Day 1 ended a little more relaxed than expected. Unlike the rest of my officemates who went out, rode the train and explored, we decided to keep it chill. No regrets there because I was so tired! However, Fatz and I planned out an early morning exploration of the park we went to the night before.
It wasn’t difficult for any of us to wake up pretty early. Breakfast starts at 6:30am at the Garden Dining area, B1 of the hotel, though there was an option for a Japanese menu on the 3rd floor as well.
They have a very wide selection of food and drinks. From your regular eggs, bacon, bread, coffee and tea, to pastas, cereal, soy milk and apple juice. They also have an omelet station where you can ask them to put in the ingredients you like from the choices.
Around 7:15am, Fatz and I were off to Symbol Promenade Park to enjoy the view and take Instagrammable shots while Ingrid prepared for our 8:45am call time with our tour.
By 9am, we were all off to our first official destination: Tokyo Imperial Palace. The insides of the Imperial Palace would only open twice a year, and we weren’t lucky enough to land on any of the two days.
I’m not big on temples and shrines, so I would say I didn’t enjoy it that much. But I loved the views we passed by, in spite of being on the bus, as well as the panoramic city view where Imperial Palace was in. We were also able to get a core team and department group shot!
Around 10am, we were bound for Tokyo Tower. Nothing excites me more than the thought of a bird’s eye view of a city. (Pretty obvious right about now I’m cray for city views, yes?)
We were booked for the first observatory (main deck), which wasn’t as high as I wanted, but it was still pretty spectacular. Fatz has a great fear of heights so she couldn’t really get close to the windows, and even had a hard time just being inside the see-through elevator. It was an accomplishment for her to stand on the skywalk window! We stayed till 11:30am.
At around 12:15, we were at our lunch buffet at Mo Mo Paradise Kabukicho in Shinjuku.
Food was so-so. I don’t think you can get shabu-shabu wrong. Soup was light. I wasn’t full, but probably because I didn’t have any rice. There were also a couple of problems with their coffee drink machine which made it worse.
After eating, we decided to roam around while killing time before our call time. We dropped by a Don Quijote branch, one of the famous souvenir/gift-shopping stores with over 160 branches in Japan alone. Again, I was in my “why the rush” mindset, so I didn’t get anything. There was also a long line at the cashier which I’m glad I skipped, though since some of our officemates bought pasalubongs, a couple of the buses left late from the original call time.
We reached our next stop, Asakusa Sensoji Temple around 3:30pm.
Approaching the place, we were hearing some sort of bell-like sounds clanking. According to our tour guide, that was for the fortune-telling area.
I actually don’t believe anything related to predictions, but we did so for the sake of trying it out. It costs 100¥ (₱50).
The rule was to shake a stainless container and take out a stick from it. Each stick has a number engraved on it. Each number corresponds to the numbered ‘drawers’ where the ‘fortune paper’ should be taken. If you get a good fortune, you keep it, while getting a bad fortune, such as me, should be tied to the rack near the area.
After our mini photoshoot with Armen, we then decided to head to Shibuya instead of joining our hotel-bound bus after dinner.
Our dinner was scheduled at Izakaya Hokkaido where we arrived around 5pm. It was a seafood hotpot-style dinner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take photos due to embarrassment because I was sitting beside 3 bosses. LOL.
Anyhow, food was just okay (other than the fried chicken which was great), and service was way worse than that. Our table was too cluttered, the drinks didn’t arrive till everyone was almost done eating.
Since we earlier decided to hit Shibuya Crossing, we didn’t join the rest of our bus-mates with going back to the hotel. We opted to go commuting via train to Shibuya! It was Ingrid, Fatz and I’s first time doing so, so we were highly dependent on Armen with navigation since he was able to do so during his first day. Our route was supposedly riding from Ningyocho station, transfer to Shimbashi station (180¥/ ₱90) to Shibuya station (200¥/ ₱100).
Unfortunately for us, before reaching Shibuya station, we got confused and somehow lost.
As mentioned on this previous blog post, the train system in Japan is pretty complex for tourists. Regular tickets are also one-time use. However, since we were not super familiar with how transferring lines work, we all got confused on why we had to insert our ticket and end up just literally crossing to another entrance. Because we were unsure, we requested ticket refund from Information.. twice. Only to realize later on that the machine would not have swallowed our tickets then and instead we could have taken it to get to the other side without paying again, since it was not our destination yet.
Luckily for us and over an hour after (when Ingrid and Fatz also pitched in on the station hunt), when we managed to talk to the station officer in Shimbashi, we were finally on the right track, literally.
Of the 4 of us, I was probably the most in awe. Likely because Shibuya is one of the major landmarks when watching anime, and seeing it was practically a live show for me.
More than the Hachiko dog statue, I was more excited with crossing the intersection and having one of my pegged shots taken for me.
Photo above is not at all scripted, nor had us cross the intersection halfway for 6 times. No, not at all.
Basically, what we did there was literally, visit Hachiko, the crossing and go home. Stores were also closed already so there was nowhere for us to go. We were hotel-bound on the same route by 9pm-ish as we didn’t want to rush and cram in case we get lost again.
Our day was done by 9:30pm. I spent an hour in the tub (’twas my first time since I was 6 months old), and moved on to fighting my paper due the next day till 1am.
Traveling to Japan? Read this for important know-how’s!