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Tokyo Itinerary 7 Days

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by : asiatravelbug MARCH 01 2016

Tokyo Itinerary 7 Days

This Tokyo itinerary should be perfect for travelers who will be in Tokyo for 7 days. For 3 days, 4 days, 5 days or 6 days trip, just cherry-pick on what you want to do from this 7 day Tokyo itinerary. I was fortunate enough to visit Tokyo twice on two separate trips. The first one was April and I was totally blown away by the beauty of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms! I flew back to Tokyo in May for 5 days to attend a commitment but was able to manage a day for sightseeing. If your schedule is flexible, I strongly suggest you to visit Japan during cherry blossoms typically between the last week of March up to the first week of April. The cherry blossoms period really takes the beauty of Tokyo to the next level and is highly worthy of the premium “peak season” price tag.

tokyo itinerary 7 days | shinjuku gyoen park cherry blossoms

Beautiful Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen Park During First Week of April

 

For first time visitors to Japan, I have to warn you that Japan is very addictive! You will always find something interesting to do when you return regardless of the season. This Tokyo itinerary is actually a combination of my two trips. There are countless of things to in Tokyo and it is best to spend a full week to fully appreciate the beauty of the city. I shall be posting a more detailed itinerary per activity in this Tokyo travel blog in the next few days to come.

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 1: Airport Arrival, Airport Transfer and Hotel Check-In

  1. Transferred from Haneda Airport to Shinjuku using Airport Limousine Bus.
  2. Checked in at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku. This hotel sits on an unbeatable location in Shinjuku with spacious standard rooms for Japanese standards. Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku is highly recommended by Asiatravelbug. I will definitely stay here again when I return to Tokyo if rooms are available. This hotel is highly popular and it’s common for all of their rooms to get sold out, so book early! Standard twin rooms start at USD 200/night while economy rooms start at USD 150/night. Check out live rates of Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku in Agoda and Booking.com.

    Spacious Standard Twin Room of Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku | tokyo itinerary hotel

    Spacious Standard Twin Room at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku

  3. Went to Chidorigafuchi and Yasukini Shrine for “hanami” cherry blossom viewing. Had a simple yet unforgettable yakitori dinner under an illuminated cherry blossom tree. For visitors arriving during the non-cherry blossom season, I suggest for you to use this time to purchase a Suica or Pasmo rechargeable transport card and get yourself familiarized with the area within your hotel’s vicinity. You can also use this time to explore the bustling nightlife in Shinjuku or Ginza as an alternative to Chidorigafuchi and Yasukuni Shrine.
Street Food Dinner at Yasukini Shrine | Tokyo Itinerary Day 1

Street Food Dinner at Yasukini Shrine During Cherry Blossoms

 

Asiatravelbug Tokyo travel tip: Afraid to get lost in your do-it-yourself Japan tour? A pocket wifi can be you travel best friend. Book a pocket wifi in Japan to access Google Maps and Hyperdia while on the go! Check out 5 reasons why you need pocket wifi in Japan here.

Pupuru Pocket Wifi

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 2: Tokyo Park and Temple Hopping – Shinjuku, Asakusa, Ueno

  1. Purchased Hakone Free Pass from Odakyu Sightseeing Center at Shinjuku Station West Exit.
  2. Had a sushi picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen Park under cherry blossom trees.

    shinjuku gyoen hanami | shinjuku | best area to stay in tokyo

    Hanami Picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

  3. Strolled around Sumida Park overlooking Sumida River and Tokyo Skytree.
  4. Walked around charming Tokyo’s old neighborhood Asakusa. Saw locals praying in Sensoji Temple. Shopped for souvenirs and bought Japanese snacks while strolling along Nakamise shopping street. Didn’t try the human powered rickshaws but was able to get some good photo snaps.
  5. Went to Ueno Park for cherry blossom viewing and dinner. Even without cherry blossoms, Ueno Park is still worth to see. This park is the biggest and most popular public park in Tokyo.
things to do in tokyo | asakusa | tokyo itinerary

Human Powered Rick Shaw in Asakusa

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 3: Mount Fuji and Hakone Day Trip from Tokyo

  1.  Took a bus from Shinjuku Station to Gotemba Bus Interchange. Saw Mount Fuji several times on the bus while on the way to Gotemba.
  2. Went to Gotemba Peace Park aka Heiwa Park and had magnificent views of Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms.

    Mount Fuji View from Heiwa Park in Gotemba During Spring

    Mount Fuji View from Heiwa Park in Gotemba During Spring

  3. Stopped by Gotemba Premium Outlets to see Mount Fuji again.
    Mount Fuji View Behind the Gap Store in Gotemba Premium Outlets

    Mount Fuji View Behind the Gap Store in Gotemba Premium Outlets

    Another Mount Fuji View from Gotemba Premium Outlets

    Another Mount Fuji View from Gotemba Premium Outlets

  4. Picked out a random restaurant for lunch near Gora Station which ended up to be a very great choice! Had some mouth-watering tempura.
  5. Used Hakone Free Pass for the Hakone Cable Car (tram ride), Hakone Ropeway (cable car) and Lake Ashi pirate ship cruise. Enjoyed eating the creamiest strawberries in Owakudani while overlooking Mount Fuji.
  6. Returned to Shinjuku from Odawara Station via regular train. This is a very long 2-hour ride but I enjoyed people watching inside the train during rush hour. My pocket wifi connection helped me kill time.
Mount Fuji View Just Outside Heiwa Park in Gotemba | Tokyo Itinerary

Mount Fuji View Just Outside Heiwa Park in Gotemba – Walking Down the Road is More Fun in Japan!

 

Asiatravelbug Tokyo hotel tip: Tokyo hotels are not as expensive as you think! Well-located 3.5 star hotels in Tokyo can be had for as low as USD 150/night. Forget about capsule hotels! Click BOOK NOW below to learn more.

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 4: Central Tokyo – Tsukiji, East Gardens of Imperial Palace, Ginza

  1. Explored Tsukiji Fish Market in the morning with free guide service from Travelers & Locals Japan. Saw what a real wasabi vegetable looks like for the first time!
  2. Walked to Ginza from Tsukiji and had a fantastic ramen lunch at Ippudo.
  3. Practiced the art of doing nothing in the East Gardens of Imperial Palace.
  4. Strolled along Marunochi, the prime CBD area in the middle to Tokyo. Marunochi looks like a mini version of New York’s 5th avenue.
  5. Went back to Ginza and watched the buildings come glistening at night. Bought green tea kit kats, grean teas and other cheap souvenirs from Don Quijote store located at the edge of Ginza.
Ginza at Night | Tokyo Itinerary Day 4

Ginza Intersection at Night

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 5: West Tokyo – Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku

  1. Headed to the viewing deck of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku for free. It was a hazy day so Mount Fuji did not show up.
  2. Went to Shibuya to take a picture of Hachiko dog statue and to see the famous Shibuya crossing scramble.
  3. Walked towards Harajuku from Shibuya via the “Cat” street. Didn’t see any cats but saw a hamster instead!
  4. Breathed-in a lot of fresh air in the massive Meiji Shrine, a forest in the heart of Tokyo. Watched local street performers do some balloon tricks in Yoyogi Park.
  5. Shopped for some Japanese snacks to take home from Shinjuku’s Takashimaya store.
things to do in tokyo | tokyo itinerary | yoyogi park

A Bubbly Street Performer Sharing Happiness in Yoyogi Park

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 6: Bizarre and Futuristic Tokyo – Akibahara, Odaiba

  1. Met up with Akihabara tour guide and explored the bizarre and geeky side of Tokyo. Surprised to see that robotic dogs are cheaper than real dogs. Went to a maze of 1990s game shops and reminisced childhood memories.
  2. Headed to see the Gundam Statue in Odaiba. Saw Mount Fuji by chance while walking along the Odaiba elevated platform. Passed by futuristic buildings which felt like a scene in Jetsons cartoons. Capped off the last full day in Tokyo watching the beautiful Rainbow Bridge come to light.
Akihabara Maid Cafe Promoters | tokyo itinerary

Akihabara Maid Cafe Promoters | Photo Credit: Ari Helminen

 

Tokyo Itinerary Day 7: See you again Tokyo!

  1. Checked out from hotel.
  2. Took the Airport Limousine Bus from Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku to Haneda Airport.
mount-fuji-plane | tokyo itinerary last day

Sayonara Mount Fuji!

 

If you have more time, you may want to add Nikko, Mount Takao or Kamakura in your Tokyo itinerary. These places are located a few hours from Tokyo and should be good day trips.   Read on the rest of this Tokyo travel blog to learn how much you should budget for your Tokyo trip, where to stay, how to get around and why you need a pocket wifi.

