Tokyo Drift! A Fast and Furious Journey (Part 1)

First timers in Tokyo!

In the past, I had always wished to visit Tokyo.  I mean, hello, I live in Japan!

Anyway, I planned the trip for me and my sister who was visiting.  The plan involved visiting 4 cities (Kyoto-Tokyo-Nara-Osaka) in 9 days using the least amount of cash possible.

Tokyo from Kyoto?  How can that be cheap?

Bullet train? EEEEENK.  At around 25,000 Yen for a roundtrip ticket, this was out of the window.

Local train? EEEEEENK.  Waaaay too confusing and waaay too long.

Bus? TING NING NING!  But not just any ordinary bus.  An OVERNIGHT BUS!

Welcome to Willer Express.  At around 4,500 Yen (one-way) for a no-frills overnight bus ride to Tokyo from Kyoto, this was in the money.  We intended to visit only metropolitan Tokyo this time around and set aside 2 FULL DAYS for it.  They also offer premium coaches with sleeping pods and other creature comforts for around 7,000 Yen (one-way) which is still cheaper than the Shinkansen.  We were so happy with the experience that I am now blogging about it. If you are penny-pinching, not pressed for time, or both, then we highly recommend taking this route.

The Willer Express (not the one we took) looks like this:

willer-express-japan-1

Inside, it looks like this (WHY ARE WE BROKE!!) and it is pretty awesome

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The good thing is they subcontract other buses for the cheapest trips and their buses look something like this (this is not the actual one)

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Inside it is still pretty comfortable and clean.

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Flow:

  1. Catch overnight bus at midnight at the bus stop near Kyoto Station (Hachijo side). The stop is very easy to locate and the directions and pictures from the website are very accurate.  Our only comment was the stop was not enclosed so we were freezing all the time we were waiting.
  2. As with all things in Japan, the bus arrived and left on time. The bus was clean and the seats were comfy, even though we opted for the dirt cheap ones.  Curtains enclosed the bus so in a matter of minutes, we were ZZZZZ…
  3. Around 7AM, we arrived in Shinjuku (you have the option of choosing either this or Ikebukuro) where we took the subway going to our hostel, SPACE (which was freakin’ awesome as well!)
  4. The trip back is pretty straightforward.  Just go from #3 to #1 and voila, you’re back in Kyoto.

You can plan and reserve seats online.  Their website takes some getting used to but i user-friendly enough for locals and tourists alike.

After sifting through various hostels prior to our trip, we ended up staying at SPACE Hostel.  The hostel was nicely sandwiched in between the Ueno and Asakusa areas and is a 5-minute walk from Subway Iriya station (Hibiya Line).  It had a Lawson 100 Yen store nearby that will solve all your personal needs. The location was perfect.

Website: SPACE Hostel

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Stefan, the one operating the concierge at that time, was very accommodating and understanding.  He fixed a system issue because apparently the system did not recognize the booking revision I made.  Otsukaresamadesu!

There was a common area with a dining table.  Coffee and tea were complementary and there was a fridge to store some of your food.  They can even keep your luggage on checkout day for free until 7PM!

Shower rooms and bathrooms were conveniently located on the 2nd floor.  No need to bring shampoo and soap.  You do need to bring your own towels and other personal effects such as (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.).  The dormitories were very nice and the temperature was kept at the perfect temperature (it was around 3-4 degs celsius outside).  As advertised, the beds were nicely crafted and were complete with covers and a duvet to keep you warm.  Everything was really, really clean as well.

Overall, we highly recommend this hostel to anyone visiting Tokyo!

Please drop a line if you have any comments or questions!

Now, on to the sights and sounds!

**disclaimer:  full credits go to the owners of the photos used in this post with the exception of the cover image which is mine
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