Konnichiwa Japan – Exploring Tokyo


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I have to admit it was tough leaving the incredible retreat that is the Park Hyatt Tokyo but we did manage to get out and spend some time exploring the massive metropolis of Tokyo.

Trip Report

  1. Introduction and Trip Planning
  2. Japan Airlines Economy From ORD to NRT
  3. Westin Miyako Kyoto
  4. Exploring Kyoto
  5. Day trips from Kyoto
  6. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part I
  7. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part II
  8. Exploring Tokyo
  9. Final Thoughts

We had three days in Tokyo. At this point in the trip we were ‘templed out’ from Kyoto and just wanted to walk around at our leisurely pace exploring the various neighborhoods.  Out strategy was simplistic.  Each day we picked a major metro stop or two, got off and just walked around aimlessly.  I have to admit I was a little nervous prior to the trip attempting to navigate the Tokyo transit system.  The map is a quite intimidating at first glance.

http://www.bento.com/pix/subway/subway5.gif

Seriously?

However, those fears were quickly erased.  It turned out the transit system was quite easy to navigate.  The sheer volume of riders means the frequency of trains on every line is superb.  I can’t remember ever waiting more than 5-10 minutes for the train we needed to arrive at a stop.  In most cases it was less than a 3 minute wait.  The Park Hyatt Tokyo is close to Shinjuku station, which is the busiest train station in the world.  Likewise, the Tokyo metro system itself is the busiest in the world. We only saw the station during non-peak times but it was still hard to wrap your brain around how many people are going in so many different directions.  People watching was a blast, just don’t get in the way!

IMG_1411Shinjuku station, busiest train station in the world

Shibuya Station

One of the train stations we selected to explore from was Shibuya station.  We made a stop at Shibuya crossing, which is famous for its scramble crosswalk.  Much like Shinjuku, it is fun for people watching.  Every few minutes a sea of people cross the intersection all at once.   This area reminded me of Times Square in New York.

IMG_1436Shibuya crossing

Harajuku Station

I am not much of a shopper but Tokyo claims to have the best shopping in the world. We felt obligated to include it in one our walks so we went to Harajuku station.    We found several neat boutiques in this area along with the usual suspects of global brands.  Many of the stores were in stand alone buildings which each had their own interesting architecture.  It made for an interesting outdoor mall.

IMG_1452Harajuku pedestrian shopping street

IMG_1443Japanese Patagonia

Roppongi Station

Finally our meandering led us to a small city park which we found wandering (quite a ways) off the Roppongi Station.  The park was absolutely beautiful.  This was our last day so we were able to spend a few hours reflecting on the trip.  I made two particular observations which I believe characterize my strongest impressions of Japan.

The first observation was seeing two young girls around the age of 8 walking around this Tokyo city park in the evening without supervision.  Furthermore they just leaned their bikes up against a park bench and walked away.  The level of safety and security in Tokyo and Japan in general is just incredible.  It speaks a lot about the culture that they are able to  maintain this safe and trusting environment even while being the biggest city in the world.  It would be interesting to see how long an unlocked bike would last in a downtown Chicago park.

The second observation was based on the volume of city noise.  There wasn’t any!  No honking, no construction, nothing.  Complete silence other than the babbling creek and the birds chirping while sitting smack dab in the biggest city in the world.  City parks generally offer a quiet retreat from the city noise but this particular park was far more tranquil than those I’ve found elsewhere.  While Tokyo is often shown as chaotic and loud, I actually found the majority of the city to be overwhelming relaxing and peaceful.

IMG_1473City park

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Nice article and thanks for posting it. I plan on reading your other postings on Japan. You did a great job in capsulizing the many reasons I love Tokyo and Japan! I was fortunate enough to live there for a year while working and I know I’d go back in a minute if the opportunity arose again! I think that park is at Midtowwn. I’ve been there with it is wonderfully quiet with snow everywhere and it was a spectacular winterscape!

  2. Great article. I was in Tokyo back in December and kinda explored around by ourselves before we met up with friends locally. The subway was overwhelming at first but once you figure out the system, it’s pretty easy to get around. My friend ended up taking me to Iron Chef Sakai’s restaurant and ROPPONGIKINGYO show in Roppongi Hills.

  3. One of my fondest travel desires is to visit and spend time in Tokyo. I am enamored with the city and trip reports and hands on accounts like this one are some of the reason why. Thanks for sharing all of this.

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