 

Tokyo Travel Budget 

Tokyo has always been branded by the media as one of the most expensive cities in the world. It is true that it is not as cheap as other cities in Asia like Bangkok or Manila. During my two trips to Tokyo, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the consumer prices in the city are not expensive as expected. I find the day-to-day expenses in Tokyo to be fairly reasonable with prices similar to Singapore except for public transportation. It is definitely possible to travel in Tokyo comfortably without breaking the bank.

Local Fast Food Prices in Tokyo Starting at USD 5 | Tokyo Itinerary Food Budget

Local Fast Food Prices in Tokyo Starting at USD 5

We spent around USD 135 per person per day in Tokyo staying in well-located 3.5 star to 4.5 star hotels and eating well.  The budget includes staying in a hotel at USD 200/night on twin occupancy, eating out in chain mid-range and local fast food restaurants, a 3-hour paid walking tour in Akihabara, a day trip to see Mount Fuji with Hakone Free Pass and, our pocket wifi rental for the whole stay. There are plenty of free things to do in Tokyo so you do not need to worry about a lot of entrance fees. Here’s the breakdown of our Tokyo budget from our 7 Days Tokyo Itinerary.

  • Hotel for 6 nights – USD 1,250 for two (inclusive of Saturday hotel surcharge)
  • Food – USD 360 for two
  • Transportation including Haneda airport bus transfers – USD 110 for two
  • Activities including Hakone Free Pass – USD 170 for two
  • Pocket wifi – USD 55 for two
  • Total Expense for 7 Days – USD 1,945 for two / USD 972 per person
  • Daily Expense for 7 Days – USD 278 for two / USD 138 per person

 

Is it possible to travel in Tokyo for USD 100 per day?

Yes, it is possible. If you stay in a well-located hotel at USD 150/night on double occupancy, you can easily replicate the above itinerary at ~USD 100 per person per day. Agoda actually unloads the less-publicised “economy rooms” of  Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku starting at USD 150/night. These rooms are more compact but cheaper. You can check live rates of the hotel’s economy rooms here. But if your budget is a bit flexible, I do suggest for you you to book the standard twin rooms of Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku from Booking.com for bigger space.

Travel Tip: If the economy rooms of Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku appear to be sold out in Agoda for your travel dates, you may want to try Hoteltravel.com. Hoteltravel.com has great availability on these less-publicised economy rooms.

 

Best Area to Stay in Tokyo

Given that taxis are pretty expensive in Tokyo, it is recommended for visitors to stay in hotels within close walking distance to major train stations in JR Yamanote line. The Yamanote line is a circular train route that covers major districts and sights in Tokyo with stops in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza (Yarakucho), Tokyo Station, Akihabara, and Ueno.

Tokyo in a Nutshell | Photo Credit: eerkmans | tokyo itinerary map

Tokyo in a Nutshell | Photo Credit: eerkmans

For me, the best areas to stay in Tokyo are around Shinjuku, Ginza and Tokyo Station. Tokyo Station is just north of Ginza where regional buses and trains depart. I have personally stayed in 3 different hotels in Tokyo which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to family and friends. Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku in Shinjuku, Park Hotel Tokyo in Shiodome at the edge of Ginza and Hotel Nikko Tokyo in Odaiba. Twin rooms of these hotels average at USD 200 per night. It is important to distinguish twin rooms and double rooms in Tokyo. Double rooms comprise a single double-sized bed, are smaller than twin rooms but can be up to 30% cheaper.

 

Related Reading:

Unsure where to stay in Tokyo? Are you traveling to Tokyo with a huge family or travel group? We have done all the research work for you! Learn the best area to stay in Tokyo for first time travelers and family vacationers in Japan. Check out Asiatravelbug’s comprehensive Tokyo neighbourhood and hotel guide and save yourself weeks of travel research.

Click here - Where to Stay in Tokyo First Time.

 

Shinjuku

For first time Tokyo travelers, I would highly recommend Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku since Shinjuku is very well connected and highly convenient for day trips. Nearby hotels in West Shinjuku include Keio Plaza Hotel Shinjuku and Century Southern Tower Tokyo with rates starting from USD 250 per night. Other cheaper options in Shinjuku are Citadines chain hotels with rates as low as USD 150 per night. If you do not mind staying in Kabukicho red light district, Citadines Central Shinjuku Hotel (formerly Best Western Astina Shinjuku) is cheap with a great location just under 10 minutes walk away from the main Shinjuku Station. A bit farther to the east of Shinjuku Station is Citadines Shinjuku Hotel but should be a great choice for travelers looking for a room that can fit 3 adults.

Outside Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku | tokyo itinerary hotel

Outside Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku

 

Ginza / Tokyo Station

For people wanting to be near Ginza and Tsukiji Market, Park Hotel Tokyo can be a great choice. If you want to right smack in Ginza, you may want to consider Mercure Hotel Tokyo Ginza, Hotel Monterey Ginza, Solaria Nishitetsu Ginza or Mitsui Garden Hotel Premier Ginza with rates ranging between USD 150 to USD 250 per night.

Twin Room at Park Hotel Tokyo, Shimbashi-Shiodome | tokyo itinerary hotel

Twin Room at Park Hotel Tokyo, Shimbashi-Shiodome (15 minutes walk from Ginza)

 

Odaiba

For families coming to Tokyo with main intention of visiting theme parks, hotels in Odaiba can fit to your liking with plenty of spacious family rooms available. Although Odaiba is a bit far from central Tokyo, the area is within close proximity to theme parks and science museums. Hotel Nikko Tokyo and Grand Pacific Le Daiba are strategically located in Odaiba with direct access to monorail and have free shuttles going to Tokyo Disneyland. Depending on the season, you can get spacious non-weekend rooms in these 4-5 star hotels for USD 200/night or less.

Spacious 40 Sqm Ocean View Twin Room at Hotel Nikko Tokyo, Odaiba | tokyo itinerary hotel

Spacious 40 Sqm Ocean View Twin Room at Hotel Nikko Tokyo, Odaiba

 

Food in Tokyo

I find the day-to-day meal prices in Tokyo to be fairly reasonable and eating out is not as expensive as you think! Our USD 30 per person per day food budget proved to be quite enough with us alternating between mid-range restaurants and local fast food. You can find good beef rice bowls for USD 4 in Matsuya (local fast food), katsudon lunch sets for USD 7 in Hamakatsu (mid-range) and a really good ramen bowl in Ippudo (mid-range) for USD 8. Add approximately 20%-30% for dinners from lunch prices except for fast food. These restaurants have great food, fantastic service and are frequented by local salarymen. Plus there are no tips and no service charge!

gyudon-bowl-matsuya | tokyo itinerary food

My USD 4 Gyudon Rice Bowl in Matsuya Fast Food

Hamakatsu Lunch Special - 2 Pcs. Tonkatsu, Unlimited Rice, Veggie and Soup for only USD 7.  | tokyo itinerary food

Hamakatsu Lunch Special – 2 Pcs. Tonkatsu, Unlimited Rice, Veggie and Soup for only USD 7.

For breakfast, you can get your daily breakfast fix from Family Mart for USD 5  or McDonalds for USD 6. For snacks, you can actually get a chicken burger from McDonalds for an unbelievable price of 100 yen (~USD 1)! Street foods like a plate of yakisoba, 3 pieces of yakitori, 6 pieces of takoyaki balls, or 5 pieces of chicken karaage will cost you around USD 5 per order. If you plan to go out on a picnic, you can buy fresh sashimi and sushi trays from Family Marts near the park. A tray of 8 pieces of fresh sashimi costs USD 6 while a reusable blue picnic mat costs USD 3.

things to do in tokyo | tokyo itinerary | shinjuku gyoen hanami

Hanami Picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

Street Food Vendor in Tokyo Selling Chicken Karaage | Tokyo Itinerary Budget

Street Food Vendor in Tokyo Selling Chicken Karaage

 

Transportation in Tokyo

While it is true that a 15-minute taxi ride in Tokyo can cost you close to USD 30, central Tokyo is actually well covered by trains and subways. You will be surprised to know that I did not take a single taxi ride in my two trips in Tokyo. As long as you don’t have any mobility issues and your hotel is located close to a train station, you will hardly find a need to take a taxi. Train fare starts at 170 yen (~USD 1.50) per ride per train line and the fare gradually increases depending how far your destination is. Check out Hyperdia for train fares and schedules. Flag down of taxi starts at 710 yen (~USD 7).

kimono in shinjuku station | tokyo itinerary transporation

Lady Commuter in Shinjuku Station Dressed in a Lovely Kimono. Only in Japan.

 

Do I need to get the JR Pass?

If you will be staying in Tokyo only, I do not suggest for you to purchase the JR Pass. I only spent a total of USD 55 in airport bus transfers, train and subway fares for a week in Tokyo. This is definitely cheaper than the 7-day JR Pass which will set you back close to USD 300. JR Pass may only be worthwhile if you plan to travel to multiple regions in Japan in one go. For convenience, I strongly suggest for you to purchase Suica or Pasmo reloadable transport card before you explore Tokyo. They are similar to the Octopus cards in Hong Kong which can be used in subways, trains, convenience stores or even taxis. Suica cards can be purchased in JR train ticket stations and Pasmo cards in subway stations. Deposit of 500 yen (~USD 5) per card is required. These two cards function similarly and can be used interchangeably between subways, trains and monorails. So you just need to take your pick on which card to purchase.

