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Monday, May 4, 2015

Japan - 3

DAY 3, 4 MAY 2015

AKIHABARA


A trip to Tokyo is not complete without going to Akihabara, so that is where we were spending the morning. Akihabara Station is just one stop from the Asakusabashi Station.





Sunday, May 3, 2015

Japan - 2

DAY 2, 3 MAY 2015

At 4am, people have started coming into the airport but there were still some people sleeping on the benches. Sunrise was at 4.47am and it was as bright as 8am in Malaysia.

This is one of the things we wish we could have all over Malaysia. They even have music when you do your "business".


At 6am we went down to the Shower Room on level 2F, which is the Arrival Floor. We paid 1030Yen/pax @ RM31/pax for 30 minutes of shower and we got a free coffee/tea voucher as well. If you use the bathroom more than the time allocated, they will charge you 520Yen for each extra 15 minutes.

The currency exchange was 100Yen = RM3.045


Each one of us got 1 key and the bathroom was complete with everything! Shampoo, conditioner, soap, clean towel, hair dryer, hot shower, everything you'd need. 


After getting all cleaned-up, we went to the coffee shop next to this place to redeem our tea and coffee. We also had tuna onigiri for breakfast @ 170Yen each.


JR PASS

We bought our JR Pass (exhange order) at JTB, on the 2nd floor, Isetan KLCC, Kuala Lumpur a few days before we flew to Japan. Initially we wanted to buy it online but it requires minimum 5 days to get the Exchange Order via courier and we didn't have enough time. Then a good friend of ours who used to study in Japan told us that we could buy it at the Kuala Lumpur JTB. We bought the 7 days pass for RM920.40/pax and we got the Exchange Order there and then.

This Exchange Order has to be changed to the actual pass at any JR Travel Service Center in Japan and we choose the one at Haneda Airport. The JR Travel Service Center opens at 7.30am and there were already a queue in-front of the not-yet-opened-counter when we reached there.

In order for us to redeem the JR Pass, we had to fill-in a form, show our passport and decide the first day to use the pass. The counter opened sharp at 7.30am and we got our JR Pass before 8am. We also reserved our seats for the 11.08am Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kitakami.

This JR Pass allowed us to take unlimited trips via the JR and Shinkansen all over Japan (except for the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen) for 7 consecutive days.


With the JR Pass, we took the monorail to Hamamatsucho Station then transfered to JR Yamanote to go to Akihabara Station and finally transfered to JR Chuo to go to the Asakusabashi Station. The whole ride was covered by the JR Pass.



TOKYO SUMIDAGAWA YOUTH HOSTEL

This hostel is just 450m or 5 minutes away from the Asakusabashi Station on foot. We used our gps to find it and left our bags at the lobby since it was too early to check-in. At the lobby, we met with a Malaysian family from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. They have been staying there for a few days and they were going back to Malaysia already.

It was the Golden Week in Japan and most hotels were already fully booked. We managed to book a room at this hostel for 21,000 Yen @ RM627 for 3 days 2 nights via www.booking.com. The check-in time is at 4pm and check-out is at 10am. They provide free wifi in the room and there are also washing machines, dryers and lockers available.

Our room has an attached toilet, but with shared bathroom. There are a few bathrooms on the ground floor and our room was on the 1st floor.



TOKYO STATION

We had an 11.08am Yamabiko Shinkansen to catch at the Tokyo Station and we had to be punctual.

At 9.41am, we walked back to the Asakusabashi JR Station and took the JR to Akihabara Station, and then transit to Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Station was full! Everyone was travelling during the Golden Week holidays.


Then we decided to go to the JR Office at the station to reserve our seats coming back from Kitakami to Tokyo and also our journey on the 5th of May to go to the ski resort at Gala Yuzawa. The person at the counter was very helpful in giving us the route and timetable that most suited us. The seat reservations are free for JR Pass holder.

Our Yamabiko Shinkansen was right on time and this was our first time on the Shinkansen! Super excited! :)


Kitakami is more than 500km from Tokyo and the Shinkansen only take 3 hours to reach there. The same journey would take 6 hours by car.

The seats in the Shinkansen are spacious and you can comfortably recline the seat. There is also a clean toilet on board. You can eat and drink in the Shinkansen, unlike the local JR / subway / metro where you should avoid eating or drinking on board. Before you exit, make sure you throw away your trash at the dustbin near the exit door and return the seat to it's original position. We also realized that it's always quiet in the Shinkansen. If anyone wants to take a call, they will go out to the small section near the exit door and talk there.



CHERRY BLOSSOM AT TENSHOCHI PARK IN KITAKAMI

We reached the Kitakami Station at 2.09pm and it's just a small station. Whenever a Shinkansen passed-by, we could feel the strong vibration. It amazes us how the Japanese does their maintenance and daily services to this high-speed train.


As we exited the station, we saw a small shop that offers rental bicycles and we decided to rent one :)
The rent was 300Yen @RM9 per bicycle for the whole day, but the lady asked us to be back by 5pm because she'll close the shop by then. We were fine with it since our Shinkansen was at 5.28pm.


