12 Days of Japan Travels: Tokyo Jimbocho and Imperial Palace Gardens Day 1

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After a restful flight aboard the Singapore Airlines First Class Cabin from Singapore to Tokyo (Narita Airport), we were raring to go to visit all the sights in Tokyo Japan!

Arriving on SQ First Class to Tokyo Narita Airport
Arriving on SQ First Class to Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo Narita Airport Keisei Skyliner Transfer to Tokyo Jimbocho

Before we arrived in Japan, we went to the Keisei Skyliner website to purchase our airport transfer tickets. At the website, you can purchase the return tickets + 24/48/72 hours Subway tickets for 5,100/5,400/5,700yen respectively. We chose the 5,400yen Keisei Skyliner return tickets with 48 hours subway tickets and we headed straight to the Keisei ticket counter to collect our tickets…

Escalator to basement to collect Keisei Skyliner Airport Transfer Tickets
Escalator to basement to collect Keisei Skyliner Airport Transfer Tickets

At the arrival level, there’s a Keisei counter. However, you will not be able to collect the tickets booked online at this counter. Hence, look for the escalator next to it and look for the Skyliner and Keisei Information Center at the basement level…

Skyliner and Keisei Information Center Tokyo Narita Airport
Skyliner and Keisei Information Center Tokyo Narita Airport
Follow the Orange Coloured Signs for Keisei Skyliner Train
Follow the Orange Coloured Signs for Keisei Skyliner Train
Keisei Skyliner Airport Transfer Tickets to Tokyo Ueno Station
Keisei Skyliner Airport Transfer Tickets to Tokyo Ueno Station

We reached Tokyo Narita International Airport at about 8am in the morning and took the 9:12am train to Tokyo Ueno station…

Keisei Skyliner Train from Narita to Ueno Station
Keisei Skyliner Train from Narita to Ueno Station
Inside Keisei Skyliner Train to Ueno Station
Inside Keisei Skyliner Train to Ueno Station

Upon reaching Tokyo Ueno station, we headed to the Keisei ticketing counter to arrange for our return tickets 12 days later. Secondly, we headed to JR ticketing counter to get Suica card (the EZ link equivalent in Singapore). Before we left, we read that you will be able to buy the Suica card using credit cards at the counter – THIS IS NOT TRUE. Only cash is accepted both at the counter and at the ticketing machine. Hence, to reduce waiting time, you can choose to immediately purchase your Suica card from the ticketing machines. The Suica Card we bought was 3000 yen, of which 500 yen goes to the card as a deposit. This means that the available credit was 2500 yen. After our tickets are collected and purchased, we did one of the most typical thing that you can do in Japan…

Gachapon Capsule Toy Machine aka Turn Turn 转转 Toy Dispensing Machines
Gachapon Capsule Toy Machine!!!(aka Turn Turn 转转 Toy Dispensing Machines in Singapore! :P)
Coin changing machines for Gachopon Capsule Toy Dispensing Machines
Coin changing machines for Gachopon Capsule Toy Dispensing Machines

After we had a little fun churning out Anpanman and MyMelody toy capsules, we took the subway to Jimbocho station where our hotel – Sotetsu Fresa Inn, was located. We dropped off our stuff and headed out in search of brunch. By this time, we had verified two things about Japan that we had read online.

1. No tips required. There are really no expectation of tips whatsoever from Japanese service. Unlike in the US (where tipping is rife), the Japanese just do their best and accepts only their wage and not more.

2. Taking the Subway is complicated but can simplified (read on to find out how). Firstly, you have to know that there are colour coding and letters for the many subway lines in Tokyo city. At Jimbocho, three lines, namely; I (Blue), S (Green), Z (Purple) lines. Each of the letter actually relates to the name of the line. But don’t bother. It usually just confuses you more. Just remember the letter. Not the colour. This is because, there are so many subway lines in Tokyo (13!) that there are different shades of blue and green given to the train lines. Secondly, just before you head to the platforms at the station, there will be a very large map that depicts the stations on the line. Typically, it will show train stations before and after the station that you’re at. And with that, an indication to head to Platform 1 (for instance) for stations before and Platform 2 for stations after. You get the drift right?

Curry Katsu Restaurant Jimbocho
Curry Katsu Restaurant Jimbocho

After stepping out of our hotel at Sotetsu Fresa Inn, we turned left and noticed a really long queue in front of a restaurant. We recognised the words on its signboard in Chinese which says 南海. A quick search on google revealed that the restaurant’s called Kitchen Nankai.

Inside the Curry Katsu Restaurant - Kitchen Nankai 南海
Inside the Curry Katsu Restaurant – Kitchen Nankai 南海

Before we entered, we were asked in Japanese what we would like to have. Since everyone else in front of us were speaking in Japanese, we did not understand (hence no copying) and we had to point at the display in front of the restaurant. While trying to speak in Japanese, we forgot to mention the word “curry”. Which was why we were not able to try out the curry katsu at Kitchen Nankai.

Nonetheless, we had a SUPER FULL meal! The bowl of rice that accompanied the dish was ridiculously large! But to the working class citizens, almost everyone cleaned out that bowls of rice! Meals cost 600 to 800 yen each (7 to 9 SGD).

