Saving the Best Trip for Last

Who knew I was going to spend my holidays in Japan? Definitely not me!

It wasn't really part of my travel plans to go. It's just that, my aunt has been bugging me for the longest time now to get a visa and visit Japan. We're quite lucky our application got approved and luckiest when we found cheap roundtrip airfare tickets from Jetstar.

We arrived the day before Christmas, December 24, 2012. It's actually my second time to spend the holidays outside of the country. I felt a bit sad (because we had to leave our parents behind who's really busy with the family biz), scared (because of the language barrier) but at the same time excited 'coz I know it's gonna be one of those unforgettable trips I'll definitely cherish for the rest of my life! ;)

Stayed with my cousin Jay and his parents in Sagamihara, about 1-1.5 hours by train from Tokyo. I like this place 'coz its far away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, very rural and quiet to be specific. :) It was also my first time to experience cold winter weather with temperatures ranging from -3 to 10C. Sooo cold! Haha.

Here's a view of Sagamihara from Jay's veranda.

Our location was 5 mins. walk from Sagamihara Station. Thank goodness my cousin reads and speaks Japanese because the transportation in Japan (specifically their trains) could get quite complicated specially if you're a first time visitor like us. They have like more than 15 lines interconnected with each other, just thinking about it now makes me feel dizzy. Haha. So you see, you don't necessarily need a car to get around Japan. If travelling alone I suggest you guys print out this Tokyo Subway Route Map in english. You may also download the iPhone app which contains directions and fares for different routes.

The first stop for our Tokyo tour was the Tokyo Sky Tree. It is the tallest structure in Japan and tallest tower in the world (with a height of 2,080 ft.) which opened to the public last May 2012. Besides having shops, restaurants and an observation deck, the Tokyo Sky Tree also acts as a radio/television and communications tower.

That's me with my sister, Isha. :)

FYI, the tower also has the fastest large capacity elevators in Japan. The elevators can carry as much as 40 persons with maximum speed of 600 meters per minute. You can reach the Tembo Deck (at 350 meters) in approximately 50 seconds. Talk about amazing Japanese technology! ;)

Sadly, we weren't able to go up the tower during Christmas day 'coz the place was packed and purchasing tickets during that same day was pretty impossible. Other tourists have purchased theirs in advanced so I suggest you guys do the same if you plan to go.

From Sumida we went straight to Shibuya, famously known for their pedestrian crossing. Crossing the intersection of Hachiko square has got to be one of the highlights of my trip. Imagine crossing the street with probably a thousand or even more people. I don't have the right words to explain but it definitely felt awesome, surprising, unbelievable, breathtaking, extraordinary, etc. :) Crossing that one out from my bucket list!

Here's a nice shot of my brother Jeff with a backdrop of the Shibuya intersection.

Also found in Shibuya is the statue of Hachiko. :) If you're a dog lover, I'm pretty sure you've seen the movie. I cried buckets of tears after watching! I can definitely relate to the story 'coz I have a total of 8 dogs. You can easily spot this area where there's lots of tourists taking their photos with the famous dog. The statue is located right across the Starbucks in Tsutaya or if you're taking the train just take the Hachiko exit.

Overall, I loved Shibuya. The place makes me feel young all over again probably because it is surrounded mostly by teenagers and young adults. Sigh.. I'm badly missing Japan now. Please watch out for my next posts. This is just the first day of my trip so stay tuned! ;)