Ja-FUN! Our Tokyo, Japan Spring Adventure

By Mommy Donna and Kib - April 17, 2019

Japan is a country that you will visit over and over again....

Getting a Japan visa is something that is very important to me, because it gives me hope that I can also travel to other visa countries all over the world.  It's a milestone for me considering that I'm just a freelancer.  

I went to Japan during the cherry blossom season.  It's a bit costly, but it's really worth it!  It's a different feeling when you go to Japan during this season because for Japanese, it's a celebration of life and the onset of spring.  Cherry blossoms are in full bloom for two weeks only, that is why Japanese people take this opportunity to hold picnics under the cherry blossom tree in the parks.  

By the time that I got my Japan visa (see my post here), my friends in Japan told me to arrange everything for the trip as soon as possible because the cherry blossoms in Tokyo are already in full bloom.  They even sent me pictures of cherry blossoms to excite me about the upcoming trip.

I immediately did the necessary stuff: book our airfare ( via Japan Airlines, will have a separate blog about our experience) and looked for accommodation.  I had a bit of a hard time looking for accommodation because it's a peak season for tourists in Japan and the affordable accommodations near the busy areas were already fully booked.  In addition to that, I'm looking at the map first before reserving a room (hello, mura nga tapos sobrang layo).  Will tell you more about accommodation and other Tokyo trips on another blog.  

For this blog, let's just concentrate on our itinerary during our 7-day trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Checking-in at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

I chose a midnight flight going to Japan because I want to immediately spend Day 1 going around Tokyo.  We left at 11:35pm and arrived in Japan at around 5am the following day.  We still stayed at the airport until 8:45 am to rest a bit (we weren't able to get some sleep at the airplane because we were too excited to explore the features of Japan Airlines) and to wait for the booth to open to get our Suica card.  We rode a train on our way out of the airport (via Tokyo Monorail) and did train transfers going to our guest house in Arakawa.  I chose that place because it's near Ueno.  

Welcome to Tokyo!  You will see a lot of promotions about Olympic games next year all over Tokyo.  You can already purchase official Tokyo 2020 Olympics merchandise

We just can't help but to have this photo as soon as we set foot at Haneda International Airport

Our Suica cards.  It is a tap card that can be used to pay for train and bus fares.  You can also use this to purchase items on restaurants and malls.

Here's our itinerary:

Day 1
Ueno Park 
Ueno is the nearest city to Arakawa, so we decided to spend our Day 1 here.  Ueno Park is also popular for having rows of cherry blossom trees so if you will go to Japan during cherry blossom season, Ueno Park is one of the best spots to see them.  Ueno Park is also a complex; there are lots of interesting places to visit around it.  Kib and I went back to Ueno Park on Day 3 because we wanted to visit the museums around it.  We also saw the five-story pagoda, Yushima Tenmagu Shrine, and ate street food there (there is a food park at night).  There were lots of crows so pay attention to your food not to be stolen by these birds.

Happy to be surrounded by cherry blossoms!

Foreigners and locals walk around Ueno Park to see these lovely flowers

Aahhh! The smell of lavender!

Cleansing area at the shrine at Ueno Park

Five-storey pagoda at Ueno Park

Food park at Ueno Park


The copper lanterns that you can see at the background is for purification

Yushima Tenmagu Shrine

Entrance fee: FREE

Ueno Zoo
Ueno Zoo is also popular among tourists and locals.  Kib and I are animal lovers so we really make it to a point to visit Ueno Zoo. We were able to see animals that Kib haven't seen yet during our zoo visits in the Philippines like the okapi, pelican, capybara, rhinoceros (yes, I'm also happy to see a rhino because they are only few in the world, at least we saw it in a zoo and not in a museum, haha), armadillo, aardvark, among others. There's also a panda at Ueno Zoo but the line to see the panda is long.  Anyway, we already saw a panda at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.

Asian elephant



Giant Galapagos tortoise



Entrance fee: 600yen for adults, 300yen for seniors (65 years old and above), 200yen for students 13-15 years old, free for children up to 12 years old

Day 2
I met my former student at an English online school at Ginza area since she also works there.  She met us at Yurakucho train station and walked on the streets of Ginza.  She showed me where the biggest Muji and Mitsukoshi stores in the area.  She treated us with a nice sushi meal and taught us how to eat sushi the right way.

