Our honeymoon series:
Part 1: United First Class from SFO-NRT
Part 2: How to Get to Hotel from NRT Airport
Part 3: Andaz Hotel Tokyo
Part 4: Tokyo Itinerary
Part 5: How to get from Tokyo to Kyoto
Part 6: Hyatt Regency – Kyoto
Part 7: Kyoto Itinerary
Part 8: Shinkansen Kyoto to Tokyo
Part 9: Conrad – Tokyo Part 1
Part 10: Conrad – Tokyo Part 2
Part 11: Singapore Business Class Tokyo to Singapore
Part 12: Conrad – Singapore
Part 13: Silk Air Business Class Singapore to Danang
Part 14: Intercontinental Danang Part 1
Part 15: Intercontinental Danang Part 2
Part 16: Turkish Business Class Hanoi to Istanbul
Part 17: Turkish Business Class Istanbul to Rome
Part 18: United First Class Rome to Chicago
Here are our thoughts on spending day in Tokyo. The morning after we arrived in Japan, we ate breakfast outside the hotel. There is a nice cafe across the street called Good Morning Cafe with a few set options.
I chose the scrambled eggs, toast, yogurt, and tea while QL had toast, a hard boiled egg, yogurt, and an iced cappuccino . I think it was ~$12 all-in. We noticed that they have little baskets under the chairs to put your bag into, so that it doesn’t have to touch the floor. I thought that was a nice touch.
After breakfast, we started our day in Tokyo by taking the subway to visit the Meiji Shrine. We were busy with work and wedding planning before this trip so didn’t do as much research as we normally do. Thus, for the first couple days, we were paying for subway tickets each time, which ranged from ¥120 to ¥340, depending on how far you traveled. There is a 24 hour subway ticket available for ¥900, and that would have saved us several hundred ¥ the first couple days, plus time waiting in line. You should also note that there are a few subway lines in Tokyo, the Toei, the Tokyo Metro, and the JR lines. The 24 hour pass we found was only good on the Tokyo Metro. Here is pretty comprehensive write-up I found online.
We had booked an Imperial Palace Tour at 1:30pm, so we had a little time to kill after visiting the shrine. We walked to Shibuya to look around and get an early lunch. It was before 11AM and most of the shops weren’t open, but it was a nice, colorful area with lots of shops and brands. We wanted to try some udon, and wandered into a small alley lined with shops on our way to the udon restaurant.
Colorful Vendor in ShibuyaThe udon shop we were looking for is a chain called Hanamaru Udon. The process for ordering is you pick up a large tray upon entering, and also a small plate/tray if you plan on getting tempura. Look at the menu, there is English on it, and tell the person behind the counter what you would like, what size you would like (small, medium, or large), and whether you would like it hot or cold. We both went with the ontama bukakke udon.
From there, you move to the tempura station. We went with shrimp and sweet potato, both of which were freshly fried and delicious at 11:30AM. QL really enjoyed the sweet potato tempura. She said it was the best tempura she ever had.
From there you can top your udon off with tempura flakes and sesame seeds. We spent about ¥1,100 on our lunch.
We passed a cream puff/eclaire place on the way to the udon shop. QL had ordered a small udon since she wanted to go back and get one. I think they were ¥250 each.
We continued our day in Tokyo from there, making our way through some very small alleys back to a subway station to go to the Imperial Palace. If you would like to do a Palace tour, you need to book it online a couple months before you go. I believe April tours open up on March 1, May tours open up on April 1, and so on. The tour meets at a south, central entrance to the palace. We suggest going early to give yourself time to find the correct entrance. The Palace grounds are quite expansive, and it was a much longer walk than we anticipated. There also are audio guides that are available on a first come, first serve basis. We got there around 1:20pm and all the audio guides were taken by the time we were checked in. This ended up being key to the experience, since the tour was given by a guard entirely in Japanese.
We started in a large hall, and were instructed to bring our own water as the tour was about 90 minutes and you can’t leave in the middle of it. There are vending machines in the back of the room, and the prices are standard.
The tour wound through a portion of the palace, and as I mentioned earlier, we didn’t get much out of it since it was given in Japanese and we arrived too late to get an audio guide. Looking back on the experience, we wouldn’t recommend going on this tour if you are short on time and deciding among a few options.
After a short break back at the hotel, we finished our day in Tokyo by heading to Ramen Ichiban in Roppongi to try the famous Ramen. The restaurant wasn’t easy to spot as it is on the second floor. Before going inside, you order from a vending machine. Don’t worry if you want extra noodles later, you can pay for that in cash inside. The process was very easy as the options are listed in English and Japanese.
Once you select what you’d like to order, the machine will dispense tickets. Take the tickets, step inside, and look for the lighted board. The lights represent seats along the counter (there are three rows of counters at this location), and a green light means the seat is available. There are hangers behind the seats to hang your coats. Tissues are available there as well.
When you sit down, you fill out a form, making various selection such as how strong and spicy you want the broth, how much garlic you would like, whether you would like green onions, etc. There might only be a Japanese form when you sit down. If that’s the case, push the button on the right side of the counter and ask the attendant for an English form.
After you’ve filled out your form, push the attendant button on the right side of the counter, and when the attendant comes, give him your form and your tickets. In a few minutes, they will provide you with your egg (if you ordered one) and your ramen. The broth was a rich, tonkotsu style, and overall the ramen was very good.
Every seat has its personal water dispenser with clean glasses located above the spout.
We were still feeling the jet lag after dinner, so we returned to the hotel for a couple Asahis and called it a night.