Travel to Japan (Day #1) : Looking For Sakura Flowers Around Tokyo

*I wrote this post in two languages. Scroll down after the English version if you want to read this post in Bahasa Indonesia .* 

Me and my husband flew  to Haneda International Airport from Indonesia used a direct flight at 11.30 pm (Jakarta time). We arrived safely at Tokyo at 08.00 am (Tokyo time). After finished imigration check and took our baggage, we started to seacrh wifi router. People usually rent wifi router from Indonesia, but I couldn’t find me one in Indonesia so I decided to rent a wifi router at the airport. The cheapest price that we found is JPY 12.000 for 10 days. For us, that price is too expensive. In the end, we gave up to rent a wifi router and decided to use public wifi.

The next thing we did was look for information about public transportation. They offered us several one-day-pass tickets of JR Group train, subway, or metro. We had JR Pass for seven days and it couldn’t accomodate our 10-days-holiday. So we had three days without using JR Pass coverage. I happened to know that Nishikasai Station (the nearest station from our hotel,Best Western Nishikasai) was not covered by any of those one-day-pass tickets, so we didn’t buy one. Information about one-day-pass tickets will be posted on another page. 



Here is our first day itinerary (April 10th, 2016) :

  • Went to Best Western Nishikasai to drop our luggages an change cloths.
  • Imperial East Garden.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen Park.
  • Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya.
  • Ueno Park.

    For you who want to stay at Best Western Nishikasai, I will explain how to get there from the airport. Nishikasai area could be reached by Tokyo Metro. From International Arrival Building Station, take Toei Subway Asakusa Line and transfer to Tozai Line at Nihombashi Station, then stop at Nishikasai Station. Best Western Nishikasai is located about 300 meters from Nishikasai Station.

    Our first stop was Imperial Palace East Garden which was situated near Otemachi Station. Otemachi Station was on the same line (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line) as Nishikasai Station, so it was easy to be reached from our hotel. Otemachi Station was enormous and integrated to several lines, include JR Tokyo Station. We talked to the officer where the nearest exit that lead us to Imperial East Garden.

    We were fortunate because visited Imperial East Garden on Sunday. It was car free day! People could run and walk freely on the avenue in front of Imperial East Garden. Oh, you could ride your bicycle too since it was car free day.

    In Front of Imperial Palace East Garden
     

    It’s free admission for visiting Imperial East Garden. You just have to take visitor card at the entrance and return it when you finish. While in the garden, you will find many people lay on the grass or doing “hanami” (picnic under cherry blossom tree). Unfortunately , we didn’t bring picnic basket, blanket, foods, and snacks, so we just walked around the garden and enjoyed the view of beautiful cherry blossom trees. 

    Imperial Palace East Garden’s Entrance

    Many People Lay on The Grass
     

    When we were satistifed exploring Imperial East Gaeden, we went back to Otemachi Station to get to JR Tokyo Station since those stations were integrated. Our next stops were Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, and Ueno (which is connected by JR Line Inner Loop). 

    Shinjuku Gyoen could be reached from JR Shinjuku Station (new south exit) by 10 minutes walk. The admission fee was JPY 200. Those Sakura trees there were blooming ever more beutiful than Impearial East Garden’s. Then we moved to Harajuku by JR Yamanote Line. In Harajuku, we met people in unique appearances and extraordinary costumes just like the characters in manga (Japanese comic). We didn’t buy anything here because some outlets seemed too expensive. 

    To get to our next destination, Shibuya Crossing, we just had to walk for about 1 kilometer. Along the road, we were amazed by the view of some buildings’ designs (since we never saw one like those buildings in Indonesia). After 15 minutes, finally we found the famous Shibuya Crossing. It was exciting when people crossed the Shibuya Crossing like doing flash mob. Many photographers captured that moment. Don’t forget to take photo of Hachiko statue. It was just steps away from JR Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit). 

    At The Intersection Near Harajuku
    The Famous Hachiko Statue

    If you were not in tight schedule,  have lunch or dinner at Genki Sushi is such as a good choice too. People say Genki Sushi is the best sushi restaurant in town (and the cheapest one). It’s located just around the corner of Shibuya Crossing. Don’t be shocked if you find people queueing outside Genki Sushi. Me and my husband suddenly lost out appetite when saw people queueing outside Genki Sushi. It was 06.00 pm, it was time for us to go to Ueno Park Illumination Festival (which was held during Sakura season). We were lucky it was as the last day of that festival. 

