I know I’m skipping ahead with this post, but I just spent the most amazing 5 days and 4 nights in Tokyo over the weekend and I simply must post about it before my memory fades! It was like living in the dreams of my 14-year-old-self – shopping in Harajuku, meeting famous faces, getting street snapped, going to themed cafes, and seeing one of the most incredible art exhibitions I’ve ever had the privileged of witnessing.
In fact, it was such an intense few days I think I may have to split it into three posts… (sorry!)
So here’s the first one!
First of all I guess I should talk about how we got there.
Now most foreigner traveling to Japan with the intent of moving around the country normally get a JR pass for a set amount of time (usually sold in increments of 1 or 2 weeks). Depending on how often and how far you want to travel, the JR pass can save you a lot of money! But unfortunately for Emma and I, a JR pass was not an option, as they are only offered to short-stay tourists, not exchange students like us. So we had to pay the full amount for the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. Luckily we got a small discount from our university, but it still came to over $100 AUD. A little steep for me… Emma’s friend Wing, who had been staying in our dorms for a week, was the lucky one with a JR pass. Jealous!
Here’s Emma and Wing on the Shinkansen! We took the Hikari, which took about 2 hours and 40 minutes to get to Tokyo from Kyoto. The Nozomi line is faster, taking only about 2 hours, but because the JR pass isn’t valid on the Nozomi trains, we decided to take the longer trip to save Wing some money. (More for shopping with! Yay!)
The train was very pleasant. Clean, bright and very spacious! I sat next to a lovely Japanese man who spoke to me through most of the trip, telling me about his family, his trips abroad, his work, and a few interesting facts about Japanese culture. I had some nicely wrapped homemade brownies in my bag at the time, so I gave him one when I got off the train, and he gave me his business card (which I can’t read. Little bit of a fail, but sweet none-the-less).
After the train we met up with two of Emma’s friends, Reina and Rebecca, and the five of us went for lunch. Rebecca had to leave at 1pm, but the rest of us ventured on to our hostels for the evening! Both were located in Asakusa. Emma, Reina and Wing stayed in Khaosan Annex, and I stayed in Asakusa Smile (as there were no rooms left at their place). I don’t know about their place, but the building I stayed in was quite nice and clean, with a nice little kitchen and very bright, clean rooms. I was staying in a 4-bed female-only room, and the young ladies who stayed with me were lovely! One was from Germany, one from Japan, and the other I believe was from China (but I’m not sure). There was wifi included, toilets on every floor, and they gave you a free drink ticket to use at their bar! Also the staff actually lived there as well, so if you needed help they were always there. And it was only 25 AUD a night!! The only downside was that there appeared to be only one shower for the whole hostel (which holds about 20 people I think), and they forgot to leave fresh sheets for two of the beds in my room. Also they had no locker facilities, so I had to leave my small suitcase in the room and carry all my valuables with me in case of theft. Luckily the girls in my room were lovely and I trusted them enough not to worry too much.
Here are the websites for the hostels we stayed at if anyone is interested.
If you ask me, they were both a little far away for my liking, as all the things we wanted to see were in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku, which are on the other side of Tokyo and took about an hour to get to. The cost of the trains as well made it not really worth it, so I would recommend figuring out where you want to spend most of your time, and find a hostel near there, even if it means paying a little extra per night. It will save you a bunch of time! Tokyo is huge!
Anyways, enough about the hostel!
Once we settled in, we went to the Tokyo Sky Tree. There seemed to be an anniversary of some-kind so there were a bunch of special promotional items being advertised and sold.
We also found a poster of this crazy guy, who Emma felt the need to imitate in a rather… disturbing manner.
But our real reason for going to the Sky Tree was to check out the Moomin Cafe!!
Wing manages the Moomin shop in London, so she was having the time of her life in there! Photographing everything and looking at all the goodies in the gift shop. It was super-adorable so we all decided to sit down for coffee and sweets.
Look who came to join us!
Now everything in this place looked absolutely amazing and adorable! But in all honesty the food wasn’t the best… It looked great but the pancakes were cold and dry, like they’d been sitting there all day, and there was barely enough syrup to cover one pancake! The fruit was sweet and delicious though (like all Japanese fruit), and the berry-flavoured coffee I had was probably one of the best coffees I’ve had in Japan so far. It was actually creamy! And not filled with that sickly sugar syrup stuff they put in everything here! I was very pleased. Also, the little baked-custards came with a complimentary mug! Just like the ones above. Each design varied slightly, with differences in the shape of the handles and the images printed on them. So lovely!
After eating we mucked around a bit with the toys and hats.
On our way out, Wing mentioned to the staff that she was the manager of the London Moomin Shop, and they all got really excited and decided they wanted a photo with her! Then they gave us all a limited edition 1st-year anniversary badge each! It was so lovely!
Q-pot even had gacha pon machines!! You put in 500 yen and got a special pin. You could choose to try for a special ‘Sky Tree themed’ one above, or go for the normal one below. I went for the normal one, and got a yellow heart badge with Q-pot written inside. I love it!!
Then the Rilakkuma store and Jump shop!By the time we finished at the mall we were absolutely exhausted… so we went got some food from the local seven eleven and went back to our hostels for the night.
But I did get a nice night-time shot of the Sky Tree before heading back to my temporary home!