Tokyo, Japan

Getting There

Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of Los Angeles.  Depending upon which pacific city you depart from within the US, the flight will take approximately 11 – 12 hours.  Most flights arriving from the US will arrive into Narita International Airport around 5pm Tokyo time.  The airport is just under 50 miles to the city center.  The best way to get from the airport to Tokyo is to take the JR Narita Express.  Please click here for a direct link to their website and for additional information.  When I went, the cost for the JR Narita Express train was about $36.00pp each way and the ride took approximately 90 minutes.  I was told a taxi ride would cost around $150.00 depending upon traffic.  Although this express train is rather expensive, it is the most direct and easiest way to get into Tokyo.

 

Itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive Narita International Airport 5pm

After settling in and checking into your hotel, take an evening stroll either around Shibuya, Shinjuku or Roppongi, whichever is closest to where you are staying, and find a bite to eat.  These are very bright and lit up areas that are well known for having an abundance of shopping, restaurants and nightlife.  Shinjuku is the largest and is considered to be the city center.  Shibuya is most similar to Shinjuku, only smaller.  Roppongi is most known for its nightlife.

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shinjuku

Shinjuku

Roppongi

Roppongi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 –  I highly recommend booking the Dynamic Tokyo Full Day Tour for 12,000 YEN (approximately $145.00) operated by Hato Bus.  I booked it from the website JapanICan.com but you can also book it directly from HatoBus.com.  It seems pricy for a 1 day local tour but it does include 6 different sites, tea while experiencing a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, a nice lunch, a boat ride, admission to Tokyo Tower and pick up from your hotel.  I got soo much out of the day, it was easy, tasty, and overall, just very enjoyable.  I totally found it worth the price and would do it all over again.

Tokyo Tower If you opt not to take the Day Tour and instead, decide to visit the tower on your own, admission is about $10.  It is interesting to see and it really puts the size of Tokyo in perspective.  It is however, very much like every other skydeck tower in the world.

     

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Ceremony at Happoen Gardens The garden is beautiful. Very relaxing and enjoyable.  I almost completely forgot that I was in the heart of one of the world’s largest cities.

    

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch at Chinzanso Restaurant & Garden  After the Tea Ceremony at Happoen Gardens, the bus took us across town to another quiet and beautiful garden.  Lunch was nice and simple but dessert was an amazing treat!!  After lunch, they gave us about 20 mins to walk around the garden and site see.

Lunch

Super Tasty Dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Imperial Palace is surrounded by moats and a massive stone wall.  I expected it to be this grande site and to be able to enter into the palace, or at least see it up close, as you would in many European cities.  However, that was not the case.  The Imperial Palace is only open to the public January 2nd for the New Year and December 23rd for the Emperor’s birthday.  I have heard you can schedule tours of the inner palace grounds but reservations must be made far in advance and I’m not sure how many hoops you might have to jump through to get to do so.  The tour bus dropped off near the main gates, a popular photo spot, to see the palace from afar through the gates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sumida River Cruise I wasn’t a big fan of the cruise.  In some cities, I rather enjoy the river cruise, but here, not so much.  The audio commentary could not be heard inside the boat and nothing was very picturesque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asakusa is a big tourist spot and kind of like a flee market.  They sell the ever so popular cell phone charms, sweets, chopsticks, fans, lanterns, and rice crackers.  Located at the end of Asakusa is the Sensoji Temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensoji Temple is very beautiful.  Try to see it during the daylight just before the sun sets and then at night when the temple is all lit up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3

Meiji Shrine is located in the center of a large park.  The park itself is nothing special, it has a lot of tall trees.  Finding the Shrine in the middle of the park though, is a pleasant site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harajuku is a trendy shopping area with a younger crowd.  It was great to walk and people watch.  The Japanese are such fashionistas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shinjuku

 

Dinner on top of the Tokyo City Opera House

 

Ueno Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roppongi

 

Gonpachi Restaurant

 

 Travel Experience

Konichiwa!

I was in Tokyo for a total of 4 days and I saw most everything there was to see.  Had I had an extra day or two, I would have taken a Day Trip somewhere, perhaps to see Mt. Fuji or… I had a friend from the United States who went to work in Tokyo for 10 weeks and she had taken several weekend trips.  She had gone to … and her favorite was…

 

Now I am imagining that many of you do not speak Japanese.  I took a couple of semesters in college but that was a while ago and I was unable to recall much of what I learned.  Thus, traveling by myself, I did find to be a bit lonely.  A very small percentage of the population spoke English and surprisingly, there were very few Americans traveling there as well.  Thus I went most of my days, all day, not speaking a word to anyone.  Ordering food was extremely difficult.  I’m a vegetarian and I don’t eat fish… try explaining that to a non-English speaking Japanese person!

 

I like to compare Tokyo to one big, gigantic Times Square!  Buildings, lights and people EVERYWHERE!!!  There are however two major differences that I noticed.  The first being its cleanliness.  There is no garbage in the street, the trains are spotless and look almost brand new, there is no graffiti or gum stuck anywhere, and i didn’t notice any homeless people.  The second major difference is the level of safety I felt.  I trekked all over Tokyo, by myself (a 30 year old female) and at all hours of the evening after the sun went down.  I felt completely safe.  In fact, as a non-asian, I think I was ignored most of the time. People didn’t really stare, they didn’t smile, they didn’t even look at you. They just mind their own business and keep walking.

 

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