Tuesday, 26 January 2016

❤ My Mini Guide to Tokyo ❤

❤ Tips for Tokyo 


❤ Shinjuku is a great place to stay (definitely for a first visit) as it's central to many places travelling on the JR railway including Harajuku and Shibuya. Shinjuku station itself is huge and pretty confusing, it may take some getting used to! Also, remember there are two Shinjuku stations... you can read more about it here:

❤ It's a really good idea to print maps before you visit, sometimes things are signposted, sometimes not...

❤ I opted to use a top up card (Suica) which can be used on the JR and subway lines
More info here: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html

The Suica card is easy to use (similar to an Oyster) the machines can be changed to English
I also recommend picking up something we are severely lacking in the UK ~ one of the pass cases with an extending cord. I got one from Donki :)

You can go for a JR Pass which is good value if you are planning to travel outside Tokyo more than one in your visit
If you want to book this you need to do it before you go

❤ I booked everything as a deal with hotel and flights with Expedia ~ this is a more expensive option if you want to stay in a proper hotel. You can book your accommodation separately for a lot cheaper if you're happy to stay somewhere rented or a b&b type place ~ for as little as £20 a night! I haven't done this yet but it's definitely worth looking into

❤ Flights with transfers ~ we had a flight which changed at Amsterdam from London. Please be wary about these in regards to luggage. I recommend a direct flight if possible... also when you go onto the plane from the second airport you have to go through security again, so don't buy any drinks (bit annoying)

Either way I would 100% recommend some sort of travel insurance that provides compensation for any delayed or lost luggage

❤ Book as much as you can before your trip (a lot of things you have to anyway)
~ Ghibli Muesum 
~ Wifi devices or data sim cards
~ JR Pass


❤ You can buy data only sim cards in advance (before your trip) which we had delivered to the hotel ~ these mean no phone calls but I used LINE to call or message people whilst there.

❤ LINE is a great app to use if you have friends in Japan and many people there use it
Another possible app is Whatsapp. Both can be used to make calls via the internet as well as long as the other person has it too

❤ You can get free Wifi via any Starbucks but you need to sign up to it (you need data to do this first)


❤ I did not find food expensive (eating out) but if you are on a budget 7-Eleven stores are your best friend. A few times I went there for yummy snacks ~ cakes, sandwiches, salads, sushi... 
You can also get noodles (just add hot water)
Also good for water and general other awesome Japanese drinks

❤ I have heard it is not polite to tip in restaurants, so avoid it!

❤ There are a huge number of amazing themed cafes in Tokyo ~ make sure you look into this before you go as some of them are temporary 
I highly recommend the Pom Pom Purin cafe in Harajuku and the Owl Cafe in Koenji (the best curries!), Swimmer Bakery in Studio Alta Shinjuku
I also recommend an amazing Sushi place in Shibuya with an electronic ordering system called Genki Sushi

Owl cafe, Koenji

Swimmer Bakery
(go for the chocolate cream filled treats, not sure what they are called!)

Pom Pom Purin Cafe, Harajuku


There are a few phrases a words I learnt before going to Tokyo. Not everyone speaks English and some only broken. You'll find that the Japanese are very proud of their language and they really appreciate if you give it a try ^^

                                                     ❤ Main phrases: 

Sumimasen (soo-me-mah-sen) γ™γΏγΎγ›γ‚“
This means sorry and excuse me and even thank you (if someone holds a door open for you)

Arigato (ari-gat-tow) γ‚γ‚ŠγŒγ¨γ†
This means thank you
Or thank you 'very' much Arigato Gosaimasu 

Toire γƒˆγ‚€γƒ¬ ~ Toilet

Wakarimasen γ‚γ‹γ‚ŠγΎγ›γ‚“ (wakari-mah-sen) 
I don’t understand

Eigo θ‹±θͺž ~ English
Nihon ζ—₯本 (nee-hon) ~ Japan

Konnichiwa γ“んにけは(konni-chi-wah) 
Good Afternoon or good day after 11am


❤ A lot of places offer a 10% tax refund for visitors when shopping providing you have your passport. Depending on how much you're spending this is not always worth it...
They do take a long time to do this, including filling in forms, stamping in your passport and wrapping everything a few times (this is to show customs you have not opened the package)
Personally I don't really like the idea of having the stamps in my passport so I just avoid it altogether ~ it means you may have to show what you have bought, and I think over a certain value you then have to repay some tax back

