travel diaries vol.1: japan (+ bonus travel guide!)
Here comes my first post, along with my first travel diary. Hope you like it!
My trip to Japan with my family consisted of a ton of first times — my first time trying Sake, first time visiting Tokyo, & first time seeing Cherry Blossoms in real life. With all these firsts, I wish to help you with yours! Need some travel tips & places to go for your first Japan trip? Maybe this’ll help you!
One thing I learned about during this trip was that making an itinerary won’t really matter if you’re someone like me. I spent countless hours in class making an itinerary for my first time in Tokyo and I ended up going to just 2 places listed. But you can do whatever you want. If you think making an itinerary beforehand will help you, do it! You do you!
The video above consists of the highlights of my Japan trip, but to be more detailed, I’ll describe my day-to-day experiences.
Getting to the hotel at around 7pm, my family decided to just get some take out from Dotonbori (for gyoza and takoyaki!) and Yoshinoya. If you haven’t tried authentic Yoshinoya, you’re definitely missing out. (Try the Garlic Pork Bowl with extra cheese and soft boiled egg — it’s to die for!!!!)
Since I’ve been to Osaka before, I was done with all the touristy stuff. Though, amidst all the shopping at UNIQLO and WEGO and the best breakfast at Ramen Ichiran (it was so good, I went back twice!!), I couldn’t miss out on the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. It was 2 train rides away, but, being a huge fan of cup noodles, it was totally worth it! I not only discovered more things about my favorite 5 minute snack, but I was also able to design and create my own personal cup. I got to choose the soup I wanted, together with four toppings — I felt like a kid in a candy store.
On the way to the subway station after the museum trip, we went to one of the 100 Yen shops we found on one of the streets (there are stores like these ALL over japan!), I bought everything that caught my eye! 100 yen is just around 50 Philippine pesos or a dollar. Talk about a bargain!
DAY THREE & FOUR
In Kobe, our hotel was conveniently next to Chinatown. My family and I ate our first dinner there! It was good, but not great — we were in Japan, after all.
The next morning, we were picked up by our tour guide in a huge coaster that had my uncle’s name on it. We first went to 2 historical houses I dooon’t really recall the names of — I’m not really big on shrines and historical houses, but I love museums. There’s just something different about them, seeing everything displayed and available to interact with. Sadly, there weren’t any museums in Kobe — besides the Sake museum.
At the Sake museum, we got to taste all different kinds! I fell in love with the orange Sake, but sadly it wasn’t available to buy at the time.
That concluded our Kobe tour. From there, we travelled to Tokyo.
Location: Kobe to Tokyo
We woke up at 9am to check out of the hotel and went straight to the subway. I became an expert navigator throughout the trip (
thanks to Maps from Apple!) so it was easy to find the ticket booth, get on the fastest train (the Nozomi train), and get to Tokyo. It took us around 3 hours to get to Shinjuku, the city we called home for the next 5 days.
It was getting pretty late, so we decided to just scout Shibuya for cellphone cases for the iPhone 6+ (my mom’s phone). Turns out everyone in Japan either loves small iPhones or Samsung phones so we couldn’t find anything — at all! We were stunned by the beauty of Shibuya Crossing and admired Hachiko’s statue, then went back to the hotel to rest — we needed to prepare ourselves for a LONG day.
Location: Harajuku & Shimokitazawa, Tokyo
I got up and prepared myself for the long day ahead of me. I was ready to thrift!
First place we went to was Harajuku. We had breakfast at Yoshinoya (is it obvious it’s one of my family’s favorite places to eat?) then went straight to Takeshita Street. It was very overwhelming, from the amount of people on the street to the weather (it was raining!), but we still went through the whole street and checked out some shops!
The first shop we went to was W ❤ C. It was filled with pastel fashion pieces, from tops, pants, bags, to accessories. But, the section of the shop I loved the most was the second floor — the vintage and used floor. Everything was color coordinated, from denim jackets to Polo and Champion shirts. Most were around 3990 yen, which is around 2000 Philippine pesos or 40 dollars, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t get anything from that store. Oops!
