Airports in Tokyo

There are two airports near Tokyo, Haneda airport and Narita airport. Both airports serve international flights and are well connected by public transportation, but Haneda airport is much closer to downtown Tokyo, so I chose to fly to Haneda airport.

Tips
  • If you are traveling to Tokyo, I would definitely recommend going through Haneda airport since it’s much closer to Tokyo.

Arriving in Tokyo

After a short flight, I landed at Haneda airport on time. It was already night, so I decided to take a taxi instead of the train or monorail. It was only a 20-minute ride to my hotel as there wasn’t much traffic at night.

Capitol Hotel Tokyo

The hotel I booked is called Capitol Hotel Tokyo. It is located in the Akasaka district, which is adjacent to the national government center. There are various hotels near the area, but I chose Capitol Hotel because it has spacious rooms and boasts a great view of the cityscape.

A beautiful room

It was indeed everything I had expected, the room’s decor is simple and modern. The bathroom and bedroom are separated by shoji sliding doors, which add a mix of classical Japanese element to the room. The bathroom had a nice surround sound stereo system, allowing me to enjoy my favorite music while taking a bath.

View from the hotel room

The city view through the large panel windows is amazing. I was able to see Tokyo Skytree in the distant cityscape.

A Japanese breakfast

Aside from the modern spacious room, I also enjoyed the breakfast offering at the hotel. The Japanese bento box breakfast was simple but elegant, especially with my favorite Genmaicha (brown rice tea) on the side. It was a nice break from the continental breakfast offerings from typical hotels.

Going to Shibuya and Shinjuku

After breakfast, I immediately went to tour around the well known Shibuya and Shinjuku districts in Tokyo. These two districts are adjacent to each other, and the corresponding Shinjuku and Shibuya subway stations are only a few minutes apart. Both are well connected stations, so they are easily accessible from all directions. Tokyo has one of the best subway systems in the world, so it never took me more than 10 minutes to walk to a station wherever I went.

One of the most popular attractions in the Shibuya area is the Shibuya Crossing, which is located right outside of Shibuya subway station. It is one of the busiest intersections in Japan and it is often featured in photos or videos to illustrate the populous of Tokyo.

Restaurants and shops

If you love shopping or food, this is definitely the place to be. There are a wide variety of shopping stores and restaurants in both districts, so there are no lack of interesting things to see and delicious food/deserts to eat. From Hello Kitty shaped cakes to human sized Pikachu, I just love all the cute stuff along the streets. Every few steps of the way, a shop would grab my attention. I ended up buying lots of little cute souvenirs in the area.

Tips
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes to get ready for a lot of walking.

Fukubukuro

As a Japanese New Year’s shopping tradition, many shops are offering Fukubukuro. Fukubukuro is a sealed bag filled with random items from the shop. The total value of the items in the bag can vary, but is typically higher than the cost of the bag. Since buyers don’t know what’s in the bag, it is also referred to as a lucky bag. Fukubukuro is often inexpensive, so it is a popular choice for getting gifts or souvenirs when you don’t have specific things to buy. I also bought a Fukubukuro from a Hello Kitty store. Unfortunately, half of the items weren’t useful for me, but the exciting feeling and experience of opening a Fukubukuro was definitely worth every penny. It felt like opening Christmas gifts.

Tips
  • Fukubukuro is typically available during the New Year’s time, so it’s difficult to see them if you are visiting during other times.

The Crane Machine

While walking around, I saw an arcade store with many cute stuffed animals in crane machines, so I got ~$10 worth of coins to try out my luck. The first few attempts were unsuccessful, but I quickly got a hang of it after having watched few other people play. I eventually won a super cute stuffed puppy from a crane machine! It was the first time I ever got anything from a crane machine, so I was super thrilled! (Interestingly, I happened to see the same toy being sold at a Japanese store for ~$50 after coming back to LA, so I felt even happier that I won the toy for much less the cost)

Night at Tokyo Tower

After walking around Shibuya and Shinjuku for hours, I decided to visit Tokyo Tower. Afterall, it is such a signature landmark, it wouldn’t be a proper Tokyo tour without visiting the Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Tower has long opening hours daily (open for ~14 hours), so the visiting time is very flexible. The tower is well lit at night and is located in a relative open area, so it stands out from a distance. It looks especially glamorous when looking up from the bottom of the tower. When I arrived a few hours before closing, the waiting line wasn’t long, so it was a short wait to go up to the observation deck.

Tips
  • Tokyo Tower looks much more stunning when it is lit at night, especially from a distance.

View from Tokyo Tower

The night view of Tokyo’s skyline from the observation deck is beautiful. Unfortunately, it was hard to see far in the distance since it was dark and cloudy. I was told that Mt Fuji would be visible in the daytime when the sky is clear, I imagine that it would have made a beautiful backdrop.

Tips
  • Tokyo SkyTree is another good choice if you are interested in looking at the cityscape. It is taller than the Tokyo Tower, but you can’t go wrong with either one.

To be continued...

Check out Part 2 of my Japan trip if you are interested to know more about my travel experience at Mt Fuji

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