I recently found a great flight deal from LAX to HND on Delta Airlines for $390 roundtrip and nonstop, so figured it was a no brainer trip that I had to take advantage of!
Getting around Tokyo is super easy, so I got a metro train ticket from HND (which by the way is closer to the city of Tokyo and cheaper to access than Narita), and went straight to my first hotel, Richmond Hotel Premier Tokyo Oshiage. It’s a very nice hotel and I enjoyed my stay, but it is very far from the city center (it is also a new hotel so the pricing was great for my first night in Tokyo).
So, after checking in, I got a quick meal which included some salmon, rice, kimchi and a high ball cocktail at a 24 hour restaurant where you order your meal from a vending machine. Of note, when traveling such a long distance, be sure to train your body to get on the time clock of where you’re heading.
Even though the flight was 12 hours, I had to stay up during the entire flight so that I could easily fall asleep when I landed at 10pm in Tokyo.
I woke up early and walked over to the Tokyo Skytree where you could get a glimpse of the whole city. I’d suggest going early (around 9am) since the lines are known to get pretty long and only going to the Tembo Deck which is about 2060 yen and you can see a lot.
After leaving Skytree, I took the metro to Shinagawa and checked into my next hotel, The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo, Autograph Collection. I used Marriott points for this stay and I must say, I did not want to leave this hotel.
Since I’m a platinum rewards member, the stay included free breakfast, access to the gym and whirlpool/sauna, a choice of snack and beverage upon arrival, and an upgrade. After checking in, I met my Tokyo guide that I found on tokyofreeguide.com. This was great because I got to see so much of the the city with a local guide, it was just me and him, and I only had to pay for his lunch and transportation.
We visited Asakusa area where we had sweet treats at the market and visited some shrines, then we had lunch at a traditional sushi place where we took our shoes off and had green tea with the meal. We then walked to Kappabashi where we experienced some very unique shopping and visited the plastic food shopping stores (very famous in Japan because it looks like real food, but its plastic).
We then took the train to Ueno park which was full of cherry blossoms, ponds and more beautiful shrines. Next stop was Ameya-Yokocho which was a lively local market filled with people and yummy Japanese food, then walked to Akihabara, which is the center of Tokyo’s Otaku subculture.
After my full day with my guide, I relaxed at the hotel and later than night had some spicy ramen for dinner and visited the Top of Shinagawa at the Prince Hotel where I tasted some Japanese whiskey and took in the view!
I woke up at a decent hour, had the delicious breakfast at the hotel which included a full spread buffet and egg choice (eggs benedict, omelette, or fried egg) and headed out for the day.
First stop was Meiji Jingu Shrine (which is beautiful and a must-see while in Tokyo), then I visited the Tokyo Government building where I was able to get an aerial view of Tokyo for free. It was a cloudy day, so I was unable to see Mt Fuji. If you’re looking for a free view, this is the place to go.
From there, I walked to Takeshita Street which was full of hip Japanese apparel and shoes. This is the place you want to visit to see the fashion-forward trends of Japan.
After walking around Takeshita, I headed over to Shinjuku Gyoen (Japanese Gardens) and took in the peaceful and serene walk. While there, I visited the tea house which served green tea and a sweet treat for 700 yen.
After my garden tour, I visited the famous 14 floor Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku. Here, you can find everything from Japanese designer apparel to a full basement of to-go food, wine, and desserts. Here I also tried some yakatori, and purchased my Japenese wine and whiskey (they also offer a delivery service free of charge to your hotel).
Of note, Takashimaya has a 5% off promo card for foreigners as well as a tax exemption procedure which is great! Just take your receipt to the tax counter and they give you your money back :).
After a long day of exploring, I had a yummy seafood dinner, and it was great because about 3-4 other restaurants were in the same building including a Dancing Crab (can’t remember the name of the restaurant where I dined).
I headed home and relaxed in the whirlpool and sauna for the evening.
It was a rainy Monday and was going to be a long day, so I relaxed for the morning, although my goal was to make it to the famous fish market. On my last day I visited Tokyo station and had the most amazing Ramen.
Go to Ramen Street inside of Tokyo Station and visit the last Ramen shop…totally worth the wait.
After some shopping, I headed to Ginza where there was tons of shopping, but I just strolled the streets until my 5:30pm reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro. If interested in getting a reservation, I suggest you email your hotel concierge to hopefully get you in, and be sure to give them a special a treat for the effort, cause it’s difficult to get in!
I’ll just say it was an ok-experience. It only lasted 20 minutes and the sushi was fresh, but nothing remarkable.
After dinner, I took the train to my final stop, The Ritz Carlton’s 45th floor lounge for a cocktail. It was a gorgeous hotel, but a little out of the way considering most guests take taxis or private cars instead of the metro. The service was impeccable and the Japanese wine was delicious.
I headed back to the hotel and relaxed in the whirlpool until it was time for my 9:30pm shuttle to the airport. Tokyo was great, and I hope you are able to visit one day soon or even for the 2020 Olympics!
Another tip would be to get the Pasmo card which allows you to load money onto your metro card since all the rates are different and there are so many different lines you can take to get around! Any questions, feel free to email or DM me, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @gemworldtours!