Like many of our travels, a lot happened on Day 1. Aside from doing the first tour in Tokyo which was super easy as it was arranged, it was the travelling and arriving part that beat us the most–left our home to get to the airport at 2:30, boarded the plane at 5am, then nearly 4 hours after the plane left the grounds of Manila, Mccoy and I, together with my folks, arrived in Tokyo. Despite the lack of sleep, our endorphins escalated as we stepped foot on one of our dream destinations. We couldn’t be more fascinated with Tokyo for all cool things it has—the cars and food, shopping, its people and places, and everything in between. It felt sooo awesome being there!
From Narita to Downtown Tokyo
Thanks to the Internet–which practically became our guide in this trip–we learned that among several ways to get to Tokyo city center from Narita Airport, N’EX (Narita Express) was the perfect option for us—it’s the fastest and with least transfers, also, it has direct stop at Shinjuku Station, where we planned to grab lunch at the food basement in a mall connecting to it.
Right after we disembarked, got our luggage, passed through immigration and all that blah, we spotted N’EX counter. Yay, that was easy! We grab our tickets and took the escalators to go down where the rails are. One of the good points about Japan is that English signs are found everywhere, making it extremely helpful to foreigners especially to those without tour guides like us. Following the sign, we reached the platform that says Narita Express. We boarded the first train that stopped right in front of us, two seconds later, I instructed everyone to alight immediately! I realized it was the wrong train as the seats were different and I did not remember seeing the letters N-E-X printed on the first car! Two other (stranger) tourists followed us. How could I miss that and forget that more than one line might use the same rail?! The moral of the story: think. Haha!
A couple of minutes later, the correct train came. It read N-E-X. We boarded our car number and took our assigned seats. The train was exceptionally tidy, seats were spacious and comfy enough. It was generally a smooth one hour or so ride.
Surviving Shinjuku Station
A few stops later, we arrived at Shinjuku Station. Prior to our trip, I have been forewarned that this could be a real challenge. They say Shinjuku station could really get confusing even to Tokyoites who take trains to and from this station every day. No wonder one could easily get lost here–according to Guinness record, an average of 3.6 million passengers used this transport hub every day in 2007, making it the world’s busiest train station with 36 platforms and over 200 exits (underground arcades included). So as we got off the train, we looked for signs and directions leading to west exit. It was a bit tricky but we were able to find it after a few minutes of app consultation, debate, and staring at “you’re here” sign on the map and deciphering whether or not “you’re here” was exactly where we were. Haha!
Our First Meal: Depachika
Tokyo’s department store basement is not just a haven to foodies but also a must for every Tokyo traveller. These underground food halls house over a hundred varieties of prepared food–packed meals, bento, snacks, sweets, groceries, and what have you. For our first meal, we went to Lumine. We were supposed to just grab some take-out meals to bring to our flat, but we spotted chairs at one corner, so settled and gobbled on our lunches right there and then.
Our Touchdown Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without checking in our apartment. In as much as we would like to see how it’s gonna be like to stay in a trad Japanese home, we opted for a more practical and comfy choice since my parents wouldn’t survive futons and a 3’x3′ bath tub. We wanted one that has western-style beds, a really spacious hot tub/shower room, a kitchen we can use to prep breakfast, and of course, cheap and close to metro. Hence, the Sogi House in Shinjuku-ku, which we booked through Airbnb.