Sunday, April 16, 2017

Japan Trip - Part 1 (Tokyo)


My friend, Fateh and I wanted to go for a vacation and we were thinking, where should we go? New Zealand? UK? Japan? And after discussing and thinking, with our limited budget and myriad reasons, we chose JAPAN! 

Japan was one of the countries that I really wished I could visit some day, simply because it was a beautiful country with traditional and modern culture somehow coexist together in unity. Not to mention because I grew up watching anime, Japanese dramas and reading manga, so I guessed this was a perfect destination. Hahaha.

Fateh and I went to Japan last month (31/1/2017 - 10/2/2017). Yes, only both of us, girls. In my opinion, Japan is a safe country for girls, even if you want to go there alone. Japanese people are so kind and helpful too. InsyaAllah :)

Compared to my Australia trip, this one was a bit challenging because we had to do everything by ourselves like planning the itinerary, booking the accommodation, transportation and many more within a limited time. Well, I just came back from Australia on 4th January and Fateh had to sit for her exam until 10th January. Plus, my schedule during January was a little bit tight. I had to attend the PreHO course on 13-15th Jan, my SPA interview on 23th Jan and my cousin's wedding on 28-29th Jan. And by that time, we hadn't book anything yet and our itinerary was still under construction. Hahaha. We just started to plan all of them after I had my interview done and finished it just before my cousin's wedding. Crazy? Definitely! And I was very grateful that I had my interview earlier because I was so afraid that it would be clashed with our trip to Japan.

So back to our story, we booked a multi-city flight (Air Asia) to Japan; Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Haneda (HND) and Kansai (KIX) - Kuala Lumpur (KUL) because we planned to go to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. It is important for you to decide which area you want to visit because in Japan, everything is expensive. You don't want to waste even a penny to unnecessary things. Unless you are rich. But if you are such a cheapskate as I am, well.. Think and plan wisely.

31/1/2017 (Day 1)

We departed from klia2 at 2:40 pm and arrived Haneda Airport around 10:30 pm. Alhamdulillah. Even though we were still mesmerized by the fact that we were actually in Nihon, we then immediately went to the information counter to buy the Tokyo Subway 72 Hours Tickets.

This pass is totally worth-it. Highly recommended!

We also wanted to buy the bus ticket to Kawaguchiko but unfortunately, it can only be done by tomorrow morning. We then went to pray. Fyi, there is a prayer room located at the departure area, level 3. They have two separate rooms and they are spacious. Don't worry :)

We planned to stay overnight at the airport because we wanted to go to Kawaguchiko in the next morning by bus. Plus, we afraid that we couldn't manage to catch the last train/bus because it was already late. So yeah. And fret not, the airport allowed people to stay overnight. We each took the whole chair at the arrival lobby for ourselves. Don't worry. There were also many travelers who done the same too. And of course, I slept like a rock. Really. (One thing I learnt from being a student, you can easily sleep anywhere. Even while waiting for your turn in the toilet! Lol). Only to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. The moment I opened my eyes, I saw a bunch of Asian travelers who were enjoying their ramen. Like seriously, it was freaking 4:30 am! But trust me, the smell of the ramen were so good and tempting!

1/2/2017 (Day 2)

After Subuh prayer, we wanted to buy the earliest bus ticket to Kawaguchiko but sadly, there was only one left. We then decided to buy the tickets for the next trip, which was at 10:50 am. A little bit behind our schedule but nah.. it was fine. We managed to have our breakfast (Fish-O-Fillet burgers that I bought from klia2), charge our phone and take a look around the airport. We also met a few Malaysians who were also travelers like us and then, there were this couple who also decided to tag along and join us to go to Kawaguchiko after heard about our plan.

The shops around Haneda Airport

View from Observation Deck

Mind you that Japanese people are very punctual. So janganlah nak buat perangai janji Melayu yang kalau janji pukul 10, pukul 12 baru nak sampai. Memang bas kitorang tu tepat pukul 10.50 am dia dah gerak.

The trip to Kawaguchiko took about 2 and half hours. The bus did stop at several stations before we arrived to our destination. One of them was Fuji-Q. It was one of the best theme parks here in Japan and there was the steepest roller coaster. I did put it to our itinerary at the first place but due to our budget constraint, we just passed it. Plus, dah target nak pergi USJ. So tak boleh la nak tamak sangat nak pergi semua theme park. Fulus.. fulus..