Pasmo and Suica Reloadable Transit Cards | Tokyo Itinerary Transporation

Pasmo and Suica Reloadable Transit Cards

 

Pocket Wifi in Japan

A few days prior to my Tokyo trip, I was preparing the travel apps on my phone when I realized that Google doesn’t allow offline maps in Japan. My trip involves a do-it-your-self day trip to see Mount Fuji and will need access to Google Maps to navigate my way in case I get lost.  I was left with no choice but to book a Japan pocket wifi rental online. Having been to Japan before, I can say that it is fairly easy to get lost in Japan as smaller streets do not have street signs and navigating major train stations can get very complicated. What is more surprising is that free wifi is not widely available even in Tokyo unless you intentionally go inside a major train station or drop by 7-11 to find a wifi hotspot.

Pocket Wifi Delivered by Wifi Rental Company to My Hotel | tokyo itinerary wifi

Pocket Wifi Delivered by Wifi Rental Company Directly to My Hotel

Renting a pocket wifi in Japan is definitely one of the best travel decisions I have made. I was able to access Google Maps, check train schedules and look up for nearby restaurants while I’m on the go. I got more efficient. Most importantly, my pocket wifi afforded me a great peace of mind knowing that I have a functioning Google Maps on my phone to save me in case I get lost! The rental price isn’t bad either at USD 55 for a week sharable up to 10 users in your traveling group. Renting a pocket wifi in Japan is highly recommended by Asiatravelbug. Make sure to book one online before you go!

 

Other Japan Travel Tips:

  • Afraid to get lost in Japan? A pocket wifi can be your travel best friend. Asiatravelbug strongly suggests first time visitors to rent a pocket wifi. Check out 5 reasons why you need a Pocket Wifi Japan Rental in your trip to Tokyo. Free public WiFi is RARE in Japan! 
  • Unsure where to stay in Tokyo first time? No problem! We’ve done all the grunt research work for you! Check out the 7 best tourist districts in Tokyo in our Where to Stay in Tokyo First Time blog and save yourself weeks of research.
  • Want to see Mount Fuji? Mount Fuji only shows up 80 days a year! Increase your chances of seeing Mount Fuji by checking out our How to See Mount Fuji blog. Other readers have reported to see Mount Fuji following Asiatravelbug’s guide. :)

 

Looking for a convenient place to stay in Tokyo? 

Asiatravelbug suggests that you book with Agoda for best prices.

 

Note: This post was originally published on July 23, 2014 and was updated last March 1, 2016.

If you think that I missed out on other interesting things to in Tokyo in this Tokyo itinerary, please feel free to add using the comments section of this Tokyo blog.

 

People Who Viewed This Article Also Read:

Japan Pocket Wifi Review: Pupuru Pocket Wifi
Where to Stay in Tokyo First Time
Tokyo Akihabara: 10 Surprising “Only in Japan” Moments Not to Miss in Tokyo
Mount Fuji: The Geeky Guide to See Mount Fuji at its Best
Tokyo: 10 Awesome Things to Do in Tokyo for First Timers
Osaka: My First Jetstar Asia Experience – From Manila to Osaka
Osaka, Kyoto & Nara: My First Japan Trip! Osaka, Kyoto and Nara Japan Travel Itinerary
Osaka & Kyoto: Kansai Airport Arrival, Transit from Kansai Airport to Kyoto with Haruka and Icoca Card
Kyoto: Hotel Monterey Kyoto Review
Kyoto: Exploring Nanzenji Temple and Eikando Temple in Kyoto for Free
Kyoto: Kiyomizudera Temple Kyoto
Kyoto: Exploring Higashiyama District in Kyoto
Kyoto: Tofokuji Temple and Fushimi Inari Shrine
Kyoto: Arashiyama – Sagano Scenic Train, Bamboo Groves and Tenjyuri Temple

 

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asiatravelbug
About the Author
Tiffy, a.k.a. asiatravelbug, remains to be a nervous flyer despite of her frequent travels to Asia and beyond. Travel and blogging has kept her sane from all the hustles and bustles of corporate life. After working for 5+ years as a finance manager in the world’s leading consumer goods company, Tiffy finally left her comfort zone and quit her day job in 2014 to pursue her own dream as a web entrepreneur. Her favorite cities are Kyoto and Tokyo and would choose to visit Japan over Paris in a heartbeat!

  1. Gary Reply

    where did you book online for your pocket wifi? Hindi ba available na dun na lang mismo sa airport bibili?

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Gary! I rented my pocket wifi from Pupuru which you can book online here. I had mine delivered straight to my hotel. I have used Pupuru twice in separate occasions and I’m satisfied with their service so far – long battery life, easy delivery & return and extensive coverage even in Mount Fuji area. You can have the pocket wifi delivered by Pupuru to the airport with a minimal surcharge.

      If you are looking to purchase a local sim card for mobile data connection, please be aware that prepaid sim cards in Japan are heavily regulated and it is not easy to get one as a tourist. Renting a pocket wifi is a more practical choice to stay connected in Japan while on the go.

      I will be blogging about my Pupuru pocket wifi experience soon. :)

  2. Jow Reply

    Hello Tiffy,
    May you share some details about day 3 itinerary? First of all, thank you for sharing!!
    1) What is the purpose of Hakone Free Pass that you got from Odakyu Sightseeing Center? How much is the price per person?
    2) At what time you took the Gotemba Bus Interchange to Mt fuji and how long it takes?
    3) How to get to Heiwa Park? At what station we need to get down from the interchange bus once arrive Heiwa Park?
    4) How to get to the Gotemba Premium Outlets? Is it walking distance from Heiwa Park?
    5) May you tell more about the way to get to the cable car ride, private ship cruise and Owakudani? Are all these place next to each others?
    6) May you tell me the train route to get back to Shinjuku from Odawara? Or is there any 1-way-straight bullet train available to Shinjuku without interchange needed?

  3. Samuel Jeffery Reply

    That is seriously an awesome itinerary! I’ve only been to Tokyo on a 48 hour stopover and I was left wanting more. When I head back next year I’ll be sure to remember this post that I plan on bookmarking right now.

  4. Ken Reply

    What a comprehensive guide! Love those extra tips, thanks for sharing :)

  5. Ying Reply

    Hi Tiffy

    Thank you for sharing such an comprehensive detail of your travels in Japan!

    I just wanted to ask a quick question of your experience with Tralocal? What was the process in finding a Japanese native to assist you with your travels and was there any surchages or fees involved? Did you find the experience satisfactory?

    Warm regards

    Ying

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Ying! I’m happy that you found this post helpful.

      I’ve got the chance to try a paid guide service from a separate company and a free guide service from Tralocal in Japan. Both experiences are actually good. I got practical travel and shopping tips from Japanese locals which you don’t typically see in guidebooks. I actually saved a lot of money from their shopping tips. :)

      The Japanese volunteers of Tralocal are typical Japanese locals and not professional guides. It’s actually a give and take service. The locals help you with practical Japan travel information and help you navigate in exchange for the opportunity to practice their English with you.

      If you are expecting the local to know deep history of places, it is possible for you not to get that information. But if you’re happy with practical travel advice, soaking in local culture and meeting new people, Tralocal should be a great experience.

      I didn’t pay for any guide fee to Tralocal, it’s a free service and no tips. There is a no tipping culture in Japan, unlike similar service in US or Europe where you are expected to give tips to free city tour guides. However, you have to exercise basic courtesy even though this is not expected (ie. paying for the meal of the Japanese local during meal time, transportation of Japanese local if you will be venturing far).

      To avail Tralocal’s service, just register here ahead of your arrival date. It’s best to request 2 weeks to 1 month ahead. If a Japanese local is available for your travel dates, you will receive a confirmation email.

      I hope my answer helps and I wish you happy travel planning!
      -Tiffy

  6. TT Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Thanks for the useful info! We will be visiting Japan to approx. 6 days (0.5 free days on date of arrival and departure, 5 full days in between) Would you spending all this time in Tokyo or visiting Kyoto as part of our trip? If so, how much time is ideal for each place?

    Thanks!
    TT

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi TT, thank you for your message and I’m sorry for the delay in my reply.

      If it will be your first time in Japan and if you will be there for less than a week, I suggest that you spend your time in Tokyo only. 4 full days in Tokyo and 1 full day to see Hakone-Mount Fuji should be ok.

      Based on my experience, you need one full week to enjoy Kyoto, Osaka and Nara in Kansai region or probably 1.5 weeks if you will be staying during spring or autumn foliage season.

      I hope this helps!