Ginza is known for high-end shopping and this is where you can see the flagship stores of both local (Japanese) and international brands.  Ginza also has the most expensive real estate in Tokyo metropolitan area.  

Ginza Wako (left) and Mitsukoshi Department Store (right)

My Japanese student

Matsumoto Kiyoshi is a famous pharmacy.  You can also purchase make-up and skin care products there

Tokyo Station/Marunouchi area
From Ginza, we went to Tokyo Station via bus.  Tokyo Station can also be accessed from Ginza via subway but I said to my Japanese friend that I would like to try riding a bus.  

Tokyo Station is an iconic place.  It is usually seen on Japanese anime.  However, Tokyo Station doesn't have any spectacular interiors though.

Marunouchi area is a business district.  Office space rentals in this area are a bit expensive.  You will pass through Marunouchi area going to Imperial Palace grounds.

Tokyo Station

Kib and I posing in front of Tokyo Station
Marunouchi Business District

Imperial Palace Grounds
This is where the Emperor of Japan and his family lives.  It has tight security, so if you wish to visit this place, make sure that you do not have anything dangerous or deadly inside your bag.  They really inspect your bag thoroughly.  Kib was even asked to drink from our water tumblers to make sure that it doesn't contain alcoholic drink.

You will only see a corner of the Imperial Palace itself.  The grounds itself is too big that you only have to choose either you see the shrine or go to the East Garden area.  We chose going to the East Garden area.

Reminder to all visitors

The Imperial Palace

One of the buildings at Imperial Palace complex.  If I'm not mistaken, this building is for those who work at the Imperial Palace

Another building at the Imperial Palace grounds

This used to be a guardhouse

One of the gates of Imperial Palace

Entrance fee: FREE

Akihabara is known for its gaming stores. arcades, maid cafes, anime cafes, and concept bar and cafes.  Akihabara is for young at heart.  My son wants to visit Akihabara because he's an anime fan.  I let him play at an arcade there.

I am not sure if maid cafes are for young kids.  I wanted to try to eat at a maid cafe but the 'maids' on the streets are only inviting men.   

You can also see Bic Camera and Don Quixote here.  You can shop at these stores tax-free, but make sure you have your passport with you when you check-out.  Please note that there is a certain amount that you have to meet before it qualifies for tax-free shopping.  Will tell you more about shopping in Japan on another blog.

Gundam Cafe at Akihabara

At the busy intersection of Akihabara

You can play arcade games here such as the claw machine, computer games, and more


Day 3
Museums around Ueno Park
Ueno Park has really lots of places to offer that I want to go back again.  We went to two museums at Ueno Park: National Museum of Nature and Science and Tokyo National Museum.

The National Museum of Nature and Science is divided into two galleries: Global Gallery and Japan Gallery.  Global Gallery features an exhibit on the coevolution of the Earth and its inhabitants, along with a history of the development of intelligent thought on humans.  There are sections on this gallery that are interactive.  Museum volunteers can also give you some information about a certain exhibit.

Japan Gallery, on the other hand, exhibits the nature and history of Japanese Islands, the evolution of its endemic organisms, the process by which the modern Japanese population was formed, and the history of our contact with nature.

You will see the preserved body of Hachiko, Japan's most loyal dog, and Jiro, a dog which survived for 11 months in Antarctica at the Japan Gallery.  The movie Eight Below starred by Paul Walker was based on Jiro's life.

The National Museum of Nature and Science is a good place to visit with kids who love science and dinosaurs (yes, they have extensive collection of dinosaur fossils!).

Main entrance of National Museum of Nature and Science

Just after the main entrance you can see this steam locomotive.  

One of the telescopes at the exhibit

Skeleton of a sperm whale

Different kinds of Japanese-made clocks

Some sections of the museum are also interactive

Skeletons of prehistoric animals on display


Sabertooth tiger

Preserved body of Hachiko and Jiro (top right)

Entrance fee: 620yen for general public, free for highschool students and younger

Another museum that we visited was the Tokyo National Museum.  Tokyo National Museum opened its doors to the public in1872.  It collects, conserves, and exhibit artworks, archaeological artifacts, and other cultural properties from Japan and other regions of Asia.  It has four buildings inside the complex.  We were only able to visit Toyokan (Asian Gallery) and Honkan (Japanese Gallery) because of time constraints.  Even if we were only able to visit only two of the buildings inside Tokyo National Museum, we can say that we learned a lot from their culture.  We saw authentic samurais and warrior outfits in the museum.  In addition to that, in the Asian Gallery, we saw a real mummy.  We were in awe to see these in real life.

