As I watched anime and had gone on family
to Tokyo, I dreamed of the day I’ll be returning there with a significant other in tow. God was so gracious to grant my heart’s desire sooner than I had hoped. trips
Lloyd and I agreed that instead of spending costly anniversary gifts for each other, we’ll go on our first trip abroad together as a bf-gf couple (with my mom as chaperone). We chose Tokyo since it was Lloyd’s dream to go there.
Thankfully, he was granted a multiple visa entry valid for five years despite being only to two countries. Really a gift from God!
And so my dream Tokyo, Japan dates finally came true…
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Tokyo, Japan Dates in Autumn
浅草 district, a must visit in Tokyo, is where you can immerse yourself in both modern and traditional Japanese culture.
Wearing a kimono, Japan’s traditional costume, will definitely make the experience more memorable as one:
appreciates olden structures;
rides a rickshaw;
enjoys the food culture;
and/or have photos taken of one’s self.
ASAKUSA KIMONO RENTAL: Sakura Photo Kimono
A short walk from Kaminarimon gate, Sakura Photo Kimono offers kimono rental with dressing, studio photo sessions, and outdoor photo sessions with a walking guide around the area. The latter is the most expensive but it’s ideal for those who want to have a prenuptial photo shoot.
Operation hours: 09:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
Simple Plan: 3,000 JPY (or PHP 1305/ 26.25 USD)
Basic plan: 5,000 JPY (or PHP 2174/ 43.74 USD)
Luxury Plan: 10, 000 JPY (or PHP 4350/ 87.49 USD)
What I availed was the luxury plan. I thought if I’m going to experience it I might as well go all out. Thus, I rented a
furisode, a fully decorated, brightly colored silk kimono with swinging long sleeves. It is actually a formal kimono worn by young, single women for special occasions. The said occasions include coming of age ceremony (or the equivalent of debutante ball in Western culture), the wedding ceremony of a relative who is the bride, voting, and tea ceremony.
Meanwhile, Lloyd availed the basic plan which was a
samurai costume that resembles the attire of Prince Okundaira of the 19th century. His clothing consisted of three parts: the kimono; the haori, a traditional Japanese thigh-length kimono-like jacket worn over the kimono; and the hakama, a trouser-like split skirt.
After availing the service of Sakura Photo Kimono, I highly recommend them for those who want to wear such too. Ms. Kiyomi Sakura, the owner of the kimono rental shop, is timely in responding to reservations. She is also very experienced in
kimono dressing and offers her inputs on what suits a person. Tabi (or split-toe socks) and footwear are included in the rental fee. We also learned that, if you availed Sakura Photo Kimono’s service, on your return, just show a picture of you wearing their kimono to avail the luxury plan for half the price.
What To See in Asakusa
When in Asakusa
浅草, one will see the Asakusa Kannon Temple, also known as the “ Sensō-ji temple.” It is Tokyo’s largest and oldest Buddhist temple. We were there neither to worship nor to observe their religious practice. Hence, our visit to the temple grounds was very brief.
There are two large main gates that guard Sensō-ji temple:
Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) – It is the outer gate of Sensō-ji temple and is the symbol of Asakusa. the
Hozomon -It is the actual temple gate.
When you’re a foreigner and you’re wearing a kimono, expect to be flocked by people who are wanting to take a photo of you especially when you’re in Kaminarimon gate. It is the busiest and is teeming with both foreign and Japanese tourists. We opted then to take a photo at the Hozomon gate (
photo on the left).
We explored Asakusa by foot so we found ourselves also at Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street that is a weatherproof shopping arcade (
photo on the right). Some shops or restaurants open later in the morning.
Not far away from the Asakusa’s main attractions is the Sumida river area. In the Asakusa side, you get a good view of the Tokyo Skytree building and the Asahi Beer Headquarters.
Tokyo Skytree 東京スカイツリー is the tallest structure in Japan with a height of 634 meters. This new symbol of Japan has two observation decks. The first is the Tembo Deck that is at 350 meters high. Meanwhile, the Tembo Gallery, dubbed as the “world’s highest skywalk,” is at 450 meters high.
Operation hours: 08:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Fast Skytree Single Ticket (access to the first observatory only): 3,000 JPY (or PHP 1305/ 26.25 USD).
Fast Skytree Combo Ticket (access to both the first and second observatories): 4, 000 JPY (PHP 1736/ 34.92 USD).
On the other hand, the
Asahi Beer Headquarters, completed in 1989, consists of two main buildings which are the following:
Asahi Beer Tower – It resembles a giant glass of beer complete with foam shaped white roof.
Asahi Super Dry Hall – The black building with the “golden poo” perched on top. However, the golden structure on top is actually called as Flamme d’Or which is said to represent both the “burning heart of Asahi beet” and a frothy head.
