Looking for feedback: Tokyo 10-night itinerary

Discussion in 'Asia' started by kagami, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. kagami

    kagami Active Member

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    Hi all,

    I've been following Milepoint anonymously for a few months now, and I thought this would make a good first post for a newbie. [​IMG] I've posted the same thread on Flyertalk as well, hoping to get as much input as I can.

    We're planning a 10-night leisure stay in Tokyo in late March/early April this year, and we've put the following itinerary together, with an emphasis on eating and shopping (and cherry blossoms!). It would be my first time in Tokyo, and I'd be grateful for any feedback you can provide.

    We've read some good things about the Westin Tokyo, and do plan to stay there for the entire duration. I do have SPG Plus status, and hope to have SPG Gold before the start of our trip; free in-room wifi would make our life a lot easier.

    Excepting the duration of the trip, nothing else is set in stone, and time frames serve only as rough guidelines.

    Please let me know if there are any must-eat, must-drink, or must-see highlights you'd recommend!

    Sorry in advance for the wall-o'-text. [​IMG]


    Day1 - Arrival
    4:00 PM Arrival @ Narita Airport
    6:00 PM Check in to Westin Tokyo
    6:30 PM Spa - Jet Lag therapy @ Westin Le Parisien spa
    8:30 PM Dinner in Akabane @ Chirori

    Day2 - Tsukiji & Roppongi
    7:30 AM: Tsukiji breakfast @ Sushi Dai
    9:30 AM: Outer market shopping
    11:30 AM: Lunch in Roppongi @ Sarashina Horii - Soba
    12:30 PM: Roppongi Hills shopping (Tokyo tower - Day time view)
    6:30 PM: Dinner in Roppongi @ Raku-tei - Tempura
    8:00 PM : Roppongi hills 52 F observatory - Night time view
    10:00 PM: Saiseisakaba in Shinjuku

    Day3 - Imperial Palace & Ginza Day 1
    8:00 AM Breakfast
    9:30 AM Imperial Palace tour (Kikyo-mon Gate)
    10:50 AM Visit Pierre Herme's bar chocolat
    11:30 AM Lunch in Ginza @ Nodaiwa - Freshwater Eel
    12:30 PM Ginza Shopping
    4:30 PM Buy snacks and souvenir treats in Ginza @ Fugetsudo
    5:00 PM Ginza Shopping
    7:00 PM Dinner in Ginza @ Sushi Aoki - Sushi
    9:00 PM Izakaya in Ebisu @ Toki-no Ma

    Day4 - Ginza Day 2
    8:00 AM Breakfast
    9:00 AM Shopping in Ginza
    11:30 PM Lunch in Ginza @ Ginza Toyoda - Kaiseki
    1:30 PM Shopping in Ginza
    4:00 PM Dessert @ Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki and Pierre Herme
    4:30 PM Spa @ Conrad Tokyo
    7:30 PM Dinner in Ginza @ Douraku - Dungeness Crab
    9:30 PM Izakaya / Bar @ Ebisu

    Day5 - Mt. Fuji
    Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi guided day tour

    Day6 - Shinjuku
    8:00 AM Breakfast
    9:00 AM Shinjuku Gyoen Park
    10:00 AM shopping @ drugstores and streetfood
    12:00 PM Lunch in Shinjuku @ Nakajima - Grilled Fish Set Lunch
    1:00 PM Shopping (Drugstores and streetfood)
    3:30 PM shopping at Isetan 10F department store Food @ Takashimaya (depachika)
    4:30 PM shopping at department stores
    7:30 PM Dinner in Shinjuku @ Sernya Mon Cher Ton Ton - Wagyu beef
    8:30 PM Kabukicho sight-seeing
    10:00PM Yakitori alley snacking

