Japan Day 5 – Tsukiji Fish Market, Akihabara and Dinner in Shibuya

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On our 5th day we did a mix of places and our first stop was Tsukiji Fish market for some breakfast. We initially planned on camping the night before to catch the Tuna auction early in the morning but we scrapped that idea as we figured proper sleep was more important than seeing cold slabs of Tuna being sold off for millions in the cold EARLY morning. But hey if you’re up to it, then by all means go ahead. We were just too tired after walking around back to back on our 5th day so yeah sleep is our priority.

Getting there was fairly easy for us as we were staying in Shinjuku which literally connects you anywhere. So we hopped on the Oedo Subway Line from Shinjuku Station to Tsukijishijo Station. It takes about 20mins and costs 270 Yen one way. As soon as you reach the station, simply follow the signboard to Tsukiji Market. The building is actually just above the station.

There’s the outer part and inner part of the market. Since we just wanted to grab some breakfast, we wandered off at the outer market and found rows and rows of tuck shops serving fresh bowls of sushi! Continue reading

Japan Day 4 – Square Enix Artnia Cafe

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Since we had some time to spare in the evening after our trip to the Ghibli Museum, we decided to head back to our place in Shinjuku and drop our bags off at our AirBnB and head out again within the area to the cafe.

Getting there was a little tricky at first as we didn’t really do our research before hand on how to get there. But if you have a pocket wifi with you, it should be pretty easy to navigate your way there (I’ve included the address at the bottom of this post).

After asking around various shops, convenience stores and random passerbys, we found our first landmark which was the iconic Square Enix headquarters in Shinjuku. Gamers and Final Fantasy fans would be in awe when you see this building. It’s literally the place where all those famous games are created. Being a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise myself, this was a really cool experience. The cafe itself is right next to it and you will be able to easily identify it by the various sign boards and its’ unique egg design.

Inside there’s another room which is a gallery featuring a number of figurines of characters from their franchise. Continue reading

Japan – Day 4 Studio Ghibli Museum

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Next up was the famous Studio Ghibli. For those of you not familiar with the name, then perhaps Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro or Howl’s Moving Castle would ring a bell?…Still no? Well even if you’re not a fan, I would highly recommend this place! In fact my travel partner wasn’t too familiar with the Ghibli franchise, but still enjoyed this trip a whole lot. I booked our tickets online way in advance before our trip and I would advise you to do so as well as these tickets sell out very very VERY fast. Can’t emphasize this enough as many of my other friends had the disappointment of missing out on this as they couldn’t get any tickets. The tickets are 1000 Yen each for adults and are sold on a monthly basis. So if you’re thinking of buying tickets this march, then get ready and be on standby by 1st March to book your tickets for the month. You can buy online here.

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What you would get is an e-ticket which you would then get the physical ticket at the entrance on the day of your visit itself. The ticket itself is super cool as it is a film of actual scenes from their movies itself. Continue reading

Japan – Day 2 Hakone

On our 2nd day in Japan we decided to venture out from Tokyo to Hakone where we hear we could see great views of Mount Fuji. We purchased our Romancecar train tickets (don’t ask me why it’s named that way haha. I have no idea) the day before. If you plan to take this train, do purchase earlier as it’s by reservation only. You can purchase the tickets at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center within Shinjuku Station. There’s some tourist brochures set up around the area and useful maps and guides you can pick up for free. We also purchased our Hakone Freepass there. It’s basically a ticket that allows you to travel on any mode of transport within Hakone and discounts to museums, restaurants and etc. They only have 2 days and 3 days passes. Although we were only going for one day, I think the 2 day pass was still worth it for the convenience. We paid 5140 Yen for the Hakone 2 day freepass + (890 Yen surcharge to travel there via Romancecar each way). So that’s a total of 6920 Yen all together.

From Shinjuku station it was about 1.5 hour train ride to Hakone-Yumoto station. From there we switched over to the Hakone Tozan Train which climbs further up the mountain. This train is pretty unique as it goes up in a zig-zag motion up the mountain. From one station it will go towards the left side. Then when it reaches the next station, it will switch direction to the opposite direction. Which is pretty smart because if it goes in one single direction, it would be far too steep to climb. 40mins later we reached Gora where we hopped over to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan which was a short 10 min ride up a rather steep incline. Continue reading

Japan – Day 1 Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku

My friend and I randomly decided to book a trip to Tokyo one fine day. Since we’re headed to Japan, we decided to take Japan Airlines (JAL). The service is top-notch and i love the bigger tv screens and night lights. We took a connecting flight via MAS from KL (KLIA) to Singapore (Changi Airport) then JAL from Changi to Tokyo (Haneda Airport). The return ticket costs about RM1300 and the journey was about 7 hours. Lucky for us we took the night flight so it didn’t feel too long.

