Not much happened on this day, so let’s get it over with quickly and move on.
After my flight (and pre-flight lounge) experience, our bird landed at Narita International Airport hours after we were originally scheduled to arrive. I had plans of visiting the splendid observation deck at Roppongi’s Mori Tower in the evening, but the late arrival and the exhaustion left over from the delay meant that I was in no mood to do much more than turn in for the night.
From the arrival area, I headed deep into the underbelly of the terminal and made straight for the JR East Travel Service Centre, where I claimed my Japan Rail Pass using a voucher purchased back home (the pass can’t be purchased in Japan itself). Since I’d requested a start date of the next day for my pass (and therefore couldn’t use it for today’s ride to the city), I also availed myself of JR East’s latest money-saving offer: a bargain 1,500-yen one-way ticket on the Narita Express.
Whilst waiting for my train, I swung by the nearest vending machine and treated myself to one of my favourite beverages.
Yuzu? Good. Lemon? Good. Yuzu and lemon blended together into a soothingly sweet drink that also happens to be sold hot, making it perfect for the freezing winter air of the train station? Good on so many levels.
The N’EX brought me to Tōkyō Station, where I changed to a Sōbu Line rapid service train. Since N’EX tickets are also valid for transfer travel to other Tōkyō-area JR East stations (within a designated zone), the short hop from here to my final destination of Bakurochō Station didn’t cost anything extra.
Now I don’t normally write about the hotels I stay in, which is hardly a surprise given that (as a budget traveller) I generally make use of cheap business hotels that aren’t really worth a second glance. On the other hand, I’ve had so little to write about concerning Day 1 so let’s have a look anyway.
My home for the next four nights was the Tōyoko Inn Tōkyō Kanda Akihabara – a cheap, no-frills business hotel located a few steps from exit C4 of Bakurochō Station. It’s a handy location, although the apparent proximity to the station can be a little deceptive, since exit C4 is quite a long walk from the actual platforms and there are a lot of stairs along the way (not good for those toting heavy luggage).
The room. Not bad, not bad at all; it had everything I needed and not much else.
The best part was the rate, which (as one might expect from a Japanese business hotel) was quite reasonable to begin with, and reduced even further both by my membership card and by a limited offer that rewarded online bookings with a cash rebate of 500 yen per night.
Of course, this being Japan, they won’t just drop the rebate money into your palm like loose change. Each 500 yen coin was lovingly, perhaps a little wastefully, tucked inside a printed and numbered envelope. I received four, one for each night of my stay.
Throw a free buffet breakfast into the bargain and you’ll realise why I’m more than willing to give up a bit of luxury by staying at these simple business hotels for most of my trips across Japan.
Right, that’s it for today. Cheerio.
I’m sorry you were cheated out of any sightseeing time on the first day of your trip. I know exactly how you must have felt. When we were flying from Osaka to Sapporo, we went to the wrong airport (such a ridiculous mistake!) and ended up arriving in Sapporo hours after we had initially planned. It was a bitter pill to swallow and essentially robbed us of our plans to go to Moerenuma Park. I hope I’ll be able to read that you were still able to make it to the Mori Tower in a future post.
I love how the vending machines in Japan sell those hot bottled drinks! I have yet to try that Yuzu Lemon drink. I don’t usually drink too much lemon stuff (save for certain cocktails lol) because it gives my throat a funny feeling. But I’ll have to give it a try the next time I’m in Japan.
Very interesting to see your hotel room, it reminds me so much of one that I stayed in when I visited New York. The layout and furniture is EXACTLY the same. If I were ever to travel alone throughout Japan, I’d like to try staying in a business class hotel. With M, we stay in only American chains because he is obsessed with collecting hotel points lol.
Thankfully enough, I did make it to the observation deck on another day. I suppose the delay was actually a blessing in disguise since I flew into Japan on a Saturday – the evening view might have been less impressive (with fewer lights) since it wasn’t a workday. We’ll get to that part in due course.
The Toyoko Inn chain is pretty reliable – spotlessly clean rooms, decent buffet breakfast (limited selection but fills you right up), proximity to train stations (an essential element of a good business hotel). If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of luxury, you’ll get decent accommodation and lower prices in return, but it’s important not to expect much. I’ve signed up for their membership card so I get discounts and earn points (which count towards free stays) every time I lodge with them – perhaps this might make the chain more feasible in your case (^_^)
What a wonderful post! My husband is Japanese and your article reminded me of the first time I went to Japan for the wedding ceremony. We landed at Narita and went to a restaurant …I was shocked to see that EVERY dish had fish in it! I don’t like fish so I ended up eating only plain rice. I ordered chawan-mushi, thinking it was an egg pudding…when I heard it had shrimp and dashi I just couldn’t eat it so I gave it to my mother, she loved fish! Thank you for the memories:) Greetings from Sicily.
Interesting that you mentioned fish – I’m not a fan of it either which makes eating in Japan a bit of a challenge at times. I really need to brush up on my kanji for my next visit; it would make reading ingredient labels so much easier.
My daughter is half-Japanese and she knows about 70 Kanjis!!! I know maybe one or two. I did learn hiragana and katakana but even those aren’t so easy! Good luck:)