Tokyo Trip On a Budget: DAY 3
(Shinjuku + Harajuku)

This is the last leg of our Tokyo trip on a budget. We saved this day for our attempt to be one with nature. From the concrete jungle that is Tokyo, we needed a sweet escape and appreciate the city in spring which is actually the best time to be there. We planned to spend the morning, have a picnic, take a lot of photos at Shinjuku Gyoen. It was the end of March and the cherry blossom trees were still not at full bloom, but thank god there were some early bloomers.Still with sore feet and legs, we went straight to a Family Mart and shopped for our picnic food: sushi rolls, chips, churros, sandwiches and coffee. From Shibuya station, Shinjuku is just 7 minutes away.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 5.13.38 AM

You can actually walk from Shinjuku station to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, if you’re not a group of little grandmas with early signs of arthritis like us. But if you are, take another train via Marunouchi Line and alight at the Shinjukugyoenmae station. From this station, you can save yourselves a good deal of energy that you would be needing for the day ahead. You may ask around or use Google maps to locate the park entrance since it’s not visible from this trip on a budget

SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN. Entrance fee is ¥ 200 ($ 1.60/ ₱ 73). It was a bit crowded since it was practically cherry blossom season, but not as much as in April so it was a very nice day to sit on the grass and have a picnic like everybody else was doing.picnic at shinjuku gyoen national gardentokyo family mart picnic

We sat next to the Real Housewives of Tokyo.the real housewives of tokyo

Obligatory photo ops with cherry blossoms.shinjuku gyoen national garden cherry blossomsshinjuku gyoen national garden flowers PNGTOKYOTHIRD8PNGTOKYOTHIRD6

The park was actually really huge that we weren’t able to see everything during the 2 hours that we were there. tokyo trip on a budget shinjuku gyoen national garden

I can only imagine how this would all look like in full bloom. I will definitely come back but I’ll make sure it will be on early April.IMG_1489cherry blossoms tokyo

We thought we could take time to get in touch with Japan’s history by shrine-hopping but we were just able to visit one. Next time, I’ll take note that some temples and shrines close early in the afternoon.

HANAZONO SHRINE. The only shrine we were able to see was the Hanazono Shrine. It’s a tranquil shrine in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku. There weren’t much tourists when we went there. hanazono shrinehanazono shrine shinjukuPNGTOKYOTHIRD18

If you’re a superstitious person or you just want to immerse yourself in their traditions, you may buy an ema (a small piece of wooden plaque) and write any wish you have and hang it up at the temple.ema hanazono shrine

Shinto worshippers clean their hands and mouth with water at the cleansing station.PNGTOKYOTHIRD16

HARAJUKU. Our next stop was Harajuku, with the hope of seeing teenage girls wearing all the clothes they own at once.jr yamanote line

I had read that many of their kind hang out at Takeshita street but we didn’t even dare to pass. There were tourists actually standing at the end of the street just looking at the crowd as if this was an attraction to them.takeshita street

Harajuku Street is actually a lot more calm.PNGTOKYOTHIRD20 harajuku street harajuku street shops harajuku tokyo

5 PM in the afternoon is not a very good time to look for Japanese restaurants. A lot of them are closed at that time and re-open at 6 so you have less choices. Things are quite expensive in Harajuku, including food so we were lucky we found this local restaurant hidden from the main streets. They only served gyozas and vegetables if I’m note mistaken.gyoza restaurant

KIDDYLAND. After loading up on gyozas, we went to Kiddyland: Japanese toy paradise. It’s a 5-storey toy store with all the Japanese (and non-Japanese) cartoon characters you can think of, even the creepy ones.kiddyland harajuku kiddyland harajuku kiddyland harajuku

DON QUIJOTE. Since it was our last night in Tokyo, we had to save the night for souvenir-shopping. The best place to do this is in Donki (Don Quijote). There are many branches all over Tokyo but since we stayed in Shibuya, we opted to shop near as we were sure we would be carrying a lot of stuff after shopping. It has everything your family or friends want you to bring home – Green tea-flavored Kitkats, instant ramen noodles, souvenir shirts and magnets.

Our Japan quickie was one helluva trip. If you need tips on how to go about planning yours, watch out for my next post.

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