Travel Report: Tokyo!

I’ve recently returned from Tokyo and had an amazing time.  I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of the country!  With everything still fresh in my head, I thought I would share a few memories/words of advice.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo (Roppongi Hills)

I went back and forth about whether or not to stay here or at the Park Hyatt.  In the end, I’m very glad I chose the Grand Hyatt.  Given we were staying in a less pricey property (er, less than the Park Hyatt, at least), I decided to upgrade for a Club Room.  Best decision ever!  The view, fantastic staff, and complimentary breakfast and hors d’oeuvres hours every night really made our stay a treat.  Honestly, who is going to turn down two hours of free champagne every night?

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After visiting the Park Hyatt for drinks (big fan of Lost in Translation, doncha know?), I would say I’m very glad we stayed where we did.  Roppongi offered a different style of neighborhood and was close to quite a bit of shopping and restaurants.  I would absolutely stay at this property again.

Jet Lag

Wow – it’s usually not too much of an issue for me.  I’ll have a bad day or two, but nothing like the hours I kept waking up every night (even after sleeping a good six hours on the flight over, thanks Etihad biz class!).  I think next time I will bring melatonin and not fall asleep before 10PM on the first night!  And also not accidentally disconnect the alarm and wake up 5 minutes after the time set to meet the guide in the lobby, then proceed to run around the room yelling expletives whilst getting ready in less than ten minutes.

Hakone

Er…  It’s a lovely day trip outside of Tokyo.  In all honesty, it was easily the one thing I could’ve done without.  While it was wonderful to have a train ride outside the city and to see Mount Fuji (from a distance), the trip took up most of our day and we accomplished very little.  With a little more time (at least one day) and traveling not during one of the peak times (near New Year’s), the trains and buses were far too crowded for my liking (shout out to the annoying Americans Skyping in front of us!).  In the end, we got some cute souvenirs and a quick snap of Mount Fuji.  I don’t think I would recommend the trip to anyone, unless there was more time involved.

Inside Japan Tours

We booked most of the details of the trip with this company and I’m very glad we did.  Our guide was nothing short of fantastic.  A retired man with excellent English, Mr. Masa was polite, informative and full of energy.  The company also made arrangements to provide us with an IC Card and tickets to all our events were ready on arrival at the hotel.  While Hubs and I usually do not do anything like this upon visiting a new city, I think all of the arrangements and especially the guide made the best use of our time on the trip.  I actually would like to go back to Moscow and visit with a guide!

The Bar Cask

A little gem tucked away in Roppongi.  Although we could barely communicate with the (very cool) bar staff – the selection of whiskey was insane, the drinks were poured with professional flair and the intimate location made me sad we only discovered this bar at the end of our trip.  (Bonus: there was a dog present – it’s a special nerd out of mine to see animals where they are not supposed to be).

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Robot Restaurant

Go.

Don’t think.  Just book.  It is an event without equal.

(But don’t eat the Bento box).

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Yasuda Sushi

Can you tell we watch Anthony Bourdain?  As with above, this was another special evening.  On the recommendation of friends, we made our reservations well in advance.  We opted for the ‘we’ll eat whatever you put in front of us’ menu and I’m very glad we did.  Hubs and I are both big fans of sushi and were not disappointed.  We easily consumed 15 pieces each (and I think we were closer to 20).  Chef Yasuda is a great personality and quite gifted!

Toyku Hands

A department store without equal – hit up the big location near Shinjuku station and collect various and sundry gifts for friends back home.  The stationery level is out of this world.

Final Thoughts

Given my own weirdness, I thought I might be put off by the crowds – but everything is so…organized.  Public transportation is a breeze.  People are polite and things make sense.  Perhaps it’s that I live in a country/region where lines and queues aren’t respected, but I loved the order of it all.  I can’t wait to go back.

What are your thoughts?

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