It all started almost a year ago. I was in the process of planning our ‘spring trip’ and searching for great airfares. All of a sudden, I see a $775 round trip non stop to Japan. I instantly contacted hubby and he was game.
It was going to be my first trip to Asia and I was super nervous and super excited all at the same time. It ended up being such a magical trip and I am so glad we went! The plane ride over was comfortable on Japan Airlines, if not a bit of a killer. 13 plus hours in a plane is just not fun. I am more than ready for a transporter for traveling!
And then, all of a sudden we were in Japan. I was a little nervous about the language, but like many other countries, there was enough signage in English to get us where we needed to be to catch the train to Tokyo Station. From there it was a little walk to our hotel and then an immediate visit to a smoky dive that served some pretty delicious ramen.
We didn’t see nearly as much as I wanted to in Tokyo, because the entire week before I was fighting off the worst cold in years. I didn’t leave the house for an entire week except to go to the doctors, so all of a sudden being upright and walking around was a tad exhausting. Our first few days were a mix of walking, napping & eating.
The first day we went for a walk around the Imperial Palace grounds, never quite getting a glimpse. What I did get a glimpse of was how friendly the people, in general, were going to be. I learned a few phrases and when a woman walking by us caught my eye, I said good morning in Japanese. She nodded and then, after a minute, ran after us and presented a small change purse as a gift. It was totally random and totally sweet.
Even though we didn’t see everything (and who could really in 6 days!), I am happy with the spots we managed to get to. We did the scramble crossing and walked around that crazy for a bit. We went to Odaiba to see Gundam the robot and to get a view of the Rainbow Bridge, we walked around the Ginza district several times, including one early, early morning when most of the bright lights were off. We also walked around Roppongi one evening and even caught watching runners in the Tokyo marathon, as a crossing point was a few blocks from our hotel. All of this crisscrossing the city was done by Tokyo metro and it was extremely easy to use.
We had a ridiculous amount of really good and rather cheap food. Sometimes we ate at diners, trying to soak in a local vibe. Sometimes we ate at restaurants that advertised in no English, still to be presented their one English translated menu. Sometimes we followed random signs and one led us to us experiencing a version of an American bar…. and let me assure you it was better because no American bar we’ve been to serves lamb chops like the ones we had. Compared to other major cities, I felt Tokyo was extremely reasonable with food prices. I also learned that I could manage quite well with chopsticks!
Then, we had lunch at L’Effervescence, and what an experience that was. Course after course of delicious food, paired with delicious drinks. After our experience in Spain visiting a World’s Best restaurant, I hope to snag a reservation once a year. I opted for a lunch visit (easier to get reservations and moderately less expensive) and hours later we were in a food happy place.
We normally eschew total tourist places but bought into visiting Skytree. The expansive view of Tokyo was worth the admission. There are big cities, and then there is Tokyo. Mt. Fuji didn’t peek her head out and that was the only bummer to that visit. Speaking of Tokyo the city, the buildings here ranged from scary concrete blocks to modern masterpieces but it was always important to look up so you didn’t miss anything. The signage was amazing, showing restaurants or shops on 3F, 7F, and higher. I loved it.
We spent a full day at Tokyo Disney Sea and then Disneyland and froze our butts off. It was still an amazing day and of course with the lines didn’t get to ride on as many rides as I would have liked, but I loved visiting Disney. It was so familiar yet just different enough to be interesting.
Tokyo was a whirlwind of awesome – and then just like that, it was time to hop the Shinkansen to Kyoto where an entirely different city and experience awaited.