SFO ✈ NRT
Shibuya, Omotesandō, Harajuku, Ginza and Shiodome
Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara and Roppongi
Imperial Palace, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Omotesandō
Tsukiji fish market, Odaiba and Shinjuku
Tokyo to Kyoto
Walking the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto
Arashiyama bamboo forest, Fushimi Inari-taisha and Kiyomizu-dera
Kinkaku-ji temple and traveling to Hiroshima
Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Miyajima island
Mount Koya and Osaka
Shin-osaka to Tokyo to San Francisco
Welcome to my collection of posts sharing my two week trip to Japan in October-November of 2013. There's one post for each day of the trip. The first week of the trip was mainly Tokyo with my sister and friend Anand while the latter half was all around Japan with just my sister. I bought a Sony RX1R camera for this trip and put it to good use — taking over 5,500 photos in the process.
This trip was my first time in Asia and it was an amazing experience. Everything about Japan was clean, efficient and the people were astoundingly nice and hospitable. Trains were always on time. I rarely waited more than a minute or two for one to arrive.
During the trip I was constantly recording my GPS position every few minutes with an Android app called GPSLogger.
Anand and I found a direct 11-hour flight to Narita airport on United. We embarked in the early afternoon from SFO.
We landed around 3pm and walked around the airport until my sister's flight landed. My first objective was going to an airport kiosk to get a SIM card for my Samsung Galaxy S4. I went to a SoftBank (cell carrier) kiosk to learn more. For whatever reason they said their SIM card would not work in my Android phone so I rented a 4G hotspot instead. It was pricey at about $16 per day.
After that we took the Narita Express train to Shibuya station, a 30-40 minute ride. They served food and beverages on the train so Anand and I relaxed with a Japanese beer.
Our hotel, the Cerulean Tower, was just a few blocks away and we were pleasantly surprised by the view from our 28th floor room. Tipping is not culturally accepted in Japan. We tried to tip the person that brought our bags to our hotel room, which they insisted on doing, and they would not accept it. The same goes for restaurants. Most restaurants give you a receipt and you take it to the front on your way out.
By this time it was evening and we were starving. We walked a few blocks to the Shibuya Mark City shopping center to grab dinner at Sushi-no-midori.
Initially we were going to go elsewhere due to a 30+ person long line but we heard good things and waited. The line went by surprisingly quickly. When we got there was no English menu so we relied on pointing at the pictures to get our food. Most restaurants in Tokyo had English menus, but not so much in other cities.
We ended our night with a quick visit to the famous Shibuya Crossing where traffic in all directions stops and thousands of pedestrians cross the street at the same time. It was quite the sight to see.