I found when planning a trip across the world, you want to see and do as much as possible. Leaving India en route to South Korea seemed like a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a long layover. There were many different flight options and we decided on Tokyo. When my friend and I booked flights, we were well rested (obviously) and excited for our journey. In the long run, an 8 hour flight (with maybe a couple uncomfortable hours of sleep), before going to conquer Tokyo may have been a bit of a reach. But, nevertheless, we took on Tokyo, exhausted and all.
Without further ado, Tokyo through the eyes of the wanderlusting yogi …
I began the trip on Japan Air into Narita International Airport. The aircraft was very clean, and seemed to be newer, filled with friendly staff. Their was lots of leg room, which is always amazing for my long legs! They provided a blanket, pillow, headphones, and warm hand towels. The coolest feature were the windows that had a dimmer switch under each of them! I have never seen this before and definitely played with it for awhile!
The vegetarian meal was nothing special. 2 salads, 2 fruit salads, and pasta. I was disappointed when the staff passed out ice cream, and I did not receive one because I had ordered the vegetarian option. If you want ice cream, go for the meat!
Once arriving at Narita International, we hustled to the 3rd floor of departures to put our backpacks in lockers so we could travel lighter. I also got to experience an authentic Asian squatting toilet (and I was not the one who made the mess). I think I laughed the whole time I was in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do!
Tokyo is an extremely large metropolis, and after much planning, we decided on going to the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. There were many areas I wanted to see, but with such a short time, we had to stick with one. Shinjuku is about an hour and 15 minute ride from the airport on the Narita Express ($4,000 Yen/$35 USD for a round trip ticket and this was a special for foreigners because June is their off-season).
We had a list of things we wanted to find in our few hours. Tokyo ended up being much more confusing than I had imagined. I even needed to turn on my phone data for GPS because we did get slightly lost at one point. Oops! Another good reason to have some type of International phone plan. There were not a lot of street signs and everything was mostly in Japanese (which is completely expected, but other countries do have more English around town).
So here is how our Tokyo scavenger hunt went …
The first location was to find an area called Urination Alley AKA Piss Alley. This is simply an area of very small restaurants and shops down alleyways … no one is “pissing” there anymore. The tiny restaurants hold maybe 10 people tops.
We stopped at a random one and sampled different meats on a stick (gizzard, liver, chicken skin, and chicken) and had a drink.
Our next piece of the scavenger hunt was to find Asadachi, which was located somewhere within Piss Alley. Asadachi or “Morning Wood” is a restaurant that has extremely weird samplings, like snake liquor, pig testicles, and a beating frog’s heart. I really wanted to find this place and try at least one unusual snack, but we couldn’t find it. Hopefully one day I will get to return and try again!
Luckily, our next venue we were able to find, after asking a few kind strangers to guide us in the right direction. This was a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, named Numazukou. Hence, the sushi moves around the conveyor belt and you pick what you want when it passes by. Each plate is a different color to correspond with the price. I had high expectations for eating sushi in Japan, and those expectations came crashing down. I have had WAY better sushi in the States .. maybe I am used to Americanized sushi. I am sure there is delicious sushi around Tokyo, but Numazukou wasn’t the hot spot! However, it was a unique experience.
After eating our way around Tokyo, we headed back on the Narita Express to the airport. From the train, you could see the Tokyo Skytree Tower (tallest structure in Tokyo), which is a popular tourist attraction, featuring an observation deck and restaurant …
Tokyo was a great choice for a layover. My recommendation is to definitely stick to one location, or even visit Narita. Narita is the town next to the airport and the first stop off the Narita Express. A lot of tourists will visit here instead of going all the way into Tokyo. If you want just a taste of Japan, this might be an easier option. All in all, I am glad I got to experience a new culture and country for a few hours!
Go to 3rd floor of departures in the main building of Narita International for backpack storage
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/ (Narita Express Information)