How I Planned My Trip to Japan - Tokyo

I Travelled In Japan Without Speaking Japanese, Here's How

how i planned my trip to japan

I have just recently got back from Japan and man, it was a memorable trip. Never had I actually thought that I would one day set foot in this foreign country because Japan used to be on my no-go list and I didn't think I could cope with the culture. My Japanese vocabulary is also very limited. All I know was the three most common words: Konichiwa, Arigato and Hai but my family and I did manage to travel on our own feet and visit every place that we planned to visit. I planned the whole thing one week before departing and had an awesome experience travelling around with my family.

Japan did a really good job in ensuring that information required by the travellers is clearly and completely laid out on the respective websites. Almost every attraction has a website of its own providing information such as ticket prices and opening hours. So it was no problem for us to prepare well beforehand (from ensuring that we have enough cash to spend to making sure we arrive at the correct destination). A good preparation was also required when travelling in Japan because communication is an issue. Even though there may be a tourist/information centre stationing in every major station, the staff there have limited English speaking ability and even if they speak it reasonably well, you wouldn’t want to waste any precious time trying to find out if they have a more cost-effective option for tourists to get around Tokyo. Therefore, make sure to do some quick research on the net before flying off to Japan.

While we were in Tokyo, we travelled around using mainly the Tokyo Metro and Toei Line. Although JR seems to be cheaper in terms of individual trips, the Tokyo Metro and Toei Line have come up with one-day, two-day and three-day passes that are much more worthwhile. We were able to travel unlimitedly using the three-day passes (cost ¥1,500) we bought and could easily switch the order of attractions we initially planned without worrying about incurring extra costs. This has largely reduced our travelling expenses in the country enabling us to happily spend more on food (AHHH FOOD) and beauty products.

We also purchased the Pasmo cards on arrival for use when we made way to Tokyo DisneySea and whenever we needed to travel on the JR Line. The reason we went for the Pasmo cards instead of the Suica cards was that it enabled us to be fully refunded without any surcharge when we no longer needed the cards. This is not the same with Suica because a ¥220 fee will be deducted upon refund.

In case you didn't know, Pasmo and Suica are top up cards like the Touch 'n Go in Malaysia or EasyCards in Taiwan. When you tap them on the detector, the value you put into the card will be deducted according to the distance you travel without any discount.

Here are some of the apps I downloaded for use in Japan:

1. Tokyo Subway


3. Way to go (picture translator)

Day 1

We arrived late at around 11.30pm Tokyo time. The trains stop operating at 12.00pm so we were rushing trying to get on the last train. I don’t know what happened but we made a mistake for getting off the train many stations too early and ended up getting stranded at a random station because the train we were on was the last train to get to our destination. The screen on the train was showing something else which did not seem like where we wanted to head to. Panic struck and I got my family to get off the train together with me. Till now I still don’t know what happened but it was a lesson learnt. In the end we took a taxi to our Airbnb room and spent our first night in Tokyo.

First tip: Never ever panic when travelling in Japan and make sure to ask someone when to get off if you’re not sure about what the screen is displaying.

Day 2

It started with a trip to Tsukiji market and a dangerous venture into a no-tourist area (because we didn’t see any tourist taking that route).

Tsukiji market was good. We each had a delicious bowl of beef noodles which we rated the best out of the whole trip. It is literally a hidden gem inside the market and is located in a small alley. We wouldn’t have found it if it were not for the friendly green tea promoters outside the alley. We also had some unagi, steamed oysters and tomago (I like the Malaysian version better) before we left the market to head to the Hama-Rikyu garden.

This is where the dangerous venture came into play. By using we walked into an area that seemed to only have the fish market workers and trucks but we didn’t double back because no one was stopping us or asking us to leave the area. I didn’t see any sign that prohibits outsiders from walking in the area so we kept walking until we saw our destination. *Relief*

The garden was mesmerising and the view was breathtakingly good. Later in the day we found ourselves standing outside the Meiji Jingu which was the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. A walk through the shrine was very relaxing and allowed us to breathe in some clean air after a day in the city.

After that we had our dinner at Afuri which is located in Akihabara. It features a special type of ramen which is not available elsewhere and is very affordable. We each had a big bowl of ramen and were very satisfied with our food.

The day then ended with us enjoying a bird view of the city from the observation deck in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

Second tip: Do not follow too closely because it is only programmed to give you the shortest not the safest route.

That's me still chewing whatever I just had.

Day 3

Today went on to be another fun day. We spent the day walking around the city visiting temples and taking a walk in the Shinjuku Garden.

