You are an awesome city. I’m sorry I have been afraid of you my whole life. Mainly my fear was of the unknown, and the language barrier. While there is still a world of Japan we haven’t experienced, what we did see in Tokyo was impressive. Jamie and I are delighted! Here are some notes I wanted to share about visiting Tokyo …. If you can …. Do it, you’ll be glad you did.
First, Everyone was nice to us, as we asked questions. Mostly we were stuck on how to navigate the trains when we arrived, but by day 3 we had them down. Though, in fairness, we only traveled to a few limited places. From the airport, we took the Narita Express, to Tokyo station, and transferred to Shimbashi Station. Our hotel, Park Hotel Shiodome (Highly Recommended) was within 3 minutes walking, and the signage and directions were very easy to follow.
If you speak English, and have never been to Japan, don’t be afraid of the travel. Most signs in the subway, and train stations are also in English. Trip Advisor gave us a lot of clues, with what restaurants to go to, stay away from, etc. Other people’s reviews are great, but it’s also nice to just get out, without an itinerary, walk, explore, find new stuff, be daring.
I was happy to find an eight story Tower Records. Confused at the same time, everyone was buying CD’s, but we never saw a single CD player, only smart phones and ipods.
Jamie found this great place, where you order all your food from a vending machine, which then prints out tickets for your purchase. Then you sit down, and they deliver the food you ordered to a window (in front of your seat). Imagine 10 library cubes I a single row, all facing the wall. Each little cubby whole has it’s own windows, that you sit in, and when you food is delivered, you stay there and eat. There is a little Service button to press if you need anything, which we didn’t. It was a little spicy, but the noodles, with sliced pork were awesome. I think the chain was named Ichiran, and they are scattered all over the city.
We also hit up a park, and stole some sun, while laying on the grass. I brought a blanket from our flight in my backpack, and aside from a pesky hungry ear eating ant (kidding) it was delightful.
We also went to the Zoo, to see the giant Pandas. This was kind of a let down, as the Pandas were a little lethargic. Not sure what I was expecting, certainly not a circus act, but something more than a small wandering panda. The gorilla was asleep as well. BUT … it was feeding time at the Polar Bear exhibit and we snapped a few worth while pictures. The elephants were playing in a pond close to the glass, and we also saw a short clawed otter that were fun to watch. Maybe I had different expectations, but I would pass on the Zoo next time.
Currency: On our trip, 100 Yen is about 1USD. So if something was 1000 Yen, that is $10. We found a few places that would take our travel card (MasterCard or Visa) but most places, even larger establishments wanted cash only.
Clean Clean Clean. So …. for a large city, I can’t believe how clean it is. The subways, the streets, the city sidewalks, the everything. The Parks, the hotel, the cabs, bathrooms, all of it was spotless. We were between the Narita Airport, and Shiodome station mostly. Bit we ventured out to the Ginza area for shopping, the Zoo at Ueno, over to Shibuya Crossing (where we found the tower records), so I think we got to see a nice variety of the City, and it was just exceptionally clean, Disneyland Clean, everywhere.
I saw signs for the Olympics as a candidate city in 2020. If the Olympics do have a home in Tokyo for 2020, I would look forward to bringing my whole family back.
So Thank you Tokyo for a great little vacation, I’m sorry it took us so long to get here, but we won’t stay away too long!