Monday, February 9, 2015

(Japan Jan 2015) Day 1: Singapore to Tokyo. *Part 1*

Since my brother have yet to see snow, so we decided to go to Japan during winter season.

Managed to get my hubby to go on this trip as well.  
Then my cousin R (yes, u know who you are) got to know about this trip, so she and her fiance PW decided to join us since they also want to see snow, but they will fly to Japan about 1 week into my trip and only join us for the Hokkaido portion of the trip.

This is about how far we travelled (via train) across Japan for our 16 days trip.

Our itinerary:
Day 1: Singapore to Tokyo. Visit J-World at Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo
Day 2: Visit One Piece event at Lagunasia. Stay at Nagoya
Day 3: Visit Kyoto. Stay at Osaka
Day 4: Visit Nara and Osaka. Stay at Osaka
Day 5: Visit Himeji. Stay at Tokyo.
Day 6: Visit Echigo-Yuzawa and Karuizawa. Stay at Tokyo
Day 7: Tokyo to Kinugawa onsen. Visit Edo Wonderland. Stay at Kinugawa onsen.
Day 8: Kinugawa onsen to Tokyo. Meet up with counsin. Visit Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo.
Day 9: Tokyo to Hakodate. Visit Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate.
Day 10: Visit Onumakoen. Hakodate to Noboribetsu. Stay at Noboribetsu onsen.
Day 11: Noboribetsu to Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu
Day 12: Tomamu to Sapporo. Visit Sapporo. Stay at Sapporo
Day 13: Visit Otaru. Stay at Sapporo
Day 14: Visit Sapporo Snow Fest. Sapporo to Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate.
Day 15: Hakodate to Aomori. Visit Aomori. Aomori to Tokyo. Stay at Narita Airport.
Day 16: Tokyo to Singapore.

Since we bought 14 days JR Pass (railpass), so our train fares were more or less covered by the railpass for those 14 days (Day 2 to Day 15), with some minor exceptions for non-JR trains like subways and buses.

And no, we also didn't take any domestic flight since the railpass covers the 3hr Shinkansen ride + 2hr Ltd Exp train ride from Tokyo to Hokkaido's Hakodate.
This helped us keep our costs lower since we didn't had to pay for domestic flights between Tokyo and Hokkaido. But then, this also means that we spend more time travelling.

Day 1 (23 Jan 2015): Singapore to Tokyo *Part 1*

Our flight from Singapore to Tokyo Narita was via Scoot Airways and had to transit at Taipei.  
We managed to purchase the flight tickets during promo period, and since ScootBiz class was only about S$30 more than ScootFlyBag (economy)'s rates for Singapore to Tokyo, so we went ahead with booking ScootBiz for Singapore to Tokyo, and just regular ScootFlyBag for Tokyo back to Singapore. 
Our seats on ScootBiz class. Nothing fancy since it's a budget airline. But since the legroom is more spacious, so it's a much more comfortable flight for tall people like my hubby and brother. 
Yellow seats are the slightly more spacious economy class seats. Blue seats are the regular economy class seats.

ScootBiz seats comes with priority boarding (which was why I was able to take the photos of the near empty cabin), in-flight meal (place your meal selection online), 1 free water, and a bar of toblerone chocolate.

For the flight from Singapore to Tokyo, my brother and I had chicken and sausage pasta (I found it ok, my brother didn't liked it), whereas my hubby had beef stew (which he said was not bad).

My pasta meal.

Hubby had beef stew (I think).
After about 4 hrs 30mins flight, we arrived at Taipei airport for our transit. Since it was early morning (5:30am) when we arrived at Taipei, so the shops were still closed. 
Transit at Taipei airport 
Awaiting to board the plane again. At Taipei airport.

For the Taipei to Tokyo flight, I had soya sauce chicken rice. It was pretty nice actually. 

It was in the morning around 10:30am when we arrived at Tokyo Narita Airport. 
We were 1 of the 1st to alight from the plane as well as collect our luggage, so we arrived at the JR office pretty early and there wasn't any queue. We managed to exchange for our 14 days JR Pass using the voucher which we had already bought in Singapore, as well as make train reservations for the next 2 days of our trip. 
 However, not 5 mins after we left the JR office, we saw a large crowd already queueing up at the JR office. Lucky us! 

