As some of you might know my husband and I decided to go on a trip to Japan for my 30th Birthday! It was seriously the best trip of our lives we had so much fun, ate some crazy food and shopped way to much. I wanted to write about our experience because if y’all do decide to go there, there is so much you need to know before hand that no website told us. It is actually super easy to get around you just got to have a game plan before, everyone is very nice but they don’t all speak English so learning some Japanese will get you far. If I could of we should of stayed longer in Tokyo 4 days was not enough for me, my husband was ready to go he was sick to death of shopping but thats all you pretty much do there! Here are tips to know before you go, I will post 3 or 4 more post on each town later!
Things To Know Before you go: Read all the way through!
- Pick your hotel: Be smart when choosing a hotel if you are going to try to eat at some top rated restaurants. I know your thinking why does it matter what hotel I stay at if I want to eat somewhere? Well the top 3 hotels get the first pick seats at restaurants and most top rated or stared restaurants only accept reservations from hotels. So if you are going to Tokyo and want to eat you must stay at one of those 3. If not then thats gray too, find somewhere just as good and wonder around and everywhere you stumble into will be Oi She!!! (delicious in Japanese) We chose the Mandarin Oriental based on its ratings and reviews and location. Its under a subway stop so you just go to the bottom of the hotel and jump on. Its 5 minutes from Ginza, 10 minutes from Roppongi, 15 minutes from the rest of the town. It was one of the best hotels we have ever stayed at, the staff all knew our name, drink orders, breakfast orders, pillow menu, sparking or still by our bed, everything. They made it so comfortable for us and went out of their way to do so. We asked the front desk about a train ticket to Nagano then to Kyoto because we were trying to plan on when to leave in the AM. An hour later a knock on our door and they had run to Tokyo station and bought us JR passes to Nagano and Kyoto and wrote down our departure and arrival times. It was beyond thoughtful, thats freaking service. I could go on and on about this hotel, I promise if your going to Tokyo you MUST stay here don’t look around this is the place. I actually had tears in my eyes when we left all the staff walked us out waving good bye it was sad like saying bye to family..we have to go back!
- Buy JR passes before you go! You cannot purchase them in Japan, also get the green car its much nicer and not much more. It is a train pass that will get you all over Tokyo for the week its amazing. So you order it online before you go and put what dates you will need it. When you fly into Narita airport you will walk to the basement and there will be a JR Pass Entrance shop on your left, go in there and bring the green tickets they send you and they will trade them in for actual train tickets. So now that you have your jr pass train ticket to get on the actual train you go to the far right or left where there is a booth and you show the man your jr pass ticket and he will let you through. We learned this the hard way because everyone knows what they are doing and they are scanning their tickets and flying through the subway entrance so it gets really over whelming! Go to the booth and show him and your good to go. http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/
- Download Hyperdia! Its the subway time table, you can type in where you are and where you want to go and it will show you what time they leave and what track its freaking awesome we would of died without that and the wifi device.
- Rent a Wifi device from the JR pass website when you are purchasing your tickets it will come up on the next page asking if you want to rent it and its unlimited wifi data for up to 10 devices for like $16 a day or something cheap. They will ask if you want to pick it up or have it delivered to your hotel. I should of had it delivered but instead I picked it up at Narita terminal 2, 3rd floor where departures are. If you decide to pick it up after you land, go through customs, take the elevator up to the 3rd floor and its in the post office, show them your confirmation letter and they will hand it to you.
- Next after you get your wifi device, you want to get Japanese cash aka Yen. This may sound odd but you need to bring a wad of USD cash with you and then you exchange it when you get there for the best rate. The best place to go is the Japanese bank on the 3rd floor of Narita. The rates bout .2 cents off its awesome. So exchange lots!
- Head back down to the basement and jump on the subway to Tokyo station, takes about an hour to get there. Once you get to the station jump on another train to the area your hotel is or get a taxi they are everywhere and so flipping nice. They wear white gloves and don’t speak english.