❤ When paying in a store there is often a small tray on the counter ~ it's polite to put the cash into the tray instead of handing it to the shop assistant

❤ To work out a rough cost from JPY to GBP you can use this trick:
Take off 2 0's e.g, 2000 would be 20
Half this and add a little more on ~ so 10 plus 2
2000 JPY is roughly £12

❤ Best shops 

Closet Child, Harajuku 
~ hugely discounted Sweet Lolita, Fairy Kei and Gothic Lolita ~ clothing, accessories, jewellery, bags etc ect

Donki (Don Quiote) stores everywhere! 
~ make up, toiletries, false lashes, toys, travel, etc etc 
Each store has different items in stock so be sure to visit as many as you can!

Kiddyland, Harajuku
~ San X and Sanrio HEAVEN

Shibuya 109, Shibuya
~ Best store was Swankiss, also has Ma*rs, TuTUHa, Ruby Rose

Swimmer, Shinjuku (Studio Alta) Harajuku (LaForet)
~ Shinjuku branch has a bakery! go to the lower level

Spiral Vintage Toy Store, Harajuku
~ very pricey but amazing 
Make sure to go upstairs and look at all the vintage Barbie dolls

WEGO, Harajuku
~ cute bags, clothing, hair accessories

Daiso, Harajuku
~100 YEN shop, bit like a far better version of poundland ;)

Listen Flavor
~ Pop & rock mix cute prints and clothing

Barbie Store, Harajuku
~ everything Barbie!

6% Doki Doki
~ iconic Harajuku brand by Sebastian Masuda

This is all I can think of for now! Please leave a comment if you have any questions :)
Roxie xoxo

My Tokyo Trip of Dreams ~ Part 2!

Studio Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

I booked the tickets in advance for the museum from here:

You must buy tickets before you leave for your trip
Once you go online you can select a date and time
 I then paid with my bank details via email

Tickets were £12 each (worth every penny)

Finding your way from the station is pretty easy due to all the signs! 
It's pretty much one straight road from the station to the museum

On the way we stopped at a bird cafe opposite the museum entrance called Kotori Cafe

It was such a cute little cafe with all bird theme decor and lots of birds hanging out in the front window (the birds were not flying around the cafe)

They do a variety of desserts (not a large menu) including cute cakes and french toast


Sadly photos were not permitted inside so all the photos I took were outside
Although I was tempted to sneak a few pictures I wanted to respect why they don't want photos and keep it a secret for people going. It really is an amazing experience ~ I felt quite emotional afterwards

The museum is quite small but every part is fascinating and there is a lot to look at with 2 levels

The most amazing part was the animation room where you can see characters come life with various contraptions. In the main room I remember a circular spinning table with hundreds of 3D characters ~ when it is turned on it spins so fast the objects look like they are moving and jumping. Could have watched this for hours. They also had these wonderful glass panels with several layers of illustration which when viewed look 3D, each one with different scenes from Ghibli. 

There is a large room with many original illustrations and it is set up like Ghibli's working studio

Inside there is a winding stairway leading up to the top floor, a bridge overlooking. The windows are all stained glass with Ghibli themes. At the top floor there is a giant plush cat bus (sadly for children only) and an amazing gift shop with tons of plushies, figurines ~ even jewellery and china

On entrance you get given a film ticket, each one looks like a film strip with a different animation
I highly recommend seeing the special Ghibli museum film (unseen anywhere else)

The only drawback from the museum is not having an English tour guide ~ you can pay more for one of these. Everything is in Japanese... apart from the film which had subtitles

Outside the museum there was a small kiosk selling green tea ice cream and hot dogs
There is also a cafe but I was a little disappointed it was not themed

After the museum we walked around the surrounding area

There is a large park called Inokashira Park

The blossom were just coming into bloom (this was late February/early March)

We then went to Kichijoji ~ an interesting place with traditional bars and winding walkways

I also managed to stumble across a Kiddyland with the most amazing cute Sanrio collection ~ heaven