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  1. #11
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    Jul 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by smiles33 View Post
    Sorry to hijack the thread, but we're headed to Tokyo in late Sept. (my kids' public school has an unusual week-long Fall break) and I would LOVE any additional advice. I've been so overwhelmed trying to figure out restaurant reservations and activities. We don't have access to a concierge because we rented an AirBnB because DD2 has a food allergy to fish. We need a kitchen/fridge to prepare/re-heat her food when DH and I go get sushi. We are going to be in Tokyo only for about 9 days (not counting travel days). I figured jet lag will hit us hard (it did on our last trip to Asia) so we're not going outside of Tokyo.

    Anyhow, I'm specifically curious if anyone:

    - visited an onsen (there's a big one in Odaiba but my 13 year old DD1 is definitely not comfortable being naked in front of anyone so I may just take my 10 year old and DH and DD can do something else)
    - did any city tours (I booked a food tour)
    - visited the new fish market (I hear there are still restaurants left at the old fish market)
    - visited DisneySea (it's supposedly an awesome water-focused Disney park and we love DL but not sure if it's worth spending precious day there)
    - any other activities (e.g., renting kimonos and doing a photo shoot, going to the Ghibli Museum, going to see sumo wrestlers, participating in a tea ceremony)

    Thanks in advance!
    We spent 4 full days in Tokyo at the beginning of August (on our way to Vietnam). My first piece of advice is to join the "Japan Travel Planning" private Facebook group. I didn't find out about it until about 2 days before our trip and I'm still on it now and there's just so much good information. Plus you can just do a search for whatever you have questions about. I wish I knew about it sooner! Also, be prepared for the EXTREME humidity. We're from CA and used to extreme heat, but the humidity was killer. DS1 and DH suffered from chafing and heat rash. Our clothes were soaked through with sweat every day (DS1 actually looked like he peed his pants every day, that's how soaked they were)! I bought a Japanese shade umbrella there to replace my regular umbrella I was using since their shade umbrellas are super lightweight compared to regular rain umbrellas. We all bought the portable hand carried usb powered fans to carry with us all day. And bring or buy handkerchiefs/sweat rags to wipe the constant stream of sweat from your face (I brought a small microfiber exercise hand towel). Be prepared to walk A TON! We averaged 20k-38k steps a day! I brought a pair of Crocs sandals and Crocs slip-ons and my feet were ok. DH's feet were killing him in his running shoes (he ended up buying new shoes in Vietnam)! Also pack light. For luggage, don't bring anything larger than a medium suitcase since the train stations have tons of stairs and no elevators so you'll be lugging your luggage up and down stairs.

    My boys are 16 and 10. DS1 is a HUGE anime and manga fan and has been taking Japanese for the past year. He just celebrated his birthday last week and we knew we'd have to do stuff anime related in Tokyo and we wanted to buy a ton of anime stuff in Akihabara for his birthday. So our itinerary has some anime themed activities. DS2 is very much into Pokemon, thus the visit to one of the 3 Pokemon Centers in Tokyo. We didn't visit an Onsen because DS2 wasn't comfortable with it and we didn't have enough time. DS1 and I really wanted to go though. If you go, you will be separated by gender, so your DH will be all on his own and I would have been all on my own. We didn't do a food tour, but we totally plan to do a food tour or cooking class on all our big trips now (we did both a food tour and cooking class in Vietnam and loved both)! DH and DS2 visited the new fish market on the first morning when they were awake super early from jet lag! They did eat breakfast there and had a good time. We didn't do anything Disney because my kids aren't Disney fans and DS1 hates all rides! Also, regarding the jet lag, it wasn't going there that was a big problem it was coming home (CA). After the first day in Japan we were all fine with the time change (we took melatonin nightly) but it took about 5 days to get back to normal on the return (DH was falling asleep at 5:30pm as soon as he got home from work and even 4 days later was falling asleep at 2pm on the weekend with DS1).

    I actually think 9 days in Tokyo is too long. I would for sure throw in 1-2 day trips or a second location to Kyoto by bullet train. We only had 4 full days in Tokyo and if we had any more we would have left the city. Here's our itinerary:

    Day 1
    Arrive in Tokyo (early evening)

    Day 2
    Zojo-Ji Temple

    Tokyo Tower
    * Next to Zojo-Ji temple
    * Modeled after Paris’ Eiffel Tower
    * Take pics outside, don't go up. Not that tall so isn't a good view of the city. They have the most delicious mango shaved ice with fresh mango pieces at the crepe stand under the Tokyo Tower.