      Thanks!
      Tiffy

  7. Oward Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    I and my wife will be having our holiday to Japan and this will be the first time. We decided to enjoy Tokyo for 8 days. I am planning to book a place through AirBnB, Shimoochiai, Shinjuku area. Is this a good place for going around Tokyo? Also, the travel will be from May 1st. Do you think we able to see the glimpse of cherry blossom at that time?

    Regards,
    Oward

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Oward! Thanks for your message and I apologize for the delay in my reply.

      I’ve never been to Shimoochiai but I did a quick google maps search. It’s a residential area 15 minutes away from Shinjuku Station requiring a train transfer. If you get substantial savings of 30% or more than the average hotel room in Shinjuku by staying in AirBNB in Shimoochiai, then it could make sense to stay there financial wise. If the savings are just 10-20%, I would personally choose to stay within walking distance to Shinjuku station where all the action (food + transporation + shopping) is right by your door step.

      I have been to Tokyo last year during first week of April when the cherry blossoms are its peak and during middle of May. Unfortunately, all cherry blossoms, azaleas, tulips were gone in Tokyo during middle of May last year.

      In your case, you may want to try to check Shinjuku Gyoen Park for the tail end of late blooming variety of cherry blossoms. But chances are slim since the blooms tend to only last for 1-2 weeks from its peak date. My understanding is the the regular varieties in Shinjuku Gyoen have peaked by this time.

      Alternatively, you can check out these floral blooms during first week of May.
      1. Azaleas within Tokyo – Bunkyo Azalea Festival
      2. Pink Moss in Mount Fuji area – Fuji Shibasakura Festival

      I hope this helps!
      -Tiffy :)

  8. Rene Montalbo Reply

    Hi Tiffy,
    I’ll be travelling to Tokyo from aug3 to 11 with my wife and son 21, daughter 17, and we are practically making your blog our travel bible! Im a planning freak and would like every detailed planned. :) Have already booked a condo unit in Shinjuku that would fit 4 of us and been on google map downloading all the transportation directions. There is one question on my mind though, what is the cheapest mode of transportation from Narita to Shinjuku East? we don’t mind the time travel difference. we will be arriving around noon.

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Rene! Sorry for the delay in my reply and thank you for your kind words. It’s great to hear from a fellow planning freak like me.

      The most comfortable way from Narita to Shinjuku is via the Airport Limousine Bus or the NEX train. The cost per way is about 3000+ yen. In my past 2 trips in Tokyo, I’ve always used Airport Limousine Bus (from Haneda) which I can personally vouch to be very convenient and highly reliable with on-the-dot timing.

      To answer your question on cheapest way to transfer between Narita Airport and Shinjuku, you can try Keisei Limited Express train or Access Narita Bus. It will cost you around 1000 yen per way during day time if you take any of these two cheap options. You need to make some station transfers before you get to Shinjuku.

      > The Access Narita bus arrives in Tokyo Station. From Tokyo Station, take the JR Chuo line to Shinjuku Station (~200 yen).
      > The Keisei Limited Express train stops in Nippori Station and Ueno Station in Tokyo. Get off from Nippori station and transfer to JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku Station (~200 yen).

      To get to your condo, exit from Shinjuku East Exit. Depending on how far your condo is from Shinjuku Station, you can walk or you can take a short cab.

      I have to warn you that Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station are two massive stations in Tokyo city center. Imagine Tokyo Station like the size of SM Megamall in Manila. You have to be prepared to do a lot of walking and allot time to find the right train platform. I suggest you to rent a pocket wifi to be able to check the live train schedules in google or hyperdia. You may want to check out my pocket wifi in Japan review blog.

      I hope this helps! I wish you a fun family adventure in Japan this August!

      Thanks.
      Tiffy :)

  9. Nelson Uy Reply

    Hi Tiffy.

    Thanks for your posts on your Tokyo itinerary. It makes my planning easier. My family and I will be going to Tokyo soon. I particularly notice that you mentioned “free guide service from Travelers & Locals Japan” in your central Tokyo tour. To quell my curiosity, may I ask if the service is really free? Can anyone avail of its service? Thanks.

    Nelson

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Nelson!

      Happy to hear that you found my Japan blog posts useful. :)

      Regarding Travelers and Locals Japan, yes, using their service is absolutely free without any tips. There is a no tip culture in Japan which we should respect. But of course, we have to exercise basic courtesy like treating you volunteer guide a meal if your meeting crosses over lunch or dinner.

      Anyone who can speak English fluently can avail their service.

      The people whom you will be meeting are not professional tour guides, but normal local people who are willing to tour around tourists for a chance to practice their English. If you are interested to learn local Japanese insider tips on where to eat, where to go, where to shop affordably, rather than historical commentaries, Travelers and Locals Japan will be a great experience for you.

      Since a pre-arrangement has to be made by Travelers and Locals Japan with the volunteer guide, you have to send your request at least 2 weeks to 1 month in advance.

      I hope I answered your question and I wish you and your family a safe trip to Tokyo!
      -Tiffy :)

  10. Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    I will be travelling with my husband, sons 8 and 11 to Tokyo in June. Was trying to book a hotel room big enough to accommodate 4 of us in Shinjuku. After searching online, realized that most of the hotels do not have family room. :( Chance upon your blog that you stayed in Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, both beds look big, was it a Twin room? you think 1 bed is big enough for 1 adult & 1 child?

    Regards,
    Sharon

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Sharon,

      The twin rooms in Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku are spacious and the beds are actually big for Japanese standards based on my experience. I think one bed can fit one adult and one small child but I’m not sure if the hotel will allow two children in the twin room. You may want to check this with hotel directly on their child policy. Here’s the information which the hotel provided when I stayed there last year.
      > Standard Twin room 23.1㎡ / 121x 203 cm width bed

      You may want to explore their triple rooms for bigger space. From what I know, their triple rooms come with 2 beds plus a sofa bed.

      I hope this helps!
      -Tiffy :)

  11. Barrie Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Im a 21 year old Male, Considering visiting Tokyo after reading you Blog on (where to stay in Tokyo for first time ) .

    I’m totally confused because i will be travelling myself and i thought about staying in SHINJUKI as you recommend it for first time visitors looks like a lovely place to stay.

    Then you went onto talk about SHIBUYA as it mostly a younger crowed of people.

    Can you please help me and tell me where you think is the best place to stay?

    Somewhere easy access to trains, nice restaurants, attractions and mid range hotels ?

    Thanks

    Barrie

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Barrie,

      As a 21 year old traveler, I think you might like Shibuya better. :)

      Thanks.
      Tiffy :)

  12. Queenie Reply

    Hi Tiffy,
    Would like to check with you, how did you book the day trip to Mount Fuji? I checked some of the websites but the cost is high. Any recommdations on how to go about the booking?

    Thanks!
    Regards, queenie

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Queenie!

      We purchased Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku Station West Exit. The two day pass costs JPY 5,140 which is a great value for money comparing to Mount Fuji group bus tours.

      Since we decided to go to Gotemba first before heading to Hakone, we topped up the Hakone Free Pass by about JPY 1,000 so we can ride the highway bus straight to Gotemba bus interchange. There are buses from Gotemba bus interchange connecting to Gotemba Premium Outlets and Hakone.

      Gotemba Premium Outlets and Heiwa Park provide a great view of Mount Fuji on a bright cloudless day. :)

      I hope this helps. Have a safe trip!
      -Tiffy :)

  13. Lenny Reply

    Hi,Tiffy.
    i am wondering ;
    1. which transport card is cheaper and convenient (for a first-timer visitor like me), is it suica/pasmo or ichinichi joshaken?
    2. can you please tell me how can i get to odaiba from shinjuku st.?
    3. can you please suggest the correct itinerary for me to save time,
    for the mean time, i have already arranged my itinerary as followings;
    19th july Tokyo: arrived at hotel (sunroute plaza shinjuku) on 7pm, go to shibuya
    20th Tokyo: harajuku,meiji shrine, tokyo tower, imperial palace
    21st Tokyo: Tsukiji fish market, asakusa, akihabara
    22nd Tokyo: Disneyland
    23rd osaka
    24th osaka
    25th kyoto
    26th kyoto
    27th kyoto
    28th Tokyo: Gotemba
    29th Tokyo: Odaiba
    30th home
    is my itinerary correct? i still miss places like ginza, on what date should i go.

    thanks!
    regards,
    Lenny

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Lenny,

      Please find my answers below.
      1) Since you will have a round trip train ride between Tokyo and Kansai region, you might want to explore purchasing a 7 day JR pass. You can use Suica card to navigate Tokyo for the remaining days. Suica is a prepaid reloadable card which you can use interchangeably in Tokyo subways and JR trains. You can even use Suica in convenience stores.

