Finally, the long awaited Japan trip has arrived. I have been wanting to visit Japan ever since I had an interest in their culture back during my pre-university days. I even took a basic Japanese language class back in 2004 with the hope it could prepare me for my future trip. Well, the trip did happen, only 10 years later. Haha!
Prior to the trip, I did my best to brush up my Japanese, and did the necessary travel homework. We bought travel books, booked a portable wifi device from Pupuru, and bought Japan Rail (JR) Pass vouchers at Isetan KLCC. The JR Pass was RM902 per person for a 7-day pass. It’s really expensive, but if you know much things cost in Japan, then the JR Pass is a bargain. It is only for foreigners so that we can travel at a low cost around Japan. The pass includes all Shinkansen (bullet train) and JR trains around Japan. The important thing to know is that the JR Pass can only be bought outside of Japan! For Malaysians, more info on JR Pass is provided here.
In summary, we were in Japan for 8 days. We spent most of our trip in Tokyo, with a 3 day side-trip to Kyoto:
- Saturday, 18 Oct 2014 – Tokyo
- Sunday, 19 Oct 2014 – Tokyo
- Monday, 20 Oct 2014 – Tokyo
- Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 – Kyoto
- Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 – Kyoto
- Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 – Kyoto
- Friday, 24 Oct 2014 – Tokyo
- Saturday, 25 Oct 2015 – Tokyo
The details of the trip are provided in their respective posts. Day 1 is below:
Saturday, 18 October 2014
We took Silk Air from KLIA on 17 Oct at 9:45PM to Singapore. From Singapore, we had a transit with Singapore Airlines and departed for Tokyo at 10:40PM. The total flight cost was RM3,300 for a return ticket.
We arrived in Narita Airport terminal 1 on Saturday 18 October at 8AM local time. After collecting our luggage, we went to the JR office to redeem our JR Pass vouchers to JR Pass tickets. The JR Pass tickets need to be shown every time you enter a JR station or Shinkansen.
After that, we took the Narita Express (NEX) from the airport to Shinjuku station. It’s an impressive futuristic looking train. The train from Narita to Shinjuku was part of our JR Pass, so we didn’t have to pay anything. The receptionist at the JR office even helped us to reserve seats for our train to the city!
The Shinjuku station was much larger than I expected. Apparently it is the world’s busiest train station! From the station, we walked to our hotel, Sunroute Plaza. I have scouted the area using Google streetview so I had a good idea on where to move and the distance of the areas in Shinjuku.
As we arrive, the hotel receptionist informed us that our portable internet from Pupuru was delivered to the hotel in the morning. Impressive. Wifi internet is scarce in Japan, so most travel blogs recommend hiring a portable internet device. We got the Wi-Fi WALKER LTE (telco: au) for 8 days, total cost is 11,340Yen (USD100 or RM330)
Since we arrived early (around 12, check in is at 2PM), we left our luggage with the concierge and went to explore the nearby areas.
We visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office building, and later had a quick lunch at a stall in the business district. We explored the rest of western Shinjuku (the business district) before heading back to the hotel.
We returned to the hotel around 2:30PM and checked-in. We booked the Economy Double Room for 3 nights for a total of ¥46,872 (~US$380 or RM1,350). The room size was a typical Tokyo hotel size: ~170 square feet. By international standards, this is tiny. But square footage is precious in Tokyo and this size is the best the hotels here can give you. Personally I was OK with it.
We took a nap for a few hours and later went to explore the eastern side of Shinjuku around 5PM. Surprisingly sunset is quite early here and by 5:30PM it’s already dark.
We explored the shops and shopping area. The eastern side of Shinjuku are known for its commercial area and nightlife.
We spotted the famous Takashimaya Times Square in the area and decided to have dinner there. The whole mall is 14 stories high with 3 floors dedicated to all sorts of restaurants. We had a nice tsuba meal at the 11th floor with a nice evening view of Shinjuku.