Tokyo in Early May

Oct 28th, 2015, 05:00 AM
  #1  
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Tokyo in Early May

Just beginning to plan for a late April/early May trip to Tokyo. This will be our first trip to Japan. Will be using our AA miles flyover coach to Narita and business back home to Houston. We will be staying at the Tokyo Hilton for 7 days.

OK now we would like some ideas on what to do and see. Note we are not into museums but enjoy sight seeing, shopping (not the high end stuff), markets (no fish or wet markets). We do not eat sushi, or other fish but do like shrimp tempura, fried rice, beef teriyaki , some noodles.

Also we do not carry debit cards and do not use ATMs for local currency so looking for the best places to exchange dollars.

Having no experience in Japan we would be looking for tips and general do's and don't s . Also any advice on using the metro/trains. To get around.

More questions to follow later.

Thanks,

Billt
MrsBillT is offline  
Oct 28th, 2015, 07:54 AM
  #2  
 
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Bill, do you know about www.japan-guide.com ? Best info on Japan.

If it was me, I wouldn't spend a week in Tokyo... I'd either divide my time with another destination, or I'd spend the whole week in Kyoto.

If you choose not to take money out of an ATM, you can change money upon arrival at the airport. But you will likely need to change enough for your whole stay, as finding places to change US dollars into yen will not be easy.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 28th, 2015, 04:22 PM
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Wow..so many conditions "we do not do this, or that, we do not eat this or that..."


Hopefully you _do_ travel on trains - if you like nature then Mt Fuji is nice. Temples are a-plenty. Tokyo tower and Roppongi areas are nice to wander around.

If you like japanese cartoons, Ghibli Museum is a must (limited places/prebook)

Lots of lovely gardens.

Happy tavle.s
PhiMeow is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 07:35 AM
  #4  
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Thanks Kathie, but for us we are big city people so I think there's plenty for what we like to stay in Tokyo. For the other poster
, yes we like trains. For us we like the 5star hotel experience so the Hilton Tokyo fits that fine aswe will be using points. Next up food and as long as we can get tempura , fried rice, teriyaki, noodles we will be fine. Shopping is a big must for Olive so I am investigating where we can go for that. No high end designers but the local designers, local crafts, nice department stores, markets (but asI indicated no wet or fish markets). Parks, temples, green spaces all are good. I am right now looking at the Tokyo subway system and it does appear daunting to say the least.
MrsBillT is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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I'm with Kathie. Especially with all of the conditions you've laid out, you've ruled out several of the key things one would do in Tokyo (Tsukiji fish market; sushi breakfast; Tokyo National Museum; Edo Tokyo museum, etc.) Despite its being one of the world's largest cities, there just isn't that much to see in Tokyo. (kind of like Houston. ) You'd be much better off spending 2 days in Tokyo and then training down to Kyoto for the remainder of your trip.
MinnBeef is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 08:12 AM
  #6  
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AsI have said often know thy spouse. Olive does not do museums, does not do fish markets, wet markets. Shopping is her thing, and I enjoy it as well. We like seeing other sights such as temples, parks, green spaces. We like to take things slowly, have a long breakfast and explore a few venues. There are plenty of shopping venues in the city that should keep us occupied for a week while we throw in some parks, temples, and other places around town. It's not everyone's cup of tea but it's ours. So while we welcome all suggestions these are the things that we likely willl focus on.
MrsBillT is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 08:17 AM
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Be mindful that you would likely be right smack in Golden Week, depending on your exact dates. Make sure you book everything very early (hotels, trains, etc.) and expect huge crowds. (especially if you do end up going to Kyoto)

FWIW, maybe I am in a minority but I really do enjoy Tokyo quite a bit and at least from my perspective there is a lot to see and do there. Navigating the subway is actually easy once you understand how it works (distance-based fare, various companies/lines, etc.), and it is extremely efficient and safe. There are some interesting day trips you can do, for example Yokohama, Kamakura just to name these two. I could easily fill a week there, but then I also do enjoy museums and have a keen interest in the Japanese culture and language.