    Day7 - Sensoji & Akihabara
    9:00 AM Nakamise arcade (breakfast)
    9:30 AM Sensoji Temple "Thunder Gate”
    11:00 PM Lunch @ Asakusa - 大黑家tempura
    12:30 PM University of Tokyo
    1:00 PM Shop around @ Ueno Ameyoko (Drugstores and 1000 yen shops and sweets)
    4:00 PM Home cafe @ Akihabara
    5:00 PM shop around @ Akihabara
    8:00 PM Dinner in Roppongi @ Shabu Zen - Shabu Shabu / Sukiyaki - Wagyu beef

    Day8 - Yoyogi Park, Harajuku, and Shibuya
    9:00 AM Sight-seeing in Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine
    12:00 PM Lunch in Meijijingumae @ Ichiran - Ramen
    1:00 PM Shop/sight-seeing @ Harajuku
    - Takeshita Street
    - Harajuku streetfood
    - Oriental bazzar
    6:30 PM Dinner in Shibuya @ Kujiraya - Whale meat
    8:30 PM Drinks in Shibuya @ Ishinohana

    Day 9 - Odaiba
    8:00 AM Breakfast in Tsukiji @ Daiwa
    9:00 AM Head to Odaiba
    9:30 AM Sight-seeing & Shopping in Odaiba
    12:00pm Lunch (Nakamura Koumei Ariake) - Sosaku
    1:00pm More sight-seeing & Shopping in Odaiba
    - Aqua City, Decks Tokyo Beach and Venus Fort
    - Leisureland, pachinko?
    3:30pm Onsen: Oeno Onsen Monogatari
    7:30pm Dinner @ Odaiba Ramen Park
    8:30pm Odaibu Ferris wheel

    Day 10
    - Full Day to visit / re-visit attractions

    dinasaur and Toula like this.
  2. Toula
    Original Member

    Toula Gold Member

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    I can't give you any input as Tokyo is a place I have never been to, however it is high on my list of must go to places. I have to say I am very impressed with what you have put together for your itinerary.

    BTW I am curious as to why you chose the Westin as the Hyatt in Tokyo is constantly banded around as being one of the best Hyatts in the world.
  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This is a lot of shopping.

    Some random reactions:

    I don't know what the University of Tokyo item means. The campus is spread out over the city and I can't think of it as a tourist attraction. I would suggest perhaps visiting the Keio campus instead and perhaps International House where IIRC you can have lunch. Also, vaguely near Keio is the tower of Tokyo and a pleasant hotel, IIRC the Akasuki or something Prince, that is known for its Japanese gardens and a good tempura restaurant.

    Near Ginza, there is an are gallery or two near the Palace as well as the Bridgestone gallery which frequently exhibits items from a private impressionist collection. On a pedestrian street near Tokyo Station, there's a nice wine bar. While you're in Ginza, have yakatori (grilled chicken in sticks) under the tracks for a cheap late happy hour snack. Go into the Imperial Hotel for teatime in the lobby or a drink in the Old Imperial Bar on the second floor. Note the Frank Lloyd Influence. If you're lucky, there might be a bridal show or sale there, but check out the shopping, especially in the attached tower. I like the Wako small department store in Ginza, including it's basement gift area and the pearls. Sometimes the top floor has a special art exhibit. There is also a small food shop with wine and chocolate in the next building. The big department store across the street has an amazing two floors of food in the basement. Look for the $100 cantaloupes in gift boxes with ribbons on the stem as well as e expensive perfect apples, etc. I like Ten-Ichi for Osaka style tempura.

    Ride the monorail over Friendship Bridge to the island development in Tokyo Bay. It's somewhat of an entertainment district for young people, but you might be able to walk into the Big Sight convention center and take the long escalator to the top for the views.

    In good weather, a river cruise can be a pleasant and relaxing break. Think about a day excursion to Kamakura, spelling???, to walk the path and see temples. Try to go to the neighborhood near the Olympic center, on the southern end of the Yamamote circle railroad line, on the weekend to see young Japanese fashion. Go to the top of the Park Hyatt, perhaps for an overpriced drink.

