This is a guest post by my buddy Litali. I went for a 7-day trip to Japan in the late summer month of June. While I did miss the cherry blossom season, which mostly runs from April to March, I did get a round trip ticket from Singapore to Japan for only S$425 from Malaysian Airways. The views were absolutely breathtaking despite it not being the best time for cherry blossoms. While travelling there were so many things flashing in mind about japan which I used to hear from my mother and grandmother and read from books. It met all the expectations of mine. People in japan are extremely gentle and helping. Never hesitant to help a stranger. Day 1: Flight from Singapore to Narita took 12hrs including a 2hrs break. After landing at Narita early morning my buddy came to fetch me from the airport (who was already there).
My buddy was waiting for me at the airport.

My buddy was waiting for me at the airport.

We headed on to the Narita station which was directly connected to the airport and collected the japan rail pass. We booked the Japan rail pass online for 7days trip and it cost us S$650. We received a booklet beforehand via post. You must purchase it before reaching japan. Show the booklet at Narita station and get the rail pass. Do note that the pass is attached to your passport. You are expected to carry both the pass and your passport while you travel. The pass is valid only on JR lines. Don’t forget to collect a metro map, tourist map of Tokyo at Narita. Of-course you can take guidance from the station staff on how to reach your destination. The rail pass may appear costly, but it is way cheaper and convenient than purchasing tickets in Japan. If you have even a single long distance journey within Japan, I would recommend buying the pass
Yes that's the Tokyo Metro map. People form London will feel at home...

Yes that's the Tokyo Metro map. People form London will feel at home...

The Tokyo metro is very good but could be a little intimidating. You can always take the help of station staff and more than willing Japanese locals. From Narita to Tokyo you take Narita express which is covered by JR pass. Once you are in the city take the appropriate metro and reach the destination.  We took Narita express to reach Tokyo(station-M17) via JR Yamanote line, then we took another train to Akhiabara(H15), from there we changed another train and reached our destination Kodenmacho (H14), all covered by the JR pass. We stayed in hotel APA in Kodenmacho.
APA Kodenmacho

APA Kodenmacho

The room was very small but well maintained and well equipped. They included breakfast, it was quiet good and the staff were very helpful.. It was already past noon when we reached Tokyo. So we took a quick nap and headed on to Sinjuku which is covered by JR line. Do  remember to carry an umbrella with you. We walked up-to the Tokyo metropolitan government office (free entry). You can go up 243mt tower for free and enjoy the city view from the top.
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At the Tokyo Metropolitan Building

Amazing view from the top

Amazing view from the top

Then we headed to Shibuya to see the Iconic zebra crossing that you usually see in movies. Nearby there is a huge marketplace. Normally the market closes quite early around 8 to 8:30pm in the evening.
The iconic Zebra crossing

The iconic Zebra crossing

and lots of shop...(all closed very early though)

and lots of shop...(all closed very early though)

Next day early morning after having breakfast from hotel we got our self ready for day-2. DAY-2: We started early towards Meji Jingu shrine which was closest to Harazuku, it comes in JR line. From Harazuku station its 1Km walk to the shrine. Just outside the station there is a shopping street named Takeshita street. Nice place to shop. Many budget shops are here. Japan Daiso is also there, which is the dollar shop equivalent of Japan. A good place to buy gifts and souvenirs.
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Meji Jingu shrine Entrance

With Japanese people inside Meji Jingu Shrine. The most humble and helpful people I have ever met. Love the attire...

With Japanese people. The most humble and helpful people I have ever met. Love the attire...

May your wish come true...

May your wish come true...

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Takeshita street just outside the station. Nice place to shop.

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Inside the shrine

Then we headed towards Imperial palace east gardens. While returning you can take the Chiyoda line (C03) to Otemachi, instead of Harazuku both are close to each other. Alternatively, you can take the JR line back to Tokyo station but have to walk a little bit more.
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Imperial Gardens

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

More Flowers

More Flowers

After Imperial gardens, weheaded towards Asakusa. We first walked up-to Otemachi station (T9) and took the Tozai line towards NIhombasi (T10). From there changed to Ginza line and reached Asakusa (G19). First we went to Kaminari gate then headed towards Sensoji temple after that we went to the Asakusa shrine.Keep in mind the temple closes at 5pm. The temple was already closed when we arrived, so we jusy wandered around outside the temple.
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Sensoji temple

Just besides Sinsoji temple

Just besides Sinsoji temple

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On the way to Asakusa shrine

Then we headed for Tokyo Skytree and went up-to the main observatory. It cost 800 yen per head. The view was much different than the Tokyo metropolitan building and I would say worth the price. To reach Tokyo Skytree , we headed back to Asakusa station  and went to Daimon (A09). At Daimon, changed to Odeo line and went to Akabanebasha(E12). From there followed the road map towards the Tokyo Skytree.
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Skytree Entrance

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To the skies...

