My best friend and I had been planning on going on an overseas holiday, to a country we’d never been, ever since she returned from her study abroad 2.5 years ago. Our savings had only allowed us to actually make the plan real this year. Followed by 3 guy friends, we finally purchased our tickets to Japan end of last year. By the time I’m writing this post, we’ve been home for almost 2 weeks after the joyful vacation (and trying so hard to move on with our lives). So here’s to sum up our trip. *Thanks a lot to Tata for arranging things.
Day 1: 29 Apr 2016 – Tokyo to Osaka
Despite the fact that I coughed throughout the night at the plane, prohibiting me from getting appropriate sleep, I can say that the flight was smooth. We arrived at Tokyo Haneda airport on time, collected our baggage, exchanged our pre-purchased 7-day pass JRPass at the locket (I’ll get the picture later – this is somewhat a “magic” pass that got us here and there), had brunch (because I believe everyone agrees that 10:30 AM is too late for breakfast and too early for lunch), and continued our trip to Osaka by Shinkansen (the super-fast capsule-like inter-city train).
It took us 3 hours from Tokyo to Osaka, and by the time we arrived at Osaka, it was already noon (around 3 PM if I’m not mistaken). It took us another half an hour or so to find our pre-booked apartment. We then agreed to shower and get some rest before we walked around the apartment for dinner. We had the infamous Osaka Takoyaki (octopus balls) and a sip of sake near our apartment as an entree, then walked around Dotonbori area till drop (tried out Yoshinoya there!). *All stores are closed at 9 PM, so basically the stores were closed before we were.
Day 2: 30 Apr 2016 – Osaka Castle, Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine, and Umeda Sky Building
Second day of the trip was dedicated to get to know Osaka’s places of interest. We went to Osaka Castle in the morning (we didn’t go inside the castle though, considering the crowd), dropped by Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine in the afternoon, and to Umeda Sky Building (again, we didn’t go to the top of the building considering the ticket price and the absence of a tripod that will be required to get good pictures). Last but not least, we visited the must-see in Dotonbori: Glico Man (then tried out Pablo‘s cheese cake).
Day 3: 1 May 2016 – Kobe
Before I went to Kobe, I would’ve answered Wagyu when someone asked me the best beef I ever had. Kobe Beef has, however, changed my mind. The meat was so tender I could cry when it literally melted in my mouth. We tried the infamous Kobe beef in Kobe Steakland, the cheaper option. After we were full, we walked around Kobe area (it’s a very beautiful small city) to find a fundraising event for Kumamoto earthquake and visit the newly-opened Sherlock Holmes house. When we were back to Osaka, we sat for an afternoon snack at Max Brenner, then on the stairs in front of Osaka Central Station.
Day 4: 2 May 2016 – Osaka to Kyoto
Time to say goodbye to our very nice apartment in Osaka and move on to Kyoto on our 4th day. It took us only approximately 30 minutes by Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto. Kyoto offers different vibes in the sense that it felt more traditional and friendly. Since we could only check in at 3 PM at our hostel, we put our baggage in coin lockers and got on a bus to go around the city (we bought a 1-day bus pass so we could freely hop on and off).
Our first destination was the golden Ginkakyu-ji temple. After getting some snack at the food stall there, we went to get our baggage and check in at the hostel, and continued to Fushimi-inari, which is famous for its orange gates. By the time we got back to the bus stop, it was already dark, so we decided to have sushi for dinner at Kyoto Station.
Day 5: 3 May 2016 – Kyoto to Tokyo
Prior to heading to Tokyo, we visited the other must-see in Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera, where the temple was built on a cliff. The view was very pretty and it’s amazing how the old building can hold up until today. Being in Kyoto has somehow brought peace to our minds, especially with the old temples and traditional houses around the city.
At midday, we again hopped on Shinkansen to Tokyo. The trip from Kyoto to Tokyo took 2.5 hours, so we arrived at noon and headed straight to our pre-booked apartment in Asakusa area. Stayed near Asakusa, we visited Asakusa Temple only once at night when the iconic lantern was folded up. LOL. No regrets. Later that evening, we had sake out of curiosity.