    I like the Westin but given its location, I'm not sure I would stay there for the entire stay. It is very optimistic to expect to check on only two hours after landing at NRT. The Friendly airport limo bus can take about two hours, not to mention time for immigration, waiting for luggage, and customs. Upon arrival, you are likely to want to settle into your room, relax, and go to sleep rather than trying to meet a schedule. From the hotel, it is a long walk to the subway or a long trip in traffic via taxi to almost anywhere.

    I like the exhibits in the Japanese stock exchange, open business hours and IIRC free, for the attitude that everything is for the good of typical families of modest means. Watch trades appear in the electronic exchange "floor" too.
    HiIslands, Toula and kagami like this.
  4. kagami

    kagami Active Member

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    @Toula Thanks! We're very excited about our trip, and we did a lot of reading to put a rough itinerary together. Without first-hand knowledge of Tokyo, we're hoping more Milepoint members can give us some pointers as MSPeconomist has above.

    Regarding Westin vs. Hyatt (I assume you mean the Park Hyatt), we did shortlist the Park Hyatt, but a combination of cost, lack of status, and lack of hotel points led us to pick the Starwood property. The lowest paid stays we could find at the Hyatt are quite literally 3x that of the Westin on our travel dates, and we're hoping SPG Plus/Gold will get us a room upgrade to the executive floor as access to the executive lounge and breakfast would be great (might be a slim chance, but one can hope!).

    @MSPeconomist Thanks for the great suggestions! If you have any more, please keep them coming. We have no knowledge of the area, so any detail you can provide would be a huge help!

    We do realize it is a lot of shopping, but we don't intend to buy too too much; where we have used the word shopping, it would probably have been more appropriate to use "exploring/grazing" as we move through each of the areas, keeping about a dozen items on our shopping list in mind as we do.

    We'll probably cut out the Tokyo University bit; I literally just wanted a quick photo of the Yasuda Auditorium, but that's it.

    Re: Ginza, you wouldn't have the name of the wine bar or the name of the pedestrian street handy, would you? :D Imperial Hotel, yakitori under the tracks, and shopping/viewing highlights noted; consider them on the itinerary! If you wouldn't mind elaborating on the 'yakitori under the tracks' reference, how does one get there? I understand Tokyo station is enormous.

    Is the area of Odaiba the island development in Tokyo Bay you speak of? Or something completely different? Also, the stock exchange sounds like it might be a fun excursion; we work in the investment industry ourselves. :)

    We've also read various opinions on getting to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport. What do you suggest, and for someone who's never been to Tokyo, how much time should we allocate to get to Westin in Ebisu? We were hoping about an hour to clear customs and get our bags, and another hour by cab or bus to the hotel. If it helps, we will be arriving on a Monday afternoon.

    Lastly, in light of my response above regarding our choice of hotel, what do you suggest? Nothing's set in stone except for the travel dates. :cool:

    Thank you kindly!
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  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    A cab from NRT to central Tokyo will be shockingly expensive, hundreds of dollars. You can take the Narita Express Train, which is very nice, and then a taxi for the final distance, but this is hard with luggage, Even harder is transferring to a subway to get to Ebisu for the Westin and then taking the long walk to the hotel. If it isn't a long wait, I would take the Friendly limo bus, orange and white coaches that take you directly to the Westin, probably about an hour and a half depending on traffic. There are counters after you exit customs, just before the airport exit, where they sell tickets for about 3,000 yen (and speak some English). Credit cards are accepted and you can ask for a combination ticket that gives you a few days of subways essentially for free.

    Even if breakfast isn't included, you should do the big downstairs buffet at least once and treat it like a huge brunch. Don't miss the warm white chocolate sauce near the waffles.

    The yakatori joints are located under the JR circle line tracks, IIRC mostly just to the left as you walk from the Imperial Hotel toward the main Ginza intersection with its famous historic police booth. They're sort of hole in the wall places, each with a few tables, where salarymen stop after work for beer and snacks. Watch out for the liver, gizzards, etc. if you don't like this sort of stuff. You can point to the items or the pictures if you want only the meat or it should be easy to find a translator if you look for someone who looks youngish and well educated, dressed for a white collar job.
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  6. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    Have you considered visits to Kamakura and Narita Town?

    Kamakura is a delightful town that is now actually a "suburb" of Tokyo. It is easily reached by train and is the home of the "Great Buddha" statue, some beautiful old Japanese houses, the Zuisen-ji temple (famous for its plum blossoms in spring) and a charming shopping street near the train station.

    Narita Town, an easy 10 minute train ride from Narita Airport, has an interesting shopping street leading down to Narita-san Temple. The temple is very much worth visiting in and of itself, but behind the temple is a wonderful, large Japanese garden that is a peaceful respite to the frenetic energy of Tokyo.

    I know these are very different destinations from what you have on your itinerary, but they may also give you a very different perspective on Japan. Both towns have tourist information offices in the train station that can provide you with local maps, dining recommendations and the train schedules to get you back into Tokyo.

    Have a great trip!
  7. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I would save Narita Town for a time when you're stuck at NRT, have a long connection, a very early morning flight, or have a single overnight and want to avoid the long trip into Tokyo.

    Kamakura is indeed well worth a day trip from Tokyo and provides a lovely change of pace. I took a train from Shinagawa Station, which was quick and easy. Once there, follow where others are walking or pick up a little map.
  8. kagami

    kagami Active Member

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    @MSPeconomist We had originally planned to take a cab from NRT to Westin Tokyo, but in light of your suggestions, we'll almost certainly take the friendly limo bus instead. While there, we'll be sure to try the Westin breakfast and the white chocolate sauce w/ waffles. We have no problem sampling from the more unique liver/gizzard offerings either, so your directions to the yakitori joints are much appreciated! Also, thanks for responding to our thread on FT as well! :)

    @Hilslands We definitely thought about visiting Narita Town and read a good deal about it on these forums or over at FlyerTalk (I can't remember anymore, haha...). However, we're likely to delay that trip until a subsequent visit when one of the scenarios mentioned by MSPeconomist occurs.
  9. freecia

    freecia Active Member

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    If you like shopping for quirky things and home goods, I'd suggest visiting LOFT and/or Tokyu Hands. That's a lot of drugstores. Are you looking for cosmetics? In my limited experience, the Harajuku drugstores seemed to have more than Shinjuku. A good selection of drugstore makeup is also available in Loft and Yodobashi Camera. The Yodobashi Akihabara is a good size and more spacious than the narrower aisles in at Bic Cameras in Shinjuku.

    Also, personally, I'd swap window shopping in Aoyama for most of Harajuku. The architecture is pretty interesting and it has a nicer neighborhood feel to it. There's also a new muji concept store there http://tokyofashion.com/first-muji-store-found-muji-aoyama/

    Takashiyama's food floor has my favorite onigiri (rice balls). It really does taste a whole lot better than what I can make and what combini's sell. There's also a nice branch of Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings http://www.bento.com/rev/2096.html Tokyu Hands is right next to Takashiyama Shinjuku.

    My own must visit is Muji near the JR Yurakucho station and there's conveniently a Loft right next to it http://stephendavidsmith.net/tokyostory/new-loft-store-opens-in-yurakucho/

    Yosoko Japan is offering a few cherry blossom tours http://yokosoen001.clublog.jp/e26537.html Also, if you can visit a Sakura light up (where they light up the trees at night), I think that would be a special experience http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajbrustein/4232652950/
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  10. dinasaur

    dinasaur Active Member

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    I'm not sure if the OP has taken this trip yet, but if so, could you (or any kind passers-by of this thread) recommend a group through which to organize a Fuji hiking trip? Or did you do it yourselves? How did it go?

  11. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

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    Aoyama has a very different, more artsy/gallery-viewing feel than Harajuku, which caters more to a motley crew of teens-20 somethings. Dare I suggest a tranquil amble through Aoyama Cemetery, should you end up in that area anyway?

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