After breakfast at my hotel, I set foot out the door on a beautiful early summer day to go visit the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in Meguro, Tokyo. I transferred trains at the Shibuya Station to the Inogashira Line which took me to the Komada-Todai-Mae station. From the station, it’s a quick 10 minute walk across one of Tokyo’s residential neighborhoods. At ten o’clock, I arrived to The Japan Folk Crafts Museum to see a featured exhibit by Samiro Yunoki, a well known textile artists.
The two story Arts and Crafts building sits along the quiet street of Meguro-ku and was built in 1930’s by Soetsu Yanagi (1889-1961). A well known philosopher and a the founder the folk art movement in Japan known as mingei. At the museum, you’ll be able to see has vast folk arts and craft collection from across Japan and Okinawa.
On the second floor is Samiro Yunoki’s textile exhibit. He is an dyeing artist and was greatly influenced by Soets Yanagi and folk art. He is known for his use of bright and lively colors combined with traditional styles and techniques.
With help of the Iwate Folk Textile Museum, the second floor has an extensive collection of breathtaking beauty of fabrics and textiles from the northern part of Japan. Many of Samiro Yunoki’s fabric were dyed with technique called katazome and feature unique geometric patterns.
I flew into Tokyo later than I expected and did not get to check in to my hotel until almost the next day. As with all my first day in Japan, jet lag woke me up early the next morning. So my morning started early, really early at 5. Knowing nothing else would be open, I started my path to one of the most visited Shrine in Tokyo, Meiji Jingu.
The shrine was built in 1921, after the death of Meiji Emperor followed by Empress to worship their spirits and to provide sanctuary in the community. It consists 170 acres of combination of fortress, shrines and other buildings as well as ponds and cafes and could easily take an hour to walk through.
The moment I stepped my foot in the forest surrounding the Shrine through an giant Torii gate, there was only the silence, peace and tranquility. It felt as if I “time-slipped” back into Meiji era. Aside from few morning joggers, all of the sudden I did not hear any modern “noise”. Instead of chaotic sound of modernize, all I heard was gardeners sweeping gravel path with long bamboo brooms in uniform motion and rhythm.
The visit was such a treat as I struggle with jet lag and try to adjust to the busy week ahead in Tokyo. I now go walk back to hotel to take a short nap before afternoon visits to notable arts and crafts museums.
Are you a first time traveler to Japan? Do you get confused to which airport to fly into? Is Narita better than Haneda? These are tough questions to answer and the answer depends on where you are traveling to and from. However, if your first destination in Japan is Tokyo or if you are taking connecting flight to other parts of Japan, my short answer is Haneda and here is why.
Narita ( 成田 ）
Narita is one of the two major airports serving the Tokyo metro area and is located 60 kilometers from Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture ( not in Tokyo ). Pros:
International hub for Delta, United Airline and other major international airlines. More flight options for international flights as well as cheaper international flight through Narita Airport.
Although the airport is located 60 miles from downtown Tokyo, there are many public transportation options to Tokyo.
Easy connection to international flights.
Easier access when traveling to northern Japan by bus and other public transportation.
Far from downtown Tokyo.
Public transportation is more expensive.
Haneda ( 羽田 )
The other major airport is Haneda and it is located in the heart of Tokyo.
Serve as a primary base for All Nippon Airway and many other domestic airlines. In 2016, Haneda added extra runways to accommodate more international flights making it one of the busiest airport in the world.
15 minutes to Tokyo by Tokyo Monorail or Keikyu Line.
Easy connection to domestic flights.
Personally, I think Haneda feels cleaner and more up-to-date than Narita
It is a very busy airport.
When taking public transportations, one must transfer in Tokyo for major transportation.
Once landing at either airport and making it through immigrations and customs, there are a few things you can do to start your trip a little easier.
First, it’s a good idea to exchange some cash before you leave the airport. The exchange rates at the airport are very competitive, and this will save you the hassle of trying to find an open bank in Tokyo that can handle foreign exchange.
Second, your phone will not work in Japan, but there are many vendors selling portable hotspots and local phone services. It’s not a bad idea to pick up one of these devices to make communicating with friends and family more convenient. If you want to keep the expenses to a minimum, most hotels, train stations and convenience stores in Japan have free WIFI. There are apps available for Android and iPhone to help you connect to these networks.