Travel Diary: My First Trip To Tokyo, Japan

My friend and I decided to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. We both love Japanese food and are curious about the beautiful Japanese culture. Many people say that Japan is one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world, and I could not agree more. I would say though, that in my entire trip, the one that caught my attention the most is how nice and polite the Japanese are. I definitely suggest everyon visit Tokyo at least once, whether it be a solo trip, all girls trip, couple getaway, group trip or a family trip.

Where To Fly

From Los Angeles, we flew into Haneda International Airport. The flight was about 11 hours and 30 minutes. There are many nonstop flights from the US to Tokyo daily. You can choose to go to Narita International Airport (NRT), which is about an hour away from Tokyo, or Haneda International Airpot (HND), which is about 25-30 minutes away from the center of Tokyo.

 

We had a wonderful flight, thanks to Delta. The Delta One cabin was amazing. The crew was very attentive and friendly. They were wonderful all throughout the flight. The flat-bed seat and the Westin Heavenly bedding allowed me to sleep like a baby. In flight, they offered a wide selection of food and drinks. It was also great to have your own outlet and USB ports. I also loved how Delta offers Wi-Fi on board.

 

I’ve always flown through Japan, and had multiple layovers in Japan, but this is the first time I actually went out of the airport to stay and explore the city.

Things To Do At The Airport

At the airport, I suggest you do two things. First, exchange your money. Although many stores in Japan accepts credit cards, there are still some who doesn’t. I highly suggest exchanging money at the airport for a better rate. I exchanged my money at LAX, but I found out that the rates were a little better at HND airport.

Second, if you do not have roaming services you can rent a portable wifi device at the airport at a very reasonable price. Having a wifi connection can help you navigate throughout Tokyo easier. There are several WiFi companies to choose from at the airport.

If you do have time, go ahead and try to book this in advance. That way, you do not have to wait in line and you are guaranteed to have a WiFi device. You just have to pick it up and drop it off at the airport. Visit this website for more information: https://ninjawifi.com/en/about

Airport Transfer

From the airport, we took the airport limousine bus to our hotel. This is one of the most convenient and practical transportation to and from the airport. They have a list of hotels in the city where they drop off and pick up passengers. You may also opt to take the train, or a taxi.

Where To Stay

One of the first things I do, whenever I go on a trip, is to look at which area I want to stay. For me, safety and convenience are my top priorities. In general, Tokyo is safe. I chose to stay in the Shiodome area. It is adjacent to Ginza, the city’s top shopping district. I did not want to pay for the expensive hotel rates in Ginza, but I do want to be close to it. It is a very safe area. It is also located relatively close to most places in our itinerary.

For this trip, we decided to stay at Hotel Villa Fontaine – Shiodome. The front desk agents who welcomed us were super nice. A friendly robot also welcomed us in. The robot has information regarding dining, shopping, and entertainment options near the hotel.

PHOTO FROM AGODA
PHOTO FROM AGODA

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How To Get Around

After unpacking and resting a bit, we decided to go out to make the most of our short trip. Our hotel was conveniently located near a metro station. There was an underground passage from the hotel to the station. The metro here is unbelievable! It is one of the best public ground transportation that I have ever seen. If you find yourself lost, don’t hesitate to ask the attendants at the station. They are very helpful.

Another tip is to get a Pasmo card. Select stations sell this reloadable card. If you are planning to visit Japan multiple times, I would definitely get this. You can use it for metros, taxis and some retail stores accept them as well.

Where To Go & What To Do

DAY 1

SHINJUKU

We decided to go to Shinjuku. Our first order of business, shopping! We went to this huge Uniqlo store. Since it is a Japanese brand, it is a little bit cheaper here and there were so many good deals

Shinjuku at night is vibrant and lively. There are many restaurants and retail stores to choose from.

We kept walking around, and we couldn’t help but notice the interesting vending machines. We also saw many arcades with cute claw machines.

ICHIRAN RAMEN

What is a trip to Japan without ramen? Of course we had to indulge in one of the most famous ramen chains in Japan. We lined up and patiently waited to be seated at Ichiran.

It is a unique ramen restaurant, where each customer will have their own designated space and privacy. It will be a time just for you and your ramen! 😉 The ramen was really good! Definitely worth the wait.

