I just got back from a vacation in Tokyo, Japan, late last week. I haven’t visited Tokyo since I was 12, so obviously my view and impression of it has changed, quite a bit! There are so many wonderful, interesting, and unique memories. Let’s start from the beginning.
I arrived right before midnight at Haneda International, an airport closer to downtown Tokyo, on the west side of the city. It’s a small and non-sophisticated airport1 that I was frankly unimpressed with. Since we arrived in the middle of the night, immigration officers were scarce, so the lines were long. Not a good start. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. However, it was a good thing my airport pick-up service was there to drive me to the hotel. The driver spoke excellent English2. He was very courteous, and informative! Great service, as I came to expect from Japan.
My family and I stayed in the 2nd busiest part of the city called Shinjuku. The hotel was minutes away from the Shinjuku Train/Subway Station, so it visit it almost every day. When we walked in, we were overwhelmed with the complexity of it! There were multiple lines of trains, hundreds of destinations, and thousands of people! It was mind boggling. It took a while for me to get my bearings. I came to realize I needed to start asking for directions. Thankfully, there were station personnel could speak a little English and was very helpful. They pointed me to the how, where, and how much. So, on with the adventure!
Our first visit was Tokyo Disneyland. We had to see first-hand, what’s different about this place.3 Everything looked familiar: Disney Store, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney Hotel & Resort, and the Monorail. There are subtle differences, like toys that looked anime-ish. Some of the people who visit, mostly girls, wore costumes and heavy make-up. They were dolled up. Oh speaking of dolls, the popular new attraction is Disney Sea, which is pretty much like Disney California Adventures, but much smaller. The main attraction there is Duffy Bear. Incidently, Duffy the stuffed animal, can only be purchased inside the park. Great marketing stunt, Disney! I could see the girls carry Duffy Bears on their knapsack and purses, proudly. A badge of honor, paying at least US$60 for one – plus accessories, you can customize the bear!
Then, we were off to Ginza, the most expensive district of Tokyo, where condos can be bought for US$17,000 per square meter! No wonder coffee costs $15 in this part of town. Since we were there to enjoy the scenery, we hung around mainly along the Harumi-Dori4 and Chuo-Dori. Plenty to see. Walked into a few luxury department stores, like Mitsukoshi. Of course, I also found the Apple Store!
Next post, we’re off to see Mt. Fuji…
- I base the “International standard” as Changi Airport in Singapore, the defacto big and fancy airport. [↩]
- Driver went to school in Los Angeles area for 4 years. [↩]
- I live in Anaheim, California, where the original Disneyland is! [↩]
- Dori means street. [↩]