This being said, there is no question that Kyoto is also very much worth the effort as mentioned above, steeped in history, being very different from modern Tokyo, as it was Japan's capital for 1000 years. It is very much the traditional Japan, kind of an antithesis to Tokyo. It all depends on your interests and what is important to you.

Also, I am allergic to fish and seafood so I was quite apprehensive the first time I went to Japan. While this does impose many dietary limitations (obviously!), I found it relatively easy to find things I indeed could eat, such as yakitori, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, etc. I never had a problem.

I am a little curious as to why you would not use ATMs - by far the best way to get yens.
kanadajin is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 08:18 AM
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Let me just say that Kyoto is also a big city. I think Olive would enjoy shopping in Gion. I'm a big city girl, but I was not fond of Tokyo. I hope you will find things you enjoy there.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 08:33 AM
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http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3034.html

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/index.html

http://www.japanvisitor.com/tokyo-tr...emples-shrines

I like Tokyo very much, but I usually go to a number of museums/exhibitions when I visit. However, there are numerous lovely parks and interesting temples and shrines. See above links....
Mara is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 09:48 AM
  #10  
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Thanks for the info. This is going to be a short trip of one week on the ground so this time we will keep it confined to Tokyo, however we will probably return on a future trip so we will likely do Kyoto as Kathie suggests.
MrsBillT is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 10:50 AM
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I love Tokyo! One of our fav places in Japan soooo much to do eat see and shop. Across the street from you and to the left you will see the tall Sumitomo Blg. In the top floors (47 thru 51 I think) are some very good restaurants. Chinese, Japanese, French, etc. take a look. In that bldg is also a Kobe beef restaurant we like called Misono

http://www.misono.org/en/shinjuku.html

Of course our fav little French bistro is
"Le Coup Chou"
http://www.tokyojapanguide.com/coupchoutokyo.php
Tell sugitasan the manger you know me. Will get you a smile and a table if no reservations and they have one lol.

Sightseeing: Tokyo Skytree, Imperial Palace, Shinjuku Gyoen one of our fav parks,Akihabara, Ueno Park,Ginza, Harajuku preferably on a weekend. Lots of great shopping here. So many venues and sights to see. Take a look at the Japan guide site Mara left for you above and come back with more specific questions about your interests. Another good restaurant that even Bob enjoyed was at the Tokyo gtg we had in the Gonpachi Restaurant Nishi-Azabu. About a fifteen minute taxi from the Hilton.

http://en.japantravel.com/view/gonpa...ill-restaurant

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 29th, 2015, 02:39 PM
  #12  
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Thanks, just beginning my research as we have 6 months to go. Then we are headed to Hawaii (grand daughter wedding) in September and headed to Manila right afterwards.
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Oct 29th, 2015, 11:01 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Among the things you can learn on japan-guide.com (and it really does cover just about everything you might want to know, including what to see, what the dos and don'ts are, what foods you can expect, how to get around, how to manage cash....) are ideas about day-trips from Tokyo. You might want to consider Kamakura and/or Nikko....

One big no-no: leaving tips. Don't.
kja is offline  
Oct 31st, 2015, 04:19 AM
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Regarding food, I can totally understand having things you prefer not to eat, and I think that's completely fine. What I would say though, is not to restrict yourself only to the few items you have heard of / enjoyed of Japanese food in your home country (is that the US? I wasn't sure). There is so much fantastic food that you may not have come across but would likely enjoy.

