My friend came to visit me in Korea over the Christmas holidays and we decided to take a little trip to Japan! My friend is obsessed with everything Japanese and so she had a lot of anime themed stops she wanted to make. I do not really know much about that part of the culture and so I was more interested in seeing the temples and exploring the other side of the culture.
We took a three hour plane ride from Gimpo Airport to Haneda Airport, which a friend told me was the better one to fly into as it connects with the train, and is closer to the city.
Our accommodations were at the Super Hotel Inn in the Ikebukuro district. This hotel was a convenient 10 minute walk from the metro which is connected to three lines (JR, Tobu and Seibu). The accommodation was perfectly fine for our stay, we did not plan on spending that much time in the hotel itself so we really did not need anything fancy. The washroom was fully equipped with a shower and toilet that had all the buttons on it (which I did not want to play around with) and the room was a nice size for just the two of us. Breakfast was included, however the hotel was reconstructing the room where they usually served breakfast and instead every morning in the lobby you could grab a sort of to-go container with different food inside. We did not really like what they were offering and so we usually went and ate out for breakfast. One perk in the hotel was that they had a little station set up that allowed you to pick 5 spa like, toiletry products a day which meant we stocked up on a lot of facemasks.
After settling into our room we decided to take advantage of our day and head out into the city. We got a metro map and figured out our route to Ueno Park. The park, conveniently has its own metro stop on the JR line called Ueno Station. When you walk out of the Park Exit you will see some of the museums that this park has.
This park is amazing and it is a good first stop in Tokyo. You will get to see cultural museums, a zoo, multiple ponds and nature gardens, traditional cemeteries and of course many temples. We walked around this whole park and parts of the immediate surrounding area and it was really beautiful to see. I really enjoyed this part of the trip, it was interesting that we were still in the middle of a major city but yet it was so quiet and calm which allowed us to just take in the culture and nature.
The park is also home to an eternal flame memorial for the disastrous tragedies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a children’s amusement park.
All in all this first day in Japan was the perfect first day. I really got a taste for the culture and got to explore a lot of different temples and shrines, discovering the uniqueness of each one and admiring their intricate architecture.