Updated on November 30, 2016
Our awesome flight on JAL First Class landed at HND in Tokyo around 5am. After going through customs it was time to collect our bags and, as we expected, Joe’s was not coming out. The excellent service from JAL continued as they proactively found Joe and I and addressed Joe by name telling him that his bag had been lost. After all of his flight changes this did not come as a shock to us. After talking to them for 45 min and giving them all the info about the flights they said that they would contact the Park Hyatt Seoul where we would be staying if it was found. Now it was time to leave the airport and explore Tokyo!
Our Trip so far!
We had a rough plan of seeing the fish market when we first arrived but the bag problems took so long we would have missed the auction so we decided to skip it and throw the plan out the window. First we needed to get into the city from the airport. Luckily HND is fairly close to downtown Tokyo unlike NRT which takes FOREVER. So our plan was monorail to Tokyo Station and explore from there.
Although we don’t speak the local language we found that getting from HND to Tokyo station wasn’t that bad and the trains were very clean. Once we arrived at the station (which is one of the biggest in the city) we stored
our my luggage in one of the lockers. There are lockers of all sizes all over the place at this and most of the stations. The one we used was big enough for my suitcase as well as both our carry-ons and we could have put another large bag in there if we needed. It was around $5 to store it there all day. These were all empty when we arrived around 7am but, as we saw later in the day, all of these fill up. So, if you get here in the afternoon it might be more difficult to find a large locker for all your stuff.
So, the reason we had a day in Tokyo on this trip is because our flight to Seoul (our final destination) was out of the Narita (NRT) and wasn’t until 6:45pm so we had almost 12 hours until our final flight. We knew the Imperial Palace was within walking distance of the station so that would be our first stop! As we soon found out, there was a problem with this plan. The palace is closed to the public on Monday, which, of course, was the day we were there. So we decided to walk around the very cool walls of the palace as we figured out our next stop.
So one thing we realized after walking around for awhile was that almost NOTHING was open before 11am. Places to eat, stores, etc. Now it could have just been the area we were in but since most of our walking around would be from 7am-1pm that means that not a lot was open during our time there. We also heard a lot of SILENCE (does that make sense?). No one would talk. It was kind of strange. And although Joe and I are a bit loud anyway, we really felt loud when no one else would speak. It got better later in the day when there were some bigger crowds but still, much much quieter than other cities I have been to.
After our Imperial Palace fail we decided to head towards Shibuya to checkout the Tokyo version of Time Square and hopefully find some sushi. As we were checking out the subway map we met an American ex-pat who suggested we take the stop before Shibuya at Omotesando and go to his favorite sushi spot! He said to get off the subway and walk about 5 min down a road lined with tall trees and upscale shops and it would be on our left. And sure enough there it was! And it was of course closed until 11am and it was 10! $%^@#! Ok, well lets just walk down this little road next to it…
We wondered down a cool little pedestrian road that was actually lined with all kind of local and big company shops. At the end of the road I had a feeling we were getting close to Shibuya from the maps I had looked at earlier, and sure enough, there it was in all it’s over-the-topness. Giant screens, loud music, billboards, huge shopping places and of course people everywhere.
After this little trek, it was time to head back to finally have some sushi!! It was delicious and just what we needed!
After our sushi and beer there was not a lot of time left before we needed to head back to the station to try to find our bag (the station is huge, it was harder than we thought) and get our ticket to Narita. Luckily the Meiji Shrine was a 5 minute walk from where we just ate and I thought it was the best thing was saw in Tokyo. It is named for the main shrine but it is actually a giant, beautiful park just north of Shibuya and east of the upscale shopping area of Omotesando where we ate.
After our time at the park it was time to head back to Tokyo Station to find our bags and get a ticket for the Narita Express to the airport. It runs about $24 and seems to be the easiest and most comfortable way to get to the airport. There are cheaper options but they take much longer and don’t save you all that much. The airport is so far out of the city that even though this was a train with no stops and no traffic, it STILL took an hour to get to the airport!
Next up is our JAL First Class Lounge NRT review and much much more!
A few more pics…