After catching a quick glimpse at Mt Fuji on the descent we had arrived in Tokyo. Following our AirBNB hosts directions we made our way to the accommodation. We had tried to pick a location which was not completely in the centre but also not too far from it with good subway access.
With the expected amount of confusion finding the correct trains we arrived and were soon in our room. We dropped our bags and went to find some food! Being in Tokyo was a bit of a surreal feeling. It was somewhere both of us had wanted to visit for a long time but we were also not sure what to expect from one of the biggest, busiest and most technologically advanced cities in the world.
In our first venture out we were met by big flashing neon signs, lots of people and traffic. Any initial presumptions we had regarding Tokyo were met. Interestingly despite it being a big city, we noticed that overall it was reasonably quiet in most places we went. For example we could walk along the street and have a conversation without struggling, something we could not do in Manila or London due to the high amounts of noise from the surroundings.
One thing we had quickly found about, not just Tokyo but Japan in general, was how openly accepted it was to smoke. It is harder to find a non smoking seat in a restaurant than not. With both of us being non-smokers it was one of the very few things that became increasingly frustrating as we travelled throughout the country.
The next day we headed straight into the city centre and made our way to the Yasukuni Shrine and began our exploration on foot. We made our way from the shrine and through the imperial palace grounds. Despite being in the middle of the city we encountered great scenery along, with more cherry blossom and some famous local monuments.
We continued our way to Tokyo central station to stop for lunch. We went underground to discover the huge shopping mall that was there. This was another thing we had noticed, most subway stations had large malls and other shops underground. In some places it was completely possible to walk from one station to another, go clothes shopping, pick up lunch…and not go above ground!
From here we went to Shinjuku, a big electronics district which was good for picking up potential bargains on almost anything requiring electricity. Jake was looking for a new lens for the camera to use on the trip; this was definitely the place to find it! Some of these shops were huge; spanning several levels selling everything you could possibly imagine! It wasn’t so much overwhelming, but jaw dropping! It was a dream if you’re a geek who loves gadgets and electronics.
We didn’t find the lens this time around, but after doing some searching online we came back later on and managed to find it from a store called Map Camera. The staff members were helpful and knew their products. It also came with a small guarantee in case there were any issues. Always useful when buying a 2nd hand product.
During our time in Tokyo we explored and experienced more famous places. We visited Akihabara & Nakano Broadway: the anime neighbourhood! All kind of things that could possible be made out of a cartoon could be found here. We also paid a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, the Shibuya crossing and Koishikawa Korakuen Garden; visited the Museum of History and different shrines and temples.
Our deli experience in Tokyo was dedicated to some delicious Soba Noodles. We had already tried different flavours and ways of cooking but Ana found out that a Chef had won a Michelin Star for his recipe. After a thorough research and several trains, we found a small house in the middle of a quaint neighbourhood. At first we thought we were in the wrong place but the queue outside the door gave it away. We were quite lucky to get a ticket for a sit just 30min later; it seems customary to reserve your slot by passing by and buying a ticket early morning. The truth is; those were the best soba noodles we have ever tasted!
We finished one of our days by heading to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for the observation deck. Whilst it wasn’t quite sunset, we were still able to get a fantastic view of the city with an awesome low sun.
A nice sunset can also be seen over the Rainbow bridge.
We took a bus from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko, one of the Fuji 5 lakes. We had 2 nights here with 2 objectives…relax from the buzz of the city and to see Mt Fuji. We were promised we had a good view from our bedroom window and we were very excited!
However, we arrived to a very misty town and couldn’t see anything apart from the buildings around us, no matter. We had read to expect weather like this, it is very common. We made our way to our accommodation, which was a traditional Japanese Ryokan and got settled in.
The next day when Jake awoke, Ana was already at the window with the camera, her eyes wide with excitement. Jake whilst still half asleep went over to the window and suddenly woke up very quickly when he saw the view!
A couple of things came to mind. Firstly…we didn’t quite realise just how close we were going to be which made it seem even more massive than it already was. Secondly, due to the weather the day before, we now appreciated that you could see it from almost anywhere in town…the day before we had walked right by it and had had no idea at all!
We got ready and went for a walk to try and get a better view. We looked on the map and Jake had an idea of a lake reflection shot he wanted to try, so it seemed as good a direction as any. We were very fortunate with the weather during our time here. Throughout the day, the mist and clouds surrounding Mt Fuji were reduced more and more and eventually gone, allowing for some of the most beautiful views we had seen so far!
Afterwards we headed to a Japanese restaurant for some (more) delicious food, rounding off our day quite nicely!
Our next and final destinations for Japan are Kyoto & Osaka.
Until then, enjoy!
Jake & Ana