Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 3 – Ueno, Nezu and Shinjuku

This post is quite a long one… I’ve been procrastinating to write it… ^_^

Monday 1st April 2019

Happy April Fool’s Day! Well it’s not that big in Japan but it’s actually a very serious day for every Japanese student and job hunters – my Japanese uni friend explained to me that evening.

Refreshed (kind of) and ready to go (kind of). I actually woke up around 2am to go to the loo, and I think around 5am because of jet lag. Well, at least I slept.

I decided to have the breakfast… and since I was up so early, I thought I’ll go just after 7am – people were there already! The hotel breakfast wasn’t bad – apart from having a really soft hamburger in the morning… weren’t sure about that! The coffee cups are really small, so I needed another coffee to wake me up!  

The rubbish is sorted into different sections, so you have to be quite careful where you throw your rubbish.DSC_1880

Didn’t think I was full, so I went to the convenient store on the first floor (ground floor) next to the hotel. DSC_1881

Ate the filling curry bread. It’s filled to the brim with curry filling. Yummy!!DSC_1884

Cold coffee in Asia is always the best, and they always have them in bigger bottles. DSC_1882

CoCo Curry House even have their own crisp out in Japan – I didn’t eat these until much later. There’s actually too much in the pack, and the crisps are too hard and crunchy making it impossible to finish in one go. DSC_1883

Before heading out, I needed to sort out my data sim card which I had pre-bought online from www.simcardgeek.com. Ideally buy your sim card beforehand if you don’t want to go to the hassle and getting it from the airport or somewhere in Japan. This is the best link I found online: https://pretraveller.com/best-prepaid-data-sim-card-in-japan-for-tourists/. Unfortunately my mobile phone wouldn’t take it because it’s not unlocked, and the wi-fi hotspot modem, which I bought, didn’t work with the sim card – resulting in me having to reset the frigging modem! Thankfully, with some clever thinking, I took my unlocked iPhone 6  with me on holiday (yes, I have an iPhone – mainly for the apps, as my mini iPad doesn’t have the capacity) and placed the sim card inside. ^_^ I had to use a sewing needle I had brought along to open the card slot bit (learnt my lesson from last year to bring a sewing kit for emergency circumstances!). And finally I had a hotspot I could use!! Woohoo!!

Now onto the day’s trip!

Last time I went to Ueno, Miss Pinky and I only made it to the train station – not even sure which entrance we had came out at the time… However, this time, I really, really wanted to go to the park as well as the zoo! 

Inside the station there’s a massive panda welcoming the spring.

Not sure which route I took to the park, but I had turned right, straight down a road, crossed over and up some stairs. Followed Google Maps all the way until I saw the the cherry blossom park trail… sugoi ne!! They weren’t in full bloom yet, but it was so nice to see. There was a crowd there already, so I had to walk, and keep walking.


When I reached the end of the trail, there’s a section where all the food stands are, and a temple at the very end of those food stands.


I decided to head out to Nezu Shrine at this point. Just be careful going down the stairs at the park as the steps are quite wide. It’s about a 20-30 minute walk from the park and as I was following Google Maps, it probably took a little longer. For some strange reason, Google Maps likes you to go through some back streets… maybe it wants me to explore.


After the walk, I found Nezu Shrine. Not many tourists come to this shrine as it seems out of sync with everywhere else, and it is a long walk from the park. It’s a really pretty shrine – it’s like a mini version of the one in Kyoto.


After looking at the shrine and the koi fish for a bit, I headed back to Ueno Park…




And had a small snack of squid, (I was still full from breakfast). It’s amazing how big these squid rings are!!DSC_1955



I really wanted to go to Ueno Zoo – surprisingly it was opened on this day, as it’s usually closed on Mondays. The single adult ticket is ¥600 (~£4.13), it’s really cheap compared to the prices in London, and the zoo is much bigger! However the queues for certain areas is long… The queue to see the pandas was a 40-50 minute wait, I don’t think I had the patience to wait that long.


I actually saw a real Secretary Bird. I watch the anime Aggretsuko a lot, because it reminded me of myself being in a company and having to do a lot of work. The secretary bird in the anime is a good friend of Aggretsuko’s… Didn’t realise they are so big!!


Finally, on my way trying to find the way out (you actually have to go back near the front entrance), I managed to see a panda just lying there… Hahahaha! Thanks to the people already standing around – I just had to wait for them to move before I could take this picture. ^_^


After exiting, I took a few more pics of the park again…


At Ueno Station, I just had to take a pic of this game advert.


