SNAPSHOTS | JAPAN + KOREA 2017 | TOKYO | DAY 1


If I could only visit one country on my bucket list, Japan would be it. For as long as I can remember, it's been a childhood dream of mine to travel to Japan, and thankfully that dream came to fruition this past May. In a span of two weeks, we would travel through Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and a final leg in Seoul, South Korea. 

To say I was excited for this trip would be an understatement. In anticipation, I spent months doing research and crafting an itinerary. By the end, I think I had an almost 30-page catalogue of maps, sights, shops, and restaurants. Our schedule was packed, but I saw this trip as a learning experience and an opportunity to get all the touristy things out of the way. It was a whirlwind adventure but hopefully, there will be many more trips in the (near!) future.  


Joining me on this journey was my mom and my sister, LT, as well as KN and her mom. GIRLS TRIP!


We started Sunday morning with a quick hour flight to Calgary, and from there, a 10-hour flight to Tokyo/Narita Airport.


I thought most overseas trips would require a stopover in Vancouver but I was quite surprised to find out that Calgary had the capacity to fly directly to Tokyo. The more you know...


Of course with my luck, our flight was delayed as they ended up changing our departure gate. A good half hour to an hour behind schedule, we finally boarded the plane. 


Food was served two hours into the flight and also two hours before landing. Our first meal included a choice of beef on rice or chicken and potatoes. Coleslaw, a brownie, and a bun rounded it out. Airplane meals get a bad rap, but when you're hungry, anything becomes edible.

Because of the 15 hour time difference, we would be arriving in Tokyo in the afternoon the next day. After the first meal, they dimmed the lights so that most people could sleep and compensate for the time change. I didn't sleep a wink...

When we finally arrived at Narita, the airport was PACKED. Maybe it was because we came right at the end of "Golden Week" in Japan, the lines for customs and immigration seemed never-ending. Thankfully the staff were quick and efficient at getting everyone through.  


We picked up our pocket wifi and JR passes while at the airport, and embarked on a train to get into the city. There's multiple ways to get to Tokyo from Narita, including busses and various rail lines. The Narita Express, although more expensive, was the most foolproof and comfortable way for us to go directly to our Airbnb in Shinjuku.


The carriage was clean and had ample room for luggages. It took maybe an hour and a half before we arrived at Shinjuku station, as the train makes multiple stops along the way. Also, free wifi was available the whole way! (I'm loving this country already.)


Pro tip, if it's your first time visiting Tokyo, I would consider staying somewhere quieter than Shinjuku. We picked the area because there was so much to see and do, but the station is literally a maze and constantly packed no matter the time of day. We were so overwhelmed that we didn't pay any attention to our host's instructions on how to get to the Airbnb. We just went out the first random exit that we found in order to escape the madness. (Thankfully we would learn the ins and outs of Shinjuku pretty quickly after that.) 


Google Maps was also not my friend that night, and it took us a good long time trying to navigate and orient ourselves. The apartment was only supposed to be a 10 minute walk from the station but I'm guessing it took us closer to 30. Not so much fun when you're lugging large suitcases around as well.


Eventually we made it! The apartment we stayed at seemed like it was rented out exclusively for Airbnb as a lot of the people we bumped into in the lobby and elevator were tourists like ourselves. This was our view from the 10th floor corridor.

The apartment was cozy to say the least but it wasn't so much a culture shock knowing that space is a premium in Tokyo. We figured that we wouldn't be staying at the apartment much besides sleeping anyways. After taking a break to refresh, we headed out to explore!


Super convenient that there was a Lawson right across the street from us! Japanese convenience stores are amazing treasure troves. All, if not most, operate 24/7, making it handy to grab a quick breakfast or a late night snack.

RUUN!! IT'S GODZILLA!!!

We spent the rest of the night wandering around Kabukicho, the so-called "red-light district." Despite its reputation for being a dodgier side of town, there wasn't a moment walking around where we felt unsafe.


At this point, it was already close to 10:00PM, but a lot of restaurants and establishments in Kabukicho operate around the clock. We decided to stop in CoCo Curry, a well-known chain serving Japanese curry that you can customize yourself. I wasn't too hungry so I opted for a half order of tonkatsu curry. Less than ¥600 and it also included a drink! Who says Japan is expensive?

 

Sensory overload. Lights and people everywhereeee!


After our late dinner and a little more exploring, we headed back to the apartment. Having stayed up for more than 24 hours, we crashed pretty quickly, finishing off day one!

- CT

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About

CT is a 23-year-old Edmontonian who started blogging as an excuse for taking pictures of her food.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf