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OUR FULL ITINERARY
We spent 9 nights in Japan on our first visit. It was myself, my husband and our 12 year old son.
3 nights/3 days in Tokyo
3 nights/2 days in Tokyo Bay (Disneyland Tokyo/DisneySea)
3 nights/3 days in Kyoto
We arrived in Japan at HND airport around 3pm. We only had carry on luggage and there was absolutely no wait at passport control. We were in the main terminal area within 15 minutes of getting off the plane.
We used Klook to hire a private driver from the HND airport to our Hotel (Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills). We were able to locate the driver within 10 minutes by sending photos of where we were standing in the terminal. The cost for the private transfer was only $64 and I highly recommend it. He had a new, incredibly comfortable mini van.
We booked 3 nights at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills using Chase points we transferred to Hyatt. We used 35K points per night, saving $3304. When we arrived for check in, they offered us water or juice or soda and had us check in at a table in the lobby. This move – the checking in while seated in comfy chairs, not standing at a check in desk – is the first signal that this would be a good stay.
But it was actually a great stay. We are Hyatt Globalists (the top tier loyalty status with Hyatt). They walk you up to your room to show you around. Again – fancy! When we walked in and saw the view of Tokyo & the bay I was blown away.
I could go on & on about this hotel. But, suffice to say we all absolutely loved it. It was luxurious without being stuffy or snooty. The bathroom was gorgeous, spacious, large closet, comfy beds. Of course with Andaz you can have any non alcohol items in the fridge free of choice. One day we asked for a couple of extra waters and every day they left us about 6.
Breakfast was included with our stay because of our status. Wow. Fantastic. And in their gorgeous restaurant with more fantastic views. We also used the hot tub facilities while we were there and really enjoyed that.
Location – we loved the location. It’s in more of a business district and we were there over the weekend so not crazy crowded. There are a bunch of buildings all clustered together and there’s a food court in one and a 7-11 in one. And in the bottom of the Andaz, is the entrance to the metro. It’s about a 10 minute walk to get there. Which is the complaint I most often read about in reviews. It really didn’t bother us at all.
We were exhausted on the 1st night and simply sought out a 7/11 as we’d heard amazing things about the food. We got a ton of stuff to try and brought back to our hotel room. The room has a huge wooden table in front of the giant window over looking Tokyo, so it was actually a fantastic place to eat our 1st night. Our favorite item… 7/11’s egg salad sandwich!
We splurged on a private tour guide for 4 hours. We got to pick exactly what we wanted to do. AND she met us at our hotel! This part was key because we wanted her to show us the ins & outs of using the metro. We booked through Viator (and clicked through the American Airlines shopping portal so we could earn more points!) with Japan Wonder Travel. Laila was our guide and she was incredible.
My 12 year old son wanted to immerse himself in all the pop culture and all the things he’d seen on YouTube.
So our morning consisted of…
Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko Statue
MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya Honten
Giant, ‘life-sized’ Godzilla Head statue peering over the terrace at the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
Character Street inside of Tokyo Station
While visiting these places we got to see the famous 3D cat billboard, order lots of treats to try along the way (the fruit caked in liquid sugar, insane bubble tea, the rainbow cotton candy bigger than my head). We got to do claw machines for a bit (my son won a giant pillow on his 2nd try!) and we also learned the ins & outs of the many, many drink vending machines (if the color under the item is blue, it’s a cold item – if the color under the item is red, it’s a hot item).
I thought it would be too much to get through or feel rushed, but the metro connects everything so seamlessly and our guide spaced everything out perfectly. It was a great 1st morning intro.
And parting ways at Tokyo Station around lunch time was perfect because, holy cow, there are endless food options there! We just randomly chose a restaurant and everything was delicious.
We stayed at Tokyo Station for a while and were exhausted by the time we returned to our hotel. We found the food court in the basement of one of the nearby buildings and had ramen for dinner.
We woke up to howling rain, high winds. Perfect morning to have a leisurely breakfast and then spend time at the hotel pool/hot tubs. There’s a back room corner of the lady’s locker room with 2 incredible massage chairs. I highly recommend.
The rain finally let up a bit and we spent our afternoon exploring Ginza. There are food courts in the mall basements and they are so great! We loved walking around this area, popping into the mall and exploring all the side streets.
That evening we had a food tour. We did the All Star Food Tour with Arigato Food Tours. Our guide was so sweet and we really liked her. However, the stops were really disappointing and I can not recommend this tour. Some of the food was pretty inedible (think crunchy chick meatballs that shouldn’t crunch). The other family on our tour also voiced their unhappiness to us. This tour gets great reviews normally. So, take my review as just one of many.
Today was Tsukiji Outer Market. We got there around 9am and it was already pretty crowded. But by the time we left around noon it was crazy crowded. At first the market is a little overwhelming. But then you just look to see which booth has a line, does that food look yummy? If so, get in line.
My goal was amazing wagyu. And I found it at a little stand called OIDEYA. It was definitely a splurge at about $33 for a skewer of 4 pieces of wagyu. But it was heavenly.
My son’s goal was tuna sushi. We saw a little place with a small line and were very glad we did. It was so good we went back for seconds.
So, basically, you walk around, eat a lot. And there are bathrooms there which is nice (near the entrance).
Later in the afternoon we had reservations at Tokyo TeamLab Planets. I’d read such mixed reviews I wasn’t sure what to expect. We only spent about an hour inside and we loved it. It’s very affordable and something just super different. When you arrive there’s a line for entry – you have timed entries, we got there during our window, and waited just about 10 or so minutes to go in. You have to put everything in a locker, including your shoes since there’s a big water exhibit you walk through. The water room may have been my favorite… or maybe the flower room. We were all really happy we went.
So, yep. We just barely scratched the surface on Tokyo. To be honest, since we’ve gotten so good at using our points and miles for travel, we don’t rush and go crazy. We know if we like a city, we’ll be back. And we all definitely want to go back one day 🙂
Then it was early evening and time to check out of Andaz and head to our next location… 3 nights at Hyatt Regency Tokyo Bay.
METRO & TRANSPORTATION TIPS
At the time of our visit Suica and Pasmo cards were no longer being sold. If you have a smart phone, you can download the app, add money to the account and use your phone to zip through the metro turnstiles. However, we chose to buy individual metro tickets for every ride as our son (12) does not have a phone. So we’d have to buy him a ticket for every ride anyway. This honestly was absolutely fine and never added more than a few minutes to us getting on the metro.
Metros are spotless. You will not see anyone eating on them. Rides are very inexpensive. Usually $1 – $2 per ride.
Google maps is your best friend. It breaks down exactly what train to take and even which exit to take once you arrive at the station. As you see from the phone below, these posts clearly label where the train is going (stops are H06 – H22).
We did opt to take Ubers & taxis a few times. Taxis can have smoke odor 🙁
On longer rides, we opted for Uber black. They were not that much more than a taxi or regular Uber. And every time we ordered one, a gorgeous mini van with captains chairs, climate control and a driver in a suit (and often white gloves) showed up. We did Uber Black to Teamlab and also from our hotel in Tokyo to our hotel in Tokyo Bay and thought the small extra expense was well worth it for the complete comfort.
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