A Travellerspoint blog

Finally, getting to see Mt. Fuji up and personal


Same route as in July 2015. JR train to Otsuki and then Fujikyu train to Kawaguchiko

2nd attempt to see Mt. Fuji by way of Kawaguchi-ko

cloud cover when we arrived. Eventually cleared up after 2 hours


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Tokyo, Kamakura, Mt. Fuji and Karuizawa 2016 - Kamakura Phot

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Arriving in Narita Terminal 3 and finding our AirBnB

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large_1840343_1466900532206.jpgArriving in Narita Terminal 3 was a different experience for me. First, we have to disembark at the tarmac because Jetstar is a Low Cost Carrier (LCC) and they don't usually pay for frills like airbridge (not to mention, the airbridges are in great demand and Jetstar wants to turn around the aircraft as fast as possible). Terminal 3, while just recently opened in 2015, was still not anything much compared to the larger and more established terminals. So imagine the lack of amenities (but not necessarily efficiency) when you get to deplane or transit to a domestic carrier! Not only that, to get to the train station, we would have to walk more than half a kilometer! (That's because I didn't realize they had a shutle bus that does the transfers). It was a long walk, like going through a semi-maze and rollercoaster - up and down, left and right.large_1840343_14669005359217.jpg

Finally, after clearning immigration and customs, we made it to the train station where I booked tickets for the NEX (Narita Express) - expensive at 3000 JPY but the fastest connection into town. I had studied the subway connections prior and selected where we will connect - after getting off at Tokyo Station, we would need to transfer to the Marunouchi Line (colored RED), and then find the Namboku line (Emerald color). The connections were either at Akasaka-Mitsuke Station, or Yotsuya Station (another stop further). I naturally chose Akasaka-Mitsuke (M13-N7), thinking it was shorter. Boy, did we walk almost a whole kilometer underground, not knowing that the Namboku line was the farthest away from the Marunouchi Line! If I had gone a little longer to the Yotsuya Station (M12-N8), would have saved walking more than half of the distance! Strike one.large_1840343_14669005263890.jpg

Anyway, we found our way to the Roppongi-Itchome (N5) station, which would be the nearest one to our AirBnB. However it's also not easy when you start going through the escalator in a station which has many levels - nor did I know which exit was the elevator nearest to. After going in and out of the buildings in the complex, we finally ended up at the highest level which was the exit nearest our accommodations. But had I found the elevator on the north end, we could have avoided the multiple escalators along the way - Strike Two!

Finally, we found the street, followed it down the alley, and made a left into the actual street we needed to go. For some reason, the landmark was supposed to be a park, but our notion of what a park was didn't match what we saw, and we ended up continuing further down the road.large_1840343_14669005292667.jpgTokyo Tower - last time I visited I was still a young boy!It was just supposed to be a three minute walk, now were were almost at the end and about fifteen minutes of searching. We showed passersby the address and even the photo of the building, and they couldn't say where it was! Funny, even locals don't even know much about their neighborhood - Strike Three!

Finally, my son asked in whatever Nihonggo he knew as to where the place was - it seemed they were pointing to a place above the sloping road, and so we headed back up from where we went. Finally, just about 50 meters from the turn where we made a left, the building was there - but it didn't look like the one we were looking for (we were instructed to look for a sign but probably they repainted the front of the building). Eventually we were able to go inside, take the lift, and finally end up at our doorstep.large_1840343_14669005381063.jpg The keys were placed in an oversized padlock which opens to a compartment where the housekeys were to be found and after some tinkering, we managed to open it. Success, despite probably wasting easily an hour had we been able to find the shortcuts (one shortcut was to take the airport limousine bus which meant a longer drive but less transfers within the subway).

Once we unpacked our stuff, we decided to go for a walk around the vicinity and ended up at a temple less than a kilometer away. Being a bit tired afterwards, we went back to our place and rested for an hour or so. In the evening we headed east towards Tokyo Tower, a significant landmark for me because that was the most memorable highlight of my trip to Japan when I was 5 years old.large_1840343_14669005405194.jpg

Tokyo Tower at night is majestic - far more striking than the tallest building which is the Skytree. We had a walk around the area (didn't go up the next level as it wasn't very conducive to viewing when slightly foggy at night), went inside the ground floor and had some local ramen as well as the famous Mos Burger sandwiches. It was a nostalgic visit for me, I managed to take a few selfies although the green light would always shine on my face, making me look like a male version of Elphaba from the musical "Wicked".

After Tokyo Tower, it was a tiring day, and time to retreat back to the AirBnB as the night was getting chilly for the others.


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Back to Tokyo within less than a year - on the wrong flights

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This trip to Tokyo [Tokyo-travel-guide-285666] had a few important lessons learned...and mostly from mistakes, but also from previous successes.

For one, try to book right away when an airline offers a route for the first time. Yes, Jetstar was opening its Japan operations (after planning it for quite some time). And they had a fantastic sale in February 2016 where Tokyo would cost NOT EVEN $100 ROUND TRIP! Jetstar Japan (GK) had launched three cities in Japan to Manila, in addition to Jetstar Pacific's (3K) Osaka to Singapore via Manila. In the past they had canceled Jetstar Airways (JQ) flights from NRT to MNL. I had studied the route extensively for a potential family vacation but the wifey was so distracted with work, she didn't even pay attention to the messages I sent to our family and friends chatroom.

Finally, came the time when you least expect things to happen, they do. Fast forward to April 1, 2016 where I was headed to Makati for the TravBuddy meetup I was organizing. There's a quick mention there of what was going on as I was driving (http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/131256/Friday-April-1st-official-start-5). On my way out the wifey was finally asking about where to go and what to do ... and she mentioned Tokyo but I didn't think she was that serious (women sometimes have this way of pretending to do or be one thing, and then they do the other). Now the price had risen to more than $300 (3x that in February), and the ideal flights were filling up fast. Because of some over excitement at her office (chasing targets for quarter end) and the denoument that follow, I could tell that she wasn't in the best frame of mind to make the bookings - and yet she did. I got a call while on the road saying that she booked the flight, and to wait for the confirmation in my email. A few more minutes after I had started meeting the TravBuddies she calls again to say that she wasn't sure of the flights she booked, so I had to check my email.

And so it happened. Imagine this itinerary ...

June 1 - MNL to NRT early morning

June 1 - NRT to KIX (Osaka) around noontime

June 1 - KIX to MNL afternoon

Wake up, wake up! Flying to Japan and back all on June 1? In her haste she interchanged the various dates and instead of booking June 5, ended up with June 1 for all flights! I wanted to freak out big time but I had to show the nice and cordial face to the TravBuddies who I'd be meeting for dinner. I just had to count to ten, and tell her to wait when I get back so we can fix the return dates. Again she did not listen, but in the end, booked return flights for both June 5. In a span of a few hours, the fare difference we had to pay was over $40 per person ... all because of a miscalculation. EXPENSIVE ERROR, I must say. Since then I had mandated that no flights will be booked unless I make the booking, since I put a lot of effort into deciding which flight to take (using my numerous criteria). AND NO MORE BOOKINGS on a WHIM.

Eventually we sorted things out with the flights but it was something I would not want to put up with again .. and so this story gets told over and over to many of my traveling friends...

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