Monday, May 12, 2014

Our first day - Arrival and explore Harajuku & Odaiba

Since we need to be at the airport 2 hours before our 5:45 am flight we decided to leave our house in San Mateo area at around 12 midnight. We left our family car since it was too expensive to leave it for 5 days at terminal 3 parking area or at Park N Fly in Paranaque. We took a taxi; upon reaching Nichols area I noticed that our taxi started to run erratically. It would speed up then slow down. I checked our driver and realized that he was trying to stay awake while my family and I were snoozing. I got nervous and initiated conversation with him until we reached terminal 3 safely.

the most famous spot inside Narita airport

We left NAIA Terminal 3 last 1st of May for Tokyo, Japan at 5:45 am and arrived at Narita airport terminal 2 at around 11:45 am local time. It was a 4-hour flight but you need to add one more hour since Japan is an hour advance compared to Philippines. Feeling sleepy we just slept during the entire flight.

Menu

My son was almost denied entry by an immigration officer; we got separated at different immigration desks as instructed by an immigration officer manning the queue. The desk officer interrogated him since he put student on his arrival card. Moreover, he didn't have some banknotes with him and instead of staying in a hotel the immigration officer noticed that my son would stay in an apartment. Due to this, the immigration officer told my son thrice that he couldn't stay in Japan. It was my timely intervention that clarify the situation.

Upon completion of immigration procedures we searched for a place to fill our growling tummy inside Narita airport. We dined at N's Court at the fourth floor. I ordered my favorite Laksa while the family chose Tonkatsus. Our bill including drinks reached 6,900 Yen inclusive of 8% tax; my first taste of Japan's expensive food bills. I thought our meals were expensive due to location but I was wrong. By the way, in Japan oftentimes you need to return your tray or discard your trash in a designated place after meal.

buy your Narita Express ticket from here

car no 8 seat 10 A

Soon after we searched for Narita Express ticket station. We found it at the basement. I queued and showed our passports to avail 50% discount for one-way trip. I paid 1,500 Yen per person or 7,500 Yen for five of us up to Shinjuku station. The seat number would appear on your NEX ticket while train arrival is posted at electronic billboard while you need to queue at the assigned car number. In our case we queued at the entrance of car no 8. To add, you may collect a free Tokyo train/subway map near NEX ticket office. It was very useful to us especially when transferring to different train and subway lines in Tokyo.

hereb comes Narita Express train





When our train arrived the family raced towards our designated seats while I put our large trolley bag at the luggage rack located at the front of the car.

It was a pleasant and smooth ride from Narita airport to Shinjuku station. NEX took around an hour and 30 minutes to reach Shinjuku station. From here we went out of the station and bought 5 Suica cards from a vending machine and loaded it with 3,000 Yen each. Armed with Suica card we traveled to nearby Harajuku station. We reached our apartment almost 3 pm. After settling down and a little rest we decided to have some snack at McDonald's at nearby Takeshita Street.









bidet controller

By the way, we found something peculiar in our apartment's toilet. It took us some time before we learned how this bidet controller works. Always bear in mind that this is weight sensitive thus you need to sit on it first before it works.

the famous and always crowded Takeshita Street at Harajuku

After a brief snack at McDonald's we traveled back to Shinjuku station and transferred to Rinkai line to reach Tokyo Teleport station at Odaiba. In no time at all we emerged from the subway and started searching for the giant Gundam. We found it in front of Diver City. After some photo-ops my eldest son started searching for his Gundam robot at Gundam Cafe and Gundamfront. Unfortunately, the price here is more expensive than in Yodabashi in Akihabara according to my son thus he foregoes his plan of buying his Gundam from here.

kids were amazed with this hot and cold vending machines

with my "boys"

Gundam at night 

you can have a light snack inside this Cafe

expensive Gundam mug inside Gundam Cafe

Gundamfront - another shop selling Gundams

Rainbow Bridge and replica of statue of Liberty

From this place we walked up to Aqua City for the scenic Rainbow Bridge and replica of statue of Liberty. We strolled around the picturesque area and enjoyed the sea breeze. Fortunately we found a Disney Store inside Aqua City. We tried to buy a two-day passport for Disneyland and Disneysea but all their tickets from 03 May up to 05 May were all sold-out due to Golden Week festival. We had no choice but to purchase 4-adults and 1-Junior one-day pass for Disneyland only. However, their staff told us that we can upgrade our one-day pass to two-day pass at the guest relation office inside Disneyland. No worries about the price since we would just pay the difference for a two-day passport according to their staff. I appreciate their effort in communicating with us in English.

Tired and hungry we opted to take our dinner at the food court inside Diver City hence we walked back to Diver City. My wife and I ordered Yakisoba while our 3 kids ordered Crepes.

We went back to our apartment through the same subway and JR Yamanote line at around 8 pm. We searched for any convenience shop to buy our breakfast and we found a 7-eleven three blocks away. To our amazement our apartment area wasn't like as we expected. Our apartment was located in a laid-back environment where people started to disappear at past 7 pm. It was actually creepy walking along a desolated street on a chilly night. My daughter even narrated an urban legend in Tokyo about a "Sadaku" like lady strolling at night and conversing to person walking alone in the middle of the night. I told my family nothing to worry since we didn't speak Japanese then the lady won't bother us. Nevertheless the whole family enjoyed the serenity of the place and the weather. Japan was truly different from other Asian cities we have visited thus we were uber excited about our Tokyo trip.


Our Tokyo Journals:

Practical tips for Filipinos applying for Japan visa in Philippines
Does your flight lands at Narita airport T1 or T2?
Our first day - Arrival and explore Harajuku & Odaiba
Our second day - Tokyo Disneyland
Our third day - Tokyo Disneysea & explore Akihabara
Our fourth day - Nakamise, Sensoji Temple, Ginza, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku & Tokyo Tower
Our fifth day - Sayonara Tokyo!
Baffled by Tokyo's rail network? Try Suica card.
Big apartment near JR Harajuku Station