Look up things like okonomiyaki -- a cross between a pancake and a pizza - imagine a batter with shredded cabbage mixed in, cooked on a hot plate, sometimes noodles are added in -- and then there are toppings or mix ins like shrimp or pork etc), and there are noodle shops that specialise in just udon noodle dishes or just soba noodle dishes, worth trying both. Also ramen, do you know if you like it? It's a bowl of broth (there are different styles, tonkotsu is a rich pork broth, shoyu is a lighter soy sauce broth, shio, another light salt-based broth and miso, made from miso paste - if you want to know more on miso let me know. Oh and gosh, tonkatsu (take care, it's not the same as tonkotsu) which is pork fillets in breadcrumbs deep fried, and one of my very favourite things to enjoy in Japan. There's also yakiniku which I think is known as Japanese BBQ in the US but is considered a Korean import in Japan, you sit at a table with your own indoor barbeque, order meats either plain or with marinades of different kinds, and a few veg, and cook them yourself on the grill. Another favourite of mine.

If you are interested in expanding your food plans more, just shout and I can continue on the same lines...

Day trips are definitely an option, others are far better experienced in those than me.

For shopping, if you are interested in cooking, you could visit Kappabashi Dori (dori means street), an area of kitchen equipment shops, heaven for those into that kind of thing (aka me!)

The department stores are fab, I love Tokyu a lot but all of the big names are worth visiting.

Most department stores have a restaurant floor btw which is home to usually independent restaurants of different kinds, these are great places to find some damn good food. Oh and department stores also often have food basements, these are perfect for takeaway food to enjoy in a park or in your hotel room.

Oh, I kind of love the 100 Yen stores, particularly Daiso - my favourite branch is the one at Harajuku.
Kavey is offline  
Oct 31st, 2015, 04:21 AM
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Oops, I got sidetracked on the ramen -- so the bowl of broth comes with ramen noodles at the bottom, with various toppings, often some spring onion / scallion, some pickles, slices of pork and the rest varies more depending on what you order.
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Oct 31st, 2015, 03:37 PM
  #16  
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OK here is what we are thinking, leisurely breakfast at the hotel, head out for parks, palaces, temples, then in the late afternoon visit the stores and eat at the food court or store restaurants. That might be our plan each day.
MrsBillT is offline  
Oct 31st, 2015, 09:43 PM
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While I love Kyoto, there is plenty to do in Tokyo to fill your time. Anyone who says there isn't much to do in Tokyo is like saying there is not much to do in NYC. If you go beyond the main tourist sites there are many interesting places and neighborhoods to explore, discover and enjoy.

Regarding food, while stores, food courts and store restaurants are fine for what they are and quite good, please don't limit yourselves to just those. Tokyo has an amazing food scene for every taste and budget. While many places have limited English skills, hospitality and service is still highly practiced, so go ahead and explore.
curiousgeo is online now  
Nov 1st, 2015, 01:35 AM
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I agree, I wouldn't limit your evening meals to only what is available within department store restaurant floors (they aren't food courts, they are usually a floor with several regular, individual restaurants) and food halls.

While you are walking around, visiting temples and parks, you will simply come across many food options - the soba noodle specialist, the udon noodle specialist, the gyu don (beef on rice) restaurant, the tempura restaurant, the ramen restaurant, the katsu restaurant, the okonomiyaki restaurant...

It's a little odd not speaking the language but with basic translation tools on your phones or in a phrase book, you will do just fine, especially in Tokyo where there is a higher likelihood of someone in the establishment speaking some level of English. But you'll do fine even if they don't.

You can ask your hotel to recommend specific places if you are uncomfortable just selecting by eye, but really, we didn't have a poor meal in any restaurant we visited on either of our two trips.
Kavey is offline  
Nov 1st, 2015, 11:15 AM
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Forgot to mention a helpful resource we've used for our travels in Japan, Tokyo: 29 Walks in the World's Most Exciting City (there is also a Kyoto: 29 Walks). Lot's of useful information beyond just the listing of major tourist sites, delving into different neighborhoods and great walking tours.

http://www.amazon.com/Tokyo-Walks-Wo.../dp/4805309172
curiousgeo is online now  
Nov 1st, 2015, 02:29 PM
  #20  
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Thanks, now what about the best metro map and guide as the system there is HUGE!
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