Tokyo Day 1: Imperial Palace, Ginza, Capsule Hotel

You always hear about how amazing Japan is. They have robots, Anime, smart toilets, cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, and on and on. I’ve been hearing some of this for years from Will who, as some of you know, lived in Japan years ago. So, it was only a matter of time that I’d end up visiting someday. And, conveniently enough, it’s only a couple hours (plane ride) from South Korea.

We traveled to Tokyo for just five days, but, surprisingly enough, we were able to see most of the top attractions and do most of what we wanted, including eating delicious food. That said, I’ll try my best to share with you some of the highlights of our trip in the next few posts.

Day 1

The flight over on Japan Airlines was short and sweet, and we were fed a meal (yay for free meals). Once we landed in Haneda Airport, Will used the Tokyo Subway mobile app to get us to our hotel, which seemed fairly easy. Already my first impression was, “wow, everything is so clean!” Seriously, everything. The floors, the public bathrooms, the trains. We checked into our hotel, dropped off our bags and headed back out since it was still early in the day.

We had some tasty ramen at the Marunouchi Building (in what felt like a business district, right by Tokyo Station), and walked over to the Imperial Palace. Of course, you can’t go anywhere near the actual palace, but you can see it from a distance and enjoy the big park and open spaces around it. In fact, there’s a running/biking/walking path that circles the Imperial Palace grounds, about 5k distance. We decided to walk it and explore a bit. There were a good number of people exercising along the path, and it was nice to enjoy the views of the large moat and the various parks. Lots of cherry blossom trees, but none in bloom just yet. I could picture how beautiful the whole area must look in the Spring. We also took a stroll through the Imperial Palace East Gardens, which are open to the public.

After our walk, we swung by Tokyo Station and checked out the cool interior of the 100-year-old building and subway hub, then headed over to Ginza. When you go to Ginza, you very quickly realize it’s a high-end, luxury shopping area. Fancy stores, fancy cars. For instance, Will got really excited when a Ferrari F40 drove by us (very slooowly showing off for everyone). We ended up having Japanese BBQ for dinner at Gyu-Kaku, which is actually one of our favorite L.A. eateries. Mmmm mm.

Then it was time to turn in for the night. At the Tokyo Kiba Hotel. A capsule hotel! What’s a capsule? Basically a small pod with: a bed, and a TV. Haha. That’s it. This hotel is the only capsule hotel we found that offers semi-double and double capsules — in other words, that fit two people. It’s also one of the few that allows female guests. I admit I slightly hesitated at the thought of communal shower rooms, but, in the end, the experience was not so bad AT ALL. (To clarify, there are separate male and female bathrooms and shower rooms.) In fact, it was fun!

The capsules are pretty roomy, though we were in a semi-double capsule and it was JUST enough room for us. I think a double capsule would’ve felt perfect. Everyone seemed fairly respectful and not noisy at all. The hotel provides all the toiletries you need, including towels, toothbrushes, skin care products, Q-tips, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, even hair brushes. You get a locker to store valuables in, and they also give you PJs and slippers. I really enjoyed the Shiseido face soap. 🙂 And, as busy as the hotel was, when it came time to wash up for the night or to shower in the morning, the women’s bathroom and shower room were almost empty. I think I shared them with two people, max. So that was nice. Oh, they also offer free wi-fi, but only on the first/main floor in the lobby. We only stayed in the capsules for two nights, then switched to a room (more on that later). All in all, a fun experience and a great way to save some money on a hotel.

That’s it for our first day! Enjoy the photos below. Up next: Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Giant Sky Wheel in Odaiba.

 

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