    TeamLab: Borderless at Mori Digital Arts Museum
    * Book tickets in advance
    * Allow 2-3 hours to go through
    * Hours: 10am-9pm
    * Arrive before opening, on a weekday, for the least crowds
    * Expect to wait in line up to 90 minutes to get inside
    https://borderless.teamlab.art/

    Day 3-- Asakusa and Akihabara
    Asakusa:

    Senso-ji Temple
    * Get there early, by noon it's packed with tour groups
    * Go on a weekday

    Tokyo Skytree
    * Go all the way to the top first for the best view

    Pokemon Center Skytree Town

    Akihabara (stores don't open till 11am)
    * Manga and anime tour
    * 2.5 hours
    * $40/person
    * Book in advance, likely to sell out
    https://www.getyourguide.com/tokyo-l...-guide-t62869/

    Walk the main blvd, Chuor Dori
    Head to Yodobashi, the center of all things electronic
    Don't take pics of maids or locals in cosplay without asking first

    Day 4-- Harajuku and Shibuya
    Meiji Shrine
    * Up the hill by Harajuku station

    Harajuku:
    Take****a Dori: one of Tokyo’s most famous streets

    Explore shops lining street
    Crepe shops
    Animal cafes (we visited the Zoo Land): https://www.his-j.com/japan-tourist/tyo/AnimalCafe

    Shibuya:
    Shibuya crossing

    Shinjuku Mylord mall (I was on the search for an authentic Anello backpack)

    Zauo Shinjuku for dinner (Shinjuku)
    You fish for your food and then they cook it
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...ure_Kanto.html

    Day 5
    Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...ure_Kanto.html

    Samurai Museum
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...ure_Kanto.html

    Robot Restaurant
    (Super popular tourist attraction but I would NOT recommend it. We saw it and it was not worth the time or money. I would describe it as a psychedelic parade in a small room! DS1 and I agreed that you have to be either drunk or high to really enjoy it! Show is actually only 1 hour since there's TWO 15 minute intermissions)!
    * $76/person
    * 90 minutes long (MUST arrive 30 minutes before show time)
    * Don't order food, it's not good (concession stand food)
    * Eat dinner before or after
    Discount tickets:
    https://www.getyourguide.com/tokyo-l...&cmp=robotcafe

    Food recommendations we didn't get a chance to try:
    Uogashi Nihon Ichi Atre (Akihabara)
    * Sushi bar, eat standing, cheap prices
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...ure_Kanto.html

    Ninja Akasaka (Chiyoda)
    * Book in advance
    https://ninjaakasaka.com/
    Latia (Birth & Postpartum Doula and Infant Nanny)
    Conner 8/19/03 (My 1st home birthed water baby!)
    Parker 5/23/09 (My 2nd home birthed water baby!)

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMMommy View Post
    We went to the old Tsukiji fish market area, not the new one. We went pretty early in the morning due to jet lag (probably got there around 8am), and we were able to eat some delicious skewers of mackerel, scallop, yellowtail, etc. There were plenty of food stalls, restaurants, etc to check out there.

    We went to both Disneyland and DisneySea. The Disneyland side is still Disneyland, albeit with some differences. DisneySea is definitely the one worth visiting because it is different. Not the most thrilling rides at DisneySea, so if your DC like the high octane thrilling rides, there isn't much of that. I think our favorite ride might have been the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride. All kinds of interesting snacks and food at DisneySea. Many different popcorn stands (honey popcorn, Chinese Chili popcorn, curry popcorn, milk chocolate popcorn, garlic shrimp popcorn). Even demi glace potato churro! If you have a day to spare, I think DisneySea is worth visiting.

    In terms of restaurants, there are just so many in Tokyo. You probably don't even need restaurant reservations. Too many options everywhere, so just pick what you like! We basically ate at casual, local joints versus upscale, fine dining places. And not once did we eat at the hotel, as there are so many dining options. Yakitori, yakiniku, Japanese curry houses, bentos from food halls in the department stores, ramen places, and DH found some good sushi.

    Late Sept will be a much nicer time of year than July, which is when we went. July was hot. Even though the forecast said rain, it actually didn't rain much at all the entire trip. So we were grateful for that. Fall will be a great time to go!

    I have to say that this was probably my favorite family trip of all time. I am very food oriented and loved the food in Japan. Loved the place, the people, the food, and everything there!

    Thanks so much for the insight on the DL/DS experience. My kids love the thrill rides at DL (we went on Incredicoaster, Space Mountain, and Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times on our last trip in March), so that's why I think DisneySea might not be what they're looking for. Still, we have 9 days and DH is willing to go there so I'm still debating it.

    One of DH's friends pointed us to Go Voyagin, so I paid way too much money to have them book a date lunch sushi meal at a high-end restaurant. It will be my birthday lunch experience! The other places I managed to book accepted reservations via email. I also have a long list of places near our AirBnB to go and stand in line (e.g., udon, ramen, tonkatsu, the conveyer belt sushi chain restaurant, etc.). We all love to eat and that's what our vacations revolved around, so I feel pressure to be prepared!

    Quote Originally Posted by urquie View Post
    Ghibli museum requires advance purchase tickets and is most likely sold out 1-3 months in advance.

