Japan: The old and the new in Tokyo

From Osaka Castle, I take you to Japan’s busiest city in the third installment of this blog series (read my first post here).

Thanks to Japan’s fastest bullet train, we arrived in Tokyo from Osaka in less than three hours. We went straight to Shibuya, our home for the next two days.

First order of business was for my parents to take a photo with the famed Hachiko statue outside Shibuya station. And then, of course, we had to try the Shibuya Crossing – one of the busiest intersections in the world. Like any tourist, we crossed even if we didn’t need to. 😀

shibuya

After dinner at another yakiniku place (my parents are not that adventurous with food), we took a cab to our Airbnb and rested while my brother checked out Shibuya’s game centers.

The next day, we walked to the train station (location is key when picking out an Airbnb!) to go to our tour’s meet up spot. For the Tokyo leg of the trip, I got another day tour via Klook (click here to check it out). The whole day tour allowed us to go to all of the important spots in Tokyo, from the city’s old temples to some modern spots.

We left the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal at exactly 9 a.m. (for first time travelers who are Filipino, other nations are more strict about time! During my last visit to HK Disneyland our tour bus left a family of Filipinos because they didn’t arrive within seven minutes after the meet up time). Our Japanese tour guide, who was a former professor, kept reminding us about the time. I felt bad for him when this Japanese-American woman kept arriving five minutes late after the prescribed time.

Our first stop was the famed Meiji Shrine where our guide taught us how to pray, which involves bowing, clapping twice and throwing a coin into an offering box. During our visit to the Shinto shrine, there were a lot of bonsai trees on display. We capped our short visit by checking out the small gift shop filled with nice-looking souvenirs.

meiji

Then the bus dropped us off at the Imperial Palace East Garden, the former site of some of the Edo Castle’s compounds. Today, it is filled with beautiful landscapes and ponds that are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

garden3

After our nature walk, we visited the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. The temple grounds were teeming with people, which is not surprising since it is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the country. Beside it is the Nakamise Shopping Street where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs and even toys.

But I think the highlight of our day tour was the Tokyo Bay cruise. After having a really nice lunch at a hotel near the harbor, we were shuttled to the port where we boarded a cruise ship. Pepper the robot greeted us at the waiting area. For 40 minutes or so, the ship crossed the Tokyo Bay, passing under the Rainbow Bridge and giving us a fantastic view of the Tokyo skyline.

tokyobay2

Finally, we got a few more minutes to walk around the Odaiba and take photos of the view. I’m a bit disappointed I wasn’t able to take a photo with the giant Gundam statue but I’ll save that for my next trip. There is a mall in Odaiba so you could grab a quick snack there before riding the bus and heading back to Shibuya or Shinjuku.

For the rest of the day, we did a bit of shopping in Shibuya and had dinner with my long lost Ninong who now lives in Japan.

The next day, we accompanied my brother to Akihabara, which is basically the Manga and Anime lover’s haven. While my brother looked around, my parents and I did some last minute shopping at Don Quijote.

After a quick savory lunch at one of the restaurants there, we split up again to buy souvenirs. Soon, we were onboard the train to the airport with a box of Pablo cheese tarts.

And that’s the end of our short but jam-packed Japan adventure. I know it’s awfully short…but now that we had a taste of all the different flavors Japan has to offer, we’re excited to visit again. 🙂 Sayonara, Japan. See you again!

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