoen, World Heritage

I excused myself from our group to have some alone time in Setagaya, the place we called home for 8 days while in Tokyo, Japan.  The strawberry picking and eat-all-you-can sounded really delicious, but I had to beg off because I wanted to rest a bit since I was suffering from a shoulder/back injury that still needed to heal completely. Aside from the eat-all-you can fresh strawberries, the girls were excited moreover because a variety of strawberry cakes will also be an unlimited treat. So as to not totally miss out on all these strawberry galore, I asked one of the girls if she could buy for me fresh strawberries from where they were going to be picked up. And she kindly obliged.

Japanese strawberries for 450 Yen. Truly deliciousssssssssssssss 😍

Day 6: Dynamic Tokyo

Last day of our Tokyo tours. Our tour guide gave us a map to indicate the places of our activities, which were numbered as follows:

Tokyo Tower

First in the day's agenda was going up the Tokyo Tower.

Tokyo Tower. Not for those afraid of heights.  But you'd probably make an exception and put your fears aside if only to see Tokyo's cityscape and skyscrapers

Ok, setting my fears aside and looking out the window from Tokyo Tower's Main Deck 1, I see this. 😍

Tea Ceremony

After the Tokyo Tower visit, next in our agenda is to witness a Tea Ceremony. This is probably the one thing in all of our tours that I didn't have any idea about. I know what a tea is, and of course,  a ceremony. But I am not aware that Tea Ceremonies even existed and just how they were being celebrated.

On our way to the Tea Ceremony, Tokyo

Beautiful landscape on our way to the Tea Ceremony, Tokyo

Inside the room where the tea ceremony will be held, our tour guide made specific instructions that there was to be no video taking and that silence must be observed during the tea ceremony.  Hearing that, I was hesitant to take even photos during the ceremony.

Tokyo Tea Ceremony. We were given sweets before sipping  the tea from the ceremony

The tea ceremony was officiated by a Japanese lady in Kimono and was said in Japanese. Even if  I couldn't understand a word, I did observe that the ceremony included the making of the tea; mixing all the ingredients in pure water above a tiny fire. When the tea was ready, all of the participants were poured tea in tiny beautiful tea cups. 

Tea Cermony, Tokyo. This has got to be the best tasting tea ever! 

After the Tea Ceremony, we now go to my favorite part of the day's tour, lunch 😜.

Lunch 😍
Location: Hotel Chinzanso, Tokyo

If there was one thing that I wished for when I took this picture, aside from to have a delicious and satisfying lunch 😜,  I also wished that I brought with me my SLR so that I could have taken better pictures of the scenes along the way. I thought it was just going to be plain lunch, straight to the dining area,  that's why I decided to leave it securely in our bus. Boy,  but I was wrong.  Beautiful landscape on our way to lunch at Hotel Chinzanso, Tokyo.

On our way to lunch at Hotel Chinzanso. It was raining that day. Notice the  lovely cherry blossoms although soaked in rain.

Couldn't help but stop to take pictures on our way to lunch at Hotel Chinzanso, Tokyo although our time was limited only for lunch

Lunch, finally! 😍 Pardon me for not being able to take pictures of the food. These were the raw vegetables (mushrooms, red pepper, onions, carrots)  which were grilled right in front of us with thinly slices of beef and pork. So delicious I totally forgot to take pictures!  Hotel Chinzanso, Tokyo

After being full and satisfied from that delicious lunch, we now proceed to the outer garden of the Imperial Palace.

Outer Garden of Imperial Palace

By this time, the rain has intensified. Wet grounds and grey skies, but I need to get off the bus to see at least the outer garden of the Imperial Palace.

Walking around the Imperial Palace outer garden,  I had to stop to take a picture despite the heavy rains

Imperial Palace outer garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo.  Right in the heart of Tokyo, a beautiful park exists.

I wasn't lying when I said it was raining, ok?  😜 Everyone with their umbrellas while I was taking pictures 😄

Imperial Palace outer garden. Another very quick stop for this.

Imperial Palace outer garden, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace Outer garden, Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace outer garden, Tokyo, Japan

Hinode Pier

After that rainy episode, walking around the Imperial Palace outer garden, our next stop will be in Hinode Pier, where we will have a river cruise that will take us to Asakusa.

Hinode Pier cruise to Asakusa. This seems to be the rates as of our tour, I'm not sure though as it is written in Japanese 😉

Hinode Pier, Tokyo. The girls and I got really excited. We all assumed that we were going to board this for our river cruise.  #Expectation 😛

#Reality 😝. We boarded a boat that looks like this. No complaints though. Twas still fun. And comfortable.  Hinode Pier, Tokyo.

On board the boat from Hinode Pier going to Asakusa. I didn't like that the windows were not so clean, and that very much made my pictures blurry.

Hinode Pier cruise to Asakusa. Still trying to take some pics despite shooting from the boat's unclean window.

Hinode Pier cruise to Asakusa. Taking some  pics aboard the boat. The unclean boat's window disappointed me. 😑


Final destination to the day's trip is Asakusa. We walked around the streets of Asakusa leading to our final destination, the Sensoji Temple.

Our tour guide led us to this crossing in Asakusa.

Rickshaw in Asakusa, Tokyo. Interesting. Wish I had the opportunity to experience this.

Asakusa, Tokyo. Rickshaw in the streets.

Across the street is the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo

Asakusa Nakamise Shopping street. So many tourists in this rainy, gloomy day. A variety of souvenirs from Japan can be bought here. 

I saw a young boy bowing down and presumably saying a prayer while facing this from outside its gates. Asakusa, Japan.

Tourists flocking the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

A closer look at the Sensoji Temple

Cherry blossoms just beside the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo

Sakura up close in Asakusa, Tokyo 💓

The day tour ended with me holding several plastics full of souvenirs from Asakusa Street, my wallet complaining, but my heart rejoicing 😍

There goes our 6-day tour while in Tokyo, Japan. By the way, to those wondering, we booked all our tours from klook, They also have a mobile application, which you can conveniently download to your phones.  Overall, it was a good experience booking our tours from them. One reminder though, if faced with an option, kindly look for English speaking tour guides as this will make you understand, and thus, enjoy your tours more.

Tokyo was such a wonderful experience. I only wished that the weather was clearer so that some of the attractions were not cancelled due to bad weather. I had really so much fun, I wanted for our tour to be more than 6 days, but work calls and the money was not enough for an extension 😝. I will probably go back one day, but not very soon.. Sayonara Tokyo and arigato! It was a pleasure! 💖