Have you ever been to your dream destination?  I did.

It was another day at the streets.  The sky was clear and the trees sway with the humming of the cold breeze of the wind.  The fusion of the traditional and the modern architectural landscape is evident on the towering skyscrapers that surround.  The charm of the narrow lanes transcend to each passers-by aura ranging from serene to an overflow of merrymakers.  It was an ordinary day at an extraordinary place.  I was finally at Tokyo, Japan.

From Narita International Airport, my friend and I went directly to Shinjuku to check-in at our booked hotel.  Our hotel is a walking distance from the train station – KADOYA HOTEL. (click to check rates)  It was just an overnight stay as we’ve planned to visit the Kansai Region in the days to come.

welcome to Kadoya Hotel

time to sleep
Fortunately, our hotel is accessible to convenience stores, bars and ramen shops.  If given the chance to visit again, I’d still book at the said hotel.  I can party as much as I want and worry less to catch the last train ride. 

The room is spacious and though no breakfast is included, the convenience store is just across the corner.  Though devoid of quality sleep, we wandered the streets nearby and searched for a place to eat.  Authentic Japanese cuisine is the main target in a matter of course.  And so we settled for a ramen in an unassuming ramen shop nearby with quite a number of locals dining.  As they say, if it’s situated in a narrow alley with lots of diners then ramen must be good!   

the ramen vending machine

A bowl of ramen of varied choices was ordered through a vending machine then a coupon was issued.  Afterwards, we handed over the coupon/ticket to the serving staff and the ramen was placed in our table in a few minutes.  A beer and a ramen was our first set of meal in the Land of the Rising Sun.

We had no itineraries, thus, we walked down the streets of Shinjuku on our first night and observed the street scenes capturing Japanese culture.  Musicians play along the streets of different instruments, while others dance.  The restaurants and ramen shops are full of locals drinking beer.  I really love this part of Tokyo!

street performer

ice cream on a cold night
The green-tea flavored ice cream in cone comforted us for a bit until we decided to call it a night to rejuvenate our weary souls and feet for the days to come.  There was nothing much exciting in the first night at Tokyo.  The following day we have to temporarily leave Tokyo.

After days of staying in Kyoto and a short trip to Osaka and Nara, we came back to Tokyo, anticipating a more fast-paced life.  We stayed at ASAKUSA HOTEL HATAGO. (click to check rates) 

The original tatami floor mats on the room was a stand-out for me not to mention the thick and comforting sheets of the bed.  It was truly relaxing conveying a traditional Japanese bedroom mixed with modern facilities.

Asakusa Hotel Hatago is a minute walk from the Asakusa Station.  The stay comes with a complimentary breakfast.  The ninth floor lounge area is decorated with bento boxes as interiors and a pleasant treat of a view with the Sumida River and Tokyo Sky Tree.  Waking up early to catch the breakfast hours and to view the scenic landmarks of Japan never posed a hassle.

complimentary breakfast

lounge area
A few distances from the Hotel and near the station as well is the famed tourist destination - SENSOJI TEMPLE.

We met our travel blogger friend, Ada of Travel in Boots, currently based in Japan at the Sensoji Temple.  She served as our guide in getting acquainted with the city of Tokyo.

Sensoji Temple, also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, is a Buddhist Temple likewise known for the aligned souvenir shops and food finds.  Unlike my trips in other countries where I could still haggle for prices when buying souvenirs, here is quite different.  They are firm in stating their prices or maybe I lack the charm in negotiating.

After visiting the temple which has become a usual route of our everyday lives actually, since we stayed in Asakusa for days, we tried to explore the usual tourist destinations of Tokyo.

