top of page

Beat the Chinese Tsunami in Japan

We were very lucky to finally visit Japan and rekindle with relatives and friends after about 3 long years. When Japan finally reopened on Oct 11 2022 without needing to be on a chaperoned package, and visas, we jumped on the opportunity despite having to pay astronomical airfares!

Entering Japan without a PCR test for those who had have their 3 vaccine shots but just an approved QR code from the immigration was such a breeze (provided you have received the 3 QR code prior to landing in Japan)

Kawagoe, teleport back into the Edo/Taisho-era, only 40 minutes from Tokyo. Taisho-Roman Street

We arrived in Narita and there was a long queue at the immigration, after you had validated your covid negative QR codes. Those with residence visa can skip the international visitor queue, which would save around 45 minutes! But come 8th January, the queues should be even longer! Be prepared to stand in queue for an hour or so! If you arrive at ungodly hour, be sure to inform your hotel as many operation hours has changedd in the course of covid! Our hotel reception closed at 1800 and we barely made it on time, otherwise we had to do an on line self check-in!

By the time we arrived at Tsukiji for dinner, the famed fish auction market was deserted and only a handful of restaurants were open.

We check-into a sushi rice bowl shop filled with salary men, wrapping up for the day's work. The meal was delightful, seasonal and melted in our mouths!

If you are craving for "omakase" sushi set meals, it is best to make reservations in advance!

To fill the short winter days and crowded Asakusa streets, a visit to the teamLabs in Tokyo was also a great respite and a trippy interactive art experience. #teamlabstokyo

Get your tickets on line to avoid queues! This exhibition is perfect of children!

#teamlabstokyo expand your senses and be ready for an amazing trip!

Short trips from Tokyo to escape crowds

Depending on which season you visit Tokyo, there is always something unique to do according to the seasons! Most importantly we need to try our best to avoid domestic and international crowd alike! Best time to travel to popular local satellite towns around Tokyo is on weekdays! But try to beat the rush hour!

There are probably many towns worth visiting around Tokyo depending on individual fancy and time availability, such as Narita (Disney land), Yokohama ( Chinatown and the bay area), Nikko (temples and hotspring), Hakone (Fuji-san views and hotspring) Gala Uzawa Nigata (for ski in winter).

Coastal town of Kamakura only 40 minutes away from Tokyo, cycle along the Pacific ocean

Our personal favourite are the coastal Kamakura town and Kawagoe, mini Meiji/Edo era village. Both are easily assessable from Tokyo by regular JR train, less than an hour away.

Toki-no-Kane bell tower towers the old town of Kawagoe which is lined with unique Edo era buildings

Enjoy your cuppa as the bell echos down the street at 0600, 1200, 1500, 1800

Black plaster wall and double hinged doors, typical Edo era design

A stroll down the streets of merchant in the old town of Kawagoe can easily transport you back into a distant past. Many tourists dress up in traditional kimono (rental) roam the alleys of this photogenic town, it truly adds a nostalgic feel. However, during our visit on Sunday, there were certainly more local tourists than foreigners. Come 8th January 2023, with the opening of China, it may be different, so try to schedule a visit during weekdays!

It was not possible that we didn't try the classic delicacy "unagi" for lunch at the popular Hayashiya restaurant in a restored Edo-era building. The air in the old town was blanketed in this sweet charcoal aroma of the "kabayaki", grill eel!

Traditionally, Kawagoe is land-locked and locals use to fish for eels or carp as a source of protein. The ambience of the building certainly added some magic in my food experience here!

How to get to Kawagoe

Only 30 minutes from Ikebukuro from Tokyo to get to Kawagoe. Get the discount pass

Head south to smaller towns with less tourist

Many tourist head to Kyoto from Tokyo. Another magical place, but the tourist spots can be very packed and suffocating. Perhaps heading to Okayama to escape the crowds and drive along the coast of Sentonaikai and take a ferry to Naoshima, the art island!

Always sit on the right hand side when you are heading south from Tokyo! You'll never get sick of this view!

This island is not your regular island but a walking canvas, featuring artistic installations, avant-garde architecture and museums. It is a far cry from busy Tokyo and absorbing the art and the ambience of the space on foot is a true transcending moment.

It is worth planning a visit here and better to plan it around the event calender. Just like many other countries around the world, Japan is also trying to cope with the sudden influx of tourist and it is advisable to book in advance.

How to get to Naoshima

Getting here can be slightly tricky if you are not on your own wheels. You will also need to take a ferry to the island. So it is best to plan an overnight stay or make it a day trip from Okayama (famous for Korakuen Garden)

From Okayama, take the local train to the port town of Uno, and time it according to the ferry schedule. You can drive your car over otherwise there are bike rentals there.

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin in Naoshima

Okayama and the inland sea of Sentonaikai that separates Shikoku from the mainland


There is so much to do and eat and see in Japan, 2 weeks is hardly enough. After 3 years hiatus, it feels like we are rediscovering every bit of Japan again! There are crowds everywhere you go but yet, so many places where you can escape them and absorb the life and vibes of the real Japan.

Date Visited: December 2022

bottom of page