When you cross the
Azumabashi bridge spanning the Sumida river and turn left, you’ll see a statue of a samurai. He is Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899 end of Edo period to Meiji period), the founder of modern Imperial Japanese Navy.
We found some stairs whereby middle school students were playing. It looked like a relaxing spot so I convinced Lloyd to sit there to just relax and enjoy the view.
Our view was the Sumida river. There are actually water buses that ply the river called the
Tokyo Water Bus. In the Asakusa Pier, there are regular trips every 30 to 60 minutes to Hama Rikyu Garden and direct but less frequent trips bound for Odaiba.
Operation hours: 09:00 AM to 5:00 PM (entry is until 4:30PM only) | Closed Dec. 29 to Jan. 3.
Tokyo Water Bus rates:
Hama-rikyu Garden (1 boat every 30 min. | Travel time: approx. 40 min.) – 740 JPY (or PHP 314/ 6.31 USD) per way OR 980 JPY (or PHP 416/ 8.35 USD) with the admission fee to the garden. To
Odaiba via Asakusa- Odaiba Direct Line (1 boat every 2 hours | Travel time: approx. 60 minutes) – 1560 JPY (or PHP 662/ 13.3 USD) per way.
We intentionally didn’t go to either of the destinations as we intend to leave some places that will charm us back to Tokyo. For instance, Hama-rikyu Gardens, one of Tokyo’s best landscape gardens, is a great place to view the autumn colors. It has plenty of gingko trees, maple trees, and etc. Meanwhile, Odaiba, a huge man-made island, is a popular shopping and entertainment district. A few of its main attractions are the following:
Odaiba boardwalk – one of Tokyo’s only reachable waterfront.
Rainbow bridge – a suspension bridge shaped like a rainbow. Plus, when illuminated from sunset to midnight, it is a sight to behold.
Fuji TV building – beyond being a headquarters of Fuji television, visitors may also access the observatory deck, see exhibits on popular programs, and buy Fuji TV goods at a shop.
Gundam statue – one can view a life-sized model of Gundam.
Afternoon time calls for snacks. We returned to the street lined with small shops that extend from Kaminarimon gate to the Sensoji Temple. It is
Nakamise-Dori shopping street, Asakusa’s most famous shopping street and one of Japan’s oldest shopping streets. One can find temple-related trinkets, keychains, edible souvenirs, toys, and, of course, snacks which include Japanese confectionery and sweets.
(leftmost photo) We made sure to sample 330 JPY (or PHP 140/ 2.81 USD) for 3 pieces. It’s the first one in the photo above. The sticky millet dumpling is covered with soybean powder. We found it best paired with their hot sweet sake, 110 JPY (PHP 47 /0.94 USD). kibi dango,
(center photo) Another snack we got to try was the mitarashi dango , 180 JPY (or 76 PHP/ 1.53 USD) per piece and 500 JPY (PHP 212/ 1.81 USD) for 3 pieces. It is basically small round mochi balls skewered on a stick. The shiny colored caramel sauce is actually a sweet soy sauce glaze.
(rightmost photo) Finally, we didn’t leave until I was able to make Lloyd try my favorite standard pudding, 352 JPY (PHP 149/ 3 USD) from Testa Rossa Café. The pudding is placed in a small glass jar so can enjoy it nicely while strolling around Asakusa. They offer other flavors such as premium, classic, cheese, coffee, sesame, green tea, and strawberry. Their puddings are smooth, have the right amount of sweetness, and tasted the same as how I ate it in my past two visits to Tokyo. It doesn’t come as a surprise that their puddings are featured by local TV shows and are eaten by local celebrities.
Sensoji Temple closes at 5 PM so, by 7 PM, the busy Kanimarimon gate and Nakamise-Dori transform into a quiet pedestrian walkway. Since we stayed in Asakusa area, we got to experience its night charm.
The Akihabara district, famous for being Tokyo’s Electric Town, is a mecca for Japanese electronics. However, over the years, it has evolved also as a cultural hub for otakus (“fanboys” or “fangirls” of anime and mangas).
What will welcome any first time visitor is colorful multi-story shops.
As an anime and manga lover like myself, Lloyd was filled with pure bliss. He took a quick photo before we rigorously looked at what is being sold and searched for the requests of our family and friends.
We certainly first popped up in an anime shop. It was really tempting to buy figurines from nendroids to figma. As we just explored where our feet lead us, we weren’t able to take note of the shops not to be missed.
What we can confidently tell you is that the larger the shop, the more diverse the items being sold is. Indeed, you will be able to buy school supplies, cosplay costumes, body pillows, and more that has your favorite manga or anime on it.
Gadgets and, of course, video games for your console can be bought as well.
If you are comfortable playing arcade games in the Japanese language, why not give it a go. Your safe bet though if you are intimidated by Japanese characters is a claw crane.