We arrived Tokyo in the wee hours of the morning at around 5.50am and just in time to see the sunrise (how apt since we’re in the land of the rising sun).

Upon arriving Haneda Airport, we took the Limousine Bus to Shinjuku train station. It was about an hour ride and costs 1230 Yen. Reached there at around 7am and we navigated our way through the big station to find bag lockers as our checkin for the AirBnB was only at 3pm.

You can find a bunch of bag lockers at this station ranging from S-M-L sizes. We each took the L size locker for our bags (800 Yen per day). You can use either cash or SUICA/PASMO card (Reloadable travel card) to pay. For convenience sake, we simply used our SUICA. The locker is quite easy to operate and has english instructions as well so you don’t need to worry about that. But do take note that once you put your bag in, you can’t take out your bags in between as it is a one time use only. If you take it out, and put it back in, you will need to pay again. So make sure you grab all you need from your luggage before putting it in. Once you secure your bag in the locker you will be given a receipt which will also indicate which zone your locker is located at. We also took a picture of the surrounding area just to make sure we don’t forget where our bags are (Shinjuku station is pretty huge).

After leaving our bags, we were now free to explore! :D Here’s a view outside the station early in the morning. I believe this was taken before 8am (before any shops were open).

We then took our first train ride to Shibuya via the JR Yamanote Line. We exited through the Hachiko exit and sure enough we saw the famous Hachiko statue and Shibuya crossing. Continue reading

Lombok: Day 2 and 3 – Gili Islands, Kuta Beach and Tanjung Aan

Day 2 was spent entirely at the Gili Islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, & Gili Trawangan). We hired a speedboat for the whole day which included a snorkeling package where the driver would stop at various spots for us to freely snorkel. The water was gorgeous and crystal clear! There are a number of small jellyfishes swimming around though, but nothing to be concerned with since they just sting a little. We also went to the deeper side and my friend managed to swim with a turtle which totally made her day! If you plan on taking a speedboat, do take note that the ride is very bumpy and may cause seasickness. Im usually fine with boats, but I somehow got seasick from this. So if you easily get sea sick, do consider taking meds first.

Among the 3 Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is the biggest and most famous. You will find a lot of shops, bars, and activities here. We snacked on some of the best grilled corn on cob here. They had various glazings to choose from and the garlic one was awesome!

There’s a divers association as well if you wanna do some diving. Then there’s also bicycles for rent if you prefer to just hang around on land.

After spending almost the whole day on the islands, we took our speedboat back and headed out for dinner. Our driver took us for seafood where we can choose our own fresh fish to be cooked in various styles. Can’t remember the name of the place, but the food was just alright.

The following day was our final day in Lombok. Our friend had to take an earlier flight in the afternoon while the rest of us have a flight in the evening. Since we had some spare time in the morning, we took the cab out to the Sasak Traditional Village on the way to the airport. You can experience the true village experience here and buy handmade items from the villagers themselves. Entrance is generally free, but it’s a custom to provide donations to the village/tour guide and write in their guestbook at the end of the trip.

After that it was straight to the airport to drop off our friend and bid our farewells to her. The remaining of us then headed out to Kuta Beach for lunch. We had a nice meal at this cool shack facing the beach and they have free wifi as well which makes it a good place to kill some time before our flight. Great spot, but beware of persistent roadside sellers trying to sell you scarves. There’s a bunch of them there and they tend to crowd tourists. We had a few come up into the cafe itself trying to sell us stuff. They’re quite persistent but they will eventually leave you alone if you don’t show any interest.

After lunch we decided to make one last stop before heading to the airport. We made our way to Tanjung Aan beach. This place offers gorgeous views but again, roadside sellers can be found here as well. Just avoid them and you can enjoy a peaceful time by the beach. There’s a number of huts for you to take shade in if you’re not keen on sunbathing. We hanged around here for quite a while just chatting and enjoying the breeze and the view.

After taking a bunch of Insta-worthy photos, we finally made our way to the airport and that was the end of our Lombok trip. It was definitely a memorable one and I would love to come back again one day. :)