    Bunga Sakura Pada Saat Malam di Ueno Park

    Seeing cherry blossom trees under the lights of paper lanterns was amazing. Although it was quite late in the evening, there were so many people doing hanami under Sakura trees.  Still in Ueno Park, we walked to Toshogu Shrine which near the pond, and found  there were  food stalls during Illumination Festival. They sold various Japanese foods, such as fried noodle, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, grill sausage, etc. Those snacks were valued at JPY 500 each. 

    It was a beautiful evening at Ueno Park. We wanted to spend more time at there, but we were exhausted. So, we went back to our hotel. For your information, right in front of JR Ueno Station, you’ll find udon restaurant with quite cheap price. You just have to put your money to vending machine then it will give you a receipt. Take that receipt to the waitresses. Then in a blink of eye, taraaa your udon will be ready to eat. 

    To get to Nishikasai Station, we no longer used Yamanote Line Inner Loop. From Ueno Station, we take Ginza Line and transfer at Nihombashi to Tozai Line for Nishi-Funabashi, then stop at Nishikasai Station. 

     

    That’s all our adventures for first day in Japan. Although there were spots we missed to visit, but we were satisfied enough because we made an effective route. So, I suggest you to decide your destinations first, then check the routes at Google Map or Hyperdia.

    Dengan menggunakan direct flight malam pukul 11.30 pm, saya dan suami tiba di Haneda International Airport sekitar pukul 08.00 am. Setelah beres urusan imigrasi dan ambil bagasi, kami pun beranjak untuk berburu wifi router. Biasanya orang-orang yang berlibur ke Jepang akan membawa wifi router yang disewa dari Indonesia, tapi berhubung saya sudah kehabisan, jadi saya berniat menyewa di bandara saja. Harga sewa wifi router termurah yang kami dapatkan adalah JPY 12.000 (JPY 1 = IDR 121) untuk 10 hari. Karena kami merasa harga itu terlalu mahal , maka kami memutuskan untuk  tidak menyewa wifi router dan hanya mengandalkan wifi yang tersedia di tempat umum.

    Hal berikutnya yang kami lakukan adalah mencari informasi soal transportasi. Ada beberapa one day pass untuk kereta api di bawah bendera JR Group ataupun metro dan subway. Kami memang memiliki JR Pass untuk tujuh hari, namun karena total kami berada di Jepang adalah 10 hari, maka sisa tiga hari tidak di-cover oleh JR Pass. Ternyata tempat kami menginap, yaitu Best Western Nishi-Kasai (yang dekat dengan stasiun Nishi-Kasai) tidak di-cover oleh one day pass manapun, maka kami pun tidak jadi membeli one day pass. Informasi seputar one day pass akan saya post di tulisan tersendiri.

    Berikut itinerary hari pertama (10 April 2016) :

    • Menuju Best Western Nishikasai untuk titip koper dan ganti baju.
    • Imperial East Garden
    • Shinjuku Gyoen Park
    • Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya
    • Ueno Park

    Bagi Anda yang kebetulan akan menginap di Best Western Nishi-Kasai, saya akan menjelaskan transportasi dari airport menuju hotel tersebut. Kawasan Nishi-Kasai dapat dicapai dengan menggunakan metro. Dari International Arrival Building Station, kita bisa naik kereta Toei Subway Asakusa Line dan turun di Nihombashi. Kemudian pindah ke Tozai Line dan turun di Nishi-Kasai. Best Western terletak sekitar 300 m dari Nishi-Kasai Sta. Kalau Anda bingung, coba tanya saja ke polisi di mana letak Best Western Nishi-Kasai. 

    Destinasi wisata pertama, Imperial Palace East Garden. Karena berada dekat Otemachi Sta, Imperial Palace East Garden cukup mudah dicapai dari hotel kami karena Otemachi Sta berada satu line dengan Nishi-Kasai Sta melalui Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. Berhubung Otemachi Sta sangat luas dan terintegrasi dengan beberapa line, maka cara tercepat untuk menemukan pintu exit yang tepat adalah dengan bertanya kepada petugas. Akhirnya tibalah kami di pintu exit yang tepat, yakni di gedung Imperial Palace Hotel. Imperial Palace East Garden berada tepat di depan hotel tersebut. 

    Kami beruntung bisa berkunjung ke Imperial Palace East Garden pada hari Minggu karena jalan di depannya car free day hampir sepanjang hari sehingga kita bisa bersepeda di area itu.