      2) For train schedules and directions, I suggest Hyperdia. Also, Google search is pretty accurate in train directions, try typing in Odaiba to Shinjuku. :)

      3) Your itinerary actually looks doable. For 19th, you may want to explore Shinjuku area and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building instead of Shibuya. You will be going to Shibuya on the 20th anyways. Ginza is 5-10 minutes walk from Tsukiji Fish Market so you can squeeze it before you head to Asakusa. Alternatively, you can squeeze in Ginza right after Imperial Palace since these two areas are near to each other. For 28th, you can combine Gotemba and Hakone Free Pass. I suggest you to monitor the weather and cloud factor in Shizuoka to identify the best day to see Mount Fuji. The weather forecast starts to get much accurate 2 days before.

      I hope above information helps!
      Tiffy :)

  14. Jean Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    My husband and I are going to Japan next month to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We have covered almost everything from plane ticket, hotel accommodation to renting a Pupuru pocket wifi. However, we are having a hard time time figuring out Japan’s mode of transportation. We don’t know which card (JR pass, Suica or other cards) is more fitting for our 8 days stay in Japan (fly in Osaka and fly out Tokyo). We will be arriving in Kansai Airport and we will be staying in Osaka for three days and we will travel to Tokyo and stay there for five days. We will leave Japan via Narita Airport.

    Before we stumbled upon your blog, we have already contacted one of the agencies here in the Philippines that sell JR Pass, according to the staff that I have talked to it is not practical for us to avail JR Pass given our itinerary. I didn’t understand why but I’m still thankful that he was honest to us.

    I hope you can give us a tip and suggestion what we should avail and where and how much we can avail them. As well, please let me know if we should take the Shinkansen Bullet Train going to Tokyo from Osaka or is there an alternative cheaper way going to Tokyo.

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Cheers,
    Jean

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog!

      Your travel agency is correct that a 7 day JR pass will not be worth it in your case. To keep it simple, you will only get the return of your money if you take a round trip Shinkansen ride between Tokyo and Kyoto / Osaka and take a NEX airport transfer.

      Just take a one way shinkansen bullet train ride from Osaka to Tokyo. It will cost approximately ~14,000 yen one way. You can purchase the ticket from JR train ticket stations.

      I suggest these transportation cards to make your trip more convenient. Icoca and Suica cards can be refunded within the region of purchase with a minimal service fee. You pay what you use. These cards can be purchased in any JR ticket station.
      1. Icoca – this is a prepaid reloadable card which you can use in JR trains, metro subways and buses in Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto). This can also be used in JR trains in Tokyo. You can purchase Icoca in any JR station in Kansai region. There’s a JR ticket station right next to Kansai Airport.
      2. Suica – this functions similarly to Icoca card but in Tokyo and enables you to ride JR trains, metro subways, monorails, etc. in Tokyo conveniently. From my understanding, this card can also be used in Kansai region. However, the Suica card can only be purchased in JR stations when you are in Greater Tokyo area.
      3. NEX – this is the airport train from Tokyo to Narita.

      To put it in local context in the Philippines, JR trains are equivalent to PNR trains (our PNR trains are actually second hand JR trains from Japan). While the monorails and metro subways are similar to LRT and MRT lines.

      I hope this helps and I wish you and your husband a great Japan trip! I’m sure you will be back.
      -Tiffy :)

      • Joe Reply

        Hello Tiffy,

        Firstly, I want to say that your wealth of information on your blog is greatly appreciated especially for someone like me and my wife who is planning to visit Japan by ourselves for the first time. I have a question regarding the Suica card which is a prepard reloadable card and you use what you paid for. If you load your card with US$200 and at the end of your trip, there is a balance of US$50, can you get your refund back from the region of purchase or do you totally forfeit that amount?

        We’re planning to fly into Narita and will have 2 big luggages that we’re planning to leave behind at the airport and pack a hand luggage during our stay in Tokyo. I understand that the airport has luggage storage spaces for rental that are small, medium and large. Which of these sizes are suitable for luggage size of about 30in. and where is the luggage rental place located at Narita?

        Thanks in advance!

        • asiatravelbug
          asiatravelbug Reply

          Hi Joe,

          Happy to have helped! The Suica card can be refunded and you’ll be able to get your balance less 220 yen (US$2) return processing fee. You can find more details of the return process here. In case you’re not able to return it, the card is valid for 10 years and you’ll still be able to use your balance on your return trip. I still have my Suica card with me and I did not return it deliberately. I’m saving mine for future use. :)

          I’m so sorry I won’t be able to tell the dimension of the large coin lockers located at Narita Airport as I haven’t tried it myself. I tried to look for answers but it seems that there is very limited information online about the airport locker dimension. To be sure, you may wish to contact Narita Airport using this link.

          If you are able to find the answer, I will appreciate if you can share it here to help other readers who may be looking for similar information.

          I hope above information helps and I wish you a happy first trip to Japan! I’m sure you will be back.
          -Tiffy :)

  15. Lenny Reply

    Hi, tiffy.
    1. Is suica allowed in Toei subway and tokyo metro?
    2. for you, which one is more efficient to use and saving money, suica or ichini josha-ken?
    3. and can you please tell me where to purchase this cards?

    Thank you so much

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Lenny,

      1. Suica is a reloadable, universal mass transit transport card in Tokyo. Yes, it can be used for Tokyo Toei subway, Tokyo Metro and JR lines. You can even use it to purchase stuffs from convenience stores like Family Mart.
      2. In Tokyo, you have to transfer between various train lines operated by different train companies (i.e. JR, Tokyo Metro, Toei subway) to get from point A to point B. Purchasing an Ichini Josha-ken card will restrict you to either Tokyo Metro or Toei subway. I suggest you to purchase Suica card since it is more convenient and you just pay what you use.
      3. You can purchase Suica card from JR train stations.

      I hope this helps!
      Tiffy :)

  16. Moses V Reply

    This is literally the best info I found to help plan my trip. Everything is well written out and amps me up for my first visit to Japan. Thanks for writing!

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Thanks Moses for your kind words! Happy to have helped!

      Tiffy :)

  17. Winnie Reply

    Hi tiffy,

    Plan to stay in ryokan. Do you advice to stay at mt Fuji area for 2 nites?

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Winnie!

      In my past trip to Tokyo, I did a day trip to Hakone and Gotemba. Although I enjoyed it very much and saw Mount Fuji, I felt that my day trip was a bit rushed.

      If I would redo my trip again and if I have time, I would definitely stay in a Ryokan in Hakone for 1-2 nights especially if the weather is good before heading back to Tokyo. The Hakone Free Pass is good for 2-3 days anyway depending on the plan you choose.

      I would love to hear your Ryokan stories after your trip! Let me know how it went. :)

      I hope my suggestion helps. Have a happy trip!
      -Tiffy :)

  18. Nora Reply

    Hello there!
    Firstly, would like to say i really like how you plan your itinerary in japan. I would like to ask what are the places that i can plan an itinerary of 7 days for family of 4, where they can learn more about the culture lifestyle differences in japan and at the same time shopping,entertainment etc.

    Regards
    Nora

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Nora!

      If you plan to see more of cultural differences in Tokyo, I suggest that these be included in your itinerary.
      1) Asakusa – Here, you can see Japanese human-powered rickshaws and Sensoji temple. Asakusa is like a little slice of Kyoto in the heart to Tokyo. There is a pedestrian shopping street going towards Sensoji temple where you can buy souvenirs.
      2) Akihabara – This is the bizarre side of Tokyo where there’s concentration of maid cafes. There are also a lot of anime/otaku and electronic shops around. Drop by Don Quijote, the big bargain store, for cheap shopping. I recommend Akihabara for adults.
      3) Shibuya / Harajuku – Check out Meiji Jingu shrine and do some shopping afterwards in Shibuya or Harajuku areas. Majority of the stores in Shibuya area can be found in any other city though.

      The best way to discover the culture of Japan is depth is by touring with a local. I suggest Travelers and Locals Japan. They might be able to match with you with a local who may be willing to tour you around in exchange for a chance to practice their English.

      I hope this helps!
      -Tiffy :)

  19. YOlanda Reply

    hi tiffy,
    thank you so much for putting up a very comprehensive travel blog- clearly written and very helpful guide.
    would like to know the difference between subway and train in tokyo? where can we use the suica card and where do we reload?

    Thank you and regards,

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Yolanda,

      In Philippine context, the JR train is equivalent to PNR train while the subways are similar to MRT line (although our rail lines here are elevated monorails rather than underground). You can use Suica card interchangeably between JR and subways in Tokyo. The Suica card is available to purchase in major JR stations (Shinjuku, Tokyo) or at the airport. You can find more details here.

      I hope this helps!
      -Tiffy :)

  20. sutopo Reply

    Hi, thank you for your blog, it is very helpful.

    However i want to ask about your day-3 trip. Is it possible to do all the activity in one day?

    What transport you used from Shinjuku to Gotemba and how long it takes?
    How about transport from Gotemba to Gora?