We traveled to Odaiba on a rainy night.  It would have been great had we traveled day time (talking to myself).  I honestly wanted to visit this place for Gundam that stood in front of a mall.  It was surreal.  

front view
back view
Being an artificial island across the Tokyo Bay makes this destination even more interesting.  The Statue of Liberty replica and the Rainbow Bridge are landmark features of this destination as well.  Since a heavy downpour of rain greeted us, we have to leave the place immediately, and I plan to go back and just sit at one of the benches while staring at the skyscrapers that surround and by the mere people-watching.

the ramen shop near K's House Tokyo Oasis Hostel
Then we moved on to our next transient abode – the K’s HOUSE TOKYO OASIS HOSTEL.  Searching for the hostel was a mandatory morning exercise.  We walked through the streets of Asakusa, entered some unknown alleys and found aligned commercial spaces and ramen shops where the hostel sits at the corner.  We found out afterwards there was a shortcut…

K’s Hostel is known as the backpackers’ hostel in Japan.  It is a one-minute walk from Kuramae Station (Oedo subway line). One advantage of staying at the said hostel is the fact that it is near the Asakusa View Hotel (a walking distance), which offers limousine service to the airport.  Though a bit expensive, it is comfortable especially for morning flights and to discard with the hassle of carrying luggage from one station to another to reach the airport.

On the days to come, we originally intend to witness the Grand Sumo Tournament at the Tokyo Stadium but tickets were all sold-out on our intended available dates, the same goes with the Mt. Fuji tour which was aborted for time constraints (there’s always the next time as usual).  Thus, we just roamed around the city and started it off at the Tokyo Sky Tree.

With clear skies, Mt. Fuji reveals itself to spectators at the observatory deck of the Tokyo Sky Tree.  Attempting to queue on the long line of tourists, sudden change of plans came as we gaze at the skies and it was relatively gloomy not to mention the fee that comes with the admission.  Time constraints as well made us declare there’s always a next time.

Walking through the streets of the Ginza shopping district, we saw a lot of smiling faces from shoppers.  It was the autumn sale season. 

Then we saw ourselves in the middle of the busiest intersection in the world – Shibuya crossing.  It is actually a shopping and entertainment district.  A lot of interesting personalities on cosplay revealed themselves. If only there is more time, I can withstand just sitting in one corner the whole day and observing Japanese pop culture.

Roponggi Hills welcomed us with a beer.  We strolled around for a few hours then decided to go back to Shinjuku- an affordable and reasonable Izakaya awaits.

the landmark of Roponggi

Riding the train drunk is one of the challenges yet quite usual in Tokyo.  It is said that most salary men (term for employees) get out every night and hang out with friends and co-workers drinking.  An invitation from a superior at work is even more hard to decline or can’t be declined (I guess part of culture).  With this, drunkards are just everywhere at night but they know how to control the situation (might be their upbringing and culture as well).

In our case, along with friends based in Tokyo, we had our share of what being drunk in the city is and trying to figure the way home on the last train ride.  While dizzy and nearly unaware of where we were, we even entered the largest sex toy store in the city.  It’s amazing how they can be that inventive! (hahaha!)

I had to say that it was the highlight of the Tokyo visit, which made me think Shinjuku should have been the best place to stay at when drinking out with friends.

It all started with cravings of Yakiniku (grilled meat). We tried an Izakaya a day before at Shimbashi and ended drunk the following day on a nearby shop at Shinjuku, just across the famed Robot Restaurant.  Izakaya is an after-work drinking establishment and it is part of Japanese culture.  I can really live here!

Shimbashi Izakaya

Travelling to Japan is not that expensive when planned ahead.  The train station is your ally and for the first time I have never rode a taxi cab in a city abroad.  

As the sun went down, the neon lights go up - this is the charm of Tokyo, Japan.

the last decent shot before I get dizzy

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  1. Hoi! When are you coming back to Japan? Let's go to Shimbashi again!

  2. Those are my favorite can of chuhai! My favorite part about most public toilets in Japan, is the music button and different pressure for the water sprinkler...I love it! You have awesome photos!!!

  3. na excite ako Atty. Parang sarap maglakad lakad sa Tokyo.