    Untuk masuk ke Imperial East Garden tidak dipungut biaya. Anda hanya harus mengambil kartu kemudian pada saat keluar, kartu itu harus dikembalikan. Ketika berada di dalam taman tersebut, Anda bisa melihat banyak pengunjung berpiknik di hamparan rumput hijau atau di bawah pohon Sakura. Sayang sekali kami tidak membawa peralatan piknik sehingga kami hanya berjalan-jalan menikmati keindahan Sakura yang masih tumbuh lebat saat itu. 

    Selesai menjelajah Imperial East Garden, kami pun kembali menuju Otemachi Sta untuk pindah ke JR Tokyo Station (hanya perlu berjalan kaki untuk pindah station). Tujuan kami selanjutnya, yakni Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, dan Ueno, dilewati oleh JR Yamanote Line Inner Loop. 

    Shinjuku Gyoen bisa dicapai dari Shinjuku Sta (new south exit) dengan berjalan kaki sekitar 10 menit. Biaya masuknya JPY 200. Anda bisa melihat Sakura bermekaran dengan cantik di sini. Selesai dari sini, kami pun naik kereta lagi ke Harajuku melalui JR Yamanote Line. Anda akan menemukan banyak orang berpenampilan ajaib layaknya tokoh-tokoh pada manga. Kami tidak membeli apa-apa di area ini karena beberapa outlet memang cukup mahal. 

    Untuk menuju ke tujuan kami selanjutnya, yakni Shibuya Crossing, kami memutuskan untuk jalan kaki saja, kurang lebih 1 km. Lumayan, kami bisa cuci mata melihat jajaran toko yang apik dan desain-desain bangunan yang tidak ada di Indonesia.

    Setelah sekitar 15 menit berjalan, tibalah kami di Shibuya Crossing yang terkenal itu. Begitu menakjubkan melihat orang-orang menyeberang jalan secara bersamaan dari lima arah yang berbeda. Momen menyeberang jalan itu banyak diabadikan oleh fotografer. Di dekat Shibuya Crossing yang bersisian dengan JR Shibuya Sta, Anda akan menjumpai patung Hachiko, anjing yang sangat terkenal itu.

    Bila Anda memiliki waktu lebih, boleh dicoba untuk mengantri di Genki Sushi. Katanya, sushi di tempat tersebut paling enak dan paling murah. Karena antriannya cukup panjang, kami mengurungkan niat untuk makan di sana. Waktu sudah menunjukkan pukul 06.00 pm, saatnya kami menuju Ueno Park untuk menikmati Illumination Festival di Ueno Park yang biasanya diselenggarakan pada saat Sakura mekar. Beruntung kami tiba di Jepang pada saat hari terakhir diselenggarakannya Illumination Festival di Ueno Park.

    Melihat bunga Sakura ditimpa cahaya-cahaya lampion sungguh sangat indah. Meski sudah malam, masih banyak orang yang melakukan hanami alias piknik di bawah pohon Sakura. Banyak kedai penjual makanan pada saat Illumination Festival. Masih di dalam Ueno Park, bila kita berjalan ke Toshogu Shrine yang di dekat danau, maka kita akan menemukan kedai-kedai penjual makanan. Makanan yang dijual bervariasi, ada mie goreng, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, sosis panggang, dan lain sebagainya. Harga per porsi rata-rata JPY 500.

    Setelah puas berjalan-jalan dan makan di Ueno Park. Kami pun kembali ke hotel. Oh iya, sebagai tambahan informasi, tepat di depan JR Ueno Station terapat kedai udon yang lumayan murah. Kita hanya perlu memasukkan koin ke vending machine dan memilih makanan apa. Kemudian serahkan receipt yang keluar dari vending machine itu ke penjaga kedai. Dalam sekejap, makanan akan tersaji. Suami memutuskan untuk makan (lagi) di kedai itu.

    Untuk mencapai Nishikasai Sta, kami tidak lagi menggunakan jalur Yamanote Line Inner Loop dari Ueno Sta karena Nishi-Kasai Sta tidak dilewati oleh Yamanote Line Inner Loop.Dari Ueno Sta, kami mengambil jalur Ginza Line tujuan Shibuya dan turun di Nihombashi. Dari Nihombashi, pindah jalur ke Tozai Line tujuan Nishi-Funabashi dan turun di Nishi-Kasai Sta.  

    Selesai sudah petuangalan kami hari pertama di Jepang. Meski tidak banyak tempat di Tokyo yang yang kunjungi, tapi dengan jalur kereta yang tepat, maka perjalanan akan efektif. Jadi, saran saya, tentukan tujuanmu lalu cek di rutenya di Google Map atau Hyperdia.

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