I have visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Kobe in 7 days. I made sure my itinerary fits my 7-Day JR Pass. I wished I could have stayed more – maybe 14 days for a 14-day JR Pass and to maximize the allowable number of days in my visa. But it wasn’t the case. Hopefully next time I have the luxury of both time and money.
Japan is not an easy choice for me considering the fact that I am not an ‘urban’ person. My past travels would always lead me to where the ‘un-develops’ are because I am more into nature and culture. However, there is something in Japan that excites me – something I know I could appreciate and perhaps talk about over and over again.
Day 0 – The Excitement Begins
Being a Cebu Pacific fan that I am, I took Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Osaka. We left Manila as scheduled and arrived in Osaka – Kansai International Airport a little past 8PM which is ahead of our expected time of arrival. Flying with Cebu Pacific is always this awesome experience for me.
Prior to flying, I have already decided to just stay at the airport and spend the rest of the night there since I have to convert my JR Exchange Order to JR Pass once their office opens at 5:30 in the morning.
After a sushi dinner – my first meal in Japan – I stayed in one of the nice benches near the JR Office. The airport became my home for 8 hours. It wasn’t a bad second home after all – it’s not crowded as there are no flights after 9PM (i think), nice and comfortable benches, 24 hours convenience store, etc, etc.
It may sound strange why my port of entry is Osaka and not Tokyo. The time I got my ticket, Cebu Pacific has no flights yet to Tokyo. Today, Cebu Pacific flies to Tokyo Narita, Nagoya and Osaka Airports.
Day 1 – The Nostalgia of Japan
Before 5:30AM, I already went to JR office at the second floor to convert my JR Exchange Order into a JR Pass. The office opened on time and the guy at the counter was courteous and very helpful. I managed to get JR Pass in barely a minute.
With the JR Pass on hand, I am now ready to explore Japan! So I immediately went to Platform 3 to catch the first train bound to Shin-Osaka Station. The travel time is roughly 30 minutes. From Shin-Osaka Station, I transferred to a bullet train (called Shinkansen) for my trip to Tokyo. It was my first time riding a bullet train and the experience was just awesome. I managed to get a seat on the left side for a supposed perfect view of Mt Fuji but since it was cloudy that day, I was not able to get a glimpse of the mountain.
We arrived Tokyo Station at around 11AM. Travel time from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station is 3 hours and 15 minutes.
From Tokyo Station, I transferred to Tokyo Loop Line (also known as Yamanote Line) which is still a JR Line so I can get to my hostel immediately.
After taking a quick rest in my room, I had my lunch in a “corner restaurant” near my hostel. I never thought that ordering a food is through the vendo machine outside. One staff assisted me as I do not know how to do it myself. It’s like buying a subway ticket after all! I ordered food based on the picture I saw. If it looks like ramen, it must be ramen when served!
After lunch, I went to Akihabara (Akihabara Station of the Yamanote Line). Shinjuku is famous because many big electronics stores are in the area which offer numerous computer, electrical home appliances products. Its like an electronics Mecca if I may say.
Then, I went to Tokyo Station – the nearest station to get to the Imperial Palace and Nijubashi Bridge. Only the East Park of The Imperial Palace is open to the Public. Nijubashi Bridge is just in front of the main entrance. Funny but I got lost here. Sometimes, you don’t know where is east or west if you don’t know where is north or south. Whatever!
One can not also miss the imposing architecture of Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Station is a renaissance-style building made of red bricks that was completed in 1914. It was restored as a 2-storey building after WWII but was reconstructed into its original in 2012.
At about 5PM, I went to Shibuya (Shibuya Station of the Yamanote Line). Shibuya Crossings is known to be Japan’s busiest crossing as literally hundreds if not thousands of people cross the street at the same time as the traffic light changes its color.
From here, I should have an easy access to Shinjuku – the world’s busiest station, but I did not dare to. Subway stations in Japan and its train networks are extremely extensive and getting lost is not an option but a reality.
After sipping some good coffee in Starbucks Shibuya and watching the magic of Shibuya Crossings, I went to Roppongi for dinner together with some friends. It was Jepoi’s idea that we try the ‘Best Ramen in Tokyo’ in his favorite Ramen House. My verdict? I am not a food critic or food expert myself but like real food, it tastes really good! As simple as that. LOL.
Since the night is still young and the view of Tokyo Tower is dazzling, we decided to take a lazy walk from Roppongi Hills to Tokyo Tower while enjoying a good conversation. Tokyo Tower is perhaps the city’s most iconic symbol. It was built in 1958 as a broadcasting tower and is still used until today. Many believe that Tokyo Tower is the city’s lucky charm and one must not fail to make a wish when paying a visit. I made one! I’ll let you know it its granted or not! LOL
Tired and almost drained, I went back to my hostel at about 11PM. I had some few beers before finally ending my first 24 hours in Japan!
I stayed at Oak Hostel Zen which is few minutes away from Uguisudani Station (also on the Tokyo Loop Line). Oak Hostel Zen is a perfect choice when in Tokyo. Apart from its friendly rate and convenient location, their staff are very accommodating and would always make extra effort to help. Apart from that, they really have nice and clean rooms with excellent facilities. The entire experience is worth a 4 star hotel! No joke.