Autumn in Japan (part 1) - Northern and Central Tokyo
Monday, October 24, 2016 6:44 PM
Finally, the first part to my Japan travelogue!
This is my second time visiting Japan, but I visited almost the same few places as I did the year before. If you're heading to Japan and need a couple of tips for your itinerary planning, read my old post here. It might help you with transport, wifi and accommodation bookings!
My itinerary this time was Tokyo (7 days) > Nagoya (2 days) > Osaka (3 days)
We flew in early October hoping to experience Japan in its fall season but we came a little too early. The leaves barely started turning yellow, and the weather was still fairly warm (about 21-28 degrees) in the afternoon. Although it was much colder by the time we left Japan, I think that the best Autumn foliages won't be until late November to early December.
So I'd start with Tokyo! For more visuals on the places I visited in Tokyo last year, read my 2015 post here. It's not the most extensive post, so I'll try to give more info on the places I've covered with Jolaine this time round!
ASAKUSANakamise Shopping Street and Sensoji Temple
@ Asakusa Station
Asakusa still stands as one of my favourite places in Tokyo for its rustic atmosphere. Most of the shophouses and streets there will remind you of Old Town Tokyo, which is a big contrast to the metropolitan shopping districts like Shinjuku and Shibuya. Think traditional local snacks, kimonos, rickshaws and temple souvenirs.
The entrance to Shin-Nakamise, leading up to Nakamise and the Sensoji Temple
Nakamise Shopping Street
Kaminarimon, the Kaminari Gate leading up to Sensoji Temple.
You can get a Omikuji (fortune slip) at an offering of a 100yen here. Just drop the coin and shake the tin of fortune sticks to get a number, which will in turn lead you to your numbered slip of paper that has your fortune written on it.
Fun fact: The Japanese believe that if you get a bad or not-so-good fortune, you could fold the slip of paper and tie it to a tree or walls of metal wires together with all the other bad fortunes. This is in belief that the owner will leave the bad luck behind instead of carrying it along with him.
I remember visiting Chinese buddhist temples with a similar custom, so it's pretty intriguing how the practices are somewhat different in Japan. Anyway, Jolaine and I had a go at it and I got Regular fortune. "The person you're looking for will come." Uh LOL.
We had a super late lunch at the kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi place that I visited with Trisha in 2015. Ever since I savoured their salmon and tuna sushi last year, I've been dying to revisit the place!! I was trying my luck when I hunted for the store just relying on my goldfish memory.
Jolaine agrees that they're one of the best few sushi places throughout our whole trip. Fresh sushi made on the spot at reasonable prices!! Depending on the coloured plates you order, the prices vary. But most plates are about 180yen to 300yen with the premium ones (like sea urchin etc) at 500yen.
And this time, I got the address noted down!! They have other chain outlets but the one in Asakusa is the main store!
Gansozushi Asakusa Mein Store 元祖寿司
@ 1-19-7 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture
Up till sunset (which was about 5PM), we were still exploring Asakusa because there was really a lot to see. Got a couple of sweet treats, souvenirs and knick knacks. By the time it was dusk, Asakusa gave a totally different vibe which I didn't get to experience on my last trip.
Got us a croquette or menchi-katsu cause we saw a queue at this store. And what do Singaporeans do when you see queue... Just join in and find out LOL.
But man, the menchi-katsu was so good!! And at 200yen!
Asakusa Menchi 浅草メンチ
@ 2-3-3 asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo
YANAKA DISTRICTTennoji Temple and Yanaka Cemetry
@ Nippori Station
We started our second day at Yanaka, located not too far from where we live. Like Asakusa, its ambience also gives off an atmosphere of old Tokyo. Japan Guide describes the district as a place with "an air of nostalgia and rustic charm", and indeed, it is.
Firstly, some convenience store drinks and udon for lunch!!
This store has udon and rice bowls ranging between 380yen to about 750yen that you order from a vending machine. They'll issue you a ticket that you can hand over to the chefs. The only downside of this eatery is its lack of English menus. So be prepared to just randomly pick whatever if you can't read Japanese characters (like we did LOL). Anything for cheap udon.
It's not listed in Google Maps, but it's located right beside Foods Bar.
@ 5 Chome-50-11 Higashinippori, Arakawa-ku
Buying drinks from vending machines has never been easier with our Pasmo (Japan's ezlink) card! Just pick your drink and tap away.
Entrance to Tennoji Temple
Further down, Yanaka Cemetry.
It would've been so much more beautiful if it were already Autumn... But many of their locals would also visit the cemetery in Spring for Cherry Blossom viewing. We took a stroll down the cemetery and noticed that much thought has been given to the decoration and placement of the tombs (a far cry from the ones in sg). Nothing short of tranquility and serenity there.
And at the end of the cemetery, an almost all-white town greeted us. Pretty aesthetic. There was not much to see, but it's a picture-worthy spot we chanced upon.
AKIHARABAAkihabara Electric Town
@ Akihabara Station
Once we exited Akihabara Station, a Pablo store welcomed us?? Must be fate.
As usual, Japan's packaging is super on point. This is why Jolaine and I never fail to splurge on snacks souvenirs because we are suckers for pretty packaging lol.
You should've seen her face each time she wasted 100yen... LOL. But in our defense, we eventually mastered the three-claw grab machines (after about 1000yen maybe) and nabbed some super cute plushies.
TOKYO SKYREETokyo Skytree Mall and Pokemon Centre
@ Tokyo Skytree/Oshiage Station
On Day 3, before we left Northern Tokyo for good, we decided to explore the Tokyo Skytree mall that was located just a five minutes walk away from our airbnb apartment.
The Sumida district, which has been our home for the past two nights.
Lunch at Japan's Nana's green tea that also has a savory menu. Our lunch sets were priced at about 1200yen, for a chiraishi/sashimi bowl of your choice that comes with tea, miso soup and dango for desserts.
Nana's Green Tea
@ 4th Floor, Tokyo Sky Tree Town Solamachi, 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku
Pokemon Centre Skytree Town
@5th Floor, Tokyo Sky Tree Town Solamachi, 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku
Even though I'm not a hardcore fan of Pokemon (considering how I didn't go crazy over the whole Pokemon Go craze although I did play it for a couple of weeks and went on hunting trips), I still spent quite an amount here because their toys and other merchandise are really cute. You're unlikely to leave empty handed so... Just a warning.
And so, on our third day, we packed our luggages and left for our next airbnb apartment located in Western Tokyo. Honestly, by then, we have already brought quite a whole lot of shit it was a serious workout for us to move onto the next apartment.
I'll cover the second part of Tokyo in my next post! This has been such a long post with about 70+ pictures I wonder how I even had the stamina to blog about this far...