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. This blog post follows the part 1, where Natalie was discovering Tokyo.

The next day we headed over to the Imperial Palace for a free tour which we had pre-booked in advance online.  Here we were brought around the impressive grounds of the emperor’s palace and enjoyed the architecture and native plant life.

 

Imperial Palace (13)

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo

 

Then we ventured down to the shopping mall underneath the bustling Tokyo train station.  The mall was bustling with people buying up Pokemon and Hello Kitty merchandise.

 

Mall at Tokyo Station (3)

Hello Kitty merchandise in Tokyo station Mall

 

 

From here, a trip to the electronics district of Ueno and the world renowned Yamashiroya shop; a visit to the amazing Senso-ji Temple and then back on the Tokyo Subway for our return trip to the hotel.  After a quick rest we headed back to the Shibuya district for the evening – and really enjoyed the relaxed pace of a Friday night out in Shibuya.

 

asakusa temple (21)

Senso-ji temple in Tokyo

 

We were up early on Saturday morning to catch the train to Hakone.  There is a tunnel linking the hotel to the train station, and we availed of the convenience of this as it was so easy to navigate it with our luggage.  However we were glad that we had only used the tunnel this one time, as we would have missed out on a lot of the amazing sights and sounds that we saw on street level.

Tokyo is a magnificent city and we were completely overwhelmed by it – the sheer scale of the city was hard to picture before we got there.  It is gigantic!  However what struck me was the modesty in the size – even though it is huge, and beautiful, it is not brash or ostentatious like other large cities I have visited.

Don’t miss:

-Souvenir shopping in Tokyo Hands department store (Sushi wall clock, anybody? How about a Mt. Fuji shaped ice-mold?)
-Wandering around the small streets in Shinjuku late at night
-The temple at Senso-ji, even though it was extremely crowded (we visited during the Bon festival), it was perfect.

 

In the part 3 of this blog, Natalie will discover the village of Hakone, next to the Mount Fuji.