Natalie is the winner of our Wagamama competition last year. The first prize was our “Essential Japan” package for two adults.  Natalie travelled for 9 days in Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. Here is how it went:

This Japanese trip was called the “Taste of Japan” and I concur that it gives just enough flavour of Japan to leave you craving for more.  The 9 days brought me to bustling Tokyo, on to serene Hakone and then on to the idyllic and historic Kyoto.  Each destination was completely, utterly and uniquely Japanese.  They were striking in their differences from each other but yet there was an essence of similarity in all places.  The simple order of things, the sincerity with which we were treated and the omnipresent vending machines were all, in a very comforting way, very Japanese.  The three different destinations on the itinerary were rich in culture and history but of course, in quite different ways.

 

Natalie in Japan

Natalie in Japan

 

Tokyo

Upon landing in Tokyo we met with our agency rep, who explained our itinerary and escorted us to our limousine taxi.   This brought us to the Shinjuku Washington Hotel, a remarkably big and distinctive hotel in the bustling Shinjuku district.

On our first morning we chose to have the Japanese breakfast but for our other two mornings we had the “western” breakfast, buffet style. I would recommend this, not only for the food but for access to the restaurant which has some incredible views of Tokyo.

 

View from breakfast room

View from breakfast room

 

We were spoiled for choice when it came to planning out our daily activities in Tokyo.  As it turns out, we were wise to play it safe and plan on visiting only 2 or 3 sites per day, as it allowed us time to soak up the atmosphere and notice and deeply appreciate the city.  Armed with our Pasmo travel pass, we went to Harajuku, Shibuya and the  Meiji-Jingu Shrine.

 

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

 

As if that schedule wasn’t busy enough, we also managed to spend some time browsing in some amazing shops, including Tower Records.  Who would have ever thought that Benedict Cumberbatch would inspire so many biographies (which seem to be exclusively sold in Japan)?!

 

bookshelf (2)

Benedict Cumberbatch’s fame in Japan!

 

In the part 2 of this blog,  Natalie will discover another part of Tokyo and start traveling towards the Mount Fuji…