I love the sound of that! Tokyo2019. To me, it sounds great! Like a rock tour! I would have liked Tokyo 2018 of course but as I have written throughout the year, some financial focuses were necessary.  I am very house proud and so very committed to providing my children with a safe, secure and well-kept home.  I have to be responsible (not a position that comes easily to me) to ensure that we are meeting the basics of keeping house and home. A worthy sacrifice of my own desires to be sure. What sort of parent would I be to run off overseas when there was a hole in the roof? No need to answer that. But Tokyo 2019 does sound nice, doesn’t it? 

I only recently announced in October that I would be travelling to Tokyo once again in 2019! Returning for the third time, to what I consider the worlds most amazing city and fourth time visiting Japan. I have been very fortunate to have been able to have made these trips so far. Family encouragement and support have been paramount. I could not have done it without that! Each of the trips to Japan I took in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were for a week at a time. That was all I felt the need for. Could afford. And all I was prepared to be away from my precious babies for. Travelling solo can be done cheaply but it still adds up quickly.

As I grow older the desire to visit for longer and explore more pulls at me. Something to park for when I, and my children, are older. But nothing outweighs my desire to be with my children.  And they cope rather well when I am away. Keep in mind that my eldest two are 20 and 17. Both unique and independent humans. And my youngest, who is almost 8, will spend a week being spoiled by my parents and my sister in our family home. My youngest gets to hang out with his grandpa and grandma like I did with my grandparents when young. I convince myself of that as I step aboard the plane bound for Tokyo! 

Making plans for Japan are tough. Oh poor you Greg! But they are, as there are so many parts of Japan that I want to visit and explore. Not just the big cities, although I love them, but getting further away from those and unravelling more of this culture and heritage that captivates me. Cost is, as for most of us, a huge factor in where I can go and what I can do. The flights are always the starting point for me. Cheap flights to Tokyo come up from time to time. As was the case for TOKYO 2019! So setting Tokyo as a home base has an amazing scope for sites to see. Tokyo is a perfect place for me as by now I know my way around and can explore a little more in-depth independently. 

Hotel costs and the cost-per-day to be travelling a foreign country quickly mount up if you are not prepared or careful. Fortunately, Japan has such a broad range of accommodation options and its current tourism boom combined with the upcoming 2020 Olympics has seen accommodation availability increase substantially. But I still I have to be very budget considerate this time around. I don’t have a lot of spending money and I plan to eat cheap. After all my primary goal is to take photographs. Eat great food a close second. I always book hotels that include a breakfast. Especially given that in Japan, the breakfast cafe experience –  for the most part – doesn’t start until around 10am. First timers don’t be surprised walking through Shibuya at 9am and feeling like it is deserted compared to the tens of thousands that occupy it at night. So I am for my big main nice meal to be a late lunch. But I know how to eat cheaply there away from the tourist traps. Even convenience store meals are great, fresh and so cheap. Trust me. And a late night bowl of Ramen can be found almost anywhere in a big city for around $10AUS – and that is usually my cheap dinner. 

Tokyo 2019! I will be spending a week in Tokyo during the last week of May. The weather is fine and at times warm but mostly settled. Pretty comfortable for shorts and T-shirts. My first two nights will be spent in the heart of Shibuya – just as I did in 2015. Shibuya is the most amazing and craziest part of hyper modern Japan. As I wrote in one of my earliest blogs from 2015:

Stepping off that express train and into what is undeniably the worlds biggest city was so awe-inspiring that I literally ceased to function for a few seconds. I stood on that platform as a torrent of stimulus pounded me from every direction. I think I was also having a surreal case of de ja
 vu, as I was finally living a dream. It was incredible.

There is no explaining the Shibuya effect on anyone. Especially after a 15-hour flight and getting off a train and exiting a station to watch on thousands of people exit the station and swarm across the pedestrian crossing. Hence its nickname – Scramble Crossing. Insane. Rhythmic. Captivating. And a photographers dream when it comes to street photography. Shibuya is a rich source of Japanese youth culture, street scene, architecture and just the day to day life of the busiest locations anywhere in the modern world. So I spend the weekend there. 3 nights.  The busiest time of the week for the area. My hotel is minutes walk from the Scramble Crossing, Shibuya Station, Hachiku Statue, Centre Gai and so much more. I will likely also explore areas close to Shibuya by day and night. Shinjuku, Ebisu, Roppongi, Harajuku and Yoyogi Park just to name a few. 

On the Monday morning I am catching a train from Asakusa Station to the mountainside town of Nikko. I looked up a bunhc of different one day trips from Tokyo and there are an amazing amount of incredible destinations ranging from costal towns to quite mountain villages. I chose Nikko as it is only 2 hours north from Tokyo by rail. It is halway between Tokyo and Fukushima. Set in the hills and mountains to the north of this town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with shrines, bridges, natural and architectural delights beyond compare. I am staying adjacent to the station in a hotel and the sites are all a long walk or a regular tourist bus away. I am only there for the one nite but I hope to get a brief tast of a more rural and village like part of Japan. I want to use those two days to make the most of the opportunity and absorb as much of that compeltely different experience to that of a location like Shibuya.

Upon my return on Tuesday evening, I will be staying in a hotel in Asakusa. I chose this location due to its proximity to the shrine complex that dominates the area. Senso-Ji or Senso Temple was originally founded over 1,000 years before Tokyo was created. It has survived a war and natural disaster. Asakusa also sits along the Sumida River.  I have been there during the day on more than one occasion, but to be able to photographic the temple comlex and surrounding areas by night will be a first for me. Across the Sumida River, I am planning on visiting the Tokyo Sky Tree and the nearby areas including the Asahi Beer museum and restaurant. My idea of a church! Asakusa has a great many traditional eating places too so planning on checking those out. 

I will be staying in Asakusa until my flight departs from Narita Airport on Thursday 30 May. My flight is not until late in the evening so I was actually hoping to make a stop at the town of Narita – a worthy destination on its own – prior to heading on to the airport and make my way home. In the three or so days I will be lodging in Asakusa I will hope to also explore parts of Tokyo that I either have not seen before or at best on skimmed the surface. Ueno, Shinbashi, Yansen, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Akihabara, Ebisu and of course Shinjuku. I will be able to travel to all of my intended destinations via a Suica rail card plus purchasing a special ticket for the Nikko trip. So no expensive JR Rail Pass is required. As I mentioned, this is still in the early days but some things had to be locked in. I am looking into places of interest and great inexpensive eating experiences. So I am watching lots of YouTube video.  But of course, if you have a suggestion then please let me know in the comments below. Happy travels.