After our 2 week trip to Japan and Hong Kong, I realized that it was just not enough time! There is SO much to see, do, and try while in Japan that I don’t know if any amount of time visiting will ever be enough! However, we did experience quite a bit while we were there!
Days 1&2 (time change causing us to lose a day)
After our 11 hour plane ride from Minneapolis to Haneda (Tokyo), Jensen and I were pretty tired, but that didn’t stop us from seeking adventure! We decided to walk to Shibuya which is the Times Square of Tokyo and were amazed by all the lights, the flashing billboards, and arcades that filled the area! When you picture Tokyo, Shibuya is what you think of! With themed restaurants such as the Robot Restaurant and the Alice in Wonderland restaurant, its like a theme park for adults!
After wandering around the streets of Tokyo, we grabbed some Udon noodles for dinner and then headed back to our hotel which was conveniently located right in front of a station!
We stayed at the Akasaka Excel Hotel for the night which was a little pricer than the hotels that I normally book, but we weren’t going to have much time in downtown Tokyo since we were staying in Tokyo Bay for Disney the rest of the trip, so I wanted us in an easy location! Aside from the bed being pretty rough, the hotel was nice, clean, had a great staff, and was in an prime location!
On Day 2, Jensen and I were supposed to go on a maricar tour around Japan, and even after messaging them the day before, they still cancelled on us due to weather conditions upon our arrival to their office. We were pretty annoyed with them since we did predict a cancellation, however they told us they were still going to go out. Anyways, after we wasted half our day in an area that had little else to do, we set out in the rain to experience some of Japans sights for ourselves.
We headed to the Tokyo tower, we grabbed lunch, and did some shopping before we had to switch hotels. Since this trip was mainly planned to visit the Disney Parks, we wanted to stay in an area that was closer to the park for the last couple nights.
We stayed at The Hilton Tokyo Bay for the Disney portion of our trip and it was such a great hotel for Disney goers! The beds were still a little hard, but we found that is the norm in most places over there. Even though it wasn’t an official Disney hotel, it was themed and had very convenient transportation to and from the parks! The staff was also a huge plus, as well as the shopping and dining options that the hotel had on their first floor! I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone making their way to Tokyo Disneyland! However, if you are just staying in Tokyo, the Tokyo Bay Area didn’t have much going on that we saw, especially in the rain.
Days 4 & 5
Since I have already done a blog post over Tokyo Disney, I am going to save some space here. If you didn’t have a chance to read it before, you can find out everything about the parks and see all of our pictures here: All Things Tokyo Disneyland.
The biggest thing to note is that it finally stopped raining, and the impending Typhoon Lan didn’t effect our trip much after all! We enjoyed 2 fabulous days at Disneyland with minimal wind and only about 5 minutes of rain total! It did get a bit chilly at night and I really regretted opting for the jeans with holes in them! Burr!
Again, I have made a separate blog post specifically for Hong Kong because honestly we really didn’t enjoy it too much. It had a lot to do with the airline we took, the hotel we stayed at, and a general disliking of the conditions of Hong Kong. If you missed the post you can find it here: Pros and Cons of Hong Kong.
We still enjoyed the things that we did while we were there, but learned a bit about things we would avoid if we ever went again.
Day 9 was my 24th birthday! On October 28th we spent a large chunk of time traveling and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I have never been a huge New Years person, but rather a birthday girl, and I like to make my resolutions and predications about the following year when I begin a new one! I can only imagine the adventures that year 24 will bring me and I hope to be spending it with my favorite people every step of the way!
After completing my bucket list item of seeing all the Disney parks (World of Disney Park Rankings!) We were off to Osaka from Hong Kong to begin a different style of vacation! After getting into Osaka fairly late, it was now time to get to our hotel. We had a little difficulty finding out how to get there from the airport since it was late and we did not fully understand their public transit yet. But for anyone traveling to this area, know that there is an inexpensive shuttle that leaves from the airport and drops off at 2 different locations near the centre of Osaka. Luckily for us, the timing worked out perfectly and the drop-off was right next to our hotel! With only about a 5 minute walk away, we stayed at the Daiwa Roynet Hotel.
This hotel was one of our favorites because not only was the location in a central area that made it easy to get around, the staff was polite AND it included a full sit down hot breakfast! I know I have mentioned the staff in all of these hotels, but let me tell you, the Japanese win at hospitality! They are extremely professional and always go above and beyond to make you feel welcome! After realizing I booked a smoking room on accident (I didn’t even know that was a thing anymore) the receptionist at check-in graciously swapped my room without any hassle!
Day 10 was the second day that it rained on our parade, but that didn’t stop Jensen and I from getting out and exploring Kyoto! After getting a little frustrated that I had to take control of the responsibilities on the trip, I had Jensen take the reins of navigation to get us to Kyoto for our day trip. Naturally an hour away, turned into two and a half hours away, but we made it there and explored the Fushimi Inari Shrine for a couple of hours, grabbed lunch, and then headed back to Osaka.