    Sumo wrestling was fun, but not sure I’d make it a priority with kids, unless you had extra time or a specific interest.
    Yeah, I had mentioned Ghibli to DH months ago because he's the anime/manga fan (he's shown the girls 3-4 of the classic ones like Spirited Away, Totoro, etc. and both girls love Naruto and Yakitate Japan) but he and the kids just aren't museum people so I didn't bother researching it further. Yet so many people mention it...Oh well, we'll skip it since it's likely already sold out.

    Sumo wrestling doesn't appeal to me on the surface, but it's a quintessential Japanese activity, so I felt like I should ask about it. I don't know that my girls are going to want to watch nearly naked men grapple with each other. I know they would be more into martial arts since both girls have studied it for years but not sure where to go for that stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by essnce629 View Post
    We spent 4 full days in Tokyo at the beginning of August (on our way to Vietnam). My first piece of advice is to join the "Japan Travel Planning" private Facebook group. I didn't find out about it until about 2 days before our trip and I'm still on it now and there's just so much good information. Plus you can just do a search for whatever you have questions about. I wish I knew about it sooner! Also, be prepared for the EXTREME humidity. We're from CA and used to extreme heat, but the humidity was killer. DS1 and DH suffered from chafing and heat rash. Our clothes were soaked through with sweat every day (DS1 actually looked like he peed his pants every day, that's how soaked they were)! I bought a Japanese shade umbrella there to replace my regular umbrella I was using since their shade umbrellas are super lightweight compared to regular rain umbrellas. We all bought the portable hand carried usb powered fans to carry with us all day. And bring or buy handkerchiefs/sweat rags to wipe the constant stream of sweat from your face (I brought a small microfiber exercise hand towel). Be prepared to walk A TON! We averaged 20k-38k steps a day! I brought a pair of Crocs sandals and Crocs slip-ons and my feet were ok. DH's feet were killing him in his running shoes (he ended up buying new shoes in Vietnam)! Also pack light. For luggage, don't bring anything larger than a medium suitcase since the train stations have tons of stairs and no elevators so you'll be lugging your luggage up and down stairs.

    My boys are 16 and 10. DS1 is a HUGE anime and manga fan and has been taking Japanese for the past year. He just celebrated his birthday last week and we knew we'd have to do stuff anime related in Tokyo and we wanted to buy a ton of anime stuff in Akihabara for his birthday. So our itinerary has some anime themed activities. DS2 is very much into Pokemon, thus the visit to one of the 3 Pokemon Centers in Tokyo. We didn't visit an Onsen because DS2 wasn't comfortable with it and we didn't have enough time. DS1 and I really wanted to go though. If you go, you will be separated by gender, so your DH will be all on his own and I would have been all on my own. We didn't do a food tour, but we totally plan to do a food tour or cooking class on all our big trips now (we did both a food tour and cooking class in Vietnam and loved both)! DH and DS2 visited the new fish market on the first morning when they were awake super early from jet lag! They did eat breakfast there and had a good time. We didn't do anything Disney because my kids aren't Disney fans and DS1 hates all rides! Also, regarding the jet lag, it wasn't going there that was a big problem it was coming home (CA). After the first day in Japan we were all fine with the time change (we took melatonin nightly) but it took about 5 days to get back to normal on the return (DH was falling asleep at 5:30pm as soon as he got home from work and even 4 days later was falling asleep at 2pm on the weekend with DS1).

    I actually think 9 days in Tokyo is too long. I would for sure throw in 1-2 day trips or a second location to Kyoto by bullet train. We only had 4 full days in Tokyo and if we had any more we would have left the city. Here's our itinerary:

    Day 1
    Arrive in Tokyo (early evening)

    Day 2
    Zojo-Ji Temple

    Tokyo Tower
    * Next to Zojo-Ji temple
    * Modeled after Paris’ Eiffel Tower
    * Take pics outside, don't go up. Not that tall so isn't a good view of the city. They have the most delicious mango shaved ice with fresh mango pieces at the crepe stand under the Tokyo Tower.

    TeamLab: Borderless at Mori Digital Arts Museum
    * Book tickets in advance
    * Allow 2-3 hours to go through
    * Hours: 10am-9pm
    * Arrive before opening, on a weekday, for the least crowds
    * Expect to wait in line up to 90 minutes to get inside
    https://borderless.teamlab.art/

    Day 3-- Asakusa and Akihabara
    Asakusa:

    Senso-ji Temple
    * Get there early, by noon it's packed with tour groups
    * Go on a weekday

    Tokyo Skytree
    * Go all the way to the top first for the best view

    Pokemon Center Skytree Town

    Akihabara (stores don't open till 11am)
    * Manga and anime tour
    * 2.5 hours
    * $40/person
    * Book in advance, likely to sell out

    Walk the main blvd, Chuor Dori
    Head to Yodobashi, the center of all things electronic
    Don't take pics of maids or locals in cosplay without asking first

    Day 4-- Harajuku and Shibuya
    Meiji Shrine
    * Up the hill by Harajuku station

    Harajuku:
    Take****a Dori: one of Tokyo’s most famous streets

    Explore shops lining street
    Crepe shops
    Animal cafes (we visited the Zoo Land): https://www.his-j.com/japan-tourist/tyo/AnimalCafe

