First days in Tokyo and Japan with JR Pass

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First days in Tokyo and Japan with JR Pass

Japan, and of course Tokyo, was the destination that I wanted to visit the most along with Nepal and New Zealand. Unfortunately the last 2 will not be possible in this trip, but they are on the top list for the 2nd world trip in few years’ time.

But we are in Japan… so we will certainly enjoy these 2 full weeks in the country of the raising sun.

And upon arrival it was noticeable the difference in the culture. Not that in the other countries that we visited we did not like the culture, quite the contrary. But in just 5 minutes in Japan we had a flavour of the politeness of the people, the organization, the respect towards each other,…

Arriving in Tokyo after a 7-hour trip from Kuala Lumpur

Beautiful Malaysia is now behind, and Tokyo is the first destination in Japan. For the first time in this trip, and after passing by many airports, we had to take a long queue at the immigration. We waited for maybe over an hour. An after spending the night uncomfortably at the airport in KL, and sleeping short hours, we did not wish to be in that queue.

But again, here’s coming the organization. If it wasn’t for the staff that was working at full capacity in all counters, and other people leading the visitors to speed up the process, we’d have probably stayed over 2 hours in that queue…. If it was in Brazil, maybe 3 hours 🙂

Ruth and Noah didn’t have to apply for a visa to Japan, but I had to. Nevertheless the process was really smooth at the consulate of Japan, so at immigration at the airport there was no problem at all.

Next we had to collect our JR Pass tickets to move around the country using the Japan Rail line.

Family Travel Secret
If you are planning to come to Japan for more than 7 days, and intend to explore at least few cities in the country, the JR Pass is something to be seriously considered. It seems expensive at first, but when you consider the benefits, you might save a lot of money with train tickets.

We chose one of the most (if not the most) reputable companies to issue the exchange order for us, so we could collect the passes in Tokyo Narita Airport. The company is called JRPass Ltd and they have an outstanding customer service, as well as being very active in social media. Prior our arrival in Japan we could read a lot of interesting tips for our trip in their website, as well as in their Facebook page, with tips from them and from the fans who leave comments.


They issued the exchange order and sent to us to our hotel in KL, few days before. With this exchange order we simply had to go to the JR office at the airport and collect the actual cards to use in the rail system. We also had the option to already reserve some seats at the counter, but we just needed the ticket from the airport to Tokyo central station that moment. We decided then to reserve seats for some of the trips during those 2 weeks, in the next day with more time.


And then a stop also to collect our pocket Wi-Fi equipment, which would give us the ability to be online almost anywhere in the country. The pocket Wi-Fi, booked by JR Pass ltd. and kindly offered to us, is also another thing to be considered while in Japan. Many and many travellers rent the equipment when they arrive in Japan.

Family Travel Secret
The pocket Wi-Fi offered to us by JR Pass ltd would give us 3GB of fast data per day and slow unlimited data thereafter. In our case, travelling from one place to the other in Japan and with the need of being connected as much as possible for the blog and social media, that was perfect. But even those that just need to have a good connection for emails will feel satisfied with that.

We will cover more in details travelling in Japan with children using the JR Pass and the pocket wi-fi in a separate article.

Our first day visiting Tokyo

On our first day we knew that we’d easily feel attracted by this country. The only concern for me was the food, since I’m not a fan of raw meat and fish, and even for fried fish I tend to be selective.

And it was a challenge for me to be spiritually ready when our friend Roberto and his wife Eliza invited us for lunch… in a sushi place, full of options of fish and raw food 🙂 (my friend Kai, back in Vienna, would probably be laughing if I told him that I was in a place where I should eat salmon… and raw… 🙂 )


The place, called Sushi Zanmai, is a chain spread over the city and recommended by websites such as Trip Advisor. So, our experience was supposed to be good.



Family Travel Secret
The Sushi Zanmai became even more famous when the owner of the chain won the bid in the first tuna auction of the year in the region of Tsukiji. So far so good, until we were told how much was the winning bid… US$ 1,76MM!!!!! This is 3 times previous year’s bid, won by him by the way, but I’m sure that with all the media coverage he got his investment back in no time though…


Family Travel Secret
Tsukiji is the world’s largest fish market, in a huge area (like 43 football fields) and influences fish prices all over the world. The place is so famous that a lot of people gather there as early as 4AM to enjoy the competing buyers to bid at tuna auctions.


But our experience at Sushi Zanmai was actually great! And when you have good company, things are even better. We started our lunch at 1:30PM (as a good Hispano-Brazilian couple we were ½ hour late :S), and finished only after 4:30PM. Time went by in a heartbeat. That’s how good the food and conversation was.


Noah, that when tasting something for the first time can be very selective, also ate everything offered to him. But what he liked the most was the drink recommended by Eliza, which is similar to Yakult.


Ruth was in charge of tasting the salmon and raw meat, and I was more than happy to have fried prawns (which I love) and vegetable. I’m also a rice lover, so we were also in the right place for that.




Sorry Roberto and Eliza for not informing before about my food restrictions, but be sure that we loved the food and the place 🙂 🙂



As mentioned above we spent a good part of the afternoon in the restaurant, so when we left we decided to walk a bit in the region and in the places nearby our hotel. After spending some time checking on the stores in the main street, as recommended by Roberto and Eliza we stop by the department store Mitsukoshi Ginza, in the section for food.




This is a great place to have different dishes, take it away, and also for sweets and deserts. We even bought some Hello Kitty cookies prepared with chocolate and custard, that were delicious.






From there we took the train and went towards our hotel, but not before having a quick tour in the Senso-ji Temple.


This is a beautiful site, with the main part being the street full of small kiosks and leading to the temple.




Family Travel Secret
The Senso-ji Temple was built on 645 and it is Tokyo's oldest




The day couldn’t get better than that, but it did. We got to our hotel, The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon by Hulic, and were invited to enjoy their October fest on the 14th floor. Although I’m not a big fan of beer we decided to go upstairs and enjoy the breathtaking views, while I tried one of the Japanese beers.



These were just the first days in Tokyo and we are really looking forward to whatever Japan has to offer us in these two weeks.


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