- Print every where you are going in Japanese on a separate piece of paper. I did this by going to tripadvisor.com and typing in where we were going and the page would pull up then it has the address and it ask if you would like change it to japanese so I would and copy and paste it into a word doc. I am SO glad I did this because I could hand the taxi driver it and he would take us right there no problems.
- Speaking of English, you also need to download Google Translate app it really came in handy when we lost my paper of addresses on it by the time we go to Kyoto! It also was great when I was on the hunt for something and could type it in there and play it for the sales girl and she would run and grab it for me. BONUS!
- Pick your restaurants 2 months in advance and get ahold of the hotel and tell them where, when, and time you want to eat. Most places take reservations 1 month in advanced so the 1st day of each month they will call and make your reservations and send you which ones they got you into and what time.
- Robot Restaurant; it’s actually not a restaurant you need to eat before! But you need to buy tickets prior to the show I did on Viator, they were not easy to work with next time I would of done it directly through their website incase you need to alter it.
- Work with you hotel to get your schedule perfect. Everyday for 6 months Tom and I at the MO emailed each other trying to get my itinerary perfect. He made tons of great suggestions I would of never of known unless we had worked together. Ill share my itinerary below for Tokyo, we did not actually do ALL of it but I would say 90% we did. Next post will be about Tokyo, shopping, eating, etc.
Monday night March 6th
– Pick up WIFI from Narita
– Exchange Money
– Get JR Pass
– Check into Mandarin Oriental
Tuesday, March 7 – spend the day in Ginza, Tokyo
7am: Tsukiji Fish Market
9am: Sushi Breakfast at Tsukjii- Sushi Daiwai
11:30am: Lunch Katsuzen – fried pork-Ginza
1:00pm:Explore & shop in Ginza
1:30pm:Coffee in Ginza Cafe de l’ambre
2pm: Hidemi Sugino- desserts
3-5pm: Shop and explore in Ginza near Tokyo Station
5:30pm: Dinner at Jiro Roppongi – sushi
8:00pm:Head to Shinjuku walk around before the show
9:00pm: Robot Wars- Shinjuku
10pm: Shinjuku’s Golden Gai district; Bar High Five – pina colada,Square, Asyl,Tachibana, Bar Albatross G, Jumanji 55, Bar Plastic Model
Wednesday, March 8 – Tokyo , Shibuya & Harajuiku & Shinjuku
9:00am: Sembikaya- fruit in hotel
10:00am: half day in Harajuiku/Shinjuku: ,eletroncis, 3d latte at Reissue
10:30am: Ramen at Ichiran Shinjuku Central East Entrance
11:00am: Harajuku Owl Village
12:30pm: Lunch- Harajuku Gyozaro- next to kiddy land
2:00pm: Shibuya Crossing Walk to Daikanyama Area
2:30pm: Pastel de Nata – The Nata de Cristiano – shibuya
6:00-9:00pm: Dinner at RyuGin-Roppongi
10pm: Bar Gen Yamamoto-martini and a flight -roppongi
12am: Roku Nana-3 flights up unmarked residential building-Roppongi 7th ward
Thursday, March 9 – Tokyo, Minato – Ku
9:00am: Imperial Palace-Chiyoda ku
10:30am- Ramen Lunch at Ramen street- Rokurinsha- Marunouchi
12:00pm: Coffee at Steamer Coffee Company in Shibuya
1pm: Tokyo Tower-Minato-ku
2pm: Coffee at Omotesando
2:30-5pm Walk around Omotesando & Roppongi
-Walk to Nezu museum thorough Aoyama street
-Quil Fait Bon Aoyama (Aoyama Omotesando) – Cake
-Cat Street(Hip star street: famous back street with full of street brands)
6:00PM- Drinks at the Park Hyatt-shinjuku
8:30-10:30pm- Dinner at Yoshitake Sushi Ginza