First destination is Lake Kawaguchiko.

One of the convenience stores here in Japan - Lawson.
Pretty much like 7E here in Malaysia.

Kawaguchiko Station. Like the design. See the Mt. Fuji there?

After that, we bought a sight-seeing bus pass where you can go around the places here by bus. We took the green line as we wanted to go to Saiko-Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba to try the kimono because that's our sole mission for this trip to Kawaguchiko XD.

Kitorang sampai situ dalam 3:15 pm dan sampai je kat situ, dapat tahu dari penjaga kaunter tu yang kimono try-out session tu dan tutup (kat papan tanda tu kata 3:30 pm tutup). Sedih gila sebab kat sini murah untuk try kimono (JPY 500), plus the view here was magnificent (with the majestic Mt. Fuji as the background, what more can you ask for?!). So dengan hati yang sedikit kecewa, kami pun naik jugalah sampai ke atas, sambil befikir nak try kimono kat mana lagi yang murah eh. But then, bila sampai kat atas tu nampak obachan yang jaga kaunter tempat try kimono tu. Saje je lah mencuba nasib, tanya kat dia "boleh ke nak try?", and guess what? She said yes!!! OMG!! Masa tu jam dah pukul 3:25 pm. Terus happy balik. Hahaha.

Finally arrived at Saiko-Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba

The entrance to Saiko-Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba

We then went to the nearest 7E to buy something for our dinner because we hadn't eat anything yet for our lunch (except for one piece of roti Gardenia). It was also getting colder. After we had our dinner, we waited patiently for our bus to Shinjuku. The trip from Kawaguchiko - Shinjuku took about 2 hours (If I'm not mistaken).

After arrived at Shinjuku, we bid farewell to our fellow Malaysians and headed to the subway station. We then decided to go to Tokyo Tower with our bag pack and luggage. We just took pictures from far.

You can immediately see the Tokyo Tower
right after you exit Akebanashi station

Lepas balik dari sini, buka instagram tengok Orlando Bloom
 pun posing macam ni kat Tokyo Tower. Hahaha

After that, we went to our hostel, Anne Hostel. It wasn't that hard to find our hostel and the facilities were great. Great and friendly staff members with perfect English. I still remembered that the one who entertained us when we first arrive was Mady, a Muslim French lad. Big thanks to Fateh for her research on accommodation! *thumbs up*

While waiting for our train to arrive

Subway system in Tokyo isn't that hard. Trust me. 

Our bunk bed. I can actually view Tokyo Skytree from my bed :)

2/2/2017 (Day 3)

We decided to go to Ueno, Asakusa and Akihabara.

1) Ueno

We took a stroll at Ueno Park. After that, we headed to Tokyo National Museum. We could see that many tourists and students were there too. The entrance fee for adult is JPY 620, but if you are a university student, you could get a concession which will cost you about JPY 410. And of course, we did that (even though I only showed them my student ID during my foundation days. Lol). So students, here's a pro tip: Don't forget to bring along your student ID whenever you travel. You don't know how much benefits that you could get by it. Trust me :)

Ueno Park

School kids at Tokyo National Museum

Standing Juni Shinsho (Twelve Heavenly Generals)

The garden inside the museum

2) Asakusa

We decided to have our lunch at Asakusa Sushiken after saw recommendations from Have Halal Will Travel and also Tokyo Muslim Guide. And honestly, that place was fantastic! The food was just superb and plus, they also had provided a prayer space too. Till this day, remembering the food will just make my mouth water.

Tantalizingly delicious and affordable. Worth every penny :)

Asakusa Sushiken
After performing our prayer, we then headed to Senso-ji Temple, one of the famous tourist attractions here. We also bought some souvenirs here. We also had a chance to taste the matcha ice cream (in the middle of winter, but who cares right?). We agreed that matcha wasn't really for our palate (sorry!).

Senso-ji Temple

Nakamise Shopping Street

Matcha ice cream in the middle of winter

We were actually surprised that the fries
at BK costed only JPY 100! 

We wanted to go to Tokyo Skytree but stopped in the middle of the way. Only managed to take pictures from far.
Along Sumida River: Tokyo Skytree, Asahi Beer Hall and Asahi Flame
(golden beer mug-shaped building)

3) Akihabara

Akihabara is famously known as the land of otaku. Also, for those who love gadgets, techs and stuffs, don't forget to visit here. We went to Laox, and guess what we bought for ourselves? Halal chocolates for JPY 500. Hahaha. Luckily we met an Indonesian staff at there and he did help us by explaining which one of the food there is halal and not.