Admittedly, I ended up feeling really bad for Jensen and we ended up working together and asking for directions A LOT because the public transportation in Osaka and Kyoto wasn’t nearly as easy as the rest of the places that I have been. Even though not as many people understood us in this area, they were all still very helpful and guided us (with about 7 different maps which was even more confusing).
Originally, we had intended to spend most of the day in Kyoto, but due to the rain, we were getting a little frustrated of being wet and cold the whole time, so we went back to regroup and changed our plans a little. Also note that the famous shrine in Kyoto is incredibly popular now and was one of the most crowded places that I have been to in all of my travels. I would recommend going as early as possible if you plan to visit, or go later in the day if you can closer to evening. With the rain and crowds, we got fed up with our umbrellas, and everyone else’s, so we put them away and ending up just wearing ponchos. Even though we looked ridiculous, we were better off without the umbrellas and many people actually asked us where we got them from!
That night Jensen and I felt better after getting into a dry pair of clothes, and the rain finally stopped, so we set out to find an arcade to hang out in for the night, because when in Japan right?! Well we went down to find a place called Joypolis which actually wasn’t as cool as another place we found. Joypolis had a few claw machines, virtual rides, and the strangest thing I have seen, 2 whole floors of photo booths geared specifically for girls(teens/twenty year olds) to go, dress up, and take photos! There were 2 floors of this and the Japanese girls were all over it! All I could think was my Instagram selfie game is never going to be on par with the Japanese!
After discovering Joyopolis, we went around the mall that it is located in and then took a $5 ride on one of the best ferris wheels that I have been on! They don’t cram you in with other people, but instead you get a private gondola with a speaker that connects to your phone so you can play your own music during your ride which I thought was really unique!
We saw the city all lit up from a bird’s eye view and could even see the Osaka tower, which looks very much like the Tokyo tower. While we were up there we also saw another place that seemed like Joypolis called Round One! This place attracted us because we could see the neon escalator lights from the Ferris wheel and we had to go check it out! This place had video games (for intense gamers keep in mind), a million claw machines (they love those there, and I won a couple, yay!!), bowling, ping-pong, and karaoke! If you are in the area and have some time, I would highly recommend checking this place out!
This was our last full day before we had to leave and we weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do, so we ended up deciding on checking out the Osaka aquarium which was huge! This was probably the best aquarium that I have ever been to and we were able to spend hours there! I swear we sat and watched the sharks alone for an hour solid before we grabbed some snacks and toured around the area. This wasn’t actually something I would have thought about doing, because you can go to an aquarium anywhere right? But honestly, you have some time in your schedule, this ended up being on of my favorite parts of the entire trip!
That night, we finally got to ride the Mario-karts that we were supposed to ride in Tokyo and it was a blast!! This was a highlight of the trip for sure and was so much fun! Since, I could go on and on about this experience, I have written a separate blog post about this tour as well! You really NEED to check this out sometime! If it isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be! Read all about it here: Childhood dreams come true.
Our last day, full of traveling and heading home! So sad to end our lovely trip, but Jensen and I were both ready to get home and get back into the swing of a normal routine! I opted not to go on to the Philippines like I had originally planned, but thats okay because I still have a fun-filled month of work trips ahead of me!
Anyways, Jensen and I had a really rough time getting to the airport on this day and hope that this post saves some people some hassle! Remember when I mentioned the awesome shuttle that ran from the airport into town? Well that doesn’t begin running until 5:30am, which means we wouldn’t have gotten to the airport until 6:30am, for a 7:10 flight. We knew we had to come up with another option, but seeing as the public transportation did not start up until around 5:30 as well, we had to take a taxi! This ride was incredibly expensive and we ended up spending the most money on our last day going home than we did on any other day during that trip. We split the $100 cab ride at 4am and just took it as a learning experience. So for any of you who are traveling on a budget like us, know not to book flights early in the morning to avoid this fate!
That day, we traveled from Osaka to Narita, Narita to Haneda, and then Haneda to Minneapolis (Jensen had to also go from Minneapolis to Salt Lake as well, yikes!). Narita and Haneda are both considered to be Tokyo’s airports but they are about an hour away from each other. Since we fly standby, we weren’t sure which airport we were going out of until the day of, but we could have stayed at the Narita airport if we wanted to, the flights were just a little fuller.
We spent our sleep deprived day shopping, eating, editing pictures, and blogging until our flight rolled around and then we set off on another 11 hour plane ride home!
All in all Jensen and I had an amazing trip and both have already talked about going back to Japan again! This trip was a little pricier than the ones that I normally take, but with the Disney parks, the Mario-kart tour, and opting to splurge and stay in hotels for my birthday trip, we spent around $1,500 on everything per person! That includes all of our flights (the long ones were basically free thanks to work), hotels, food, activities, and shopping! Not too shabby considering we were able to spend 2 weeks in Japan and Hong Kong! Now that we are back though Jensen and I have both set some goals and have some big things in store! Stay tuned for all of our other endeavors!