Shinkansen to Tokyo, Nakano Broadway
One of the greatest things about getting the JR Pass is access to the Shinkansen! Taking the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo costs around $200, so even though the rail pass itself was nearly $400, the Shinkansen to Tokyo alone paid for half the pass.
The train ride itself was quiet and smooth. I honestly don’t have much to say about it because I was asleep for most of it! We got off at Tokyo Station and took the Yamanote-sen to Shin Okubo station where our Airbnb was located.
We picked Shin Okubo because it was on the Yamanote-sen, which is a great train line to be on, since it goes in a giant circle around Tokyo. We also picked Shin Okubo because it’s Tokyo’s Korea Town! And since someone (me) is a big Kpop nerd, I figured it would be easy to buy merch and CDs in the area.
By the time we go off the train, it was still too early for us to check into the Airbnb, so we decided to have lunch. When I was in college in Japan, there was a Jonathan’s right near my school and I went there often for lunch. Jonathan's is a chain of family restaurants and they have a huge variety of items on their menu. If you’re with someone who is a picky eater, or too many people in your group are in the mood for different items, family restaurants are a great solution. They’re basically the Japanese version of a diner with both Western and Japanese fare. It’s a great, relaxed place and also inexpensive!
After our meal, we got lost getting to the Airbnb because my GPS did not take us where we needed to go. We retraced our steps, and followed the instructions the host had provided for us, but still had a bit of difficulty finding the place. The picture provided and the actual building itself were different colours! So that kind of threw us off.
Now, this Airbnb was by far the cheapest out of all of the ones we stayed in, about $70 per night (compared to the $85-118 we spent on the other Airbnbs). The location was great and the apartment was small and clean, but the futons provided were decidedly NOT comfortable. They were so thin it was basically like sleeping on the tatami mat without any padding. I slept on a futon with my host family when I was in Japan before and it was extremely comfortable. These futons were just too thin. (Lynnette's Note: I slept on a futon in the Osaka Airbnb, but it was of much better quality. You get what you pay for!)
Also, since it was a cheaper price, it didn't come with quite the same range of amenities, but there was still quite a bit! Pocket WiFi was provided, as well as basics like shampoo, face wash and instant coffee. There was even a washing machine, though we didn't use it.
After a short rest, we headed out to our only destination of the evening: Nakano Broadway. Not all of the shops were open when we got there (it was a Wednesday; many Japanese shops take off one weekday), but there were still a decent amount of anime and figure stores to peruse. I did find this Yuri on ice!!! Yurio figure I was looking for though, so I was happy about that!
In the building basement there’s a food court and a must see ice cream shop called Daily Chiko that does a crazy 8 layer soft serve ice cream cone. Neither of us could fit that much ice cream in our stomachs unfortunately, so we got small cones instead. I got ramune flavour and Lynnette got sweet potato. There were a lot of other fun flavours though!