I’ve purposely avoided travelling to Tokyo, Japan, or Japan in general because it’s a relatively easy destination to visit. While I’m going around collecting countries, I want to save the easier ones for later when I’m older and can’t travel to more rough destinations anymore. However, when Alaska Airlines announced its frequent flyer program devaluation, I had to use up my miles while they were still worth something. I ended up redeeming my Alaska miles on a Japan Airlines business class flight from Vancouver to Japan with a 2-night stopover before flying to Jakarta.
VIDEO – My Tokyo Japan Travel Experience (TeamLab, Shibuya) – Country #98
Japan Airlines Business Class
The Japan Airlines Business class was good but not the best one I’ve been in (EVA Air and Qatar Airways take the crown on this one). The food and entertainment was good. Ultimately, the highlight is the service as the flight attendants were attentive and friendly.
Arriving in Tokyo, Japan
Upon arriving in Japan, the immigration process wasn’t too bad. I then purchased a DATA-only SIM Card for 2,500 Yen ($25 CAD) and I also purchased a train ticket for 1370 Yen going from the Narita Airport to Asakusa where my hotel was located.
The train transit from Narita Airport to Asakusa was long, it took over one hour. I later realized the Haneda airport is closer and I should have flown there instead of Narita.
Arriving in Asakusa in Tokyo, Japan
I stayed in a popular Japanese hotel chain called APA Hotel Eki Mae which cost me 19,700 Yen for two nights. I made the booking via their website and received a discount compared to making the booking through Booking.com or Agoda. Although their Agoda price was very close.
I ate some food from Family Mart during my first night as I was dead tired. The food was yummy, I ended up eating a skewer, chicken teriyaki, and onigiri. I passed out shortly as I was dead tired from the flight to Japan.
Journey to TeamLab Planets in Tokyo, Japan
The next day, I ate breakfast at the hotel which I pre-purchased as part of the hotel booking. I received this yummy breakfast bento box which looks like something you’d eat for lunch in Canada.
My first stop for my full day in Tokyo, Japan is TeamLab Planets. It was confusing to take the metro at first and felt lost many times. Luckily, many of the local transit employees were helpful despite not speaking any English.
Arriving at TeamLab Planets
Teamlab itself was packed with tourists and the cost of the entry fee is 3800 Yen which I purchased from the vending machines. It’s a bit pricey and I’d say it’s not worth the admission. I think 3000 Yen sounds more like a fair price since the place is relatively small.
The exhibition was neat. It starts with water running down a ramp. This is followed by a dark room with uneven walking terrain. The first wow moment was seeing the light room which is very cool. This is followed by another water room with electronically displayed fish swimming on the surface. The next stop was this ballroom followed by this ceiling show which was mesmerizing to see.
Afterward, I headed to the garden area where the staff said that your goal is to be one with nature. I liked the garden as it felt serene.
Lunch with a friend from my first one-year trip around the world
After going to the museum, I visited my friend Ryukichi Tatsuki. He’s an extreme backpacker I met back in 2016 while travelling in Namibia. We explored Dune 45, Deadvlei, and Big Daddy Dunes in Namibia and also ended up in a car crash on the way back to Windhoek.
He showed me his office where he does his architecture work before he took me to one of his favourite restaurants. The food resembles Poke but Ryu said it’s called something else. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the restaurant. The food was yummy and we had a good chat just catching up since I haven’t seen him since 2016. It was 2023 when I visited him.
After a pleasant time catching up with my friend, I went to Shibuya to see the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing. It was cool to see this famous location. Although, seeing this place at night would be even more amazing.
I then tried to go to Katsushika City to go to a famous ramen place called Mengokoro Kunimoto. Unfortunately, it was closed when I arrived. I’ll have to go back one day with my girlfriend Karen to eat there.
I ended my day in Tokyo, Japan by heading back to my hotel and eating food from Family Mart (they have amazing affordable takeout).
Challenging way to leave Japan
The next day, I was in a bit of a dilemma. It’s over 1 hour ride by train to the airport but I already paid for breakfast in the hotel I was staying at. If I eat breakfast, I’ll only have 2 hours before departure. You usually want to arrive at the airport 3 hours before your flight starts just to play it safe.
I decided to risk it and ate my Japanese breakfast in a record time of 5 minutes. I went to the train station only to find out that the machines were cash only. The grumpy young Japanese guy working there told me I had to exchange my money at a Family Mart to pay as they don’t accept credit cards. This guy looks like he hates his job.
I went and exchanged money. Immediately after, I went and paid for my ticket and made it to the train platform just in time before the train arrived. It was a long brutal ride to the airport. The stuffy train was packed to the max with people. Eventually, I made it to Narita airport and thanked god for Japanese efficiency as I was able to check in quickly and get through the gate in literally 15 minutes. More countries need to be as efficient as these guys.
I ended my time in Tokyo by eating another meal in the lounge before heading over to take my Japan Airlines flight to Jakarta.
I’ll return one day to properly explore the country. My time in Tokyo, Japan is short and sweet and I kind of liked it that way. I normally hate big cities and I was starting to get annoyed at the train congestion every time I took it. Next time I return to Japan, I will check out Kyoto, Super Nintendo Land, and the warmer southern part of the country. I look forward to that experience and can easily say Japan is in my top 20 favourite countries of all time.