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The view is a lot different from Tokyo Metropolitan Building. Bit pricey, but the view was worth it.

Tokyo tower from Skytree

Tokyo tower from Skytree

This concluded day 2. Day-3 On day 3 we planned to visit Hakone. This is a good place to see the magnificent Mount Fuji from a distance. We reserved the seats in Shinkansen (a.k.a bullet train) to Odawara. For bullet train reservation, show your JR pass at the ticket counter and get a reservation for free. Do note that reservation is compulsory on Shinkansen. After we got down at Odawara, we went to the information Centre and collected maps and got Hakone pass for 4000yen .We took a normal train to Hakone by Hakone Tozan Train. Once you are at Hakone get down and take the Hakone tozan bus then get down at Motohakone-Ko. After reaching at Motohakone head towards Hakone shrine then take a leisurely stroll across beautiful forest of ancient Cedar avenue and reach Hakone machi then take Hakone sight-seeing cruise to Togendai-Ko. Unfortunately, the Hakone-rope way at Togendai-ko was not operational. So we purchased some Japanese dolls, ninjas then had lunch & headed back the same way. If ropeway operational go to Souzan and then go to Gora and head back to Odawara via Hakone Tozan train, then take bullet train back to Tokyo. Adding salt to injury, the sky was overcast that day and we could not see Mt. Fuji from anywhere!!
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Inside the shinkansen

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The kissing trains...

walking through the ancient Cedar avenue

walking through the ancient Cedar avenue

At Hakonemachi-ko...take the pirate boats from here

At Hakonemachi-ko...take the pirate boats from here

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The Hakone sight-seeing cruise to Togendai-Ko. Mt. Fuji would have been visible from many locations on the way. But the overcast sky played spoilsport.

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Motohakone-Ko. Again the Mt. Fuji should have been visible from here.

Day-4 On 4th day we packed bags & had breakfast at APA hotel. Then got on Shinkansen from Tokyo @9:30 am to Kyoto. It usually takes 3hrs to reach Kyoto. We booked a hotel named Urban Kusatsu very close to Kusatsu station. Kusatsu is 20 mins away from Kyoto which fortunately was covered by JR Pass. So we used the JR pass to travel. Same day we relaxed and gallivanted around the city.
Yummy breakfast

Yummy breakfast

Day-5 On day 5 we started early and headed on to Kyoto. Best way to travel in Kyoto is the Kyoto bus pass @500yen. You can collect the bus passes from the bus captain. Once you get the bus pass its up-to you how you order your itinerary. For us our first stop was Kinkakuji shrine. You can take bus no 205 just outside the Kyoto station. Next we headed to Enkoji Temple. Both the temples were quite big and it was already 5 and raining so we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. Believe me the view was absolutely mesmerizing I would say nature was at its best. What a serene place, can’t forget ever.
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Kinkakuji shrine

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walking inside the shrine

I could sit here for hours...

I could sit here for hours...

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The views were breathtaking

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On the way to the Pagoda

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The rain was playing spoilsport

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Headed towards Enkoji Temple.

Enkoji Temple.

Enkoji Temple.

Cloud and mist descending

Cloud and mist descending

On the way to hotel at Kusatsu we enjoyed some spicy chicken at Lotteria. We liked it so much that we ordered 5 times. Day-6 We took Shinkansen to Tokyo as we had lots of luggage so we had  hotel booked at Tokyo. We got an early morning flight from Narita international airport to Singapore. The JR pass was still valid of course... 🙂 🙂 There is a bit of planning  and a bit of walking and asking around involved in a self arranged trip. But you get a lot of flexibility and freedom. Not to mention it is also way cheaper than private/package tours. Overall, the whole trip cost us 2000 S$/person, which I feel is quite good. The cost would be much higher in peak season. I hope the article is helpful in case you are planning your next trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. Do share the article with your friends and family. Print This Post Print This Post
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