Tax-free souvenirs are also available in Akihabara.
You can also check the merchandise being sold by sidewalk vendors if they have your favorite anime/ manga. We weren’t able to see if what is being sold is cheaper compared to what is being sold in stores.
When planning a trip to Japan, one typically includes seeing Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. The closest place where one can view it is in Kawaguchiko area. Thus, we headed there.
Since we have a limited budget, we took a highway bus by Fujikyu from Shinjuku Station that cost us 1750 JPY (PHP 789 /15.50 USD) each person. It stopped at Fuji-Q Highland theme park before reaching the Kawaguchiko main station. Normally, it just takes less than two hours to get there but, since we went on a weekend, it took us around three hours.
At Kawaguchiko main station, there is an old train on display. It is good to check out while you still haven’t fully decided on what to do next.
Attractions in Kawaguchiko area
From Kawaguchiko main station, we walked for about 15-20 minutes to Lake Kawaguchiko. It wasn’t that hard to find since there were English signages. There were also a lot of tourists headed in that direction.
It was already past noon when we reached Lake Kawaguchiko, part of the Five Fuji Lake, so Mt. Fuji wasn’t readily visible. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful place to be in. The lake is a popular fishing spot but recreational boating can also be enjoyed there.
Kachi Kachi Ropeway
While there is a hiking trail to the observation deck of Mount Tenjo, we opted to ride the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to save time. It ascends 400 meters and it takes about 3 minutes to reach the top. Two ropeway cars alternatively ferry tourists every 5-10 minutes.
Operation hours: 09:00 AM to 05:10 PM.
Kachi Kachi Ropeway: 800 JPY (or PHP 360/ 7 USD) for a round trip; 450 JPY (or PHP 202/ 3.9 USD).
Make sure to stand at the back of the car to get a panoramic view of the lake as the ropeway car goes up. If you’re blessed with clear clouds, Mt. Fuji can also be seen.
Mount Tenjo Observation Deck
Upon arriving at the Mt. Tenjo, what drew our attention at Mount Tenjo is the large bell suspended in a large steel heart-shaped frame. It is called the Bell of Tenjo. And, according to popular belief, it is said your wish will come true if you ring the bell while watching Mt. Fuji. We are thankful that Mt. Fuji decided not to hide behind the clouds.
We noticed another trail which leads to Mt. Mitsutoge. Apparently, it takes six hours to complete it.
We certainly entered the trail but we made sure not to go super far so we can easily come back. What we just did was enjoy the colors of autumn.
And, of course, we just enjoyed viewing the beauty of Mt. Fuji. How wonderful God is!
From Kawaguchiko, we rode a bus going to Shibuya, a popular shopping and entertainment area among the youth. We often see anime characters having a rendezvous in Shibuya plaza. So that is where we proceeded first.
We took a photo with the dog statue erected in the memory of a legendary dog named Hachikō. For those who don’t know about Hachikō, he goes to Shibuya station every day to meet his master returning from work. His loyalty has touched the Japanese people that is why he is honored.
Ended our night by walking across the famous intersection outside Shibuya station which is popularly known as Shibuya Crossing. When the lights turn red, pedestrians walk at the same time in all directions. It is an organized chaos that is thrilling to experience as well as watch from one of the buildings.
If it’s your first time in Tokyo and you have limited time, we highly recommend for you to choose Tokyo Disney Sea. This is because it is the only one in the world. Its theme is inspired by the myths and legends of the sea with seven themed ports which are the following:
Before being able to go to Tokyo Disney Sea, one has to ride the Disney Resort Line. It is a Disney themed monorail that circles Tokyo Disney Resorts. Riding it to go to one’s destination costs 260 JPY (or PHP 117/ 2.3 USD).
We just had so much fun in Tokyo Disney Sea. Words aren’t enough to describe it. Just view more of the photos below.
You’re right by the way. We bought matching headbands. I think it is a must for couples.
The Top 5 Rides at Tokyo Disney Sea that You Shouldn’t Miss
1. Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island.
2. Raging Spirits at Lost River Delta.
3. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull at Lost River Delta.
4. Tower of Terror at American Waterfront.
5. Toy Story Mania! at American Waterfront.
Note: The attractions mentioned above typically have a high waiting time. So it is best to utilize fast passes and/or queue at the single rider line. Getting around Tokyo
Tokyo has a complex subway and train system but it is an efficient way of going around. When you’ll be using it a lot, it is recommended to avail of Tokyo’s day passes. Buses are a cheaper alternative but you may get lost if you can’t communicate in Japanese.
Public taxis are an excellent way to go around but it can be expensive as it is metered. Thus, it is advisable to use the services of a trustworthy such as KiwiTaxi. It is a 24-hour service that offers reliability and reasonable rates. Plus, you can also
via your phone. It is indeed quick and convenient as that. book your private transfers in Japan