Tokyo…bright lights, wacky and fabulous people
I always get excited when I’m travelling to a country that I have never visited before, so the thoughts of visiting Tokyo in Japan even for a short visit, had me super excited.
As The Fabulous Traveller, I decided to fly business class with Turkish Airlines to Tokyo. From the time you arrive at Dublin airport, Turkish Airlines staff always make you feel so welcomed. Check-in was fast with no hassle and I went straight to the DAA VIP lounge for some relaxation before boarding. I was greeted when boarding with my personal cabin server who also disguised himself as my personal chef. Business class on the Boeing 737-800 offer a number of starters, a choice of mains and by delicious desserts. After a quick 3.5 hours flight, we arrived in Istanbul with only a two hour wait before heading onto my next leg to Tokyo. The business class transfer bus quickly escorted me to the terminal and what I really liked was that I did not have to go through security again and headed straight to the Turkish Airlines VIP lounge.
The Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul is fantastic, with so many activities to choose from. There is a significant choice of food and drinks to suit all taste buds and cultures. If you are feeling a little tired or stressed, why not try a complimentary 10 minute back massage in the lounge? Our next flight was on board a Boeing 777 and I went straight into sleep mode with a full lie flat bed and duvet. From leaving Dublin at 5.40pm it was now 2.10am and I was on my way to Tokyo with a 11 hour flight, for which I gladly slept for 8 hours. From the time of leaving Dublin to arriving in Tokyo there was no turbulence whatsoever…must be another Turkish Airlines benefit Onur!
On arrival in Narita Airport in Tokyo you are greeted by what I can only say are the most lovely and polite Japanese people. From the time I arrived until the time I left I could not say one bad word about these fabulous, wonderful people. Getting into Tokyo was easy too: the options are Skyliner train (fast express 36 mins) €60 plus connections to metro, the standard train (1hr 10mins) €35 or the express limousine bus which dropped me directly to my hotel in Skinjuku (1hr 15mins) and cost €23.
After reading various reviews I decided to stay in the Hilton hotel in the area of Skinjuku which is lively, close to shopping and easy access on the metro line. The Hilton Hotel is a short 10 minute walk from the hustle and bustle of Skinjuku with all the buzz and the bright lights of Tokyo. The Hilton hotel is comfortable with spacious rooms, a gym, a pool and tennis courts. The executive lounge on 37th floor is nice for breakfast away from normal hustle of the breakfast area and with a large choice of food, champagne and great views. The hotel is also connected to the Nishi Shinjuku Metro station on the Maronuishi line.
With the brief stay in Tokyo I had to get as much in as possible. So, my first night consisted of taking a 10 minute walk in the centre of the Skinjuku area which can only be described as the Soho of Tokyo. The robot show restaurant is approx €50 which can include meals or just drinks. These shows are really popular and wacky but the Japanese just love them.
I wanted to dine in a local Japanese restaurant for our first night, so we ate in a fabulous Teppaniki restaurant called Teppan 200oC in the Shinjuku area. I sat directly in front of the chef as he worked away cooking our meal in front of us. I started with asparagus wrapped in bacon and spinach and bacon followed by tenderloin steak and chicken. Again, the service was fantastic with the chef super helpful and adding fun to the meal. If you want a traditional Japanese restaurant check this place out, you won’t be disappointed! Other restaurants to try in Shinjuku is Pandoro for delicious steaks, Bangkok kitchen for some Thai and Bali Lax for Asian. If you like Rooftop bars check out the Hyatt Rooftop next to the Hilton Hotel, but my favourite rooftop bars are in Asakusa’s Gate Hotel, Sky Lounge Stellar Garden and Rooftop Bar Andaz Tokyo.
When you only have a short time in any place my recommendation is definitely to do the hop-on hop-off bus. You can get to the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus by going to Tokyo Metro station from the metro line at the hotel and pick up the bus at the Marunouchi Misubishi Building. The Metro is very cheap with a day rate of €4.50 or two day rate of €7.50 and you can get around Tokyo very easily. The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus costs €23 for 24 hours and you can choose from 3 routes taking old Tokyo and new Tokyo. The routes take to you the Tokyo Skytree Station which allows you to go up to the highest building in Tokyo, Asakusa Hanakawado temple, Tokyo tower, Rainbow bridge, Fuji television centre (big wheel), Tasukiji Ginza fish market plus lots more.
If you like shopping Shinjuku is the area for you from electrical stores to designer shops. If you have kids, there is always Disneyland Tokyo to visit. If we had more time, we would certainly have gone on the day trip to Koyoto.
Tokyo is a great city with wonderful people. Probably not the biggest Tourist attractions however with the Olympics coming in 2020 this city will not disappoint you.