Thursday, November 18, 2010

Backpacking Japan: Arriving in Tokyo

3rd stop of Backpacking Japan.

From Kawaguchi Lake we took the highway bus for two hours to Shinjuko Station, Tokyo.  Out of all the stops, I was looking forward to Tokyo the most.  I was curious to see how chic this city is.

Shinjuko Station was overwhelming,  it is said to be the busiest station in Japan.  Considering that it was not rush hour, the crowd was just too much.  I could just sit (if I could find a seat but there seems none) there all day and watch the crowd go by.  Looking at the complexity of the route map, you will just refuse to understand it.

Changing lines is not as easy as going to the train across the platform.  It could mean going up or down stairs, in and out of the station.  If you bring your luggage around, finding escalators is not easy, but there should be one somewhere.  Each stop has several exits but generally, there is only one elevator per stop; lucky if you happen to use that particular exit.

thank goodness, there is english!  one day subway pass for 1580 yen
Going around within Tokyo city on the Tokyo Metro Subway is actually easy.  The Tokyo Metro is composed of several lines.  Separate fees (about 200 yen each) apply every time you get on and off different lines to get to your destination.  To make life simpler, we got the unlimited day pass called Tokyo Round Tour Ticket for 1580 yen.  When navigating the subway map, simply plot which station you are coming from and your destination and note which stops you'll change trains.  No worries, the stops are in English alphabet and signs are tourist friendly.

To learn more about taking trains in Japan read here (good luck!).  After a while, you'll get the hang of it, it's not as complicated as it seems.

From Shinjuko, we were heading to Asakusa to find our hostel.  Finding Yamanote line could have been easy, if you're a local and don't have a luggage in tow.
one of those murals on the subway

The good thing about being on a tour was leaving the navigation to the tour leader, the bad thing about it was, when the tour leader is a tourist himself, you get lost with him.   We exited at Asakusabashi Station, walked up several flights of stairs with our luggage only to realize that Asakusabashi is different from Asakusa.   Waaaaah.  We had to go back down the subway (with our luggage!), took the train again, exited Asakusa Station, walked passed the crowded Asakusa Market. After an hour, we finally reached Asakusa Hostel exhausted.
the corridors of our hostel, reminds me of prison
Upon check-in at Sakura Hostel in Asakusa, we were provided with bed linens and blankets, which means, you need to fix your own bed and return them upon check-out.  While we were better off to share a room for four with wooden bunk beds on the third floor.

private room for 4 at 12600 yen/room

Eight of them cramped in a room for eight at the basement.  There was not much space and there was a lack of ventilation unless you keep the glass door open.  Their room became a little stinky with those old clothes and shoes especially by the boys which prompted one of them to join us the following night not minding sleeping on the floor.
private room for 8 at 23,520 yen/room

Sakura Hostel can be reached at  Rooms are equipped with air conditioning, individual bed light and outlet, a small cabinet, clean common toilet and bath with shower enclosures, an elevator, friendly & helpful english speaking staff and free wifi at the lobby.  If you're on a budget, Sakura Hostel should be one of your options.  You would not go wrong with K's House Tokyo too.

Backpacking Japan even with four-wheel strollers?  Never again.  But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the trip, lagging our luggage around was worth the experience at least once in your life :p

Up next:  Exploring Tokyo and how we emptied our pockets. :)

1 comment:

Smexkid said...

Osaka it interesting.

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