We walked around and even stumbled upon the red light district. The sleepless streets in Tokyo. A very interesting street.

DAY 2

We woke up early to maximize our day. We had breakfast at the hotel. It was okay. It was good enough to prepare us for the long day ahead of us.

HATO BUS Tour

Since this is our first time in Tokyo, and we do have a limited time, we decided to take the Hato Bus tour in English. This was highly recommended by my Japanese friend. We chose the Dynamic tour which costs about $120 per person. This includes a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony and a sumptuous lunch.

There are a bunch of tours available for tourists in Japan. I highly recommend doing this if it is your first time in Tokyo. If you have no one to show you around, this is a perfect way to see this beautiful city.

I will link a separate post about the tour below, a one day itinerary in Tokyo.

One Day Itinerary: Tokyo

HARAJUKU

After completing the dynamic tour, we went to Harajuku. I had so much fun here. There are so many things to do here. There are plenty of unique and colorful stores and restaurants here. I love Harajuku!!! If you love shopping, I’m sure you’ll like it here.

PHOTO BOOTHS
Another popular thing to do in Japan, is the photo booth. They call it Purikura. We went to a store with lots of them. We had a blast here lol I can’t even remember how many booths we tried. You will need to have some coins/change, but don’t worry they have coin changer machines here.

SHIBUYA

Our next order of business, is the world-famous Shibuya crossing. It is one of the busiest crossings in the world. It is also home to many business and commercial buildings. There’s a lot of people in this area. If you are looking for more shopping and night life, this is one of the places to go.

We also paid visit to the Hachiko statue. For those of you who doesn’t know him, he is one of the most loyal dog in the world. Watch the movie Hachi to get to know him. Have your tissues ready!

STARBUCKS JAPAN

Try the limited edition drinks only available in Japan. They have some additions to a regular US Starbucks menu. They also sell merchandises that are only available in Tokyo.

REMINDER!!!
Just a tip if you are planning on taking the subway. Make sure to check what time they close!!! We walked super far because our station closed! Yikes!

CONVENIENCE STORE – 7ELEVEN

We were busy shopping and walking around that we forgot to eat. Yikes! No problem, 7 Eleven got us. By the time we got to our hotel, we got hungry. The restaurants at our hotel and nearby close early, and so convenience store to the rescue. Here you can buy prepared boxes of hot or cold food. They sushi rolls, sandwiches and bento boxes. There was actually a lot of options. Since we were already there, we also bought a lot of Japanese candies and snacks to try.

DAY 3

TSUKIJI FISH MARKET

We woke up early again. After breakfast, we asked for the directions to go to the fish market. Front desk suggested we walk, but we took the taxi

I will link my Tsukiji Fish Market experience in a different post, soon. 🙂

After going to the market, we went back to the hotel to pack our things, and to get ready to go to the airport.

GINZA

My flight was later in the afternoon, so I decided to go to Ginza. Ginza is a shopping district as well. Go here if you are looking for high-end stores. They also have many restaurants here.

After this, I head back to the airport. I booked a pick up for the airport limousine bus at the hotel.

I believe that visiting Tokyo is a great start if you want to explore Japan. I still have so much places I want to visit like Kyoto and Osaka.

Food was great, the culture is very colorful, the shopping here is fun, most of all people are so nice! There were many incidents when the locals helped us get around their beautiful city. From the airport, to the hotel and to the stores that we visited, you can really feel welcome and safe. They are always willing to help.

I remember having difficulty in finding the restrooms, there was a girl who does not speak English well. She went out of her way, and walked me to the restrooms. I was really touched. She could easily say no to me and ignore me. But she even walked me to what I was looking for. There are times when we were in the metro stations and we couldn’t figure out where we were and which train to take, and locals helped us. When I was alone at Ginza, I couldn’t get a taxi, and this older gentleman saw me as he was walking. He stopped, helped me, and waited until I got into a taxi. These are just some of the incidents when I was amazed on how nice the Japanese are.

I hope I could capture their kindness, but I think the best way to experience that is to visit Japan.

This was my first trip here, and most definitely not the last.

Safe travels!

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