    Shibuya:
    Shibuya crossing

    Shinjuku Mylord mall (I was on the search for an authentic Anello backpack)

    Zauo Shinjuku for dinner (Shinjuku)
    You fish for your food and then they cook it
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...ure_Kanto.html

    Day 5
    Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...ure_Kanto.html

    Samurai Museum
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...ure_Kanto.html

    Robot Restaurant
    (Super popular tourist attraction but I would NOT recommend it. We saw it and it was not worth the time or money. I would describe it as a psychedelic parade in a small room! DS1 and I agreed that you have to be either drunk or high to really enjoy it! Show is actually only 1 hour since there's TWO 15 minute intermissions)!
    * $76/person
    * 90 minutes long (MUST arrive 30 minutes before show time)
    * Don't order food, it's not good (concession stand food)
    * Eat dinner before or after
    Discount tickets:
    https://www.getyourguide.com/tokyo-l...&cmp=robotcafe

    Food recommendations we didn't get a chance to try:
    Uogashi Nihon Ichi Atre (Akihabara)
    * Sushi bar, eat standing, cheap prices
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...ure_Kanto.html

    Ninja Akasaka (Chiyoda)
    * Book in advance
    https://ninjaakasaka.com/
    Latia: how do I get an invite to that private group? I couldn't find it via search on Facebook. Your post is INCREDIBLY helpful. Thank you so much for laying it all out for me. Now I know to be prepared for the humidity and will definitely pick up some USB powered fans when we arrive. Temps are supposed to be 65-75 in late Sept., so fingers crossed it cools down from when you went!

    We will definitely go to Akihabara, too, as both my girls love anime/manga (but not as much as DH!!!). I figure we will only do one "big" thing a day. We are not go-go-go travelers, so it's likely we'll do 1-2 activities per day, eat 2 meals at restaurants, and then lounge/relax at our AirBnB. I've read about the depachika and convenience store food being incredibly good so I figure we'll stock up for breakfast/snacks. That's why I figured 9 days will be plenty of time in Tokyo since we won't be doing a ton each day. Our normal lives are too scheduled to cram that much while on vacation so we take it really easy. I had considered a day trip to Hakone, but we'll play it by ear. I booked the AirBnB in Tokyo for the entire trip as we didn't want to lug our luggage around. We travel carry-on only so each girl is responsible for lifting her own luggage up the stairs. Elevators seem to be a mostly American thing as we didn't have any in Italy or Taiwan. It was harder when DD2 was 7 and we had to walk 3 flights up to our AirBnB in Taipei (I had to carry both hers and mine because DH had to carry MIL's heavy checked luggage up the flights!!), but now that she's 10 I think she can carry her own up multiple flights.

    Last logistical question: we fly in to NRT at 7 pm local time. Is it convenient to get yen from an ATM there or will the ATMs be empty? I'm wondering if I need to go to a local bank here and try to get some yen before we get to NRT so we can pay for the train to Shinjuku. When we flew to Mazatlan, the airport ATM was nearly empty so we got less than $50 Mexican money, barely enough to pay the taxi to the hotel. I know we also want to buy Pasmo/Suica cards, but wasn't sure if I should pre-purchase (they can ship them to CA) or just wait to buy them there.

    Thanks again!!

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by smiles33 View Post
    Latia: how do I get an invite to that private group? I couldn't find it via search on Facebook. Your post is INCREDIBLY helpful. Thank you so much for laying it all out for me. Now I know to be prepared for the humidity and will definitely pick up some USB powered fans when we arrive. Temps are supposed to be 65-75 in late Sept., so fingers crossed it cools down from when you went!

    We will definitely go to Akihabara, too, as both my girls love anime/manga (but not as much as DH!!!). I figure we will only do one "big" thing a day. We are not go-go-go travelers, so it's likely we'll do 1-2 activities per day, eat 2 meals at restaurants, and then lounge/relax at our AirBnB. I've read about the depachika and convenience store food being incredibly good so I figure we'll stock up for breakfast/snacks. That's why I figured 9 days will be plenty of time in Tokyo since we won't be doing a ton each day. Our normal lives are too scheduled to cram that much while on vacation so we take it really easy. I had considered a day trip to Hakone, but we'll play it by ear. I booked the AirBnB in Tokyo for the entire trip as we didn't want to lug our luggage around. We travel carry-on only so each girl is responsible for lifting her own luggage up the stairs. Elevators seem to be a mostly American thing as we didn't have any in Italy or Taiwan. It was harder when DD2 was 7 and we had to walk 3 flights up to our AirBnB in Taipei (I had to carry both hers and mine because DH had to carry MIL's heavy checked luggage up the flights!!), but now that she's 10 I think she can carry her own up multiple flights.