Next up, buying SUICA card. I passed my old SUICA card to my brother, and I went to the ticketing machine just outside the Narita Express's gantry to purchase my personalized SUICA card with my name on it. 
You can do this on many ticketing machines over Tokyo actually (if I'm not wrong), not only at Narita Airport. 
SUICA card with my name on it :)

Buy Narita Express train tickets from this counter.
Bought our Keisei Skyliner train tickets from this counter.
To be accurate, Narita Airport is not actually IN Tokyo. 
It is outside Tokyo in Chiba prefecture, therefore it takes about 45mins to 90mins to reach Tokyo city area from Narita Airport. 
Since taxis are EXTREMELY expensive in Japan, so it would not be a good idea to take a 1hr taxi ride to the airport since it will be pretty expensive (I believe I've read somewhere on the forums that someone spent about SGD200+ on their taxi ride to the airport)

There are 3 popular modes of transport to get to Tokyo city area from Narita Airport. 
- Narita Express train (Narita Airport to Tokyo station, Shinagawa station, Shibuya station, Shinjuku station, and Ikebukuro station in Tokyo city, and yes you can use Narita Express with your JR pass/JR East pass/JR Kanto Area pass)
- Keisei Skyliner train (Narita Airport to Nippori station and Keisei-Ueno station in Tokyo city)
- Airport Limousine bus (Narita Airport to various hotels in Tokyo city)

Note that the entrance to the Keisei Skyliner train's gates (blue) and Narita Express train's gates (red) are located just side by side. 

My Keisei Skyliner ticket. From Narita Airport to Tokyo's Nippori station. Car 5, Seat 9A.

At Keisei's train platform

This is the Keisei's local train, not the Skyliner.

There are power points in front of every seat onboard the Skyliner train.

1 of the toilets onboard Keisei Skyliner.

Luggage racks on Keisei Skyliner. 

Onboard Keisei Skyliner. Announcements are in Japanese, English, Mandarin, and Korean.
 After arriving at Nippori station, we transferred to the JR Joban line to take a short 7mins train ride to Minami-Senju station where our hotel for the night is located at. 

Arriving at Minami-Senju station. 
 Minami-Senju area is a residential area with a few budget backpacker's hotels. These hotels usually have small private rooms with just a bed + tv + fridge, but the toilets and showers are shared on every level. 

The ground floor common kitchen area at the hotel where I stayed at in Minami-Senju area.

Our room.

Looking down from my bunk. Yeah, that's how small our room is. But it is pretty comfortable and very clean.
 Usually, we get our data-only SIM card from bMobile. But this time round, I decided to go with e-Connect to give it a try since bMobile's plan is 14 days, whereas e-Connect's plan is 15 days. 
Since we ordered online to be delivered to the hotel, so the data-SIM card package was already waiting for us when we checked-in to the hotel. 

After taking a short break (more like 1hr break actually) in our room, we head out to Ikebukuro to visit J-World indoor theme attraction. I've actually already been there previously on 1 of my trips, but since my brother and my hubby have yet to visit this place, so I decided to bring them there on this trip.

J-World is located in Sunshine City shopping mall at Ikebukuro (about 7mins walk from Ikebukuro station) and is a small indoor area with One Piece, Naruto, Dragonball attractions.

At Ikebukuro station, walking towards Sunshine City

At Ikebukuro

Saw this guy walking on the streets in his leopard (i think) costume.

ABC mart (sells shoes)

Saw this sign at Sunshine City. Didn't realised that there's a Pokemon shop here!
 Arrival at J-World.

There's actually a small discount on the admission price if you show them your passport, or room key of Sunshine City Prince Hotel, or Ikebukuro guidebook, or physical copy of the good luck Tokyo guidebook.  I showed them my passport. :)

First up, look for food! All 3 of us were hungry after our long flight and train rides.

What my brother ate. Some sort of cheesy pasta.


My Ichiraku Miso Chasu Ramen :)

Hubby's Chopper themed burger

Met Naruto during lunch. 

Kuroko :)
 There's a small souvenir shop at J-World which sells stuffs from various Shounen Jump mangas like One Piece, Bleach, Dragonball, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter...
Since I'm a fan of One Piece and Naruto, therefore I only took photos of One Piece and Naruto related products...with the occasional Kuroko no Basuke stuffs. :)

This is sooo cute!!

ANBU patches

These were on display...but don't think they were for sale though.

Soge king's mask. Not for sale. 

There were a few game stalls too, which weren't around when I last visited this place.

There was a new One Piece live performance which was pretty interesting. 
Even though it was in Japanese, but I've enjoyed it.  

The performers walking around just before the showtime.

Too bad, photography wasn't allowed, so this was the only photo I managed to take of the stage.
 After the 30mins One Piece performance, we continued our walkabout at J-World.

This Thousand Sunny really shoots out gusts of air.

Small Naruto section.
Hubby trying to do a Kuchiyose no Jutsu (summoning).
This was funny. Upon pressing the button, the screen will show which creature you managed to summon. 

Upon the 1st try, my brother summoned Kyubi (9 tail fox).

Then on his 2nd try, he wanted to show off his summoning again (he assumed he will summon Kyubi again) by not looking at the screen....and this time round, he summoned cute little Pakkun instead. 

Chouji :)
Next to the food court, there was this small Ichiraku Ramen stall :)

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