Tempura prawn and stir fried pork rice
Tempura prawn and stir fried pork rice
Katsu Chicken with Stir Fried Pork
Katsu Chicken with Stir Fried Pork

Things to do in Tokyo Japan – Imperial Palace Gardens

After taking a short subway ride to Chiyoda (which you should be able to do after reading the 2 paragraphs above), we took a short walk from Otemachi station (also on Z line) to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. There, we took a leisurely walk around the gardens…

2bearbear @ Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens
2bearbear @ Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens
View from Fortress of Imperial Palace Gardens
View from Fortress of Imperial Palace Gardens
Gate of East Gardens Imperial Gardens Tokyo
Gate of East Gardens Imperial Gardens Tokyo
Moat around Imperial Palace East Gardens
Moat around Imperial Palace East Gardens

The weather was nice at a balmy 20 degrees celsius and the air was refreshing in the gardens. However, there wasn’t much of an attraction, that is, until we saw this…

What is Hotchpotch Festival?
What is Hotchpotch Festival?
Many guys buying stuff at Hotchpotch Festival Tokyo
Many guys buying stuff at Hotchpotch Festival Tokyo

Hotchpotch Festival was actually taking place around the time that we were there. But what exactly is Hotchpotch Festival? Hotchpotch Festival actually began with a game called Idolm@ster which grooms singing pop groups. At Hotchpotch Festival, fans will be able to catch these singing pop groups come to life! What caught our attention was the fact that most (if not all) the fans that we saw, were guys! Strange huh?

That’s not all. While walking around the shopping malls in Tokyo, we witnessed an all-girls pop group performance, followed by all-guys fans below the stage – all of whom knew the dance moves to the songs! Guy fans dancing in unison! How bizarre!

Things to do in Tokyo Japan – Shimokitazawa Street

We then took the subway to Shimokitazawa station to have a feel of street shopping and the local cafe scene…

Shimokitazawa Street Tokyo
Shimokitazawa Street Tokyo
Shimokitazawa Station Tokyo
Shimokitazawa Station Tokyo
Cafe at Shimokitazawa
Cafe at Shimokitazawa

The day passed relatively slowly. Even after doing so much, it was only about 6pm. However, due to the ridiculously full meal at Kitchen Nankai, we were still not hungry. We decided to check in, do some shopping (@ Don Quijote) and have a light meal of yakitori at our local 7-11 convenient store…

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Jimbocho
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Jimbocho
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Jimbocho Tokyo
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Jimbocho Tokyo
In-room Bathtub at Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Jimbocho
In-room Bathtub at Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Jimbocho
Dinner of Yakitori and Rice Balls (Onigiri)
Dinner of Yakitori and Rice Balls (Onigiri)

Before we end off day 1 of our Tokyo (Japan) travels, we want to share two things with you…

1. About Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls). You will find different onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls) in convenient stores all around Japan. They are usually wrapped with seaweed. However, the key is to unwrap the rice ball such that the seaweed wraps nicely around the rice. To do so, as Kate pointed out to Tom – READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! There’s a little initiating point in the middle of the rice ball. Pull along it and you will reveal the seaweed, allowing it wrap nicely around the rice. Do not any old how unwrap the plastic. This will result in the rice not being wrapped in seaweed 🙁

2. About convenient stores (conbini) in Japan. There are 3 major players in Japan – Lawson, 7-11 and Familymart. Together, they account for about 90% of convenient stores in Japan. Every corner you turn to, you’ll find one (sometimes maybe even two). The reason why they’re so popular is because you can do many things here. Top up your suica card, buy a stamp, shop and also find your favourite bento/onigiri meals. Everything at once!

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We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of day 1 of our Japan travels. Stay tuned for day 2 of our Japan Travels where we visit attractions such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho), Shinjuku and Shibuya!

Related Post

If you have just completed a post from our 12 days of travels in Japan. Find out more about this trip to Japan in the following posts below.

15 Travel Experiences and Things to do in Tokyo Japan!

Top 9 Things to do in Mount Fuji and Kawaguchiko Area!

Top 5 Things to do in Hida Takayama (高山)!

Top 6 Things to do in Nagoya (and food to eat)!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Tokyo Jimbocho and Imperial Palace Gardens Day 1

12 Days of Japan Travels: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Shinjuku Pablo and Shibuya Day 2

12 Days of Japan Travels: Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, Sanrokuen and Fujizakura Inn Reviews Day 3

12 Days of Japan Travels: Lake Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center & Sightseeing Bus Tour Day 4

Konansou Mount Fuji Hotel Review (湖南庄) : In-Room Onsen and Meals with views of Mount Fuji!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Lake Saiko Wind Cave, Ide Brewery Mount Fuji and Bus Ride to Takayama Day 5

12 Days of Japan Travels: Takayama Morning Markets Jinya-Mae, Miyagawa and Takayama Hidagyu Day 6

12 Days of Japan Travels: Takayama Hidagyu (Hida Beef) and Bus Ride to Nagoya Day 7

Takayama Hidagyu Beef: All You Need To Know!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Eating our way through Nagoya Day 8

12 Days of Japan Travels: Visit Nagoya Castle and Overnight Bus Ride from Nagoya to Tokyo Day 9

12 Days of Japan Travels: Ichiran Ramen & Kamiya Pub Reviews Day 10

12 days of Japan Travels: Tsukiji Fish Market, Ippudo Ramen & Akihabara Tokyo Day 11

12 days of Japan Travels: Ueno Zoo, Ameyoko Shopping Street & Giga Butadon Day 12

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