    Last logistical question: we fly in to NRT at 7 pm local time. Is it convenient to get yen from an ATM there or will the ATMs be empty? I'm wondering if I need to go to a local bank here and try to get some yen before we get to NRT so we can pay for the train to Shinjuku. When we flew to Mazatlan, the airport ATM was nearly empty so we got less than $50 Mexican money, barely enough to pay the taxi to the hotel. I know we also want to buy Pasmo/Suica cards, but wasn't sure if I should pre-purchase (they can ship them to CA) or just wait to buy them there.
    What airbnb are you staying at? We stayed at one too but I wouldn't recommend it!

    Temps of 65-75 sounds great! It was around 90 degrees every day when we were there and about 90% humidity!!! So you probably don't even need the fans.

    Here's the link to the Japan Travel Planning website that runs the Facebook page. There's a link to the FB page in it: https://japantravelplanning.com/

    We flew into Tokyo around 5:30pm and were able to get yen from the ATM just fine. Make sure you use the 7 Eleven bank ATMs.

    We bought the Suica cards on arrival. You need cash to pay for them. Here's a detailed link on how to purchase them: https://matcha-jp.com/en/30

    You're going to have a great time! We'd all love to go back to see more of Japan! I have a classmate that was there the month before us for much longer and she was able to do Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima as well as Tokyo. Her pics are amazing! Definitely don't skip the Teamlab Borderless digital museum. DS1 will most likely get to go back to Japan next summer with his Japanese school. They go all over Japan for about 2 weeks.

    Sent from my SM-J700P using Tapatalk
    Latia (Birth & Postpartum Doula and Infant Nanny)
    Conner 8/19/03 (My 1st home birthed water baby!)
    Parker 5/23/09 (My 2nd home birthed water baby!)

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    366

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    Are there any other tips?
    We are headed there in March, has anyone been there at that time?
    Will it be to cold to go to Disney?

    Any good Airbnb places?

    If anyone has more tips, I would love them.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugalmom View Post
    Are there any other tips?
    We are headed there in March, has anyone been there at that time?
    Will it be to cold to go to Disney?

    Any good Airbnb places?

    If anyone has more tips, I would love them.
    Definitely join the private Japan Travel Planning Facebook group that I posted about. There's so much good information on there and you can post or search for specific questions.

    Here's the link to the Japan Travel Planning website that runs the Facebook page. There's a link to the FB page in it: https://japantravelplanning.com/

    Sent from my SM-J700P using Tapatalk
    Latia (Birth & Postpartum Doula and Infant Nanny)
    Conner 8/19/03 (My 1st home birthed water baby!)
    Parker 5/23/09 (My 2nd home birthed water baby!)

  6. #16
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    Jan 2006
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    Echoing Latia's rec, as the Japan Travel Planning group on Facebook is incredibly helpful. I read through dozens of threads to see itineraries, get ideas, and be inspired (there are some incredible amateur photographers out there!). For what it's worth, we spent 9 days in Tokyo (and did not go to any other parts of Japan) as we have a more leisurely travel style. We landed at 7 pm Tokyo time and then did 1-2 activities per day. I booked almost our meals in advance since many of the more popular/upscale ones require reservations. Some restaurants do NOT accept reservations so I noted that below, too.

    Day 1: Arrived at NRT at 7 pm. I had booked a private transport so we wouldn't have to figure out the train system. The driver was not waiting for us and after 2 phone calls and 20+ minutes of waiting, I canceled it and just paid for a taxi (which is ridiculously expensive and should probably be avoided--$330 US to go to Shinjuku).

    Day 2: Most restaurants don't open until 11 am. We bought a ton of food from the konbini (aka convenience stores like 7-11 and Lawson's). We loved their egg salad sandwiches (creamy egg salad on soft crust-less white bread), fried chicken cutlets from Lawson's (DH got a batch hot out of the fryer and they are far better than any American fast food chain like Popeye's, KFC, etc), sushi bento boxes (we got hand rolls, inari, and nigiri that rival our typical suburban American sushi restaurants!), etc. After 11 am, we took the metro to go to Takashimaya Department Store to check out their basement food hall. Tons of great options and we ended up eating lunch consisting of nigiri sushi, tonkatsu bento box, and desserts. Dinner for my birthday was at Yoriniku, a nicer yakiniku (Japanese BBQ meats) restaurant. We made a reservation through JPNEZY (a website that charges about $8 US for a reservation for 4 guests).

    Day 3: Same breakfast from konbini. Had an 11 am street food tour on Sunamachi shopping street with Kanako from an AirBnB experience. We're very food-motivated so this was a fun way to explore an older part of Tokyo (felt like all locals were there as we didn't see any obvious Westerners/tourists) and eat some great food (incredibly delicious udon, 3 choices from a Japanese "deli" which were fried tofu stuffed with pork, bamboo shoots and vegetables, and soy sauce potatoes, scallop and sea bream sashimi (plus the chef sent the girls free amoebi sweet shrimp), taiyaki (fresh fish-shaped waffles stuffed with red bean, custard, or sweet potato--surprisingly, sweet potato was the best!), unagi skewers, a spicy fish paste, bean sprouts, leek, and carrot pancake (which Kanako said is one of her favorites), and tempura pickled ginger slices (another one of Kanako's favorites). Dinner was at a small ramen shop around the corner from apartment, Menyayuusaku.