My next destination was to find the Government Building’s Observatory Tower in Shinjuku. The afternoon suddenly became cold and windy, so I had to put my jacket on. It was really cold!

The Observatory Tower is free to enter but there is a security check before you’re able to enter the lift. If you want to save money, and don’t want to go all the way to Asakusa to see the Sky Tree, then come to this building! The most you’ll probably spend up there is half-an-hour before you have to queue again to go back down.


If you hover around the 2nd floor (1st floor) you get to see the Olympics and World Rugby stuff… it seems they’re counting down to the Rugby! ^_^


It was time to head back to the hotel and rest for a little bit, so I bought a very light lunch… Sandwich and cold tea. DSC_2033

I have no idea what these strip sweets are. I took these back to London and finished them off.DSC_2036


So it was around 5.30pm when I left the hotel, I had to go back to Shinjuku to meet my old uni friend, who is almost like Mrs Travels’ other best friend in uni… we were all good friends to each other really!

The trip to Shinjuku was a bit ugh to me. Very busy, Very crowded. That’s a no-no for me. It took my friend and I a long time to find each other, I had used a lot of text messages to let him know where I am. Shinkjuku is one of those nightmare stations with too many exits. Even my uni friend said he’s not familiar from this station…. Ahhhhhhh! People were a bit surprised when we conversed in English – they probably didn’t think I was foreign. LOL!! I remembered him as tall and skinny with glasses – but it looks like he may have shrunk, or I may have got taller. ^_^ He said his glasses were not prescription ones, it was for fashion! Whaaaaaa~~~~! All this time Mrs Travels and I thought he wore prescription glasses.

So it took him a while to decide where we should go. I said I wanted to eat ramen. Japanese ramen… so we went to Ore no Sora Shinjuku. It took me a while to find the name of this place online as I forgot to take a pic of the outside, and I didn’t want to bother my friend afterwards… ¬_¬”” The ramen here was awesome! The meat looks like duck meat, but it’s definitely pork. The soup is of pork and fish base. You can actually taste a bit of the fishiness. The waiters didn’t seem to understand why we were talking in English.DSC_2038


Good choice uni friend!!

Address: Japan, 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−3−13 I&Kビル

Was afraid my uni friend’s wife would tell him off for going home late, but he says it’s fine as he hasn’t seen me for 16 years! So we moved onto Café Bon, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the ramen place, it’s in a basement and they serve drip coffee, tea and cake. The teacups look quite old-fashioned, and it seems each tea cup has their own story. Coffee was great! Cake was ok.


Address: 3 Chome-23-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan

After having a long catch up with my friend about life, work and realisations, (and lots of personal juicy gossip which I can’t talk about in this blog – that’s a shame, I know), it was time to head back to the hotel.

It was a long, long day… snore!

End of Day 3.

Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 2 – The Missing Transfer and Super Geek Energy

Sunday 31st March 2019

So I arrived in Haneda Airport around 7.30am. Thought it would be easier to get from Haneda Airport to the hotel in a very short space of time with the transfer…


However, when I passed security, my transfer wasn’t even there!! I waited around for half-an-hour before making an executive decision, in the meantime I had emailed Bamba Experience, tried calling the emergency contacts – but the numbers weren’t even working! Ugh. Luckily I had my old Pasmo Card from five years ago, so I got that topped up at the tourist stand as I couldn’t top up at the airport machines… I made my own way to the hotel in Ikebukuro.


I arrived in Ikebukuro before 10am, but because there are so many exits in this station (like with all major Japanese stations), it took me a while to find the right way. I went out the West exit, but should have really gone out the East exit. But anyway, it was nice to look around.







Finally arrived at my hotel Ikebukuro Keio Presso Inn, it’s not far from the station, but it really felt far as I had a suitcase with me. As check in time was not unti 3pm, I was left to do go out and do whatever for 5 hours.

So, the first place to go to was a Mos Burger place – suggested by a friend from my Japanese class. I used Google Maps and data roaming from my phone to find the nearest one near the hotel… So this one is at the end of one long street. About a 10-15 minute walk (depending on fast you walk).


The Japanese have already thought I was Japanese from the first glance (I truly do not look Japanese), but I ordered in mixed English and Japanese. Then the waiter thought I might be from Mainland China, and so ended up saying xiexie (thank you). LOL! I speak Cantonese peeps. My Mandarin speaking is not great at all.