Day 6: 4 May 2016 – Ueno Park & Hakone
My biggest curiosity about Japan has always been the hot spring (onsen), so I was so excited that Tata actually put Hakone into our itinerary. After a morning walk at Ueno Park (I always LOVE sitting in a park – I really wish we have something like this in Indonesia), we headed to Hakone. It was quite a long trip – 2 hours from Tokyo, but soaking myself in the hot water made me forget it. The onsen experience was very relaxing and lovely. The sore that I felt in my body due to the previous 5 days walk had been magically lifted by the hot water and the mountain view around the hot spring.
Day 7: 5 May 2016 – Nikko Edo Wonderland
When I suggested that we go to this place, what I had in mind was that I cannot visit Japan without seeing ninja or anything close to it. Never did I think that it would take 3 hours from Tokyo to Nikko and we should’ve left Tokyo earlier that day to maximize our day in Nikko Edo Wonderland. The half day visit to this theme park, despite the expensive entrance ticket, was totally worth it. There weren’t a lot of international tourists like us; most of the visitors are Japanese who took their kids to introduce old-day Japan to them.
Day 8: 6 May 2016 – Tokyo Disneysea
Tata is crazy about Disney, so we believed that 40% of the trip was dedicated to this day. She woke everyone up so early so we wouldn’t miss lining up at the entrance before it was even opened (we arrived there at 08:20 AM and the gates were opened at 9 AM). Good thing was she did her research for Disneysea that the order of rides has been decided and the long queuing was successfully avoided. We spent the whole day there (still we didn’t finish all rides), from 9 AM to 8 PM when Funtasmic! show finished (Tata almost cried like a baby when they cancelled the fireworks due to rain), and agreed that the best rides are Journey to the Center of the Earth and Toy Story Mania. Personally, I also like Tower of Terror, which Kifli said is less fun than the one in Disneyland Paris (OK, Disneyland Paris, wait for me!).
Day 9: 7 May 2016 – Tsukiji Market, Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya
It was the only day I didn’t have breakfast in our apartment before going out, because we were having our breakfast in Tsukiji Market!! 😀 It is basically a fresh market specializing in fish. We walked around the alleys and decided to eat at the cheapest restaurant. The fish (I had eel) was really fresh I’m drooling when I remember how the food tasted like. From Tsukiji Market, we went to Shinjuku only to buy Tokyo Milk Cheese, then continued to Harajuku to shop here and there (I bought so many stuff at Daiso – everything is sold for 100 Yen). Last but not least, we went to Shibuya to take some pictures with Hachiko statue right in front of the station, get the feeling of crossing the very crowded crossover, and again shop at Uniqlo.
Day 10: 8 May 2016 – Akihabara & Odaiba
Our first destination in Akihabara was Yodobashi – a giant “heaven” for toy and electronic lovers. It practically sells everything you want – from cellphones to camera, from stuffed animals to action figures, and even cosmetics. Tired of walking (not only that day, but the whole trip), Tata and I decided to just sit in a cafe while waiting for the boys to return from their other adventure to see similar “heaven”. At noon, after the boys have spent most of their money at Akihabara (or Akiba, in short), we went to Odaiba to see the 1:1 Gundam. Tommy was the one who got really excited by Gundam – he was literally lost for almost half an hour there. After buying some food to be taken to Jakarta, we went back to our apartment.
Day 11: 9 May 2016 – Tokyo-Jakarta
I must say it was a pretty hard last day in Tokyo, having to push ourselves into the train full of people who are going to work with all our baggage (which, trust me, have all been doubled in either weight or size). Thank God we survived it and arrived safely at Tokyo Haneda airport, not wanting to but have to be ready to go back to Jakarta. The flight was once again pretty smooth and we arrived in Jakarta safely.
I couldn’t believe that the holiday was over, but life must go on. We have to return to work in order to get more money and arrange another vacation next year. 😀
Special thanks to Nova and Dia for being our private interpreters for 3 days in Tokyo. xD
*PS: I’m gonna add some photos later.