Trump in Akihabara

Here's a funny story. After spending quite some time at Akihabara, we then decided to go back home. We followed Google Maps for the direction to the nearest subway. Habis dah tawaf keliling Akihabara tu only to realise that the subway is just straight away from our starting point. Geez. We should look up into Tokyo Guide Map first. *sigh*

Masa ni dok tawaf la satu Akihabara *hiperbola*

3/2/2017 (day 4)

We went to Shibuya and Harajuku.

1) Shibuya

If you come here, don't forget to take a walk across the famous intersection outside Shibuya Station. When the lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge into the intersection from all sides. You can also observe this moment of organized chaos from the Starbucks (from what I've been read so far).

Shibuya crossing

Hachiko. They even made a movie about it!

If you are a fashionista, you can also go around and explore Shibuya 109 as there are lots of boutiques to be discovered. As for us, naahh..

2) Harajuku

We went to the famous Takeshita Street. And since it was weekdays, there weren't many cosplayers around (too bad!). We also went to Daiso and bought some souvenirs. Gosh! The place was gargantuan and I could go crazy if I stayed at there for too long. Jangan pandang sebelah mata dengan Daiso kat sini. Macam-macam dia jual. Also, I needed to always remind myself that I have a very limited budget. We also bought a banana chocolate crepe at there. It was good!

Harajuku Station

Takeshita Street

Lautan manusia

Even toilet pun kawaii macam ni

Food courts in Harajuku. There's one halal food here.

We shared the crepe. JPY 480. :)

After that, we went to Yoyogi Park and performed our prayers. We chose to pray at the isolated area (less people around so it won't be so awkward and obvious). Alhamdulillah, so far we hadn't received any troubles if we prayed at the open space like that (read: park).

Yoyogi Park

Kitorang solat kat celah-celah pokok tu.
Tapi sebelum tu check la dulu, takut ada dog's poop ke apa.

How Japanese people separate their waste

The vibe of Tokyo Olympics 2020

Even kat jalan tar pun ada arts macam ni. Kagum sungguh la..

Dari benih bercambah kepada tunas 

Akhirnya menjadi sekuntum bunga yang mekar indah

We then went to Meijijingu Shrine. It is Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine. Compared to Senso-ji, this place was less crowded. Maybe because the place was huge(idk)? At the entrance, you can see that there is a 40-foot-high (12-meter) torii gate.

Meijijingu Shrine

Kalau nak acah-acah Kanye moment,
boleh la dok posing kat tengah-tengah alam tu :)

Wines in the barrels

Macam upacara ambil 'wudhuk' macam tu la

You can also write wishes on little pieces of wooden plaque (which you have to buy. Idk how much) and tie them onto the prayer wall. 

We also saw a traditional wedding procession through the courtyard on our way out but we only managed to catch a glimpse of it. Too bad.

We then decided to go to Imperial Palace but only to realise it was closed by the time we arrived there. Our hearts shattered into pieces when we saw the gate was closed. We walked miles just to go to here and we got this? Are you kidding me? But yeah! It was truly our fault. If and only if we checked first (padahal dah tulis dah dalam itinerary Moday & Friday closed). Hahaha.

Imperial Palace

Masa kat sini rasa bahagia sangat sebab takde orang.
Gaya macam jalan ni kitorang yang punya je

Tokyo Station. They were having some renovations here.

Inside Tokyo Station
So, pro tip number.. ah, whatever: Please check first the time and date whenever you want to go to any tourist attractions. If not, you'll end up like us.

4/2/2017 (Day 5)

After finished did our laundry, we packed our stuff as we were going to Odaiba and took a bus to Osaka.

The view from our hostel's laundry room.

After we checked out from our hostel, we took a subway to Shiodome Station. To Odaiba, you need to purchase a special ticket as the Tokyo Subway 72 Hours Tickets doesn't cover a trip to Odaiba.

Rainbow Bridge; view from the train

1) Odaiba

Odaiba is a lovely place. Maybe it isn't hectic as much as Tokyo. We went to Aqua City, and took a stroll around. We also bought a roasted sweet potato while enjoying the serene scenery and weather.

The unique building with the silver ball at the back there was Fuji TV HQ. 

