JAPAN

NOVEMBER 2014

Japan… one of our favorite destinations! The land of geeks, manga, sushi, samurais and geishas. Our so expected destination, revealed itself as so much more than we were expecting. We highly recommend Japan as a destination!

Arriving at this country, which has such a different alphabeth, can be tricky, mind blowing and somehow diminish our ability to start moving around. Everything is written in japanese characters and in the western alphabeth translation, which you understand very little anyway.

To leave Haneda airport to Tokyo main station, you can go by monorail (around 4€) and see the city from the upper level, one of the many transportation levels available and the buildings are narrow and tall, almost looking like Lego buildings, and in between you find modern skyscrappers, filled with companies, firms, restaurants and houses.

Japanese people are very friendly and go out of their way to help, sometimes walking kms to show you the right way. 

Our hotel was in Akihabara, the geek and manga neighbourhood, where you can see lots of disguised people around. Lots of game rooms, manga toy’s stores, shows, led publicite iluminating the street, giant screens, and sometimes you find buildings 100% Sega, surrounded by eletronic stores and restaurants that sell food in a Hello Kitty shape! 

At restaurants you have to leave your shoes at the door, (normally) you seat on the ground, the most traditional way. Sushi is not the only food eatten in Japan, as many may think. You can find barbecue restaurants, where you can grill your own meat, noodles restaurants, japanese curry is also very famous and delicious! But the best experience is the Kobe meat, that although it can be a little bit expensive, it’s an unique treat. The normal price is around 150€/200gr, but if you are patiente and don’t give up easily, you can find it for half the price. Don’t worry about being a bad restaurant or not trustworthy… every place (restaurant or store) will try to give you their best food and simpathy. Everyone who works with general public should go to Japan to see ultimate public service and how to do it. Before we went to Japan, people told us that the food was very expensive, but the only thing we found expensive here was the transportation. The restaurant’s bills were around 15 to 20€ for both of us and our most expensive meal was a 25€/each but we had horse sashimi, whale sashimi, seashell fish, sea urchins, tuna belly, fogu, octopuss, nigiris and fish testicles. But to have a bullet train trip is 200€/person and it’s valid for 2 weeks.

Antoher thing to mention are the toilets! The toilet is heatten, clean and you can regulate it to fit your pleasure as you wish. We never saw public toilets so clean and every one of them had a customizable toilet.

What to do in Tokyo:

  • Meji Shrine, the imperial palace

  • Fish market, try to go there by lunch or dinner time and be ready to stay at a line for 30 minutes to have lunch, but it’s well worthy. You can eat inside the market (only raw things) but we recommend to go to the restaurants just outside the market to eat at the balcony while you see the fresh fish being prepared and cooked (sometimes!)

  • Roppongi Hills, to see the upside rich neighbourhood with luxuryous shopping malls

  • Shibuya to see the crosswalk and the Hachiko statue

  • Shinju-ku the best place for shopping, eat and play

  • enter the photography booth for a photo shoot with your friends and ask some locals to do it with you and have the time of your life!

  • stop somewhere at the subway and look lost. Someone will join you to help you, although they don’t speak any english.

  • drink sake when they offer. It’s unpolite to refuse it.

  • go karaoke! Be a “lost in translation” Scarlet Johansen and go with locals. It’s traditional and a great way to pass time before going to the disco.

  • Yoyogi Park on a sunday morning! Japanese go to the park with their traditional clothes for cerimonies and it’s common to see a tradicional wedding, if you are lucky

  • Tokyo Dome, a playground for young adults to have fun

  • eat ramen (and say it the right way: “Lámen”) and make noise when you sip it

  • Skytree to have a chance to see Mount Fuji from Tokyo. 15€/person until the 4º floor + 9€/each to go to the last floor, but the 4º floor is already at 360meters from the ground and you can see Fuji from this floor, if the sky allows it.

  • attend a local concert! The Japanese go crase for their idols and it’s a must see

 

 

After a few days we went to Oshino, a small village outside Fujiyoshida, but the weather wasn’t our allied and we didm’t saw Fuji-san… We stayed at a Ryokan, a traditional house where you sleep on the floor. Pay attention to the time, because everything classe around 5pm and you can’t find a place to eat after that time.

TIP:

Japanese people work hard to play harder, so during the week, it’s hard to mingle with them. Try to be in Tokyo during the weekend for the best experience!

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