    Day 4: We did a morning family photo shoot in Shibuya Crossing with a Flytographer photographer and then went to enjoy the Japanese mineral baths (aka onsen), SAYA-NO-YUDOKORO. They offered a stunning kaiseki lunch (multiple courses including shabu shabu, sushi, artfully arranged vegetables, homemade soba noodles, etc.). Dinner was Udon Shin in Shinjuku (awesome handmade udon, no reservations so we went at 4:30 pm to avoid the 1-2 hour wait and only had a 15 minute wait!).

    Day 5: DH and I did an upscale sushi lunch at Sukibayashi Jiro Roppongi Hills (had to make the reservation on Voyagin, which charges $70/person just for the reservation). Girls stayed in the AirBnB and ate konbini food. Then I took the girls to do a Kimono rental with Kahori in Harajuku by Take****a Dori. See her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sakaeya2daime/. It's a small shop only open by appointments and Kahori's family has been in the kimono business for decades. It's not the typical tourist option as you can tell kimonos are a passion for her. She also did a lovely tea ceremony for us. Afterward, we ate a bunch of street food (including the GIANT rainbow colored cotton candy that Instagrammers love on Take****a Dori, plus crepes, soft cream, and candy). Dinner was split up since my youngest DD has a fish allergy. I took our eldest to eat at a kaiten zushi place (conveyer belt), Himawari Sushi Shintoshin, while DH took DD2 to eat at Coco Curry to get a curry chicken rice bowl.

    Day 6: DH and I did another high-end sushi lunch at Sushi Masuda (again, $70/person to book the reservation on Voyagin). This was the best meal of our life and truly incredible. It's a tiny 6 seat sushi counter and just stunning sushi quality and precision. The girls walked themselves to the Coco Curry House since DD2 wanted to eat it again and DD1 hadn't tried it. After lunch, we got the girls and went shopping at Oriental Bazaar in Harujuku. We bought a ton of souvenirs (scarves for grandmas, sakura tree seeds, Godzilla boxer briefs, coin purses for friends, Tokyo t-shirt, chopsticks, bowls, and a set of wind chimes). They have really nice quality products for reasonable prices. Dinner was at Shinjuku Tsunahachi Tempura, made via JPNEZY for $8 US flat rate for 4 people. We aren't big tempura fans, but everyone raves about this place. It was good but not mind-blowing and DH felt it was still a bit too much fried food.

    Day 7: By this point we were sick of konbini food for breakfast but you can't bring home restaurant leftovers and very few places sell take-out. I found a kebab stand near the Okubo station, Saray Kabob. They always had a long line between 11 am and 9 pm when we walked by and it smelled amazing. Tasted just as good as it smelled! We actually went back a second time to get more! Anyhow, we went to do the TeamLabs Borderless digital art experience this day and it was AWESOME. We went at 9:30 am (they officially open at 10 am) and it was great to do the popular Lanterns room (where they only allow 8-10 people in for like 2 minutes) twice in a row before there was a line! I strongly recommend it, not just for those who love Instagram! Since we were way out in Odaiba, we ended up having lunch at the Sakura Restaurant at the Hilton. Overpriced and fancy hotel food (entrees were between $50-85/person, as 10 year old DD2's lunch was the $85 Kobe beef summer pot), but the sashimi, sushi, and "simmer pot" were far better than Wendy's or other tourist food. We then went shopping on Kappabashi St (known for kitchenware, knives, ceramics, etc.). While DH shopped kitchen goods, I took the girls to walk to Asakusa, Sensoji Temple, and the giant Don Quixote store (sort of a like a Target but I didn't see any clothes) to buy $50 worth of flavored Kit Kats (green tea, ube, sweet potato, dark chocolate, wasabi, peach, and ruby chocolate). Dinner was at Sushi Bar Yasuda, a sushi bar that caters to foreigners (made reservations directly on the website and chef was in the US for many decades and speaks fluent English).

    Day 8: Ate leftover kebab for breakfast again. Went to Katsukura in the Takashimaya Department store for an awesome tonkatsu lunch. We stopped by Joel Robuchon’s bakery first and picked up 2 chocolate croissant, 4 curry pan, 1 mushroom/cheese croque monsier, and 1 regular croissant. Spent a couple hours shopping at Tokyu Hands and also went to the Flippers Stand inside Shinjuku Station to get the souffle pancake/pudding treat. DH and DD1 shopped a couple hours at Uniqlo. Dinner at Torishige, a yakitori restaurant and I made reservations on JPNEZY. Their menu had limited English and the wait staff said their Mandarin Chinese was much better (but I only have a basic understanding) so I don't quite know what animal parts we were eating (pig cheek? cow intestines?). They did substitute items like a simple steak skewer for a few of the "weird items" for the kids.