The next shop we went to wasn’t a clothing shop, but a crepe shop called Santa Monica Crepes. The line for it was long, so we predicted that it would be pretty good — and it was. I got the strawberry banana double whip crepe, and it was delicious.
We continued down the road and spotted one store that was on my itinerary (finally!). It was Chicago, a thrift shop. I went crazy. I spent 20,000 yen, aka 10,000 pesos and 200 dollars, and purchased great finds — from a Dior scarf and jacket, a Champion Jersey, to a ton more. Tired from the splurge, we went more and more down the street, got to a huge intersection, and continued going straight. We got to a Stussy flagship store, and saw some cute little shops around it. We went around a little, and decided it was time to go to Shimokitazawa.
As we got out of Shimokitazawa station, we were greeted with tons of thrift stores. Going through each one, I was able to cop a vintage Prada windbreaker for just 5,000 yen. Such a find!
After that, tired from all our shopping, we went back to Shinjuku, bought some snacks from Family Mart, and went back to the hotel.
Location: Tsukiji Fish Market & Ginza, Tokyo
We decided to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market
(which was actually on my itinerary!) because my grandfather loves wet markets, from shopping for the best ingredients for his dishes to trying out the fresh meat — in this case, seafood!
Entering the fish market, we first stumbled upon a shop selling mochi. We got to purchase a sampler — we were able to pick 6 flavors, namely, peach cream, strawberry yoghurt, red bean, black sesame, chocolate
(the best one!), & green tea. They were all so delicious!
Walking around the market, it was my grandfather’s turn to feel like a kid in a candy store. He was trying out all the little snacks, and he happened to pick all the best ones, for cheap!
Our last meal at the fish market was a tuna sashimi sampler from another kiosk. It honestly melted in my mouth. It was the best tasting tuna sashimi I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ll be able to lower my expectations for the next tuna dishes I’ll ever be trying.
From Tsukiji, we took the subway to Ginza. We went to Ginza not really to explore, because we already had places to go in mind — Dover Street Market & the 12-Floor UNIQLO.
Of course, I couldn’t resist buying at least one fashion item from UNIQLO. I bought the most comfortable 3/4 sleeve knit top. I don’t regret spending 3,000 yen on it. After purchasing the top, I went straight to Dover Street Market to avoid another shopping splurge.
My mom and I wanted to go to Dover Street Market to check out the CDG x Converse collection. We went through a journey to finally find our perfect pairs (the white low cut for my mom and the black hi-tops for me!).
Going back to Shinjuku after a long day, we decided to have dinner at Ramen Ichiran
(yes, this is one of the other 2 times I had this. oops).
Location: Shinjuku & Tokyo DisneySea
Since my mom, my uncle, and I planned to get the After-6 Passport (its 3000 yen less than the regular Day Pass price!) for Tokyo DisneySea, we just tried to kill time in Shinjuku — we ended up Taito Game Station just a 2 minute walk away from our hotel. My mom and I left the arcade, 2 hours later, bearing one Gudetama Plush Toy and empty wallets
(we spent 5000 Yen in the crane game LOL RIP).
After the arcade, we met up with my uncle and went straight to the subway. I, being the
best navigator of the group, was chosen to handle our transportation the whole way there.
Getting to Tokyo DisneySea, we noticed how little people were in the park itself. Maybe because there was a storm and unbearably cold weather? Or maybe it’s just me.
But, we took the emptiness of the park to our advantage. It felt like we had universal FastPasses for the whole park, because we just breezed through the queues. We were able to ride Toy Story Mania, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull (my favorite Disney ride of all time!), 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, & Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, all before the clock striked 10. At closing time, I went to the merchandise store, and bought Gelatoni the Cat, all before knowing it was actually a Tokyo DisneySea exclusive!
Taking the trains back to Shinjuku, we had dinner at none other than Ramen Ichiran. We couldn’t get enough of it, honestly!
Going to the theme park was our last hoorah. The next day, we packed our things, took a cab to the airport, and flew back to the homeland — Manila, Philippines.
That wraps up my first ever travel diary! If you guys reached this part, I applaud you. It took me a week to write and prepare this whole article, so I hope you guys enjoyed it!
Looking forward to chatting with you again!