Saturday, January 4, 2020

Tokyo, Mt Fuji Travel Day 1 & 2 Tokyo University, JAL Sky Museum Factory Tour, Tsukiji Fish Market, Yoyogi Park, Harajuku

Our children have visited Japan a few times, but this is their first time visiting Tokyo and the nearby areas. As usual, our family oversea trips focus on experiential learning as a family, therefore, we did not did much shopping (except at supermarkets) even though we were at Tokyo the shopping paradise.

We took Japan Airlines and arrived at Narita Airport at 4 p.m. The first thing we did was to purchase Tokyo Subway 72-hour Ticket and Welcome Suica Card at the airport (read tips #4 of our post on 10 Tips for Planning Tokyo Travel). From Narita Airport, we took Keisei Main Line Rapid Limited Express and then took subway to our hotel that is located near Tokyo Dome.

By the time we checked-in, it was already 7+ p.m, so we had our conveyor belt sushi dinner Kaisen Misakiko at LaQua Tokyo Dome City. The shopping mall was filled with Christmas atmosphere. As there is an amusement park, we could hear screams every now and then when the roller coaster passed by.

On the next day, we woke up early to visit Tokyo University. You may wonder why we would bring our children to the University. It was actually quite a last minute decision to go there. My initial plan was to go to Meiji Jingu Gaien 明治神宮外苑 to view the autumn foliage - gingko trees. However, I found out that the autumn foliage did not look fantastic due to trimming of the trees every 4 years!

We took subway to Todaimae 東大前 station, and first went to Yayoi Auditorium 弥生講堂. The reflection of the gingko trees on the building was interesting.

After that, we visited Yasuda Auditorium 安田講堂 which is the best place to take photos with the autumn foliage! Together with the old architecture, the scenery looked fantastic!

I would love to spend more time to take photos at Tokyo University, but the children were not used to the cold weather yet so we had to leave the place. We walked past the historical gate Akamon 赤門 as we were heading towards subway Hongo-sanchome 本郷三丁目 station. 

We took subway to Daimon 大門 station, where we took Tokyo Monorail from Hamamatsucho 浜松町 station to Shin-Seibijo 新整備場 station. We were going to JAL Sky Museum Factory Tour, in which we could get up-close-and-personal to the aircraft! 

JAL Sky Museum Factory Tour has 3 components - 30 minutes of lecture, 20 minutes of visiting the exhibition area and shop, and 40 minutes of tour at the hangar. Please note that the entire tour is conducted in Japanese, but information booklets in English are available. To find out how to register for this interesting activity, please read tips #7 of our post on 10 Tips for Planning Tokyo Travel. As it is a very popular activity, you must have the fastest fingers when the registration opens 6 months before!

As we arrived early, we had extra time to visit the exhibition area before the lecture started. Other than viewing the exhibits of Japan Airlines, there were also hands-on experience like sitting in the model cockpit, taking photos in pilot or cabin crew's attire, as well as interactive games.

Even though we could not really understand the lecture, we could gather some information about Haneda Airport and Japan Airlines through the video and slides.

Finally, the moment that I had been waiting for - the tour of the hangar! Honestly, JAL Sky Museum Factory Tour is one of the main reasons why I chose to bring my family to Tokyo. 

For safety reason, all of us had to wear helmet when we were inside the hangar. All the participants were divided into smaller groups led by the staff. What a pity that with my half-past-six Japanese, I could not fully understand the sharing by the guide. My children learnt "nana nana nana" which means "777" when the guide mentioned Boeing 777 aircraft. Anyway, I was thrilled just to watch the landing of the aircraft near the runway and to see the aircraft in such a close distance!

Please take note that it is required by JAL that the photos to be posted on social media have to be submitted to them for checking before posting. The photos taken during the tour on this blog post and our Facebook page have been approved by JAL.

It was already 1+ p.m. when the JAL Sky Museum Factory Tour ended, so we headed to Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場 for lunch. It is often a misconception that Tsukiji Fish Market has moved to Toyosu Fish Market. Well, it is actually the inner part of the market that has moved, the outer market is still vibrant with many tourists!

Many shops were closing when we reached Tsukiji Fish Market. But we still managed to find some food - crispy octopus cracker, sweet egg omelette on a stick, stewed squids, grilled scallop with sea urchin, rice balls and sweet potato. Except for the sweet egg omelette which costs 100 yen and rice ball at around 200 yen, the rest of the food are not cheap, they are around 500 - 600 yen each. 

After our stomach is filled, we took subway to Meiji Jingu Mae 'Harajuku' 明治神宮前〈原宿〉station, as I promised the children to get them the giant cotton candy floss. But before that, we went to Yoyogi Park 代々木公園 to see the autumn foliage. However it was turning dark at 4+ p.m., and the view was not as spectacular as I thought.

The oldest wooden JR Harajuku station will be demolished after Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2010, and will be replaced by a new building adjacent to it.

Takeshita Street 竹下通り at Harajuku 原宿 is super crowded! The street is lined with many eateries and shops that sell fashionable and cute items. 

As promised, we bought one giant cotton candy floss from Totti Candy Factory for the children. I think it would be once in a lifetime that I would spend 950 yen (~S$12) on candy floss! It was bigger than my head!

Other than the biggest cotton candy floss, we also had the longest fries from J Box. 

We walked past Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, the design of the entrance is interesting! I think it would look nicer during the day time.

We had Luke's Lobster followed by window-shopping at the big toy shop Kiddy Land.

The winter illumination along Omotesando presented by Google Pixel gave the area a magical feel.

Finally, we had tsukemen dinner at LaQua Tokyo Dome City and did some shopping for fruits at the supermarket. All of us were very tired after the long day!

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