    Day 9: Ate all the leftovers in the AirBnB, did one last outing for more curry pan (but Joel Robuchon didn't open until 11 so we found a place in the Shinjuku station after 45 minutes of wandering that crazy station!), and then ate sushi at the ANA airport lounge for our last meal in Japan. I booked a flat rate taxi company to take us back to NRT, so it was about $250. You can take the train but it's not easy with so much luggage. We did carry-on only to Japan but had to use duffle bags to bring back stuff we bought.

    Let me know if you have questions. Our trip was all about the food with some shopping and light activities. We loved Tokyo!
    Last edited by smiles33; 10-04-2019 at 04:30 PM.

  7. #17
    MMMommy is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Oooh we really liked the Joel Robuchon bakery too! Yummy!
    Mommy to Two DDs
    Member of the BBB I Love Brussels Sprouts Society

    (Why? Because the banana smilie is just so funny)

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by smiles33 View Post
    Echoing Latia's rec, as the Japan Travel Planning group on Facebook is incredibly helpful. I read through dozens of threads to see itineraries, get ideas, and be inspired (there are some incredible amateur photographers out there!). For what it's worth, we spent 9 days in Tokyo (and did not go to any other parts of Japan) as we have a more leisurely travel style. We landed at 7 pm Tokyo time and then did 1-2 activities per day. I booked almost our meals in advance since many of the more popular/upscale ones require reservations. Some restaurants do NOT accept reservations so I noted that below, too.

    Day 1: Arrived at NRT at 7 pm. I had booked a private transport so we wouldn't have to figure out the train system. The driver was not waiting for us and after 2 phone calls and 20+ minutes of waiting, I canceled it and just paid for a taxi (which is ridiculously expensive and should probably be avoided--$330 US to go to Shinjuku).

    Day 2: Most restaurants don't open until 11 am. We bought a ton of food from the konbini (aka convenience stores like 7-11 and Lawson's). We loved their egg salad sandwiches (creamy egg salad on soft crust-less white bread), fried chicken cutlets from Lawson's (DH got a batch hot out of the fryer and they are far better than any American fast food chain like Popeye's, KFC, etc), sushi bento boxes (we got hand rolls, inari, and nigiri that rival our typical suburban American sushi restaurants!), etc. After 11 am, we took the metro to go to Takashimaya Department Store to check out their basement food hall. Tons of great options and we ended up eating lunch consisting of nigiri sushi, tonkatsu bento box, and desserts. Dinner for my birthday was at Yoriniku, a nicer yakiniku (Japanese BBQ meats) restaurant. We made a reservation through JPNEZY (a website that charges about $8 US for a reservation for 4 guests).

    Day 3: Same breakfast from konbini. Had an 11 am street food tour on Sunamachi shopping street with Kanako from an AirBnB experience. We're very food-motivated so this was a fun way to explore an older part of Tokyo (felt like all locals were there as we didn't see any obvious Westerners/tourists) and eat some great food (incredibly delicious udon, 3 choices from a Japanese "deli" which were fried tofu stuffed with pork, bamboo shoots and vegetables, and soy sauce potatoes, scallop and sea bream sashimi (plus the chef sent the girls free amoebi sweet shrimp), taiyaki (fresh fish-shaped waffles stuffed with red bean, custard, or sweet potato--surprisingly, sweet potato was the best!), unagi skewers, a spicy fish paste, bean sprouts, leek, and carrot pancake (which Kanako said is one of her favorites), and tempura pickled ginger slices (another one of Kanako's favorites). Dinner was at a small ramen shop around the corner from apartment, Menyayuusaku.

    Day 4: We did a morning family photo shoot in Shibuya Crossing with a Flytographer photographer and then went to enjoy the Japanese mineral baths (aka onsen), SAYA-NO-YUDOKORO. They offered a stunning kaiseki lunch (multiple courses including shabu shabu, sushi, artfully arranged vegetables, homemade soba noodles, etc.). Dinner was Udon Shin in Shinjuku (awesome handmade udon, no reservations so we went at 4:30 pm to avoid the 1-2 hour wait and only had a 15 minute wait!).

    Day 5: DH and I did an upscale sushi lunch at Sukibayashi Jiro Roppongi Hills (had to make the reservation on Voyagin, which charges $70/person just for the reservation). Girls stayed in the AirBnB and ate konbini food. Then I took the girls to do a Kimono rental with Kahori in Harajuku by Take****a Dori. See her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sakaeya2daime/. It's a small shop only open by appointments and Kahori's family has been in the kimono business for decades. It's not the typical tourist option as you can tell kimonos are a passion for her. She also did a lovely tea ceremony for us. Afterward, we ate a bunch of street food (including the GIANT rainbow colored cotton candy that Instagrammers love on Take****a Dori, plus crepes, soft cream, and candy). Dinner was split up since my youngest DD has a fish allergy. I took our eldest to eat at a kaiten zushi place (conveyer belt), Himawari Sushi Shintoshin, while DH took DD2 to eat at Coco Curry to get a curry chicken rice bowl.

