Welcome to part two of my Japanease travel diary, if you missed the first part of my Japanese journey you can read it here, otherwise lets get on with the second instalment…
We hopped off the bullet train at Tokyo station and then got the metro to Shinjuku where we were staying. If you have been to Tokyo or are thinking of going you will probably have realised that hotel accommodation is pretty expensive, and sadly we didn’t have the budget to live my Lost in Translation fantasies at the Park Hyatt. To get around this I read a couple of travel blogs before going and they suggested that if you don’t mind staying in the red light district you can find some better value accommodation options, which is exactly what we did. We stayed at the APA Hotel, which has very small, comfortable rooms and it suited us perfectly – although we did only take hand luggage. We were also lucky enough to be housed on the 21st floor, which had incredible views of the never-ending city.
On that first evening we headed out into Shinjuku, which is a great location if you are into nightlife. We went out for ramen and drinks in the Golden Gai, which is a collection of small alley-style streets with tiny bars – I’m talking space for a maximum of ten people – some have signs outside saying Japanese speakers only, but others welcome tourists inside.
The morning after we were up early – still jet lagged – and decided to head over to the Tsukiji Fish Market. A word of warning if you are planning to do the same, they don’t let tourists in until after 9am. So being the keen beans that we are we rocked up at 8.15am only to be turned away, not that we were too disappointed because it gave us the excuse to go to one of restaurants next to the market for a breakfast of the freshest sushi we’ve ever tasted. When we finally made it inside the fish market I have to say that I was quite overwhelmed by the volume of fish available. After half an hour of walking around I was ready to get out as I was feeling slightly squeamish.
We then took the rest of the day at a more relaxing pace by heading to Ginza for a spot of shopping – may I recommend Ito-ya a nine-story stationery shop and the flagship Uniqulo if you are planning to do the same, then headed back to our hotel before going out for more of our favourite Japanese dish, ramen.
Something else that was on our list of “must-sees” was Mount Fiji, so after some last minute Googling we discovered we could take a bus from Shinjuku bus station and it would take us to Lake Kawaguchi, which is known as being one of the best places to view the mountain. The journey takes about an hour and forty-five minutes each way, but one day is more than enough time to get there and see the mountain. There is a bus you can take around the lake and also a cable car, which goes up to a viewing point, but we decided to just walk around a part of the lake ourselves.
On our final two days in Tokyo and indeed Japan we ticked off the final points on our bucket lists. These included a relaxing stroll through the Shinjuku Gyoen Park, which has both a Japanese and an English garden, feeling insignificant as we watched the masses cross the Shibuya Crossing and taking it all in at the Metropolitan Government Building, which has fabulous views of the city and is surprisingly free to get in.