This kind lady showed us the route to the Kitakami Park and we choose Route no 2.



Since it was already early of May, there were only a few cherry blossom trees blooming in the park. However, it is still a great park to visit and we are happy that we decided to go.


We had a great time at this park. It was beautiful and very relaxing. There are 2000 trees in the 2km park and there is a 20 minutes boat ride from the rest house at the end of the park. Beside the park is the Kitakami River and there is also a Michinoku Folklore Village nearby.



We found this lovely bench and rested here while having our tuna onigiri for lunch.


At the end of the park was a stretch of street stalls selling all sort of seafood and delicious ice-cream! The ice-cream was 350Yen each.


Then we turned back and headed to the Kitakami Station and arrived at about 4.40pm.


We have reserved our seats in the Hayabusa Shinkansen to go back to Tokyo. We were looking forward to this because Hayabusa is the FASTEST Bullet Train in Japan, clocking speed of 320kmh!


We reached Tokyo in just 2 hours and 24 minutes :)



DINNER AT TENDON TENYA


On our way back to our hostel, we dropped by at the Tendon Tenya near the Tokyo Station to have dinner. Tosh had rice and tempura while Tawaf had her udon and tempura. Our dinner was 1600Yen for 2 pax.


TOKYO SUMIDAGAWA YOUTH HOSTEL

At last we reached our hostel and ready to check-in. Towels are not provided so we rented the towel for 50Yen each. We were informed by the guy at the counter that the main door is automatically locked at mid-night until 7am and there is a specific pin code to open the door. Below is the lobby of the hostel.


Below is our room. Our main door leads to 3 other doors which are the living area cum bedroom, a cupboard full with pillows and duvets, and the last one leads to the toilet and sink. It is spacious and clean.


After resting, we did our laundry on the ground floor for 300Yen (washing machine and dryer). And later we found that our international adapter wasn't working, so we borrowed an adapter from the receptionist for 1000Yen deposit. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Japan - 1

DAY 1, 2 MAY 2015

This Japan trip is one last minute trip which we didn't plan for this year. We only bought our tickets on the 25th April, just one week away and only started our itinerary planning a few days before we left for Japan on the 2nd of May.


Our flight was at 2,30pm on Saturday, 2nd May 2015 and Tawaf's younger brother sent us to KLIA 2 just a few hours before departure. This time we traveled light since we'll be going to many places out of Tokyo


The journey was smooth and we slept soundly. Below is the picture of Tokyo from above before we landed.


We reached the Haneda Airport at about 10.20pm and we were in no rush since we were spending the night at the airport. Some of the passengers on our flight were rushing to get their bags and catch the train to Tokyo.


The airport was quite empty at night and our first stop after we've taken our bags was the prayer room. This prayer room is quite new since it wasn't here during our previous trip in 2012.


There are 2 rooms and both doors are normally locked even though it is bright inside. All you have to do to open the door is to use the intercom at the door and the person in-charge will open the door remotely for you. There wasn't anyone else there so both of us used the same room to pray. We used the www.islamicfinder.org to check the local prayer time and Subuh was at 3am.

It was nearly midnight and we went around to find food and a spot to sleep. The airport is beautiful and well decorated but most of the shops were closed already.


Below is the Edo Koji area on the 4th floor where there are many restaurants with great ambiance.


There is also a Tokyo Pop Town on the 5th Level which has the Observation Decks and Moon Viewing Platform.


Finally we found an empty space for us to spend the night. All counters were empty already and it's time to sleep.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Japan Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday)
  • Flight at 2.30pm from KL 
  • Reach Tokyo at 10.30pm (7 hours flight)
  • Sleep at the airport
Day 2 (Sunday)
  • Check-in at the Tokyo Sumidagawa Youth Hostel near the Asakusabashi Station
  • Watch Cherry Blossom at Kitakami Park via Shinkansen
Day 3 (Monday) 
  • Free and Easy:
    • Akihabara
    • Shibuya
    • Harajuku
    Day 4 (Tuesday) 
    • Skii at Gala Yuzawa via Shinkansen
    • Toyama
    • Check-in at APA Hotel Toyama-Ekimae
    Day 5 (Wednesday)
    • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
    • Takayama
    • Check-in at Country Hotel Takayama
    Day 6 (Thursday) 
    • Shirakawa-Go
    • Back to Tokyo 
    • Check-in at Hotel MyStays Asakusa
    Day 7 (Friday) 
    • Ashikaga Flower Park via Shinkansen (half dah trip)
    • Back to Tokyo
    • Ueno and Ameyoko
    • Shibuya
    Day 8 (Saturday)
    • Gotemba Premium Outlet
    Day 9 (Sunday) 
      • Asakusa
      • Ropponggi and Naruto Exhibition
      Day 10 (Monday)  
      • Tokyo SkyTree
      • Tokyo Dome 
      • Shinjuku
      • Go to the Haneda Airport
      Day 11 (Tuesday)  
      • Reach KL at 6.40am