We're in Japan! Tokyo, Part 1


Park hyatt picture

We’re in Japan! Right now we’re on the bullet train, or Shinkansen, to Kyoto and this is really the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down and write a post about our adventures so far. We’ve spent the last 4 days exploring as much of Tokyo as possible, which usually meant we woke up around 7am (Cody did not like this) and didn’t get back to the room until 7 or 8 at night (Cody didn’t like this either haha). Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Day 1

We touched down at Narita Airport at 2pm local time. We deplaned(this is an actual word. Cody always makes fun of me for saying disembark, but the right word is really deplane) and then had to queue up 3 separate times: one to get through immigration, once to get through customs, and then finally to pickup our 14 day train passes. Each queue required a new form to be filled out, and the whole process took about an hour and a half - ugh.

Next we boarded our first train, the Narita Express, and took the hour (ugh) train ride to Shinjuku Station (the airport is really far from Tokyo proper). Our first hotel was about a 15 minute walk from the station(ugh, who planned this trip?), so we had to hoof it down the street to the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

I earned two free night certificates to any Hyatt hotel in the world and redeemed them at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. The rate for a standard room in this hotel starts at $800 so this was by far the nicest hotel that we have ever, and probably will ever, stay at. We walked in and were immediately greeted by the staff. They then proceeded to escort us directly into our room; the hotel doesn’t really even have a front desk, they value customer service so much that they try to remove any waiting period before getting to your room. The staff showed us to our room, walked us through the amenities, and then opened the blinds to show this breathtaking view of Yoyogi Park and parts of Tokyo.

Park hyatt picture

Cody and I are simple people so we felt a little awkward during the whole ordeal. Here we are in one of the nicest hotels in Tokyo wearing two brightly colored hiking backpacks and smelling like we just got off a 13 hour flight - we are the exact opposite of the normal clientele that stay here.

After checking in we walked around Shinjuku, which is the area we were staying in for the next 3 nights, to try and get our bearings and to find some dinner. We picked a ramen place that was full of Japanese people - surely if the locals liked it then it must be good, right? Turns out, every place is full of Japanese people because Tokyo is an insanely heavily populated city. The ramen was still pretty good though.

Ramen Picture

At this point we had been awake for almost 24 hours, so we trudged back to the hotel and fell asleep.

Day 2

Cody is a Hyatt Diamond member, which is Hyatt’s top tier reward status. Cody has also never stayed in a Hyatt hotel before, so how she earned their top status is kind of a long story better saved for another time. Part of her status is that we get free breakfast at the hotel, which means the normally $40/person breakfast buffet was free for both of us. Awesome!

The weather forecast had a 100% chance of rain this day so we decided to visit a Japanese history museum first. This involved navigating the Shinjuku train station again, which in 2007 was the busiest transit hub in the world. Luckily all of the important signs are in English, so we used Google Maps to figure out what train would take us close to the museum and then found that specific track in the station. It took a few rides on the train before we were really comfortable navigating around, but honestly the hardest part was winding through the crowd of people.

Crowded Shinjuku Station

The rain cleared up after we left the museum so we decided to take the train to Akihabara, which is basically the animation (anime for short) district of Tokyo. It is considered the place to shop for video games, anime, computer parts, and pretty much any other nerdy things you can think of.

Picture of Akihabara train station

Part of our plan here was to visit an Owl Cafe. An Owl Cafe is a lot like a Cat Cafe, except with Owls instead of cats. Ok, so maybe Cat Cafes aren’t widely known either. Both are basically places where you can go hang out, pet, and play with whatever animals they advertise. We have a cat at home who sometimes tolerates our human presence in her general vicinity, so we weren’t interested in the Cat Cafe. We finally find the Owl Cafe, which was located on the 5th floor of a pretty nondescript building, and found out that it was by reservation only! We were crushed! Ok, maybe it was just me because I was pretty excited to get pictures taken with an Owl perched on my head. We’re still dedicated to visiting one of these places, so expect another update here soon.

There is also a Gundam Cafe in Akihabara. Unfortunately the Gundams are not real, you can’t pet them without looking like a weirdo, nor do they really move. This cafe is more of a traditional cafe where they serve food. Boring. Cody’s favorite anime is Gundam Wing so we definitely had to at least stop for a photo.

Gundam Cafe picture

We left Akihabara and headed to Ikebukoro station, which is the closest train station to the MEGA POKEMON CENTER.



This picture does not do justice to how excited Cody was to visit. They don’t have a big Pokemon store like this in America, and you can only get the really cool Pokemon toys here in Japan. We spent at least an hour there shopping around and weighing the pros and cons of buying every single Pokemon toy in the store.

After nearly buying the whole store, we headed back to the hotel for some free drinks at the hotel bar. We were pretty tired at this point so we decided to try this deliciously smelling Indian place we passed on the way to our hotel this afternoon.

Drinks at bar

We walked inside and discovered that this place was TINY. There was 10 seats maximum and they all wrapped around the kitchen. We both ordered chicken curry with naan bread. The naan bread was the size of a pizza which definitely was a sign that we picked the right place. The curry came out next and we were not prepared for how good it was. I am not ashamed to admit that I licked my bowl clean. This was by far some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had in my life.

Indian food

We headed back to the hotel with fully bellies and tired feet.

Next up on Cody and Nick will detail our last 2 days in Tokyo, including:

  • Our two and a half hour sushi meal, aka two and a half hours of pure bliss.
  • Tokyo Skytree, a 350 meter tall observation tower
  • Cody’s pen she bought for $6 at said Skytree
  • Life sized Gundam

Stay tuned!