Flying solo to Tokyo? Here’s how to survive and enjoy your first 24 hours in this new city.
Change peso for yen before your trip to Japan.
I changed P30,000 at GPC Money Exchange in Ayala Malls Cebu. Airport Currency Exchanges and money changers in Japan have less favorable rates. Is P30,000 enough for 6 days in Japan? If you’ve paid for your accommodation expenses and major tours, I’d say yes. It’s good to have a credit card or debit card as back-up, though.
Print a copy of your passport, hotel confirmation & other bookings.
If you lost your phone or if its battery died, you could still get by if you’ve got copies of essential travel documents. It also makes filling out forms a breeze.
The arrival procedure at Narita Airport has three simple steps: (1) Quarantine; (2) Immigration; & (3) Baggage Claim. There are huge signs at the airport that clearly point you to the arrival hall. P.S. Also email yourself a scanned copy of your passport and other important documents.
Get a Pocket WiFi.
Rent a 4G portable Wi-Fi for the whole duration of your trip and pick it up from the airport in Tokyo. Both Klook and KKday offer a WiFi router for rent, the latter is just much cheaper (at P166/day). It has a 1GB daily data limit – which is more than enough to get some online work done or keep your folks back home up to date about your trip. I was able to get mine from KKday.
Opt for an Airport Limousine Bus.
Even the locals get lost in Tokyo so it’s a good idea to book a special, hassle-free transportation from the airport to your hotel. True to its word, Japan’s limo bus features free WiFi, USB charging outlet, extra legroom, enough room for baggage, and a hi-tech toilet on board. Skip the dizzying Tokyo Train and busy subway stations on your first day and get on a bus for a relaxing introduction to the city.
Fare from Narita Airport to Shinjuku on an airport limo bus is 3,100 yen per adult. P.S. If you prefer trains over buses, check NEX (Narita Express). Fare is 3,190 yen per adult.
Choose Global Cabin Tokyo Suidobashi or a capsule hotel near popular landmarks.
This capsule hotel is new and located in a Tokyo Prefecture called Bunkyō. It’s only a few minutes away from Tokyo Dome so you can get off at this bus stop (assuming you’re taking the Airport Limo Bus option) and follow Google maps to the capsule hotel’s building.
The space I booked looked exactly like how it looked on the video. Each cabin (yes, it looked more like a cabin than a capsule) has a well-utilized space for work, luggage, and comfy bed (at least for someone not taller than 5’3). It has shared bathrooms, powder room, and toilets. Male and female floors are separate. There’s also a cafe that offers free lemon water, coffee, and complimentary cup noodles after 10pm.
Here’s more: there’s an onsen on a different floor, for those who you aren’t shy to share a bath with fellow female occupants. Remind me to review this property in full.
Settled yet? You’ll find that you have more energy to explore your new surroundings. So, here’s the plan:
Stroll through Kagurazaka-dori Street at night.
November’s chilly evenings may push you to seek warmth in your cabin, but fight the urge to sleep and turn on the explore mode. This part of the city may not be as buzzy as Shinjuku but it’s still lively at night when the Tokyoites get off from work and head out for some night-time fun. Kagurazaka-dori’s cobblestone road lined with shops will encourage you to window shop. I found this spot by simply following the crowd. I’ve taken so many photos of random things I saw on the street on this first stroll. Feast on new sights, smells, and try not to gawk at fashionable people. Just remember to wear your thick coat & bring your phone, powerbank and a pocket WiFi (for Google Maps).
Have a glimpse of autumn leaves at Koishikawa-Kōrakuen.
After a restful sleep, you are ready to check out at 11am. Leave earlier and visit the nearest park in the area: a 17th-century garden that combines Chinese and Japanese themes. Hailed as one of the oldest parks in Tokyo, Korakuen Park boasts colorful fall leaves and landscapes that will inspire admiration and a lot of camera clicks. It’s a wonderful place to people-watch, stroll, take pictures, and eat rice cakes!
Try a local fast food at Mos Burger.
After walking around Korakuen, you might have worked up an appetite for brunch. Opt for teriyaki burger at Mos Burger – a fast food chain in Japan that began in 1972. Get a taste of this local fast food burger joint before you head out again exploring Chiyoda.
Google Your Way to the Historic Hill of Kudan.
A piece of history during the Edo Period is just right in the middle of a bustling district in Chiyoda, which is walkable from Bunkyo. I managed to reach this place by just walking around looking for the nearest station that would take me to Shinjuku Station. I had time to burn before meeting a friend in Shinjuku.
Follow the path to Kitanomaru National Garden.
Tokyo is never short of parks and every single one has something different to offer. This one boasts the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, which is something you should see if you have more time. I didn’t. It’s something to look forward to on my next visit.
Pass through the majestic Tayasu-mon Gate.
The oldest gate during the Edo Period has been well-preserved and can be spotted on the entrance to Kitanomaru Park. It’s called the Tayasu-mon Gate. Good luck on taking a picture of it, though. It’s so big, framing seems impossible.
I guess, you’ve read enough of my 24-hour exploration of Tokyo. Now, it’s time you plan yours. Mine wasn’t too well-planned. I just thought everything in Japan would be new so I was willing to be surprised. I did google some places before visiting them, like Korakuen Garden (to make sure they have autumn leaves) but I found the other sights randomly.
I can’t wait to hear how your Tokyo trip turns out.