23 February 2014, First morning at Tokyo, the weather was clear, maybe about 6 degrees Celsius with little wind, perfect timing to see Mt Fuji, i thought. Since past weeks, i’ve been checking view of Mt Fuji from an online webcam here , planning my arrival on Mt Fuji Birthday, hoping to catch good and clear view of Mt Fuji. But little i knew that morning that the plan would remain as just a plan, but it didn’t go horribly wrong, it’s still a very amazing first day at Tokyo :).
My plane (SQ636) arrived at Haneda airport at 5.30 and the whole immigration-baggage claim-custom process took about 40 minutes. It’s small and efficient airport. i headed to the ticket counter and bought a route bus ticket with route to keio plaza hotel at shinjuku for 1200 yen (my hotel is closer to the keio hotel than the shinjuku station west exit), check out the bus route and timetable here. I went down to my bus designated departure gate which was number 3. Once the bus arrived, the ‘friendly limousine bus’ (thats whats written on the back of their jacket) crew checked my ticket and stow my luggage into the bus. The bus was on time and it departed within 5 minutes, and when it departed, the ground crew showed Japanese hospitality, they ( three of them) bowed until i can’t see them anymore!It took 40 minutes and the bus arrived at shinjuku airport shuttle station, and it continued to Keio Plaza hotel back lobby, where i got off. Then its a short walk to the Kadoya hotel.
Unlucky for me, i realised i’ve just lost my passport when checking in. so i dropped the luggage at the Hotel and rushed to shinjuku west ext station to catch the bus going back to Haneda. Fortunately, they found my passport (i left it on the luggage trolley somehow). But the back and forth trip not only cost me extra 2400 Yen, it also waste my precious 2 hours in the morning. It ruined my plan to go to Kawaguchi Lake for Mount Fuji and Fujikyu Highland.. oh well, i was very relieved i found my passport anyway.
Since i couldn’t check in at the hotel before 14:00, So i strolled around Shinjuku area instead. It’s huge. the station itself is a massive train hub with lots of exit point, also claimed as one of the busiest train station in the world. Until the last day of my stay, i still can’t figure out a way to come back to the same exit (no 6) i entered. having no plan at all, i enjoyed being lost. i have google map in hand but it didn’t give much help since many places and streets are written in Japanese. so i wandered around and eventually i got to a Uniqlo building, i stopped by a restaurant that sells curry, located on top of the building.
then i found my way back to station and checked in at the hotel. my room was small, but still have enough space to open my luggage. Worth to mention that they have ‘a pleasant sleep program’ which equip rooms with TEMPUR bedding (an expensive bed that follow your body contour). This small hotel is highly recommended and i wrote in-depth review on tripadvisor here.
after having quick rest, i head to Harajuku, two stops away on JR yamanote line.Right out from the Harajuku Station, i witnessed the most human ever populate a street on a common day, waves of people swarming on both direction. If zombie apocalypse starts here, it will be a massively successful one. It is Omotesando Street, a line of street selling upscale brand product. There was nothing of my interest at Omotesando. I found it funny that a long line of Japanese, queuing for Garret PopCorn which was recently opened (singaporean will be proud).
Then i went to Takeshita Dori street which is connected to Omotesando Street. Takeshita Dori is a narrow but long pedestrian street with many stores dedicated for youngster, particularly female. such as clothes, shoes, weird fashion stuff, lolita gothic style, weird designed panties or a backpack with panda plush on its back and etc. Some stores are uniquely decorated as well. Being there on sunday, i don’t see many people wearing weird costume or cosplay. A bit dissapointed, but most Japanese girls dressed nicely, many with their lolita shirt and even bunny headband. Takeshita Dori span for about 2 km, and close to the entrance, there is the largest daisho in Tokyo.
Along the street, i encountered at least 4 crepes store with at least 10 people lining up on each store. i joined the line and order ‘tuna cream cheese’ crepes for 450 yen (average price are between 350 – 600). it wasnt popular choice as i saw many people ordered ice cream crepes (heck, it was cold and windy that day).
my crepe was ready in less than 2 minutes, and it was… good! better than i expected. the Tuna served bit cold, but the cream cheese was warm and it surely made a good mix. the crepes are thin and crispy but not easily scattered. Filling are very generous too! it made me full that i had decided i’ll just get something light for dinner later on. People eats their crepes not far from the store, standing, beside the trash bin full with the crepes paper handle. This is important as it is difficult to find a trash bin in Tokyo (yet it magically remain clean). people keep their trash on their pocket or bag until they found a trash bin.
There is also Calbee store that i didn’t bother to go in because its small yet very crowded and not sure where the queue line starts. But it basically customize your ordinary calbee potato and add various topping on top of it.
Soon the day turn evening and before it gets dark, i catch the train back to shinjuku station. i bought a snack, nissin cup noodle curry and haagen dasz ice cream with sakura flavour from lawson for dinner that i enjoyed at my hotel room. The nissin cup noodle curry was probably the best cup noodle i’ve ever tasted, the sauce are thick and has strong curry taste. While the haagen dasz sakura ice cream taste more like strawberry but less sour and more sweet, but not too sweet. it has like a layer of iced sugar on top of strawberry and vanilla ice cream.
thats for the day! i hit the bed early to pay the lack of sleep i had during the flight!