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jkgourmet1 Aug 2nd, 2018 03:20 PM

Neighborhood and Hotel Advice for Tokyo
I'd like some advice for our specific needs. We are a group of four seniors. Two can walk long distances, two not so much (and those two also have problems with A LOT of stairs). We will be in Tokyo for 3 nights prior to a cruise. I understand that taxi's can be frightfully expensive, so we should stay near the JR Yamanote train line, correct?We will be arriving at Narita, so easy transportation (with luggage) from the airport to our hotel is necessary. None of us are doing a lot of late night partying anymore. :) Walking to a wide variety of restaurants and maybe some bars is needed. Our budget is up to $250 per night, but less would be much better. Here's the catch: My preference is to stay in an area that 'feels' like we are in Tokyo (as we American tourists imagine it.) Their preference is to stay in US type hotels (hilton, Intercontinental, etc) , which often end up being in commercial centers. One couple needs a room with two beds, while the other would prefer one bed (a double is fine).I'd very much appreciate your suggestions for neighborhoods as well as specific hotels.

Adastra2200 Aug 3rd, 2018 07:25 PM

A few things -- A taxi can be expensive, but it depends on how far you are traveling, plus when. And if there are 4 of you in a taxi sharing the cost, then it is not so expensive anymore. On my last trip to Tokyo I was dead tired at one point, and opted for a taxi for myself - some taxis have a rate of 410 yen for the first 1052 meters, which suited me perfectly. I certainly wouldn't spend all your traveling only by taxi though - costs do add up, and it is not necessary. You can get nearly anywhere you want to by train or subway, and many stations have elevators to the surface, plus if a long distance, many have escalators. Staying near a Yamanote Line station has its advantages - the line goes to many popular tourist areas, plus it travels a loop so it is more or less idiot proof - even if you were to start going in the wrong direction, you'd still eventually get there. The stations can vary though - plopping some first timer in the middle of Shinjuku Stn would be the absolute last thing I'd want to do - I'm fluent in Japanese and can easily read all the signs, but sometimes it can still be disorienting. Hotel location matters of course, but it is also important in relation to where you plan to go to, and you have not given any info on that yet.

As to what "feels like we are in Tokyo" means, that is a lot more nebulous. Finally, finally the tired old ignorance of all Japanese women wearing kimono every day has long since died out, but Tokyo is a modern city and a busy megalopolis. What precisely are you expecting? Different parts of Tokyo have different environments. Areas like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or Marunouchi are very modern and active, whereas others like Asakusa or Yanaka have a more old traditional feel. There are areas that cater to virtually anything.

Kavey Aug 4th, 2018 03:16 AM

To add to Adastra's excellent response:

Most of the subway / train stations have lifts and escalators to enter/ exit BUT they can be tricky to find. Many of the stations have several different exits and we typically found that only one would have the lift and/ or escalator, with the rest providing stairs. As the distances between different exits can be a fair bit, it's often a trade off between more stairs / shorter walk and lift or escalator / longer walk. You should be able to google for station maps in advance, these often show which exit has the lift or escalators.

For a neighbourhood with traditional Japanese aspects as well as modern Tokyo, I love Asakusa. You can find comfortable Western hotels here, to cater for your accommodation needs. We liked the Richmond Hotel Premier Asakusa International on our last trip, having stayed at a number of different hotels in Tokyo on various visits. I don't know what level of hotel you are looking for and whether your friends would insist on an American chain.

Maranouchi is, in my mind, somewhat the most international, with lots of shopping malls and restaurants. It's centred on Tokyo Station which can be convenient, but I didn't love this is as an area to stay from a tourism perspective.

Guenmai Aug 4th, 2018 06:11 AM

I'm back in Japan right now and again did 5 nights in Tokyo before moving on to Kyoto.

As for where to stay in Tokyo, it depends on what you want to do and see. I think you need to figure that out first. As for taxis, I taxied around quite a bit, along with doing a lot of walking and taking both the train and the subway. I'm one person. You are four people, take a taxi and split the costs. Chip in and get a Suica card and then use it to pay the taxi fares and then not have to fumble with counting out money. I use mine all the time and will use it again when I get back to Tokyo at the end of next week. I kept it from last summer as it's good for a decade and if one doesn't use it all up, it can be refunded.

As for neighborhoods to recommend, I can't recommend one over another one as I don't know what you want to see or do. Personally I stay in Marunouchi and am more than happy with it as Tokyo station is a 5-minute walk from my hotel, on the same street, and I am in and out of Tokyo station a lot. Last week, I decided to go to Disney Sea and got there in 18 minutes as the train was a direct one from Tokyo Station to Maihama Station. So, it's important to know what you want to do and see in order to plan where to stay.

As for train stations in general, even if you find an elevator/escalator there is a lot of walking within train/subway stations to get to where you need to go to catch a train/subway train.

Happy Travels!

jkgourmet1 Mar 16th, 2019 09:19 AM

An update: We decided on Asakusa. Originally booked at the Asakusa View, but then realized that it was several blocks away from the main Asakusa train station and that the brand new Hotel Gracery was very close to the station. We switched to that hotel.

I've arranged for one of the Goodwill guides for two days - what a wonderful service! - and we're really looking forward to our few days in Tokyo then 14 day cruise around japan and S Korea.

Kavey Mar 18th, 2019 09:47 AM

Originally Posted by jkgourmet1 (Post 16888717)
An update: We decided on Asakusa. Originally booked at the Asakusa View, but then realized that it was several blocks away from the main Asakusa train station and that the brand new Hotel Gracery was very close to the station. We switched to that hotel.

Note that there are two Asakusa stations on different lines.

The Asakusa View is very close to the Asakusa station that's on the Tsukuba Express line.

The Gracery is close-ish to the Asakusa station used by Tobu Railway, Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway, operating the Tobu Skytree Line, the Ginza Line and the Toei Asakusa Line.
The Keisei Skyliner / Skyaccess / express trains from Narita airport come in at the southern end here.
(Using the Narita Express, you'd need to make a couple of changes to reach Asakusa)
From Haneda airport, I think it's the Keikyu-Kuko Line that's direct to this station.

There isn't an interchange between the two Asakusa stations, and they are about 8-10 minutes walk apart.

I'd say that both locations are actually pretty good location for enjoying the area, but obviously connections are better at the one nearer the Gracery.

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