    I am a little bit confused :) Please help me…

    Thank you

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Sutopo,

      From Shinjuku to Gotemba Bus Interchange:
      I topped up my Hakone Free Pass with a one way bus ride from Shinjuku Station to Gotemba Bus Interchange. The additional cost is more or less 1000 yen if I remember it correctly. It will take 2.5 hours bus ride to reach Gotemba Bus Interchange from Shinjuku Station. You can get more info here.

      Heiwa Peace Park is about 15 to 20 minutes good walk from Gotemba Bus Interchange.

      From Gotemba Bus Interchange, you can catch the free shuttle going to Gotemba Premium Outlet.

      From Gotemba Premium Outlet to Gora Station:
      I rode the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri bus from Gotemba Premium Outlet to Gora Station. There is no need to pay additional for this bus ride if you have the Hakone Free Pass. I checked my Gotemba Premium Outlet pictures and the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri bus is located in bus bay #3 of the outlet and the buses depart almost every hour to Gora Station from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. You can take bus S or M. This map might be able to help you.

      I went there in 2014 and I’m not sure if the bus frequency has changed though. I suggest you to revalidate the bus frequency when you buy your Hakone Free Pass from Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station West Exit. The Odakyu staffs are very helpful. I remember I was able to request for printed bus timetables when I purchased the Hakone Free Pass.

      Also, I strongly suggest that you get a pocket wifi so that you’ll be able to access Google maps while on the go and avoid getting lost in your DIY trip. I got mine from Pupuru pocket wifi and I highly recommend them. Please feel free to check out my Pupuru pocket wifi review.

      Have a safe trip and I wish that you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji!
      - Tiffy :)

  21. Jade Lazaga Reply

    Hi there! First off I’d like to say thank you for all the invaluable tips here! It made my research so much easier! My husband and i will be going to Tokyo for the 1st time on Feb next year (for our anniversary) and being the OC planner that i am, i’m trying to read up as much as i can. You’re blog has been really helpful! I just want to ask if my IT below is doable. I based it mostly on yours and a few other places we might be interested in going (we both love to visit museums & i just have to go to Miraikan! Hehehe) Here it is:
    Day 1: Feb 4 Arrival (i will try my best to book at ur recommended hotel in Shinjuko–Hotel Sunroute), explore area
    Day2: Sengakuji (My husband insists on going to that 47Ronin site), Odaiba, Harajuko, Shibuya
    Day3: Tsukiji, Asakusa, Ginza (& akihabara optional if there’s still time)
    Day4: Ueno (a day at the museums)
    Day5: Disney Sea
    Day6: Feb 9 departure back to phils
    AS much as i want to visit mt Fuji up close, i feel that i don’t have anywhere to place it to in my IT. There’s just so much to see in Tokyo alone!
    I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks so much again and God bless!

    Cheers,
    Jade

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Jade!

      Thank you for your kind words! Your itinerary is generally good but your day 2 seems to be a bit of a stretch. I suggest you to club together nearby areas in your itinerary like below.

      Day1 (Th) : Feb 4 Arrival, check in at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku or similar hotel, explore Shinjuku
      Day2 (F) : Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara (These areas are near each other, you can drop by Akihabara late in the afternoon or early evening.)
      Day3 (Sat) : Tsukiji, Ginza, Odaiba (You can insert Sengakuji before you go to Odaiba. It’s a bit out of way but doable.)
      Day4 (Sun) : Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku (see Sunday Cosplayers) (side note: Meiji Shrine closes early in the afternoon at 4pm during winter)
      Day5 (Mon) : Disney Sea
      Day6 (T) : Feb 9 departure back to phils

      I super agree with you that there’s so much to do in Tokyo alone. Save Mt. Fuji for your next trip. At least you’ll have a very good reason to return to Tokyo!

      I hope this helps and I wish you happy travel planning!
      Tiffy :)

  22. Irving de Silva Reply

    Hi,

    I am from Kuala Lumpur planning a trip to tokyo with my wife and 7 year daughter. I am looking to spend 5 or 6 nights stay in tokyo. Looking to travel by airasia departing on Nov 26 and returning on Dec 1 or 2. The must see is places are Mount Fuji and Disneyland. Could you suggest how to plan our itinerary. Whether to stay all the night at 1 hotel at Shinjuku or 2 night at Disney Hotel/2 nights at Mount Fuji Hotel and 2 night at Shinjuku.

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Irving!

      In your case, I suggest that you make one hotel in Shinjuku as your base in Tokyo. From there, you can just make day trips to see Mount Fuji and go to Disneyland. Switching between 2-3 hotels for a 1 week stay in Tokyo can be stressful and can eat up your previous travel time. You need to allot at least half day for each switch in hotel.

      I suggest you to stay in Keio Plaza Hotel Shinjuku which is a Disney Good Neighbour Hotel. They have regular direct shuttles between the hotel and Tokyo Disney. The Disney shuttles are complimentary for their hotel guests but you have to book seats in advance.

      There are also numerous Mt Fuji group day tours originating from Keio Plaza Hotel Shinjuku. Alternatively, you can do it DIY using Hakone Free Pass which can be purchased from Shinjuku Station West Exit just a few minutes walk away from Keio Plaza Hotel.

      I hope this helps and I wish your family a great Tokyo trip!
      - Tiffy :)

  23. osm Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    I have 7 days in Japan with my partner. Would like to experience ryokan in Hakone, will be staying over for a day in Hakone while visiting mt fuji as well. Any ryokan with private bath in Hakone you would recommend?

    Was thinking of going straight after flight from narita airport. Or do you still suggest staying in Tokyo for a rest first before heading to Hakone. The deciding factor is actually me wanting to have a night stay in Hakone.

    Thanks for the comprehensive guide and recommendations.
    - osm

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi OSM,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      From what I know, getting to Hakone from Narita Airport will require a bit of train transfers. With this, I do suggest that you have a one night first in Tokyo (preferably in Shinjuku) for rest before heading to Hakone. Hakone Free Pass tickets are available for purchase in Shinjuku Station where buses and trains depart for Hakone.

      I find the vicinity of Gora Station in Hakone to be charming and plan to stay in a hotel/ryokan there the next time I fly to Tokyo. Personally, I’m leaning towards Gora Tensui or Setsugetsuka. Although these aren’t your traditional ryokans, they offer Japanese Style rooms with private bathrooms or open air baths. Finding a reasonably priced traditional ryokan with a private bath can be a bit of challenge in Hakone due to the historical communal bath culture in Japan. However, you can always check out Gora Tensui or Setsugetsuka online and see if they will suit your liking. With these modern ryokans, you get the best of both worlds – a place to experience Japanese culture plus you get the convenience of a usual modern accommodation.

      I hope this helps and I wish you and your partner a safe & happy trip to Japan!
      Tiffy :)

  24. Zandia Reply

    Hello Ms. Tiffy
    Your blog was so helpful, it was fun gathering tips from reading your blog. Me and my parent are about to have a 4day trip in Tokyo.

    Is Ueno, taito-ku area a nice place to be a base for our tour?

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hello Zandia!

      Thanks for your kind words. Ueno is within the Yamanote line loop so it should be easy to go to major Tokyo tourist sites even if its not that central. You might need additional commute time if you are going to western parts of the city like Shinjuku or Shibuya or if you’re going to Hakone where the buses/trains start from Shinjuku Station. But with the vast network of trains and railways in Japan, you should be fine staying in Ueno.

      Depending on the location of your hotel, you might be able to walk to Ueno Park which is massive yet lovely! There are also affordable eateries and shops in Ameyoko Shopping Street just beside Ueno Station.

      I hope this helps! I wish you and your family a happy trip to Tokyo!
      - Tiffy :)

  25. Michael Reply

    Thank you for creating such a well written blog on all of Japan! It’s coming in very handy for an upcoming trip :) keep up the good work.

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Thank you very much Michael! Glad to have helped.

      - Tiffy :)

  26. Denise Reply

    Hi!
    I’m planning a day trip that involves going go the Heiwa Peace Park and Gotemba Premium Outlets. Main intent (apart from shopping) is to see Mount Fuji.

    Some questions please–
    - If I were to just view Mt Fuji, would you suggest I got to both places, or going to the outlet would suffice?
    - If I were to go to both, how do I go there and what’s the logical chronological order (ie., from the bus interchange, walk to Heiwa Park > return to the bus interchange > ride the shuttle to Gotemba outlet?)
    - where can I see the schedules of the shuttle to Gotemba outlet from the bus interchange?

    Thanks in advance! Really LOVE your blog :)

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hello Dins!

      I’m very happy to hear from you!

