Escape to Japan

Japan is famous for its incredibly fast network of bullet trains that crisscross the entire country. But even within Tokyo, a rail journey can be an exciting and electrifying one. Hop onboard the train as we bring you for a quick tour of the best in Toky

Issue: Jul 2009


First Stop: Tokyo Station

First stop: Tokyo station

Energy footwork

Operating Hours:24 hours
Cost: Varies
Station: Tokyo

Set off at Tokyo Station - the busiest station in Japan that sees some 3,000 trains and 400,000 commuters passing through on an average day. You can't miss the clicking of rapid footsteps against the floor tiles as commuters make their way across the station platform, hurriedly passing through the ticket turnstiles.

These floor tiles aren't like any other. When treaded upon, electricity is generated, feeding the energy-hungry parts of the station. Go ahead and try it out, then head for the Yamanote Line towards Shibuya.

Second Stop: Shibuya Station

Second stop: Shibuya station

Man's Best Friend

Hachiko Statue
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan P. Ellgen
Operating Hours: 24 hours
Cost: Free
Station: Shibuya

At Shibuya Station, head for the Hachiko Exit and meet the world's most faithful dog - his statue that is. About 80 years ago, an Akita dog sat at the exact same spot in the evenings, waiting dutifully for his master to return home from work.

This routine continued for 10 years even after Hachiko's owner had died of a stroke at work. A bronze statue was erected in honour of him and so he now sits at the station - still waiting. The Hachiko Statue is also a popular meeting spot for commuters.


Playing with Electricity

Operating Hours: 10.30am - 6.30pm (Thurs - Tues)
Cost: Free
Station: Shibuya

From Hachiko Statue, make your way down the street to TEPCO Electric Energy Museum and enter a world of electric science. There are seven levels of fun and games to explore. Be amazed by interactive high-tech toys, like the fragrance-enabled PC. Have the time of your life and absorb tidbits of electricity trivia on the way.

Can't read Japanese? English handouts are up for grabs on every level. And the best part? Admission is free.

Third Stop: Akihabara Station

Third stop: Akihabara station

Best Ramen in Tokyo

Akihabara Station
Operating Hours:
10.45am - 2.00am (Weekdays);
10.00am - 3.30am (Weekends & national holidays)
Cost: Starting from US$10 (967 ¥)
Station: Akihabara

Feeling peckish? Hop back onto the train and move on to Akihabara. Just a few streets from the station, you will find the best ramen in Tokyo - the Kyushu Jangara Ramen. The 'tonkotsu' (pig bone) ramen especially, is a must-try.

You may have to jostle with the crowd and wait your turn. But you will understand what the fuss is all about when you take your first slurp of the piping hot, sinfully delicious ramen. There are eight types of ramen to choose from. Pick up the English menu and order away.

Gamer's Mecca

Electric Town
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan P. Ellgen
Operating Hours: About 10.00am onwards
Cost: Varies
Station: Akihabara

A hop, skip and jump away from Kyushu Jangara Ramen is Tokyo's famous Electric Town. It's been dubbed "the geek shoppers' mecca" with the highest concentration of electronic shops in the world. Get your hands on the latest piece of technology not found anywhere else. Brace yourself: you will probably wind up lugging bags of IT goodness home.

Anime fanatics also hunt down their favourite anime paraphernalia here. Oh, and many Japanese movies and television shows have been filmed here, including the 2005 movie 'Train Man' - a love story about a geek engineer.

Accomodation: Roppongi or Shinjuku

Accomodation: Roppongi

Contemporary Living

Operating Hours:
Check in from 3:00pm, check out by 12.00pm
Cost: From approx. US$156 (15,000 ¥) per night
Station: Roppongi

Trek back to Akihabara Station and head to Roppongi via the Hibaya Line for accommodation. The Somerset Roppongi Serviced Residence is just five minutes away. The apartments provide comfortable modern-living with elaborate amenities such as a fully-equipped kitchen, home entertainment system and free broadband internet access. With friendly and helpful staff, expect a relaxing stay here.

You can also look to nearby landmarks for entertainment, such as Izumi Garden, Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills Shopping Mall. Don't want to whip up your own meals? A variety of international restaurants is just a stone's throw away.

Accomodation: Shinjuku

Urban Sanctuary

Citadines Shinjuku
Operating Hours:
Check in from 2.00pm, check out by 12.00pm
From approx. US$142 (13,600 ¥) per night
Station: Shinjuku

Another lodging alternative is the Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku. Situated along the Yamanote Line, the apartments are within walking distance of the Shinjuku Station. This spanking new contemporary serviced residence catches the eye with its brightly coloured façade. It is the ideal urban sanctuary to crash out at after taking in the frenetic energy of Shinjuku.

Need to do some last minute shopping for souvenirs? The main Shinjuku shopping strip is just a 15-minute walk away. Also, lining nearby streets is a good array of restaurants. Remember to have sufficient cash on hand as some do not accept credit cards.

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