As much as we wanted to end the day at the Imperial Palace, we went 10 minutes too late and the palace was closed for the day at 4.30pm. That is a bane for travelling to Japan during the winter time. Everything closes down way earlier than usual (except DisneyLand and DisneySea) due to the shorter day time and you lose out if you take too much time to move from one place to another. 

Third tip: Make sure to plan your trip carefully using to map out the attractions you want to visit and put them as closely to each other as possible for each day to minimise travelling time.

Day 4

TODAY was our DISNEY DAY! We purposely chose this day because it had the lowest crowd level according to's crowd calendar. We wanted to get the most out of the ¥7400 ticket that we bought hence we followed the guide posted by Disney Tourist Blog. It was extremely useful and we all had so much fun despite the consistent blow of cold wind. We went through all the exciting rides without queuing for more than half an hour! The best part was the single rider lane for the Indiana Jones ride. It was a literal walk-on. I could feel those jealous eyes on us while we strode onto the car happily for our turn despite hadn't queued for even one second.

At one point of the day I decided to bring my family in to enjoy a chat with a Japanese turtle. That was actually quite a waste of time (and torture) because we could not understand a word he was saying! We ended up staring blankly at the screen and watching other people laugh while painfully waiting for the whole thing to end quickly (I apologise if this offends you).

We also managed to get mum onto the Tower of Terror ride with us because none of us had the slightest idea of what was awaiting us in the tower until the moment our butts got separated temporarily from our seats. I finally understood what they meant by "you will experience sudden free fall" on the signs outside. It was on this ride that we witnessed another funny moment that we will remember for life and although I would very much like to share the story with you but I can't let you in on this. It has something to do with someone being too scared of the sudden drop and no, I should not go further! I'm stopping it here, yes, yes, yes. Okay.

Fourth tip: Choose a day with the lowest crowd level and plan your day using the guide above and you will get to play everything you want in one day!

While you're in DisneySea, don't forget to try out Chandu's Tail (and also the roasted chicken you can find near the Indiana Jones area)! They were both absolutely delicious and Mum buying a second roasted chicken just proved how delicious it was!

Day 5

Our last day in Tokyo was spent in Hakone. After buying the Hakone Free Pass, we boarded the Odakyu Line to get to Hakone. Many of the facilities such as the cable car terminated earlier than usual. We almost missed the last ship and had ended up ending our Hakone trip abruptly because we didn't check the timetable and because of bad planning.

However, we did make it to the volcano. Seeing the rising volcanic gas from the Hakone Ropeway was something that we thought was spectacular. We were reminded not to breathe in the volcanic gas and were provided with wet towels to cover our noses up. Japanese are really good at being considerate and this is also what I like about them the most.

After visiting Hakone for almost the whole day, we went to Shibuya for dinner and to witness the infamous busiest crossing in Japan, the Shibuya crossing. What we saw was something that I will never forget. I've not once seen so many people crossing the street all at once and I did not even dare try crossing it myself. We just watched from one side of the street and left to explore Shibuya further after that.

At Shibuya, this was also where I stumbled into one of Lush's stores. I was so happy when I spotted the word "Lush" from the outside and realised I was standing right in front of the store! From there I've purchased two small tubs of masks (Ayesha and Cosmetic Warrior) and honestly I regret buying them. If you're interested in knowing why, click here to check out my upcoming review on the Cosmetic Warrior mask. (Review for the Ayesha mask is on the way!)

Frankly, I hate cable cars. The height is frightening enough and the fact that it is a moving cart hanging on a rope just doesn't sit well with me. Nevertheless I still went on it with my family and to get a shot of me like this is, ... well, you should know that it was not easy.

Last tip: If you plan to use a Hakone Free Pass, be sure to check the timetable that is handed out when you buy the Hakone Free Pass beforehand especially if you're heading there during the winter. You won't want to miss your last ride home and get stranded on top of the mountain!


Generally Tokyo is a fast moving city and most people there are of younger generations compared to the other cities like Kyoto. Everyone walks at a fast pace there so try sticking to the sides while walking if you're unsure of where you going to avoid blocking the others and getting knocked around by people.

So this is it! The Tokyo part of my Japan journey. I will be posting the Kyoto part soon hopefully in the coming weeks so don't forget to tune in for more!

Have you been to Tokyo before? Did you like it? Share your experience with me or ask me questions in the comment below! You can also share it with your friends using the social media buttons below!

Thank you for reading, see you in the next post!

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