      1. Heiwa Peace Park and Gotemba Premium Outlets provide different view points of Mount Fuji on a clear day. Heiwa Peace Park is elevated so it offers you a full view of Mount Fuji. Gotemba Premium Outlets offer a closer view to Mount Fuji. Both have a great views of Mount Fuji on a clear day and I suggest you to visit both. If you are to combine Gotemba and Hakone loop in one full day, I suggest that you better time yourself because it’s going to be a long day trip from Tokyo. I spent only 30 mins in Gotemba Premium Outlets with primary intention of seeing Mount Fuji from there.
      2. Yes, your itinerary looks fine -> from the Gotemba bus interchange, walk to Heiwa Park > return to the bus interchange > ride the shuttle to Gotemba outlet. Alternatively, you can take a very short taxi from Gotemba Bus Interchange to Heiwa Peace Park in case you don’t know the walking direction.
      3. I checked my photos and there’s a small sign in Gotemba Bus Interchange showing the regular shuttle schedule to Gotemba Premium Outlets. It’s in Japanese but you will be able to decipher the numbers. It says the shuttle departs Gotemba Bus Interchange to Gotemba Premium Outlets every 20 minutes, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

      I hope this helps! Have a safe trip.
      Tiffy :)

  27. david Reply

    My partner and I are traveling to Tokyo March 10-14 and are excited to see the city for the first time. We are looking for a hip hotel in a great location that is gay friendly (around $300/night). Do you have any suggestions for us?

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi David,

      I think staying in Shibuya best fits your case. You may want to check out these two hotels in Shibuya with good location.
      1) Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel – traditional luxury hotel in Shibuya within your budget range
      2) Shibuya Grandbell Hotel – mid range boutique hotel with hip feel, around USD 200/night

      I hope this helps!
      -Tiffy :)

  28. Natalie Reply

    Hi Asiantravelbug,

    I love your blog! My family with 3 kids will be traveling to Tokyo for the first time in March 2016. We plan to stay in Hakone for onsen for one day and head to Narita aiport from Hakone the next day. Our flight will be in the evening 6 pm. What do you suggest to
    1. Hotels
    2. Restaurants
    3. How do you we get back to Narita aiport from Hakone?

    I appreciate your suggestions..

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Natalie!

      Sorry for the delay in my reply but I hope my response will still be helpful as you do your trip planning in Hakone.

      1. Ryokan in Hakone – I’m also planning to have 1-2 nights stay in Hakone next year. Personally, I’m leaning towards staying in Ryokan Setsugetsuka and Ryokan Ichinoyu Honkan. I think Setsugetsuka best fits your case as it offers spacious Japanese style rooms yet with modern convenience, and its located right smack in Gora station which is the central part of Hakone.
      2. Restaurants – If you stay in a ryokan, the breakfast and dinner usually comes with the price you pay. For lunch, you can find lots of restaurants in Gora Station or Hakone Yumoto Station.
      3. Hakone to Narita Airport – There is no direct train from Hakone to Narita Airport. However, from Hakone Yumoto in Hakone, you can take the Romance Car to Shinjuku, then transfer to a NEX train heading towards Narita Aiport. You can check out more details from HakoneNavi.

      I hope this helps! I wish your family a fun trip to Japan!
      - Tiffy :)

  29. Chinky Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your Tokyo experience. You really are heaven sent!

    My friends and I are planning our first Tokyo trip which is scheduled on 20-27 February. We were considering joining a tour because we’re worried that we might have a hard time if we go free and easy. But after coming across your blog, it gave us confident that yes, we can do this!

    I would like to ask about this hotel that we booked thru booking.com – Hotel Monterey Hanzomon at Chiyoda,Tokyo. This is one of the more affordable hotels with triple sharing rooms and the reviews are good. May I ask if you have heard about this hotel?

    Again, super thank for your sharings! We are now so looking forward to this trip.

    Chnky

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Chinky!

      You’re very much welcome and I’m happy to have helped!

      I’ve heard of Hotel Monterey chain and have actually stayed in one of their hotels in Kyoto. They’re a good budget to mid-range hotel chain and their rooms are quite clean based on my personal experience staying in their Kyoto hotel. They provide great value for the price you pay if you’re on a budget.

      I’ve not been to Hanzomon area but based on what I see in Google Maps, the area is in the non-touristy side of Imperial Palace. The other opposite side of Imperial Palace to the east is where you can find Tokyo Station and Ginza where much of the “action” happens. Imperial Palace by itself is massive. However, the good news is that Hanzomon Station is just a few minutes walk from Hotel Monterey Hanzomon. From Hanzomon Station, you’ll be able to reach major sites in central Tokyo within 30 minute radius in 1 to 2 train transfers. If you are able to manage your expectations and are prepared to make a couple of train transfers, you should be fine staying at Hotel Monterey Hanzomon.

      The train stations and subway systems in Tokyo are highly sophisticated and can be a bit overwhelming to first time travelers. I do suggest that you book a pocket wifi in advance so you’ll have constant wifi access and have real-time train schedules while on the go. You can check out why you need a pocket wifi in my Pupuru pocket wifi review blog.

      I hope this helps Chinky. Wishing you and your friends a great Tokyo trip!
      Tiffy :)

  30. Lisa T. Reply

    Hi Tiffy,
    This is my 1st time reading blogs about travelling and i’m surprise that your blog is very helpful and interesting.
    I am visiting japan for the 1st time and i have no idea what to do or what to expect there. i have about 2 weeks from 9 April 16 to 23 April 16 (free & easy kind), i am planning to visit Toyko, Osaka and Kyoto.
    Hope you can guide me through it about hotels, places of interest and how to move with trains on a budget.
    Thank you very much.

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Lisa!

      Happy to hear that you’ll be in Japan for two weeks for your vacation! I suggest you to have 1 week in Tokyo and 1 week in Osaka-Kyoto.

      For places of interest in Osaka and Kyoto, please feel free to check out my Kyoto and Osaka travel blog.

      For hotels:
      1) Tokyo – Kindly check out Where to Stay in Tokyo blog. Regardless of the hotel you choose, I strongly recommend 1st time travelers to stay within walking distance to the JR Yamanote line loop.
      2) Osaka – I stayed at Swissotel Nankai Namba Osaka Hotel before and I recommend it for it’s central location. It’s just on top of Namba station and very near Dotonbori. For a more affordable alternative, try Namba Oriental Hotel.
      3) Kyoto – I stayed at Hotel Monterey Kyoto before but I would suggest readers to stay in a more livelier area like the area of Royal Park Hotel Kyoto.

      For regional transportation, it’s faster to take shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto. For a budget option, you can try taking Willer overnight bus which departs from Tokyo Station.

      Hope this helps!
      Tiffy :)

  31. Eil Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Me and my friends are going to Japan this April. We are planning to start in Osaka and end in Tokyo.
    Any suggestions that you can share, planning to stay about 2-3 nights in Osaka and Tokyo but still wondering where to go and what to visit between the 2 cities.
    We do want to go to Mount Fuji but not sure if better to stay in Hakone for 1 night or just do a day trip to Mt Fuji then go to Tokyo? Also I want to ask you about how safe is the Travels and Locals Japan , since I am interested in contacting them. Thanks
    Eil

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Eil,

      Since you’ll be starting in Osaka, I strongly suggest you to go to Kyoto which is just around 30 minutes away. April is a great time to be in Japan and if you’ll be there during the first week of April, you’ll be able to see beautiful cherry blossoms. You have to book your accommodation now if you have not done so, otherwise you might run out of rooms to stay.

      I’ve personally been to Hakone as a day trip from Tokyo. I enjoyed it but it felt a bit rushed since we combined our Hakone trip with Gotemba Premium Outlets. If I will do it again, I will stay in Hakone for at least one night and enjoy a stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).

      I’ve personally used Travelers and Locals Japan and they are safe based on my personal experience.

      I hope this helps and happy travel planning!
      - Tiffy :)

  32. Euns E. Reply

    Hi Ms Tiffy, Me, my husband, and our 18yr old and 16 yr old sons are planning to visit tokyo on march 27-april 3. Would it be cheaper if we book our daytours there than book it here in the Philippines? It is going to be our first time and we used to have packaged trips before and we would like to experiment if we can do this japan tour by just booking our plane fares and hotels except the tours. I find your blog so helpful and kinda gave me a confidence to go w/o travel agency booking. Thanks Ms Tiffy!

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Euns!

      It’s great to hear that your family will be back to Japan for another vacation!

      Most of the travel agencies in Manila specialize in group tours to Japan instead of day tours. After a quick google search of Tokyo day tours offered by Manila travel agencies, I can say that it will be more wiser and cheaper to book day tours online via Viator.com. I’ve personally used Viator for day trips in the US and Canada before and had great experiences. I’m actually planning to use Viator for a day trip out of Tokyo when I return to Japan for a short vacation this year. I hope this helps.

      Happy travel planning!
      Tiffy :)

  33. Hiro Reply

    I love your Travel Blog! I will share this to my friends who are planning to go to Tokyo.

