Monday, January 6, 2014

Tokyo, Japan 12'23'2013

Busy Busy Bee. Christmas and New Year came and photos piled up  unedited. This is a late post due to the Holidays. I will rush on more photos. Enjoy!


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Our hotel was located in Narita. It was really far from Tokyo but my wanderlust was telling me to go go go!

I was more nervous in commuting into Tokyo than any other city in the world. Aside from the fact that I knew I would be alone in going to Tokyo, It's also because the city has the most complicated railway network of any city. Even more complicated than the one in Seoul. And commuting from Narita to Tokyo, alone, for the first time, was a very frightening thing. Getting lost was not an option because taxis are very expensive (think hundreds of US Dollars) and the language barrier.

Regardless of all my fears, I pushed through. When morning came, I first took an airport shuttle from our hotel to the airport and from the airport I waited for another bus going to Tokyo Station.


Bus stop number 19 to Tokyo and Ginza Station. 
Inside the bus.
The trip from Narita to Tokyo station was long. Good thing I love taking long bus rides so I enjoyed every single moment of the ride. I had my headphones on, enjoying my music, sitting by the window, enjoying the views, what more could I want from the perfect moment? Oh I know! * **** ** ****!! Hahaha

Nearing Tokyo city, The bus slowed down to a snail's pace, traffic became heavy. I guess in my head I really didn't think Tokyo had traffic because they are technologically advanced and stuff but I guess that's a stupid thought. How can a major city not have traffic?


Heavy traffic in Tokyo. This was my view.
When I reached Tokyo Station. I panicked! I already knew where I wanted to go but I didn't know how to get there. I explored the underground mall underneath Tokyo station until I found this.


Shinjuku!
I was going to Shinjuku. Like a good and faithful guy. I followed the signs! haha I followed the english signage leading to the train station. Although I had to stop by the tourist information desk to find the actual train. Tourist information desk? Very helpful.


Waiting for the train to Shinjuku.
Inside the train. So many ads!
When I got inside the train, I noticed one thing: Some people actually preferred to stand rather than sit down. Usually, in other countries, especially in mine, people are running and squeezing by the train door just to get to the nearest seat in the train but not in Japan! It was the same as my trip to Osaka last year. Even when the train was not that filled many people preferred to stand. I like it!

I went out at Shinjuku-gyoenmae station because I really wanted to go to Shinjukugyoen. It was the setting for Makoto Shinkai's anime movie The Garden of Words. Being the anime fan that I am, I wanted to take a picture of the place and get a feel for the anime and Tokyo leisurely life. Shinjukugyoen by the way is, I think, the only "public" park in the world that requires an entrance fee: 200 JPY.


CLOSED!

It was closed. I was mortified, I woke up early in the morning to catch the first bus to the city and took a two hour bus ride from Narita to Tokyo, got lost for a bit, and then then from Tokyo station I rode the subway to Shinjuku-gyoenmae which was like eight stations away and now the place I was so excited to see and go to is closed. Wow. Then it dawned on me. It was December 24, it was Christmas eve, why would it not be closed?

I didn't know what else to do. I walked back past Shinjuku-gyoenmae station into Shinjuku station. But then I remembered what I wanted to buy in Japan. There is one thing I have always wanted to try in Japan that I have always seen in anime but never got the opportunity to try: The Bento Box.

And so I began to search for a Bento Box right around Shinjuku Station.


Shinjuku station straight ahead. 
Yoshinoya is fastfood.
A shopping street right by Shinjuku Station.
I got lost in some alleyway searching for the Bento Box.
So I got lost again. GPS navigation was useless in a place with so many alleyways and underground and overground streets. Tokyo IS concrete jungle.

I found a lot of Ramen and Sushi place but no Bento. I was getting very hungry because I didn't have breakfast that morning so I thought I would go inside Shinjuku station because in animes they usually get bento boxes in train stations right?


Inside Shinjuku station. It's Christmas eve and the people are still very busy!
Subway line heading back to Tokyo station.
There was no bento box in Shinjuku station. I searched high and low but no. So I decided to head on back to Tokyo Station instead and maybe find a good restaurant around there to eat.

When I got to Tokyo station I opened my GPS and I realized I was very near the Tokyo Imperial Palace complex. So I decided to postpone looking for a restaurant and head to the Imperial Palace.


Crossing the street I took photos of random people.
A couple. Kawaii!
Tokyo Station.
Took a photo quickly while crossing the street.
When I reached the palace complex. I was greeted by a beautiful plaza.


Entrance to the Palace complex from Tokyo Station.
Fountain graced with a rainbow right by the plaza in the palace complex.
Beautiful fountain in the imperial palace complex.
Walking a bit more. I realized I was still outside the main palace. When I finally found the entrance I was very happy to be told that the entrance was free! haha


Entrance of the Tokyo Imperial Palace
Pathway to Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Ote Gate.
When I got inside I looked at the map and I realized I was only entering a very small fraction of the palace complex. I was unknowingly entering the East Gardens of the Imperial Residence.

Well seeing as Shinjukugyoen was closed this was probably the next best thing. I was very happy it was open on Christmas eve.


A tree right by the entrance.
An old house for the palace guards.
Beautifully made lamp post.
A path leading up the hill further into the east gardens.
By this time I hadn't eaten for quite some time plus I was very cold and my nose was turning red probably from the furious sunlight. But I still went on to explore!

Entering the East Gardens there were a bunch of guard houses from the olden days. I walked and walked until I reached a path leading upwards towards a huge hill.


Site of Tenshukaku Donjon. The burned down used-to-be tallest tower in Edo Castle.
View of the city from the top of the Donjon
View of the East Gardens from the donjon.
Middle of the East Gardens.
When I went up the hill I realized all over again where I was (clearly I did not do my reasearch on this place). I was In Edo Castle. This was the place where Shoguns used to be. And when In the animes they say that Edo Castle burned down, they were really talking about what used to be the tallest tower in the palace complex which burned down a few hundred years ago: Tenshukaku Donjon. Everything made sense to me in that moment.


Pathways leading out of the East Gardens.
A miracle photo. I thought the leaves would be dark from the light of the sky but no! My favorite photo in this trip.
Another Guard house along the path leading down the East Gardens.
The exit to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
When I realized what I realized, I've had enough. I haven't eaten for a long time and I just wanted to find a good place to eat. So after the Tenshukaku Donjon I tried to find the nearest way back to the entrance/exit.

From the east gardens I went back to Tokyo station where I got lost again! hahaha but getting lost had a good side. I finally found the place where they sell Bento Boxes!


A Pokemon Store near the place where they sell Bento!
Bento Boxes. So expensive but delicious!
More Bento!
A Lady looking straight into my camera while I was taking Photos of the place.
Look at the size of that sushi roll! It's bigger than the guy's arm!
REAL PEELED CRAB STICKS and salmon roe.
I was very very very happy to find the mother load of all bento boxes. There were so many I was like a kid in a toy store. Although I really didn't know where exactly it was because I found the place only while I was getting myself lost. I hope to find it again in the future.

I bought one bento box to eat in the bus back to Narita and one more bento box to eat as dinner before my flight back.

Overall, This short trip to Tokyo deepened my love for the Japanese culture and besides, whenever I see cute Japanese folk I could only think: "Kawaii, you look like the anime I watch" haha. The people were always very nice and sincere, and you could always see how dedicated they were to each of their respective work and the things and food you buy there where always 101% quality guaranteed, never devious.

I loved the trip overall and I would definitely love to go there again to explore more and get a better feel of the place especially when it's not a holiday.

Until my next trip, Sayonara!