We arrived at Narita airport mid afternoon, smiles pasted on our faces as we collected our bags and made our way through the airport. We had both been looking forward to this since Rach had gone to Japan 4 years earlier with her school. She came home raving about how amazing it was and now we finally had the opportunity to experience it together.
We hopped onto the Narita express to Shinjuku station. The subway system is elaborate to say the least, there are infinite entrances and exits and so many different lines and different types of trains on each of them (local, rapid, express or limited express). There are different types of passes you can buy for different lines like the JR Line that will make your travels little less costly, we switched back and forth a lot so we didn’t see the need for a pass. We spent two weeks there and barely began to understand where to be entering and exiting and how to buy tickets. Thankfully the people are so nice that there is always someone close by who can help you out, whether it’s a local or an official who works there, you should never feel embarrassed to ask for help.
We transferred at Shinjuku to get to Hatsudai station where our Airbnb was. The area was perfect for us, situated just outside the bustling centre of Tokyo but not too far away that it was a pain to travel back and forth. It was a quiet little residential area that had tons of local shops and cafes on a street that played soft music from the street lights. Tokyo is huge and crowded and there is so much to see and do that it was hard to pick and choose. We walked around the main areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza and Harajuku and found that simply walking was enough for us. We covered countless kilometres that week by foot and train as we took day trips to visit the further attractions like Yokohama and Odawara.
The Tsukiji Fish Market was one of our top rated places as we got to try some of the best sushi we’ve ever had and we got to see where it all comes from. There is a street lined with restaurants that get the freshest fish right in the morning and only seat about 15 people in each.
The line ups can be seen all the way down the street but you never have to wait too long as they tend to get as many people in and out as quickly as possible. The earlier you can get there the better because they only have a limited supply for each day and it runs out quickly as the crowds start to form. Walking through the isles of the market was very different than any of the fish markets we had been to in Vietnam, Philippines or Thailand. We highly recommend checking it out in the early morning if you can make it.
The crowds are endless and unstoppable in Japan, from early morning until late at night you will always be swept up in the masses of people making their way about the city. It’s amazing to watch and to be a part of the city as day turns to night and it seems to come alive in a completely different way.
We walked the streets and stopped in at any restaurant that looked appealing to taste some of the sushi on conveyor belts or tempura. Window shopping at the countless stores and playing some games at the multi level facilities made up our nights. One of the things I noticed about walking the streets is that you have to look up as much as you look forward because unlike in my home city of Toronto, stores are built vertically up to seven stories. Some of the best stuff was a couple floors up and would have been missed if I hadn’t been looking up.
The weeks we spent there was not enough for us, there is so much to see and do that we spent just as much time planning what we would do the next time we come as we did exploring the different areas.
The days seem to rush by as you walk through the districts, you spend hours in each store because of all the levels and the overwhelming amounts of merchandise, it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day. We look forward to coming back to Tokyo and spending more time in this amazing and lively city.
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