  34. Dulce Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    So happy to have come across your site! It’s so helpful =) One of the best I’ve read!!!! Keep it up. =)

    We are planning to go to Tokyo this July 11-16. We are a group of 18 pax..10 adults and 8 kids ranging from 2 to 10 years old. Basically 5 families. It’s a bit tricky planning for a trip with a lot of kids. Would like to seek for your advise for a family friendly itinerary to make sure the trip would be enjoyable and not stressful! hehe Have yet to finalize our hotel accommodations! We would like to combine a few days in Tokyo and a few days in Hakone. Would love to experience the modern and rural part of Japan. Here’s the initial draft of the itinerary:

    Day 1 Travel from Cebu to Narita
    Day 2 – Ueno (zoo), Asakusa (Sensoji Shrine and souvenir shopping)
    Day 3 – Tokyo Toy Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bldg. Observatories, Meiji Shrine
    -Take romancecar from shinjuku to hakone yumoto station for 2 nights stay
    Day 4 Hakone loop, mt fuji
    Day 5 Hakone Open Air Museum
    Take romancecar from Hakone Yumoto station to Shinjuku
    Day 6 Travel from Narita to Cebu

    Questions:
    1. What do you think of the itinerary? Do you think the route is efficient enough and the destinations family friendly with some rest in between (maybe in the coaster)? Should we instead go to tokyo Tower and Jodo shu Temple?
    2. Are there lots of stops if we take the airport limousine bus from narita airport to hotel? deciding whether to rent private coach or take the airport limousine bus. We will be arriving in 2 batches.
    3. How do you usually book your hotel accommodations in Tokyo especially if I would need 5 rooms with special inquiries since we have many children? Need to make the bed is big enough to fit an adult and a child. Options are Hotel Blossoms, Hotel Sunroute and Keio (in order). We will skip Disneysea/Disneyland already.
    4. Do you have recommended family friendly restaurants in tokyo and hakone?
    5. Which ryokan do you recommend in hakone that’s family friendly with an option to reserve the onsen for private use?
    6. You think it’s feasible to travel from Hakone to narita airport? or it’s too much? Better to go back to shinjuku for a night before heading to narita airport the following day?

    Would love to hear from you soon!

    Thanks,
    Dulce

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Dulce,

      Thanks for your kind words and I’m excited for your family’s vacation in Tokyo! Please find my answers below.

      1. I think your itinerary looks good with just enough activities but not too fast paced. If you have spare time on your fifth day, you might want to go to Odaiba instead of Tokyo Tower or Zozoji Temple. The kids may want to see the Gundam Statue and other interesting museums in Odaiba. However, Odaiba is a bit far from Shinjuku so I recommend it only if you have spare time of at least half day.

      2. The airport limousine bus typically stops in nearby hotels in ONE specific district (i.e. Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, etc.). The stops are pretty quick to drop off and pick up passengers so it should not be a big concern if you decide to take the airport limousine bus.

      3. Different hotels have different child policies so it is best to email or call the hotels directly if you have special inquiries. Based on my experience, hotels in Japan are very prompt in responding to emails.

      4. Regarding restaurants, I recommend Hamakatsu in Shinjuku. It’s a tonkatsu place but I’m not sure if they serve kiddie meals though.

      5. Most of the ryokans in Hakone are geared towards couples. For families, I recommend Tenseien (mid range) or Setsugetsuka (upper mid range). These are Japanese Style hotels though and not traditional ryokan. Both hotels offer colorful Yukatas and onsens for private use.

      6. I think it is better to stay in Shinjuku on your last night to break the transit time and to buy last minute souvenirs.

      I hope my answers help you decide. I’m sure your group will have a lot of fun in Tokyo!
      - Tiffy :)

  35. Callie Reply

    Hi asiatravelbug,
    thank you so much for blogging your trip and answering every question that your reader asked. i read every single one and really appreciate your effort and dedication.
    My husband and I are going to Tokyo for 7 days. We will stay in Tokyo and explore Tokyo alone and wont go to other part of Japan. Do you recommend us to get the JR pass online prior to our travel or buy the Suica card from JR train stations in Japan?
    thank you so much!

    -Callie

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Callie,

      Since you’ll be in Tokyo only, there is no need to purchase the 7-Day JR Pass which can set you back for close of USD 250+ per person. Just reinvest this money for better located hotels. :) The JR Pass will only be worth the money for fast paced regional travel in Japan, utilizing regional JR trains.

      I spent only ~USD 55 for a week in Tokyo using JR and other subway lines before, excluding airport transfers and Hakone Free Pass. Therefore, I suggest you to just purchase the Suica card instead.

      Hope this helps! Have a safe trip.
      -Tiffy :)

  36. Leizl Abaya Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Kudos for the very informative blog here

  37. Giselle Reply

    Hi Tiffy! I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog! I have jumped from one article to another, eager to know more about Japan. We are planning to go there this year (my husband and I with our kids aged 17 and 12, staying in the Ueno district). Your site has been an invaluable asset in my research. Here is our tentative itinerary:
    Day 1 – arrival, Asakusa
    Day 2 – Ryogoku district to watch sumo wrestlers training, Ueno Park and nearby museums
    Day 3 – Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo, Meiji Jingu Gaien, Harajuku, Odaiba for Gundam
    Day 4 – Gotemba Shopping Outlets
    Day 5 – back to Manila
    Is this doable? Can I add some more to day 3? I’d really appreciate your thoughts.

    Another question for you: you took the bus to Gotemba but took the train going back. Is there any particular reason for this? Advantage / disadvantage of bus vs train for that route?

    Thank you so much!

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Giselle!

      Thanks for sharing your itinerary. It looks doable to me for your family with teens.

      For Odaiba though, it looks more fitting to be included in your Day 2 itinerary as you explore the eastern part of Tokyo. The places you’ll visit for Day 3 are located in the western part of the city so Odaiba will be out of the way. Apart from the Gundam Statue, Odaiba provides great view of rainbow bridge at night.

      For Day 4 you can include Hakone like what I did. However, it’s going to be a long day. I recommend the Hakone Free Pass for convenience.

      Gotemba and Hakone are two different areas but are adjacent to each other. The Hakone Free Pass allows you to go to Gotemba for a minimal add-on fee via bus, hence I took the bus on this leg. The bus requires advance seat reservation. On the return trip, I exited from Hakone (not Gotemba) and took the commuter train back to Shinjuku from Odawara Station which doesn’t need advance seat reservation.

      I hope this helps. I’m sure your family will have a blast!
      Tiffy :)

      • Giselle Reply

        Thank you so much for your input, Tiffy! More power to your blog!

  38. Dulce Reply

    Thanks so much Tiffy for your inputs! Definitely helpful =) Will check out the 2 hotels you recommended. I noticed that one is in Gora and one in Hakone Yumoto area..which area do you think is more convenient if we plan to do the hakone loop and visit Hakone Open Air Museum? =)

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Dulce! You’re very much welcome. Gora is located in a more central location and is much closer to Hakone Open Air Museum. Also, if outlet shopping is your thing, you can take a direct bus from Gora Station to Gotemba Premium Outlets. The view of Mount Fuji from Gotemba Premium Outlets is very nice on a cloudless day.

      I hope this helps. Have a fun trip!
      Tiffy :)

  39. Danny Reply

    Hi Tiffy, this is a very great article and it helps me a lot in deciding which area should I stay in Tokyo. But I still have some things bothering in my mind and it will be delightful if you could help me decide..
    first of all, here’s my situation, I will be traveling to Japan arriving in Narita, Tokyo and then I plan to go to Kyoto and Osaka and will depart home from Kansai, Osaka.
    1) Do you think I need to buy JR Pass for that?
    2) Can I buy Suica/Pasmo card at the Narita airport?
    3) Can I use Suica/Pasmo card in other cities as well?

    Thanks a lot!

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hello Danny!

      You’re very welcome and I’m happy to have helped. Please find my answers to your questions below.

      1) There is no need to buy a JR Pass since you’ll only be needing a one way bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto. You will only get the value of the 7-Day JR Pass if you’ll be using it for a round trip bullet train ride between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto plus airport train transfer between Tokyo and Narita Airport.
      2) Yes, the Suica card is available for purchase at the JR East Ticket Service Center at Narita Airport.
      3) Yes, you can use the Suica card in other cities (i.e. Osaka and Kyoto) aside from Tokyo. I just came back from Osaka and used my Suica card for subways, JR trains and buses and it worked without a hitch!

      I suggest you to purchase Suica card instead of Pasmo since it is more universal.

      Hope this helps. Have a safe trip!
      Tiffy :)

  40. Necel Reply

    Hi Tiffy,

    Will the Hakone Free Pass cover the travel to Shinjuku station or do we have to pay for another transpo fee from Odawara station going back to shinjuku?

    Thanks,

    Necel

    • asiatravelbug
      asiatravelbug Reply

      Hi Necel!

      Yes, the Hakone Free Pass covers commuter train transportation between Odawara and Shinjuku stations. Your point of departure of your Hakone Free Pass ticket should be from Shinjuku Station though. If you would like to have a more comfortable seat, you can upgrade for a small fee to take advantage of the Romance Car when you purchase your Hakone Free Pass.

      I hope this helps.
      Tiffy :)

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