Last February was my first trip to Japan. It had been one of the destination that I want to visit for long time, however had to be pending long time due to the expense especially for the flight to Japan before mostly served by the full service airline. Fortunately starting last year, there are now several budget airlines serving to Japan either Tokyo or Osaka. I was glad when I got the promo fare during the launch of Airasia flight to Haneda. As my flight from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Tokyo at Haneda Airport departed at 14.45 PM, so I departed from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in the morning, no need to stay the night before. Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Haneda takes about 7 hours flight, and there is time difference between Japan and KL. Japan is one hour ahead of Kuala Lumpur, and my flight arrived at 10.30 PM Tokyo Time. Airasia X to Tokyo depart from LCCT terminal (Kuala Lumpur budget terminal) which will be replaced with new budget terminal soon as the number of travellers using this terminal increased more than 15 millions/year. For travellers who visit several places, normally they will need left baggage facility. Don’t worry, there are left baggage facilities and locker in the terminal. For the left baggage facility, it starts from 18 RM/ day for small size ( 43cm x 31 cm x 21 cm) up to 48 RM (for dimension exceed large size 67 cm x 46 cm x 31 cm). Meanwhile for the locker, the renting fee start from 38 RM for dimension 40 cm x 32 cm x 75 cm and 48 RM for dimension of 55 cm x 43 cm x 75 cm.
How to Get There ?
There are 2 big airports serving to Tokyo :
a. Narita airport : the main international gate for Tokyo and most of the airline will arrive in here. The minus part of Narita airport is the location. It’s a bit far compared to Haneda airport, about 70 kilometers of North east of Tokyo. There are several train lines both private and Japan rail serving from Tokyo to Narita airport. If you have your Japan rail pass, you can use the train from Narita airport to the central using Narita express which normally cost ¥ 2,940 for journey of 55 minutes. There are also airport limousine going to hotel and taxi as well, however the taxi fare is expensive. There are 2 terminals in Narita, terminal 1 mostly serve star alliance group airlines and terminal 2 mostly serve the one world alliance.
For Haneda airport, there are 2 domestic terminal and one international terminal. Access from the city to Haneda can be accessed through Tokyo monorail which cost you ¥ 470 one way.
You can also use your Japan rail pass for Tokyo monorail as well the Yamanote lope line in the central of the Tokyo. However if you arrive at night and stay in Japan more than 7 days, it would be better not to use directly your japan rail pass, and buy the single ticket. There is automatic machine which can also provide the change. When you get the monorail, you can find when your train coming through the announcement board which provide the information in Japanese and English. There are express train, as well the commuter train, both of them will stop at Hamamatsucho, the only difference is the commuter line stop at every station along the line, while express only stop at some station. So if possible, take the express one as no price difference. From Hamamatsucho, then you can take Tokyo subway.
Please be reminded that the train serve up to midnight only. In case you arrive at Haneda airport late night and still need to wait for your baggage, and go through immigration and custom, you have to be fast especially if you still need to take the train from Hamamatsucho else you need to stay in the airport or pay expensive taxi which cost you for about ¥4000- ¥10000. Please note there is no Japan rail office at Hamamatsucho station, you need to go to Tokyo station if you have not change your Japan rail pass order at the airport.
For my first night in Tokyo, I stay at Tokyo Prince hotel, behind the Tokyo tower. Based on the information from the hotel, it is less than 10 minutes walk, but I think this is based on Japan’s fast walk without bring any luggage.It’s indeed quite far and bringing the luggage with me to the hotel takes about 30 minutes. Recommend for you to take the Tokyo subway to Onarimon station, which nearby the hotel, just a short walk. It’s a freezing night and I still need to find the hotel to meet up my friend. As some people might not know the hotel, the easiest way to ask the people is where is the direction to Tokyo tower as the hotel locate behind the tower. With the information from helpful Tokyo people, I managed to find the hotel and met up my friends in the middle of midnight.
The main thing that I enjoy most from this hotel is the size of the room is bigger compared to the hotel I stayed at other cities, and one important thing is you can have the view of Tokyo tower from your room. The view of Tokyo tower at night is so amazing, which I highly recommend this hotel. Ensure when you book the hotel, you ask for the room with good view of Tokyo tower. For one night stay in this hotel, it cost about USD 168, without breakfast through Agoda. It’s already past midnight, and we hadn’t slept yet and we need to go up early the next morning to visit Tsukiji fish market.
If you plan to go to Tsukiji market, especially for Tuna auction, you need to arrive there very early, at about 5.30 AM – 6.00 AM as currently they restrict number of people who can get into the auctions area. From Onarimon station, the nearest subway from our hotel, we need to change trains for 2 times, one at Mita to take Asakusa line to Daimon then change the line to Oedo line and stop at Tsukijishijo, the nearest subway to go to Tsukiji fish market. For the Tsukiji fish market, go to exit A1 and A2. The good thing is there is Ipad app I download for free which show me where to stop and change the line. It’s very helpful especially there are so many lines of subway and metro hence it’s quite complicated and takes time especially for first timers.
As we arrived late at the fish market, we did not have the opportunity to observe the tuna auction. It’s friday in the morning, yet there are many people in the market both locals as well tourist. During the weekend, there will be big crowd in the market. The fish market is closed every 2nd and 4th week of wednesday of the month, public holiday as well sunday.
When you visit the market, you need to be careful as well especially with the vehicle people use to bring the stuff or roam around and motor bike. It’s a wet market, yet it’s clean and you can smell fresh seafood around the market. You can find almost all the seafood there in the area.
After roaming around, it’s the time for our breakfast. For the breakfast, we planned to have sushi in Tsukiji market. I recommend you to have sushi in the market during your trip. It’s so fresh, and after eating the sushi there, you will find that the best sushi that you eat before is not comparable with the sushi in this market. The most recommended place having sushi in this place is Sushidai or Daiwa sushi which cost you around ¥4000. The difficult thing is the store is using Kanji, no roman word, hence it’ll be difficult for people especially who can not read Kanji to look for the shop name. First we would like to try one of the place which seems the most favourite, but the queue is so long, hence we decide to take the one beside which has shorter queue.
The restaurant we went serve set menu for about ¥ 3500, which include miso soup, and about 7-8 pieces of the sushi. However, we choose ala carte, and order the sushi we would like to have. The place is a bit small, it’s only bench and tables along the sushi bar, no normal restaurant table. The miso soup and ocha is complementary when you dine in. As one of our friend did not want to have sushi for her breakfast, she can not join inside, as the seat is only for the people eating there. We paid for ¥3700 for our breakfast there. It’s pricey, but the sushi there is the best sushi I ever had. If I visit Tokyo in future, I would dine there as well.
After having our breakfast, we went back to our hotel as we need to catch up the train to Kyoto for our next trip. As we had a lot of luggage with us, hence we decide to take taxi to Tokyo station from the hotel.
It’ll be difficult and a bit tiring, if you bring big luggage with you on the subway, as in the morning, most of the train will be full of people and the subway station do not equipped with escalator like in Singapore.
When we arrive in the Tokyo station, first we went to Japan rail office to change my exchange order to Japan rail pass and book shinkansen to Kyoto. We book hikari, the fastest train that we can have using the pass. The journey using the hikari, takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Please be reminded, the train depart on time.
We will continue our next article for Kyoto. For Tokyo part 2, we will continue later at the end of Japan trip.