If you'd like to read my rundown of what happened in Tokyo while on the road read: Lost in Tokyo.
While in Japan we spent most our time in Tokyo as we were there for only 4 days. We did squeeze in a day trip out to Kawaguchi Ko to get a nice view of Mt. Fuji.
We took the Narita Express after a couple of hours of dealing with my destroyed bag around 5 pm into Shinjuku Station where we took a cab the rest of the way to our hotel. We had booked a room at the Tokyo Granbell Hotel for our stay there. Not much to say about this 'first day' in Tokyo. We grabbed a quick meal down the street from our hotel and went to bed around 8 pm that night. It'd been a long trip over the pond.
The next morning we woke up horribly early. We finally got a good look at our room. It was so tiny, but everything fit perfectly well in there. Then Grant noticed the smart toilet, his life was forever changed.
Finally after getting ready for the day and listening to Grant play with the bidet functions on the smart toilet and giggling like a little girl we finally set out for the day.
We decided to start off with exploring Shinjuku aka: Getting lost in Shinjuku and seeing if we could find our way back.
We did find our way back. We grabbed our map of Tokyo from the hotel and went over to the metro station. Our objective was to get over to Shibuya station to go see the Shibuya crossing.
We of course did the crossing, then went to a second floor cafe to see it from above. It's crazy to watch all the people scurry around the crossing for a minute at a time.
Next off was to go see the Imperial Palace East Garden (Kokyo Higashi-gyoen). We unknowingly made the trek and found out that it was closed on Mondays, so unfortunately only got to see the outside of it.
We walked all around it and then headed back over to Tokyo Station to leave Marunouchi and go back to Shinjuku.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building
We headed back over to Shinjuku to get a 360 view of the city from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office.
It was a great view, and best of all it was free!
Then it was back off to Tokyo Granbell Hotel for a change and then out to a ramen shop for dinner.
We googled Shinjuku ramen shops before leaving the hotel and were led to Menya Musashi right next to Shinjuku station. You go in, and poke a button to pick a mystery ramen from the vending machine. We didn't know what any of it was (neither of us can read and Japanese) so we just picked two random buttons, poked them and then poked the beer button. We know what beer is at least.
The ramen was good, but it was a little on the fishy side for my taste. I like fish, but it was a little strong for me. However Granty next door looked like he was struggling. I tried his. It tasted like the soup base was an entire fish that had been stuffed in a blender. We did however get to eat some amazing ramen at the Narita airport when leaving. Overall I can't say anything negative, considering we picked two random ramens, not knowing what they were.
I decided that I would like to see Mt. Fuji since we went all the way to Japan. So I did a little research after ramen to figure out how to go about that.
We got up the next morning and started our trek over to the Shinjuku bus station to catch one out to Kawaguchi Ko. We had a hell of a time finding the ticket office, but after about an hour we figured it out, but had missed the bus we had reserved seats on. Online it had said that the buses fill up the day before usually so we should reserve them. We found out that that wasn't the case and bought a roundtrip ticket to get on the next one. It was a very nice ride out there. The scenery once you get out of Tokyo was beautiful. I even got to see some cherry blossoms.
Kawaguchi Ko is one of the Fuji Five Lakes where you can get some good views of Mt. Fuji. Roughly two hours later we were there. This is an easy place to find your way around. There are dual Japanese and English signs leading you down to the lake.
We got down to the lake and realized how large it was and saw the bridge cutting through the middle of it. We had just passed a bicycle shop and decided to rent a couple. They were pretty rickety, but we didn't care. We paid the equivalent of about $12 each to rent bikes for the afternoon.
First thing we did was go across the bridge to the other side so that we could get a good view of Mt. Fuji. It was hazy that day so it wasn't the clearest, but we got to see one of the most iconic landmarks of Japan.
We turned and went into a tunnel after we crossed the bridge.
After we went through the tunnel we found a good spot off the side of the road to get some Mt Fuji pictures. However, I somehow had gotten a speck of dust on my camera sensor, so all of my pictures are from an iPhone. Grant at least has some of the good ones on his camera.
It was nice to finally see it at least.
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding bikes around like little kids.
On our way back to the bus station we had a quick late lunch and then missed our bus on the way back because we had been waiting at the wrong terminal. We went inside and they were nice enough to give us new tickets for the next bus coming and didn't charge us again. They must be used to idiot tourists that can't read any Japanese.
We ended up leaving a couple hours later than we planned.
Shinjuku is a crazy place at night with all the lights, sounds, bars and casinos. Oh and hookers.
Our first stop was revolving sushi for dinner. Neither of us had been to one, although there is one here were we live in Alaska.
It was definitely my favorite meal while we were in Japan. I love sushi, and especially sashimi.
After dinner we ran around, bar hopped and checked out the area. We even wandered into a casino. It was loud and flashy and crazy so we left pretty quick. After running around Shinjuku for the evening we decided to go hit the rooftop bar back at our hotel. It was actually pretty nice with a decent view.
The service was a little slow, but there was only one bartender and one waiter so I can't knock them for that. And the bar was packed that night.
On our last morning in Shinjuku we finally noticed that all of the hotels in the area, including ours all had signs outside that had an "hourly" rate, "rest" rate, and "nightly" rate. Rent by the hour? Lovely. The rest rate was for 3 hours... must be for the jons with some stamina.
Our final place we checked out in Tokyo was Harujuku. I would have liked to have spent more time out there, but we had to call it a day because we had to get back to the airport to catch our flight down to Bangkok.
Harujuku was pretty crowded that day. It was an experience.
This was where I was introduced to Gudetama, and got to go into Kiddyland and crack out on Kawaii and more Hello Kitty than I could have ever dreamed of.
After Kiddyland we had to head back over to the hotel and grab our bags. We cabbed it to Shinjuku station, got out tickets for the Narita Express and headed back to the airport to make our way to Thailand.