This is what I had… Cream Cheese Teriyaki Burger, a normal Teriyaki Burger and a Melon soda. Total cost came to ¥1000 (~£6-7). Mega cheap.


The cream cheese one was awesome! The teriyaki sauce was salty and sweet but was toned down by the cream cheese.


The normal teriyaki one was too salty – but it was so much better than the BA meals!


Address: 1 Chome-32-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan

After sitting around for a little while, which was what some people were doing when I got there, I moved off back to Ikebukuro Station, and headed off to one of the famous streets in Harajuku! The easiest way to get there is to take the Yamanote Line and get off at Harajuku. Straight in front of you is Takeshita Street.




You would think Oxford Street and Regent Street was worse in London, but this was quite terrifying. You’re practically pushed and squeezed because of the amount of tourists and locals who were there – plus it was a Sunday, and many Japanese take that day off from work!







I didn’t like the crowds, so I swiftly walked away, looked at Google Maps to go to my next destination. Shibuya.

I followed Google Maps for the next half-an-hour and found myself snapping away…





The main reason why I wanted to come back to Shibuya after all these years was because I missed out on finding the Hachiko Statue outside Shibuya Station. Lots of tourists around this spot too!



Next stop was Tokyo Station. I love seeing this station!




Especially the basement for their shopping… Didn’t buy much, so swiftly moved onto my next destination.

I was defo tired and sleepy at this point, but I really needed to push myself.

And I promised Mr Games that I would fine the Square Enix Café in Japan, so I went to the one in Akihabara. Snap, snap, snap, took my pictures, and moved back to the hotel!

It was almost 3pm, but I think the people who were already there including myself were able to check in. Hoorah!! So tired!! But I didn’t take a nap… All I did was bath and changed clothes.

Before I missed the moment, I went to one of my favourite Japanese restaurants – Nakau. The machines have English instructions but I think I had to try twice, because I think I ordered wrongly. ^_^”” Total came to ¥980 (~£6.75). I’ve missed the flavoursome chicken, and the super soft purin!! Aaaaaahhhhhh~~~~ I was in Heaven! I ate it all even when I was full to the brim I chowed down all of it!

Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−28−1

I made sure I relaxed that evening and went to bed ASAP – Didn’t sleep in those 24 hours! I really don’t know how or where I got the energy from – maybe because I took a week off before going on holiday, and slept as much as I could. LOL!!

p.s. I really like this lemon super chu-hi… I need to find this in London!!


End of Day 2.

Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 1 – A New Journey

Unemployed (though not for very long now) and going back to basics (that’s after 19 years of not having a break in between jobs ~~~). But before I become employed again, I decided to enjoy the holiday that I pre-booked around a year ago, (this was way before I decided to quit my job).

I did a blog series of being “Lost in Tokyo” in 2014, and as I’m still learning Japanese (probably up until I pass the N4 exam at some point in the next year or so), I thought it would be nice to go back to Japan before the World Rugby, which is happening this year and the Olympics in 2020. Enjoy it before over-tourism starts. ^_^

Saturday 30th March 2019

In this journey, I’ve taken on a pre-planned journey all booked by Bamba Experience using the TourRadar website. I decided to use an agency to book everything as I was tired of planning my journeys and spending hours just looking for hotels and prices. The disadvantage of this is that you’ll be paying a higher price, or maybe quite similar depending on the rooms you want.

My journey starts off with a taxi ride to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. The terminal that I dislike, but luckily this time round, after passing all the security and stuff, I didn’t need to travel on a bus to my plane. Phew. It would have been endless!!

When I booked my flight I thought I was going on a JAL (Japan Airlines) flight, but it turned out to be a BA flight. Grrrr. Why do they sell tickets like that? That’s so misleading.

Well the flight was ok, apart from the people sitting next to me – they were nice, but a little too talkative. One looked like a retired old lady, and the other was with his family, unemployed but was doing lots of programming on his laptop. ¬_¬”” … I watched 3 films and listened to some music to make myself sleep… I only had a 20-30 minute power nap.

Here’s the flight food. Not bad from BA!

Lunch/Dinner – chicken teriyaki, the sauce wasn’t that bad, but a tad too salty


I had an ice cream in between – had to wait a moment for it to defrost before eating it.

Breakfast – at first I thought there wasn’t enough salt, but I think I added to much salt, and it became not a nice breakfast…


I sat near the toilets, so a lot of people bumped into me, a little annoying. The back of the seat was also broken… I suggest BA should look at their seats and fix them – plus do some extra cleaning as I could a lot of dust in the TV screen area.

End of Day 1.