Grounds of Tokyo National Museum

Painted Japanese folding screen

Japanese warrioir suit

Egyptian mummy

Japanese samurai

Entrance fee: 620yen for general public, free for highschool students and younger

Please note, however, that some exhibits cannot be photographed; there is a symbol of a camera with a cross on it if such item is not to be photograped, located beside the description of each exhibit.  Please ask the museum staff first just to make sure.

Kaneiji Temple
As we walk towards Ueno Station from Tokyo National Museum, we got a chance to see this small temple, Kaneiji Temple.  Since we visited temples during our Thailand trip in 2017, Kib wanted to see temples in Japan too.  Good thing that we saw one while we were walking towards Ueno Station.  It was built in 1625 and later served as a family temple.  Six shoguns (chief military officer) were also buried there.

Entrance fee: FREE

Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center
From Ueno, we chanced upon a bus going to Tokyo Skytree and we rode it going to Asakusa.  We got off at Asakusa and walked towards Sensoji Temple.  While looking for Sensoji Temple, we chanced to see this small museum at Nakamise St. complex, the Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center.  You can see the craftsmanship of the people living in Taito City which has been passed from generations to generations.  

Entrance fee: FREE

Sensoji Temple
It is said that it is the oldest temple in Tokyo.  A lot of people pray and make a wish in that temple, both locals and tourists.  It is known for its main gate, Kaminarimon Gate, where a giant lantern hangs.  There is also a pagoda in the complex.

Entrance fee: FREE

Asakusa-jinja Shrine
A small shrine beside Sensoji Shrine.  A lot of people also go there for some quiet meditation.

Entrance fee: FREE

Nakamise Street in Asakusa
This street maintains its old looks and tourists like going here to buy souvenir items and local Japanese food that they can bring home. Adjoining streets also sell some goods, but Nakamise Street is the original one.  

Tokyo Skytree
From Asakusa, if you have the energy, you can walk going towards Tokyo Skytree.  You can actually see Tokyo Skytree from Asakusa area.  It's about a kilometer walk going there, crossing Sumidagawa River.  You can ride a water taxi going to Odaiba from Asakusa too.

Tokyo Skytree is a free-standing broadcasting tower (634 meters tall).  On the observation deck, you may also have a chance to see Mt. Fuji on sunny days.  We didn't opt to go up the observation deck because there's a fee (refer to this link for rates).  You can also shop at Tokyo Skytree area and there is also an aquarium that you can also visit (see rates here).

Day 4
Shibuya (Shibuya scramble, Hachiko monument, eat at Ichiran)
Shibuya is known as a shopping district.  A lot of tourists like watching the Shibuya scramble crossing just across the Shibuya station.  From Shibuya station, exit at Hachiko Gate which will directly lead you to the famous monument of Hachiko.

Hachiko exit is at the right

Hachiko's monument under the cherry blossom tree just outside Shibuya Station

At Starbucks' second floor watching the Shibuya scramble

Ichiran is a famous tonkotsu ramen restaurant.  Actually there are other branches all over Tokyo but we chose to eat at Shibuya since we are already in the area.  It only seats 21 people so expect a long queue during lunch and dinner.  It is open for 24 hours.  Each person eats his/her ramen inside a cubicle so that you will be able to enjoy the smell and taste of ramen.  Ichiran accepts cash only and you order via a vending machine.  Good thing that when we arrived at Ichiran the line is still short, but when we're done with our lunch, the line already reached the other side of the sidewalk.

The machine where you will order 

Instructions on how to order at Ichiran

The machine will print order tickets to be given once you get your seats at the dining area

Dining cubicle

Kib sitting next to me

This spout is for drinking water

My ramen!

