This was our second family visit to Tokyo, Japan and we went for a total of 10 days and stayed in 3 different hotels. Japan was the favorite country that our daughters had visited the first time and this visit just confirmed those opinions.
After arriving at Narita Airport outside of Tokyo, we took the long bus ride to our hotel – Grand Hyatt Tokyo.
We’re fans of trying new hotels and our favorite hotel “brand” is Hyatt. On this trip we were staying at two different Hyatt’s so I took a lot of pictures of the hotel rooms and I apologize in advance if there are too many.
We had two rooms because my mother had joined us for this trip. So Judy and I had one room and my mother and our two daughters had the 2nd room. Because we had upgraded our rooms, we were on opposite sides of the floor with our room being 1102 and their room being 1120.
The suites were modern, spacious, and extremely comfortable. There were many touches and features throughout the suites that showed how much thought and care went into the room design.
This was room 1120 where my mother and daughters stayed:
And this was suite 1102, where Judy and I stayed:
The high-tech toilets that Japan is famous for were in full effect. I’m not sure about the rest of the controls but having a heated toilet seat is definitely a “nice to have” item.
We also had access to the Grand Club lounge where they had complimentary breakfast in the mornings plus extensive snacks and drinks throughout the day. For a complimentary breakfast, it was impressive spread.
One of the reasons we were excited to be visiting Japan at this time of year is the world famous Cherry Blossom trees would be in full bloom. We went to Ueno Park and it was a beautiful sight to see.
Within Ueno Park is the Ueno Zoo and the star attraction was the panda exhibit.
The next day we went to Shinjuku Gyoen Park, which is one of the most popular parks in Shinjuku to see the cherry blossoms. Another beautiful park with the blossoms in full bloom.
We visited the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest tower and the second tallest structure in the world (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai being the tallest structure). It was completed in 2012 and is 2,080 feet high with a dizzying view of Tokyo.
Alexis stood on the glass floor that looked directly down to the ground level. Intellectually you knew it was safe but emotionally…….
One of the things that we found surprising is how great the bakeries are in Japan. There are numerous bakeries everywhere we went with fresh baked bread, pastries, and other types of baked goods.
After 3 fantastic nights at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, we packed up and moved to our next hotel located in another part of Tokyo called Shinjuku. The doorman summoned two taxis for the five of us plus our luggage. The taxi were a pleasant surprise with the taxi driver’s dressed professionally and wearing white gloves. The cabs were so clean with white seat covers, a starkly different experience than what you normally encounter in the US.
Rather than the standard lobby and front desk at most hotels, at the Park Hyatt Tokyo you are greeted at the ground entrance of the building and escorted to an elevator, taken up the main hotel floor and introduced to another staff member. This staff member (I guess they would be called front desk agents but it seems very different) would sit down with you and go over the check-in. The check-in experience is very personal and after checking in, the same staff member escorted us directly to our rooms.
As with the Grand Hyatt, we had two rooms but this time we only upgraded the room that my mother and daughters were staying in. Our room was called a Park Deluxe King and did not quite have as modern a feel as the Grand Hyatt but was still very comfortable.
The view from our room over looked a city park.
My mother and daughters were in a Park Suite and it felt more like an upscale apartment residence than a hotel room.
As mentioned earlier, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is famous from the movie Lost in Translation and the New York Bar was the star location in that movie. Situated on the 52nd floor of the hotel along with the New York Grill, the views were spectacular. We did not eat dinner there but we did have a few drinks and appetizers while enjoyed the atmosphere.
The night views of Tokyo were mesmerizing, the pictures really don’t do it justice.
The pool is located on the 47th floor and made us wish we had brought our swimsuits. We walked the pool area at night and could only imagine how great it would be to lounge by the pool during the day with the fantastic views.
We ate our breakfast in Girandole, with my mother having having the traditional Japanese breakfast and the rest of the family being a bit less adventurous.
One of the areas of Tokyo that should to be on every visitor’s list is Akihabara, known for it’s vast options of electronics and technology shopping.
Another idea that would be wonderful to bring back to the US is the plastic food displays that are outside of most restaurants in Tokyo. Restaurants have their food replicated into permanent plastic (I’m assuming they’re plastic but could be made of something else) models of the food that they serve. This made it so much easier to order food when you have an idea of portion sizes and what’s included. Here are a few examples of the numerous food displays we encountered.
One of our favorite things to do in every country we visit is to stop at a local grocery store. It’s really interesting to see how similar and different grocery stores are in other countries as well as checking out the types of drinks, snacks, and other foods that the locals eat. One thing about Japan that was very apparent everywhere you go is the high level of cleanliness and sense of order that the Japanese people have. Even with fruits and vegetables, everything is organized and displayed with care.
The wide variety of flavors for snacks and drinks was fascinating. The 25+ flavors of KitKats alone was stunning.
For our final days in Tokyo we changed hotels again and moved to the Disney Resort area. Tokyo is a vast city and we found from our first trip that it’s easier to change hotels to the areas you want to visit rather than doing the long commutes back and forth.
There are two Disney parks at the Tokyo Disney Resort – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Unfortunately the day we spent in Tokyo Disneyland there was a massive cold front moving through Tokyo with rain and the temperatures dropped 30 degrees in 24 hours. All day we experienced freezing rain and it really took away the enjoyment of the park. One nice feature about Tokyo Disneyland compared to Disneyland in California or the Magic Kingdom in Florida is that the Main Street area is completely covered. Because of the weather, this ended up being the area we spent the most time in.
One memorable thing we did at Tokyo Disneyland was eat at the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, which is themed after the Queen of Hearts in the animated Disney movie Alice in Wonderland. The theming in the restaurant was well-done and the food was good, not to mention it got us out of the rain and cold for a bit. Unfortunately we were not the only people who thought of this idea…
Tokyo Disneyland is heads and tails above both US Disney parks in regards to popcorn. I know, popcorn, really? Americans should own that snack category. Throughout both Tokyo Disney parks there are carts with different flavored varieties of popcorn and these are the standard “sugar-coated” popcorn we see in the US. Some of the carts served flavors such as honey (as you can see below), curry, chocolate, white chocolate, cappuccino, strawberry, soy sauce, and milk tea.
The next day we went to the other park, Tokyo DisneySea, which is a unique Disney park only found in Japan. The attention to detail in general for Disney parks has always been impressive but DisneySea takes the crown.
One entire “land” is completely underground. It’s called Mermaid Lagoon and it simulates being under the ocean with theming from the Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid. The picture below is what the outside of Mermaid Lagoon looks like.
Then you descend into this colorful area that was huge, pictures don’t do it justice.
Another land was called the Arabian Coast.
Got to keep that head warm…..
Our daughters had a photo shoot where they were dressed in traditional Japanese geisha outfits. They had a blast doing this and the pictures came out gorgeous.
And as quickly as that, our 10 days in Japan were ending. Tokyo really is an amazing city with so many amazing sights and friendly people. We were continually impressed with how clean it was everywhere (especially public restrooms), how courteous and helpful all of the Japanese people we encountered were, and the variety of food and snacks that were available. As non-Japanese speakers, we had no problem with communicating with people, many who understood some English, and finding our way around the public transportation system. Tokyo is very cosmopolitan city where every type of cuisine is available so if you are concerned with what you are going to eat, you will find everything you can find in the US.
We have been fortunate to visit quite a few countries but we can say with certainty that if you have not been to Japan yet, it should be near the top on your list. We know we will be back.
Random final thought – On the way to the airport, we spied this car with this license plate. We’re thinking that we would probably request a replacement……..