Tokyo – Details

29 07 2007

Note: We went to Tokyo in May 2006. Please scroll down to the first Tokyo post, titled “Tokyo – May 2006” to start at the beginning of this series of posts.

We stayed at the Dai-Ichi the first night, and then at a business hotel in Yaesu near Tokyo Station the rest of the time. The Dai-Ichi was beautiful and the staff excellent. The rooms are spacious with a luxurious bathroom. Definitely a great choice!

We flew to Narita from Chicago on a connecting flight through San Jose, CA on American Airlines. On the way back, we were able to fly directly to Chicago from Narita. American Airlines uses Boeing 777s on flights to Narita. You can take the Narita Express train to and from Tokyo Main Station, and it’s just an hour each way. Narita also has a nice mini-mall inside the airport where you can buy Japanese desserts to take home or Mikimoto pearls. For information on layovers in Narita, check out this great website: http://www.mgnewman.com/narita/index.html.

We had a very full schedule just doing 3 things in one day. The ideal pace would have been to visit 2 sites a day. The best shopping for souvenirs and gifts (and fresh traditional snacks) was at Asakusa.

Travel information and guidebooks: Lonely Planet -Tokyo provided a great overview for our trip. I also extensively used the Tokyo message board on Tripadvisor.com as a source of valuable information. I want to thank Route246 and the other forumers especially for their useful advice.

Some general comments:

– Tokyo is the most unique city I have ever visited worldwide. I would have to say that this is the cleanest, most efficient, and most crowded city I have ever visited.

– The Tokyo public transportation system is wonderful – clean, efficient, convenient. It was intimidating at first, but after the first time it was very easy to figure out. There are English maps in most of the stations. If there are no English maps, we just bought the lowest fare and adjusted it at the end of the ride. The fare machines all had English menus.

– For those who have never used the public transportation, the biggest thing to know is that the ticket is scanned when you enter and when you leave the station. Thus, if you bought the wrong fare, you can simply adjust the fare right before you leave in the fare adjustment machines that are situated right next to the exits.

– Since we stayed near Tokyo station, we found the Underground Mall adjoining it very useful. There were all kinds of food options and shops.

– I do not speak or read Japanese and was able to navigate and find everything fairly easily. The three words to know: Sumimasen (excuse me), Arigato gosaimasu (thank you very much), doko… (where). Please excuse my spelling. All the train and subway information and signage is labeled in English in Tokyo.

 

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