Roasted sweet potato. Yummy!

Not sure whether  it was sakura or not.
I just pretended that they were sakura, even though
 it was too early for them to start bloom at this time

So, after went back from Japan, I did some research. Here's what I've found:

Plum blossoms come first (opening in mid-February), followed by peaches (mid-March) and then sakura (late March), but an unusually warm couple of days or sudden cold snap can shift their blooming patterns. As a result, sometimes it can be hard to tell which of the three flowers you’re looking at just based on the date.

The simplest method is to examine the shape of the individual petals. Plum blossom petals are evenly rounded, whereas peach petals are teardrop-shaped. Sakura, befitting their status as Japan’s favorite flower, have a cleft at the tip that gives them an elegant air (or makes them look like a female Pikachu). Source: here

FD 1
Plum (left), peach (center), and cherry (right)
Source: here

Speaking about sakura, hanami and sakura are closely related with each other. Hanami is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. We often heard it  that Japanese people will hold feats under the sakura/cherry blossom trees. But do you know that back in those days, hanami is done to enjoy the plum blossoms, hence they call it 'umemi'. Usually the cherry blossoming days come at the same time as the beginning of school and or they just back from vacation, so welcoming parties are often opened with hanami.

After that, we went to DiverCity Tokyo Plaza to see the famous Gundam statue. Forgive me, but I didn't watch Gundam (please don't kill me). From what I heard, the statue was going to be removed so we won't miss the chance to visit this place.

Gundam statue

And here's another funny story. After we passed the Gundam statue, we saw a lot of girls around the area. We were curious to know what's happening there. We managed to asked around and guess what? There was a meet-up event with a K-pop group 'Up10tion'. Hahaha. But hats off to those girls who were patiently waiting and queued up in line to meet their idols. Like seriously! I totally respected them because they were all so well-mannered and did not turn to maniac.

Meet and greet with Up10tion

We then went to Tokyo Toyota Show. By the time we arrived there, we saw a lot of people were gathering around and we were also curious to know why. We then realised that a J-Pop mini concert was held at there. We couldn't recognise who was the artist, only to know it was a girl group. Plus, we couldn't see much as there were so many people, and most (or all?) of them were men (even yang pangkat macam ayah-ayah pun ada)! Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the show was almost finished. Hahaha. Rasa kelakar pula sebab tadi meet up untuk artis lelaki K-pop, semua perempuan je. Yang ni artis perempuan, lelaki je penuh :) But I was really amazed by the crew of that events, because they were so good at their job. Baru berapa minit event dah habis, dah start kemas semua peralatan. By the time kitorang habis je pusing show room kereta tu, stage semua dah habis kemas. Clear habis kawasan tu. Memang tabik la! Kalau kat Malaysia, berhari-hari juga nak mengemas. Sampah sarap tak usah kata la.

J-pop mini concert where most of them were male

Inside Tokyo Toyota Showroom

This one is for handicapped passenger

If you love cars, you will definitely love this place! 

2) Shinjuku

One of the iconic things here in Shinjuku is the Godzilla's Head. You could see the Godzilla head emerges in between the tall buildings and it is literally watching over the city. Every hour, it will light up its eyes, growls and looks like it will fry you with its fiery breath or some sort of like that. It was cool tho. We were so lucky because we just arrived there at a perfect time!


Spot the Godzilla?

Here's the video where the Godzilla fires its fiery breath

We then decided to have our dinner but to find the restaurant was a little bit challenging. We had to walk about 2.5 km (if I'm not mistaken) in this cold night to reach there. The food was okay. We then stopped at the park and performed our prayers next to the baseball court.

Our dinner : Rice topped with chicken and egg (mine) &
 Chicken cutlet with Japanese curry (Fateh's) 

We then went back to the subway station, picked up our bags that we put earlier on in the locker and went to Shinjuku Bus Station to take our ride to Umeda, Osaka. We chose Willer Express.

The bus arrived on time and it was very comfortable. They also provided a blanket for each of us (da bomb!) and there was also some kind of a cover at the head of the seat that you can pulled it off to cover your head when you are sleeping which I thought was cool enough.

Okay, that's all for now. I will continue writing...if I'm not lazy enough/procrastinate at my best. Till then.

without wax,
haniyahaya :)

P/s: It took me so long to write about this trip. Sorry, I'm just lazy.

No comments: