3 teens in Tokyo! - we survived!! - Trip Report!!! Now with Photos!!!

battymum

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
I thought I would start a new thread for my trip report!!


It had been a hectic few days at work leading up to our departure, I was trying to get everything as much under control as I could, as no one would be replacing me while I was away. So departure day, I went to work and told everyone firmly I had to leave by 1:00pm!

Last minute packing is always very stressful for me, as well as I always want to leave the house ship shape, I apologise to my family if I got a bit snappy this afternoon.!

We were picked up by a van at 5:00pm for our trip to the airport, which normally takes about an hour. We encountered a bit of traffic, well a lot really, and I was starting to panic, but we were at the airport shortly after 6 - which was plenty of time for our 9:30 flight.

Check-in wasn't open yet, but I went to the qantas desk to ask about reprinting boarding passes as I had checked in online. A lovely man helped us out and checked our bags in there and then avoiding any queue!

Next stop immigration, straight through - yay!!

We had purchased a MacBook recently and were entitled to claim back GST, so went there again, no queue.

Everyone we encountered at the airport was incredibly friendly, I was so impressed, it pays to be early for your flight!!

As a lot of my readers may not be australian, a cheeky trick for gaining qantas lounge access is to join the American Airlines admirals club under their 30 day membership for $99. I had done this, and was entitled to bring my spouse and minor children (under 18) into the qantas business lounge. I went to the desk, said "admirals club" and presented my email receipt and was welcomed in, no problems.

Qantas Business lounge in Sydney is pretty impressive and apparently superior to any AA lounges. There was a buffet of cold meat and salad as well as soup, bread and a beef curry with rice. An impressive range of beer, wine champagne and spirits was also on offer. There was a bank of computers to use and free wifi

So we whiled away our time there in comfort.
 

battymum

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
Flight was uneventful.
After much research I had chosen seats at the very back of the plane where it starts to narrow and the seats are in pairs by the window. Great choice, as there is a fair bit of room between the seat and window for putting bags and all the stuff you accumulate on a flight!! We had two of these pairs and DH sat across the aisle, he was lucky to have a spare seat next to him.

We touched down in Narita about 6:30am it was drizzling rain and freezing!!

We had to wait until 8:00am for the airport limousine that took us to the sheraton.

I was incredibly tired as I didn't sleep at all on the plane, so didnt pay attention to the scenery outside.

We arrived at the sheraton after dropping off at the Disney hotels first. while the exterior was nothing less than I expected, but may be a little disappointing after dropping at the magnificent Disney hotels first. Inside it is beautiful, it has a huge lobby and a lovely garden and wedding chapel outside.

I queued for checkin, knowing that our room wouldn't be available until 3. I had joined the Starwood preferred program (free) and had a card in my hand, someone pulled me out of the line and took me to a special check in area. I was told we had been given an upgrade to the club level floor, but unfortunately no lounge access, I asked about getting our room earlier, but it was not available until 3. We were tired and just wanted a shower.

They held our bags, we had to open them and find DS a pair of jeans as he was wearing shorts, and we hung on to our valuables.

We took a look around the lobby and a walk outside, but it was freezing and we were still carrying a lot of stuff, we really didnt feel like exploring. I was so tired I could hardly function, the heating was overwhelming, I was getting a headache. The kids had found an arcade and DD had found the computer room in the lobby. DH suggested we buy a coke, well we couldn't find one anywhere, eventually we went into the grand cafe, which I knew was expensive, we ordered two cokes that were 700¥ each ! Little did we know there are vending machines on every floor that sells cans for 150¥.

So, we spent a few hours here, I caught a few zzz's on a chair, while the family surfed the net - it felt like the longest day! Eventually we decided we had to eat, so braved the monorail and found the Ikspieri shopping district. We ate at Beckers, which is a burger place near Maihama station, we all had burgers and drinks and it cost about $30!!
This hit the spot ! We went back to the sheraton, it was 2:15 - we decided to chance it with the room and went straight up. The room was ready and our bags were there. After exploring the room and claiming our beds, I jumped straight into the shower. The room was beautiful, there have been reviews on tripadvisor saying they were a little tired, but ours was beautiful, there were two double beds, (full size, not Japanese size) and two singles, the singles were a little hard, but adequate. yes it was crowded with five of us, but it was OK, everyone was happy that they didnt have to share a bed, which is usually the case on family trips like this.
We were on the eleventh floor and had a lovely view straight over Tokyo Bay, which is something you generally don't associate with a trip to Japan.

After my shower I came out and everyone was asleep, I climbed in bed too, and that is where we stayed!!! This was about 3:00pm, DH tried rousing us at 7:00, but was quickly told "don't bother" or something like that.
 

PrincessInOz

Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
Joined
Feb 8, 2010
Subbing in...then going back to read.


ETA - Seems like you had no trouble with queues at any airport, here or at Japan. Congrats on getting a room at the CL floor; even without food, I expect it would have been a better room. As you pointed out, "less tired".....maybe?

Great start!
 
  • battymum

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 21, 2010
    The good thing about going to bed so early was that we were all wide awake at 5:30am!

    I had intended for day one to just explore the hotel and the Ikspieri centre, so we achieved our goal as well as making up with the sleep bank. We did want to be out and about early today so I thought it worked out perfectly, and as the time difference between Sydney and Tokyo is only an hour, once we were caught up, jet lag is not a problem.

    We had wondered if it would have been better to book the room from the previous day, but dH says then we would have gone to sleep earlier and been awake at midnight.

    The freezing and drizzling weather had cleared and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day once the morning chill warmed up.

    Our plan today was to visit the Ghibli Museum and then Asakusa and the Sensoji temple. We wanted to be at the Ghibli at 10:00 so headed to the subway about 8:00. We had bought our four day monorail passes previously so jumped on and headed for Maihama.

    I have to admit defeat with the suica card machine as even though we found the English translation button, I wasn't sure if we were buying the right thing. So I found a window and asked "suica." -
    "Hai" - and turned a calculator towards me with 2000 on it, I put up my hand for five and handed over the cash and we were done.

    suica is great, it's a preloaded card, you swipe as you walk into the station and then again on your way out and it automatically deducts the correct fare, it would have been a nightmare buying 5 tickets everytime we wanted to catch a train. Suica can even be used on vending machines and shops around the station. Sydney tried to implement such a system, I don't know why it failed.

    maihama is a simple station so it's easy to find the train to Tokyo, we headed to the platform and as it was 8:00am on Friday there were plenty of people around, but when the train pulled up, we were not prepared for the can of sardines that we were expected to join. What did impress us, there are lines marked on the platform and the train doors would line up as the doors open, everyone moves and stands on these lines and forms like a guard of honour for the passengers getting off, and only when everyone is off will anyone try and get on. Sounds simple, and it's how it should work, but doesn't seem to do so in Sydney.

    The train was still packed, like seriously packed and we looked at each other and said, we will wait for the next one!

    the next one came, and it was no better but we were at the front of the crowd of people trying to get on, so we just made sure one adult was at front and one at back and just pushed our way on. We all made it and it was a cozy ride to Tokyo station. DH had joked that he wanted to be pushed on a train, so he thought it was hilarious. Althougn I don't commute regularly on trains here, I have done before, but I can see that this would be really intimidating for people that are not used to it.

    I had studied the subway map and knew we had to find the Chuo line, everything was well signed, but it was a serious walk between the platforms, like up three escalators, four horizontal travelators, a fair bit of walking, more escalators, around another corner, but as long as you know which line you are headed for everything is signed in English and colour coded. I felt like we were in that scene from Toy story where the follow the luggage through the airport, everyone was on their path and it all just worked. People automatically stand to the left on escalators, even if they are in pairs, it's just as easy to continue your conversation standing behind on an escalator - people that wanted to move faster than the escalator walked on the right.

    We found the Chuo and headed to Mitaka - as this train was heading out of the city it wasn't as crowded and we enjoyed the ride out to the suburbs. We arrived at Mitaka, I knew there was a bus to he Ghibli, but we decided to walk it. I highly recommend the walk, along a canal in what seems a very pretty suburb. What struck us here, was the lack of rubbish, like not a single piece, and we had noticed it along the train lines as well. but this canal, which was really just a storm water in a highly built up area was really pretty .

    We found the Ghibli and joined the queue. The museum is just beautiful and although we knew none of the characters, and weren't familiar with any of the work and most of the signage was in Japanese - it was a very beautiful building and the displays were amazing. A shame, but you are not allowed to take photos inside. My son was quickly reminded of this when he pulled out his phone to take photos. We bought a guide book that has lovely pics in it, but it's not the same as taking them your self. We watched a short animation, again all in Japanese, but we sort of got the gist.

    By now we were getting hungry, it was before eleven and their cafe didnt open until then, there was a shop you could buy hot dogs, so we all had one, it was not the type of hot dog my kids are used to, more like a German sausage and it had pickles, so only three of us ate them.

    We finished at the Ghibli and made our way back to the station, there was plenty of shops in the station and I told the kids to just find something they would eat, there are plenty of food choices eveywhere in Tokyo, I just had to relax about them always going for the fried western option. there was not a seat to be found anywhere, so we found a quiet corner and ate our lunch standing up.

    Next stop, Asakusa, - this involved a change of trains,- it pays to study the subway map and hyperdia (website giving you directions between places) before you go. We found our station easily and then made our way up through the shopping stalls to the Sensoji temple. There are lots of little side streets and alleys and we just explored the area a bit, getting ourselves a bit lost in the process.

    Our next destination was the Tokyo skytree, at 634 metres high, its the second tallest structure in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa - it's visible from just about everywhere, so we just headed towards it like a homing beacon - (take that centrepoint tower, at only 309 metres!! )

    There is a huge shopping area that we explored , - I have to mention that DD and I were just in love with all the fashionistas in Tokyo, you don't see a single person that is not well dressed, all lovely and feminine without being sexual, everything mismatched but just goes, floral skirts with black tights and lace socks and converse boots, pastel coloured trench coats, -- LOVE IT, we could people watch all afternoon.

    Skytree was only opened last year so tickets for the observation deck are extremely popular. We went to get in line it was around 3:30 - and were given a card saying we could come back at 7:00 !

    So what to do??? We debated for a while, we had walked a fair bit and I knew we were pushing DD to her limit of being tied to the "chain gang", the boys wanted to go up, and so did I, I guess, but I didn't want wait around here for 3.5 hours. In the end we decided we would stay, but we split up and DD and I explored the shopping centre and ate, while the boys did a lot of walking around the area.

    We met up at the agreed time of 6:30 and bought our tickets, now this wasn't a fast pass, this was just what time we were allowed to get in the queue. We got to the top and view certainly was impressive, without being able to set up a tripod and a wide angle lens, photos do not do it justice, it was obviously very crowded. We did the circuit and had to queue just as long for a lift to get down as we did to get up, but it was an icon ticked off our list.

    I had read about a bus that takes you directly back to the Disney resort area from skytree without the hassle of changing trains so we found that for our trip back. We had to wait a while for the bus, but it was a comfortable ride, until a toddler decided to protest about something that wasn't going her way, she was so loud, and it was a long trip, as the bus seemed to go a long way out of the way stopping at other stations.

    We got back to the Sheraton and DH says "are we eating?"

    Seriously it was 9:30, don't you think they would get something to eat when we were split up. He grumbled and went off to Ikspieri with the boys.

    Huge day, we all fell into bed exhausted!
     

    PrincessInOz

    Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2010
    I'm really settling in for your TR. It has all the hallmarks of a resource I'll be revisiting in the future WHEN I decide to go to Japan. :goodvibes
     

    battymum

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 21, 2010
    Hope it helps, PIO!

    You would love it, plenty of food porn, and disneysea is a photographers dream, - if only you could take a tripod!!

    Just loading some photos to photobucket now,will post a few shortly.

    PS - if anyone is lurking, a comment now and again will reassure me that it's not just Princess reading along!
     

    mlozam

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jan 29, 2008
    Am also here enjoying your TR. :-)

    Will be going end of May with DH, DS22 and DD18 so eagerly waiting for the rest of your TR.
     
  • battymum

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 21, 2010



    Another view, taken from Maihama station, showing the Disney castle with the Sheraton in the background.
     
  • tinibee

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2011
    Great pics Now that you seen the Ghibli museum, you should watch the movies! Several of them do a nice job showing life in Japan (minus the mystical magic and spirits). Your hotel room is big. My husband once stayed in a Japanese hotel where he could stand up and touch opposite walls, the room was so small :rotfl2:
     

    Andona

    Destroyer of the Aussie Dollar
    Joined
    Jun 19, 2008
    I'm reading along, Battymum! Love the photos and reading about a part of the world I'm totally unfamiliar with :) looking forward to the rest :)

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
     

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