Naka-meguro River Walk
I met my other student at Naka-meguro.  Naka-meguro is different from Meguro.  Naka-meguro has a good view of cherry blossom trees.  Along the river, you can buy different kinds of street food.  I tried the strawberry beer.  We also ate at Ootoya, another famous restaurant serving Japanese dishes other than ramen and sushi.  There are also other Ootoya restaurants in other parts of Tokyo.

My other student who showed us the beauty of Naka-meguro

What a lovely sight to see how the cherry blossoms on both sides of the river meet in the middle to give that wonderful view!  The river itself is also clean

Strawberry beer for me

Food I ordered at Ootoya

Matcha Ice Cream with Azuki (red beans)

Harajuku is a shopping district for those people who like cosplay.  If you are a cosplayer, you'll love this place because you can see people walking on Takeshita St. in character.  

On the other end of Takeshita St. is Omotesando, another shopping district lined with zelkova trees.

From Harajuku, you can just walk going to Yoyogi Park.  It is also another famous spot to view cherry blossoms, but since Kib and I were already tired, we didn't go there anymore.  Meiji-jingu Shrine is also nearby, but unfortunately we arrived late.

Takeshita St. in Harajuku

Takeshita St.

Inside one of the shops in Takeshita St. you would see this giant Totoro display

Cat Cafe in Takeshita St.

Entrance fee to Meiji-jingu Shrine: FREE, but if you will go to the inner garden you have to pay 500 yen

Shinjuku is another shopping district in Tokyo and a good place to go out for a drink at night.  Near Shinjuku station you can see Golden Gai, an alley where you can eat al-fresco.  Most restaurants on that alley sell yakitori.

Shinjuku bus station near Shinjuku Station

Busy intersection at Shinjuku

Eating yakitori at Golden Gai, al fresco style.  I ordered green tea with Shochu but I wasn't able to finish it, I don't like the taste.  Look how cramped the alley is

It is also narrow inside the restaurant

Edamame!  We were serve a plate full of edamame while waiting for our order

Golden Gai is near Shinjuku Station, right across Uniqlo store

Day 5
Disney Sea

We love Disney!  

There are two Disney theme parks in Tokyo: Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.  Friends who had been to Tokyo said that it is okay to forgo Tokyo Disneyland since we already had been to Hong Kong Disneyland.  There are attractions in Tokyo Disneyland that are not in Hong Kong Disneyland, but Disney Sea is the only one of its kind in the world.  We decided to go to Disney Sea.  We spent one whole day here.  

The Fantasmic is.....FANTASTIC!  It's a light, water, digital, and dance show in water.  

The monorail going to Disney Sea

Posing with Dale....or Chip?

It's freezing cold at Disney Sea!  It rained

Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney

Entrance fee: 7,400yen for adults, 6,400yen for junior (age 12-17), 4,800yen for children

Day 6

Yokohama is in another prefecture (Kanagawa Prefecture) but can be easily reached by regular train.  It only took us 30 minutes to get there.  Yokohama is a port city and has rich history.  People are more relaxed compared to the people living in Tokyo.

From Yokohama train station, we transferred to another train going to Minatomirai.  From Minatomirai we just walked until we reached the Yamashita park and Chinatown.  

At Minatomirai

There are lots of museums around the area!  Unfortunately there are some museums that are closed on Tuesdays like the Cup Noodles Museum, Yokohama Museum of Art, and Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum.

However, here are the places in Yokohama that we visited:

Nippon Maru Sail Training Ship and Yokohama Port Museum--Nippon Maru was built in 1930 as a training ship for cadets.  It retired in 1984 and has been open to public since 1985.  On the other hand, Yokohama Port Museum tells the story of Yokohama Port.  It's a good visit to learn how a port operates and how it can also be instrumental in major historical events such as the World War II.  

Nippon Maru

Different kinds of knots that each cadet need to master

Sleeping quarters of cadets

Captain's room


Steering wheel to be used when the ship is sailing using the sails.  It is operated by two people

At the simulation area of Yokohama Port Museum.  We tried handling the ship.  It feels like you're really in a ship 

Entrance fee: 600yen for both exhibits (400yen for one exhibit) for adults, 300yen for elementary students for both exhibits (200yen for one exhibit)

JICA Japanese Overseas Migration Museum--the museum tells the history of Japanese emigration to the Americas.