    Day 6: DH and I did another high-end sushi lunch at Sushi Masuda (again, $70/person to book the reservation on Voyagin). This was the best meal of our life and truly incredible. It's a tiny 6 seat sushi counter and just stunning sushi quality and precision. The girls walked themselves to the Coco Curry House since DD2 wanted to eat it again and DD1 hadn't tried it. After lunch, we got the girls and went shopping at Oriental Bazaar in Harujuku. We bought a ton of souvenirs (scarves for grandmas, sakura tree seeds, Godzilla boxer briefs, coin purses for friends, Tokyo t-shirt, chopsticks, bowls, and a set of wind chimes). They have really nice quality products for reasonable prices. Dinner was at Shinjuku Tsunahachi Tempura, made via JPNEZY for $8 US flat rate for 4 people. We aren't big tempura fans, but everyone raves about this place. It was good but not mind-blowing and DH felt it was still a bit too much fried food.

    Day 7: By this point we were sick of konbini food for breakfast but you can't bring home restaurant leftovers and very few places sell take-out. I found a kebab stand near the Okubo station, Saray Kabob. They always had a long line between 11 am and 9 pm when we walked by and it smelled amazing. Tasted just as good as it smelled! We actually went back a second time to get more! Anyhow, we went to do the TeamLabs Borderless digital art experience this day and it was AWESOME. We went at 9:30 am (they officially open at 10 am) and it was great to do the popular Lanterns room (where they only allow 8-10 people in for like 2 minutes) twice in a row before there was a line! I strongly recommend it, not just for those who love Instagram! Since we were way out in Odaiba, we ended up having lunch at the Sakura Restaurant at the Hilton. Overpriced and fancy hotel food (entrees were between $50-85/person, as 10 year old DD2's lunch was the $85 Kobe beef summer pot), but the sashimi, sushi, and "simmer pot" were far better than Wendy's or other tourist food. We then went shopping on Kappabashi St (known for kitchenware, knives, ceramics, etc.). While DH shopped kitchen goods, I took the girls to walk to Asakusa, Sensoji Temple, and the giant Don Quixote store (sort of a like a Target but I didn't see any clothes) to buy $50 worth of flavored Kit Kats (green tea, ube, sweet potato, dark chocolate, wasabi, peach, and ruby chocolate). Dinner was at Sushi Bar Yasuda, a sushi bar that caters to foreigners (made reservations directly on the website and chef was in the US for many decades and speaks fluent English).

    Day 8: Ate leftover kebab for breakfast again. Went to Katsukura in the Takashimaya Department store for an awesome tonkatsu lunch. We stopped by Joel Robuchon’s bakery first and picked up 2 chocolate croissant, 4 curry pan, 1 mushroom/cheese croque monsier, and 1 regular croissant. Spent a couple hours shopping at Tokyu Hands and also went to the Flippers Stand inside Shinjuku Station to get the souffle pancake/pudding treat. DH and DD1 shopped a couple hours at Uniqlo. Dinner at Torishige, a yakitori restaurant and I made reservations on JPNEZY. Their menu had limited English and the wait staff said their Mandarin Chinese was much better (but I only have a basic understanding) so I don't quite know what animal parts we were eating (pig cheek? cow intestines?). They did substitute items like a simple steak skewer for a few of the "weird items" for the kids.

    Day 9: Ate all the leftovers in the AirBnB, did one last outing for more curry pan (but Joel Robuchon didn't open until 11 so we found a place in the Shinjuku station after 45 minutes of wandering that crazy station!), and then ate sushi at the ANA airport lounge for our last meal in Japan. I booked a flat rate taxi company to take us back to NRT, so it was about $250. You can take the train but it's not easy with so much luggage. We did carry-on only to Japan but had to use duffle bags to bring back stuff we bought.

    Let me know if you have questions. Our trip was all about the food with some shopping and light activities. We loved Tokyo!

    Thank you so much. I am going avoid taxis for sure! I hope the trains are a lot cheaper.

  9. #19
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    Trains are MUCH cheaper (like $3 per person for short rides). We mostly used trains but Narita Airport is more than an hour's drive from Tokyo and involves a LOT of tolls. It's cheaper to take the high speed train to the metro and transfer (or take a shuttle bus or limo bus). I'm sure we could have done it, but none of us slept more than 1-2 hours on the plane (and I had woken up at 2 am US time on our departure day!). So we just wanted to grab our luggage and get to the AirBnB as fast as possible. If you're staying at a hotel, there are shuttle buses/limo buses that go to hotels, but I didn't want to have to transfer from a shuttle bus to another taxi and find our AirBnB while totally sleep-deprived.

    We also took taxis a few other times (DH has had 3 hip surgeries and by day 4 couldn't handle all that walking). Taxi fare inside Tokyo (meaning 20-30 minute rides) were perfectly reasonable at about $30.

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