This past December my husband and I went on vacation to Tokyo, Japan. I’ve never really been to Japan before. I had only been to Narita Airport while transferring flights or when on a layover. I had a lot of mixed feelings about this trip, but it helped me understand a bit of why my husband LOVES Japan so much. It was also an important trip for him because he had to convince me to move to Japan in the future.
I decided to share about my trip to Japan in parts since we went to many places and experienced a variety of things. This post will be part one of a multi-part series. However, first I want to get a few things out of the way that I think are important for people to know before traveling to Japan.
Is Japan Really As Expensive As People Say?
Um, hells yeah! We brought a certain amount of money with us and I really believed it would be enough for about four days…but it wasn’t. We had to withdraw more money on the night of our third day.
Where Did All Your Money Go?
- Transportation, transportation, TRANSPORTATION!!! Since all the damn subway lines are privately owned, you have to buy new tickets each time you travel. It was super annoying! Apparently you can get subway cards, but I was a dumb dumb and trusted my even more dumb dumb husband to plan our Japan trip fully…never again! I would say that 75% of our money went to transportation.
- ALL THE FOOD!!! To be honest, I don’t think I tried enough Japanese food. My husband wouldn’t let me explore all the foods I wanted because we were running out of money so fast. Not all Japanese food is expensive though. Street food and convenience store food is priced okay. However, restaurants are pricy.
Is Tokyo Always Busy?
Like any other big city, of course Tokyo has heavy pedestrian and auto traffic. However, I never found it to be too crowded. In fact, I think some subway stations in Seoul have been more crowded than the ones I saw in Tokyo. During rush hour it is packed, but once again that’s common in any other major city. Plus, people were really polite and aware of their space so I never felt like I was getting smashed into others.
Where We Went:
Place 1: Our Hotel
We stayed at a chain hotel called APA Hotel. The specific one we stayed at is in Shinagawa. It was right near Sengakuji Station. We actually walked from Shinagawa Station not knowing Sengakuji Station was closer. The room was a bit smaller than expected. We only slept there, so we didn’t mind the small space. Let’s talk about the bed though!!! It was AMAZING! I’ve never been in such a soft bed before! The blankets were soft and heavy too. I felt like I was being hugged the whole night. However, the reason I chose this hotel is because of the breakfast buffet. It was so delicious and I loved the variety of traditional Japanese and Western breakfast food.
I tried changing up my breakfast everyday, but I tend to stick to things I like. I thought it was great to have eggs available in three ways (poached, scrambled, and fried). The sausages were the best part for me. I LOVE SAUSAGES! I give this place an 8/10.
Place 2: Shinjuku Geyon National Garden
I’m not a big city gal. In fact, I didn’t like Tokyo that much. It’s just like any other large city and I enjoy nature. My husband noticing that I was not feeling it (remember during this trip he was supposed to be convincing me to move to Japan) took me to this garden.
I was in awe. It was gorgeous and it had so many things to see and do. It features a Japanese Traditional Garden, an English Landscape Garden, and a French Formal Garden. It also has a lovely greenhouse. I’ve been to a few green houses in Korea, but this was so much better! There were even bananas, coffee, and other fruits growing in the green house! This place is a 10/10 for me! If I ever end up living in Tokyo, this will be my escape from the craziness of the city. It cost 200 Japanese Yen per person.
Place 3: Meiji Shrine
We went to this shrine twice, but the first time we couldn’t go past the gates because it had closed for the night. It’s located near Harajuku. Actually, we ended up not being able to see the shrine on our first attempt to see it because we spent too much time walking around Harajuku. They close the gates at sunset so you have to plan ahead if you want to see it. It’s also free, which is good!
It was quite a site. It was awfully quite for being right in the city. You kind of forget that you’re in the capital of Japan. The shrine is surrounded by beautiful woods. I give this place an 8/10 because even though it’s beautiful and a great piece of history, it’s basically like every other shrine in Japan.
I’d definitely see if you can stay at an APA Hotel. Make sure to check if they have a breakfast buffet and what’s on the menu. The Shinjuku Geyon National Garden is a MUST SEE! If/When I move to Japan, I plan on spending a lot of time there drawing and painting. It’ll be my little escape from the craziness of the city. Meiji Shrine was beautiful, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fit it into your itinerary.
For More Information & Directions:
- APA Hotel (Remember to always shop around for the best hotel room deal! This is just one site I found)
- Shinjuku Gyeon National Garden
- Meiji Shrine