Entrance fee: FREE

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse--the iconic red brick warehouse is now converted into a mall but the exterior remains the same.  It was built during the Meijo and Taisho periods.

Nyk Hikawa Maru--a cargo-passenger liner that was built in 1930.  Famous celebrities like Charlie Chaplin had been a passenger of this liner.  During World War II, it also served as a hospital ship.  It retired in 1961 and became a popular attraction since then.  

First class cabin

Engine room

Nyk Hikawa Maru's age

Walking inside Nyk Hikawa Maru

Entrance fee: 300yen for adults, 100yen for elementary to high school students

Yokohama Doll Museum--it first opened to the public in 1979. It showcases different dolls all over the world.  It also has collection of old dolls (to be honest, I find old dolls creepy) and different Japanese dolls and dollhouses.

Extensive doll collection all over the world

Japanese doll house

Entrance fee: 400yen for adults, 200yen for elementary to junior high school students

Yokohama Marine Tower--you can also get inside the tower but we opt not to (check the rates here)

Tokyo Marine Tower at the background

Chinatown--if you crave anything Chinese, you can get it here!  There are also interesting places to visit around Chinatown, like the Chocolate Museum and Yokohama Masobyo.

At the entrance of Chinatown

Yokohama Masobyo

There are lots of places to visit in Yokohama!  If you can spend overnight or go back to Tokyo late at night (last train is around 12:55am), then do so.

Day 7
Odaiba (Gundam statue at Diver City, Gundam Center, Toyota Mega Web, Aqua City)

On our last day in Tokyo, we went to Odaiba.  We checked out early and kept our luggages in coin lockers at Hamamastucho station.  You can see a lot of coin lockers all around Tokyo!  Almost all train stations and major buildings have coin lockers.  

To use a coin locker, find a locker that is still available, then choose the language and operation (put baggage).  Choose payment option (cash or Suica card)

The machine will prompt you to either put cash on the money slot or tap your Suica card for payment

After paying, you can already put your luggage inside the locker.

After closing the locker, the machine will give you a receipt with key number.  DO NOT LOSE this receipt as you will need the key number to open the locker.

At Odaiba, we went to the following:

Diver City--it is a shopping mall where you can see the iconic Gundam statue.  Inside Diver City you can also visit Gundam Place where you can buy Gundam items.  This is a perfect place for toy collectors to visit.

A giant Gundam statue just outside Diver City

Philippines won at the 2018 2018 Gunpla Builders World Cup

Decks Tokyo Beach--you can visit Madame Tussauds, Joypolis, Leisureland, and Legoland Discovery Center in this mall.

Young kids should be accompanied by adults when entering arcade stations

Palette Town--this is where you can visit Mega Web, a Toyota Showcase park, Venus Fort (outlet store), and EPSON TeamLab Borderless Digital Museum.

Concept car

I tried one of the virtual exhibits

Lexus driving experience

Different Toyota models on display

Vintage cars at the History Garage of Mega Web

More vintage cars

The Delorian--it became famous because of Back To The Future movies

Mega Web is a mobility experience theme park where you can have a real experience of Toyota cars and even see the cars of the future.  In addition to that, they also have a history garage where you can see old cars (not necessarily Toyota cars).  For car enthusiasts like us, this is a good place to visit. 

Entrance fee to Mega Web: FREE, but if you're going to the Ride Studio, you have to pay 200-300yen per ride

Rainbow Bridge

While we have visited a lot of places around Tokyo, there are still places that we have missed:

  • Roponggi Hills
  • Ikebukuro
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Yoyogi Park
  • Tokyo Disneyland
  • Gotemba
  • Kamakura
  • Onsen bathing
  • Tsujiki fish market
  • Nihonbashi
  • Mt. Fuji

Don't forget to get a Travel Guide at the Travel Information Center once you set foot at the airport!  It's a helpful guide to further plan your own itinerary.

One last look before we leave Japan

We really had fun in Tokyo!  I do hope that I will be given another chance to visit other places in Japan sooner than soon!  Japan indeed can offer a lot of activities and has lots of stories to tell.  For the meantime, I'll save money for our next Japan adventure, hihihi....

Tell me about your Japan adventures too!

I'll tell more about Tokyo travel tips on my next blog, okay?!

It was a great japan adventure!

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