We spent an amazing 36 days in Japan! We did a lot of traveling, and we went back and forth between a lot of locations, cities, and districts. To make things easier to read and write, we have grouped everything in our travels into city locations and not exactly by time.
First up is Tokyo! Tokyo is divided up into districts and wards. To keep things all organized we kept all the districts and wards of Tokyo separate, even though some of these locations we visited days and sometimes weeks apart from each other. The districts and cities we visited in Tokyo are:
Shinjuku is a very popular area in Tokyo due to it being a major commercial and Government area. People come to Shinjuku for the free view at the top of the Metropolitan Government Building
and the incredibly busy Shinjuku Station. We came to Shinjuku on the last few days of our journey to rest at the Park Hyatt hotel Tokyo. I know this post is actually at the beginning, but we actually visited Shinjuku on our last days in Japan. Park Hyatt Tokyo
was the final place we stayed at in all of Japan. Just like the start of our trip, we wanted the final days to be without worry, and easy, so we choose a popular hotel to stay at instead of an Airbnb location. Don't worry, the Airbnb stuff comes next, and I promise you it is very, very cool. Until then, Park Hyatt!
Park Hyatt Tokyo is the iconic hotel used in the movie "Lost in Translation". Many of the scenes from the movie were filmed in the bars of the hotel, with the beautiful Tokyo skyline in the background.
The New York Bar
While many will disagree with me, personally, we were not very happy with the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It had beautiful views, but other than that, the service was definitely more of the American variety than Japanese hospitality. Other than our assigned concierge (who was the best at handling our issues and assisting us), every single person we met besides them had more important things to take care of, which seemed buried somewhere else. We were ignored in all the bars at the hotel. No greetings or pleasantries were exchanged at the valet, there was always some more important than us leaving or arriving that needed to be handled first, even though we were waiting longer.
The design of the interior of the hotel was a terrible eye sore. The decision to use the faded greenish gray carpet throughout the hotel was not a very good one. For a high end luxury hotel everything appeared monotonous and dull. It's not hard to see at all, why, when confined to her room, Scarlett Johansson's character was burdened with depression in the movie "Lost in Translation".
Everything from the decor to the food was underwhelming. While it may seem harsh, when compared to Japan as a whole, Park Hyatt hotel was the most boring and lackluster part of our trip. The most excitement one can have is attempting to figure out the how to properly navigate all of the elevators to get to the Hotel lobby to check in.
Peak bar and Lounge desserts.
The food and drinks offered at the bars were bland, water downed, and overpriced. Avoid eating here at all cost. If you must get the sweets, but even then do not expect much. They look pretty, but over all were lacking.
Shinjuku itself has many beautiful architectural photographic opportunities of the city.
It's a hub center for business and government, so while there is a lot to see, there is very little to do without going off the main path. You can visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and get a cool name tag, as well as a free ride to the top of the building for a nice view that some say rivals the Skytree in Sumida. We didn't take the Skytree or Metro building elevators though, so we cannot compare. I will say that while filling out my information to enter the building, I was expecting to be rudely handled by the security offers, but they were the most helpful people in our trip despite the language barrier. Do not be afraid to ask the officers around the building for assistance!
The highlight of my time in Shinjuku was finding that I could purchase the amazingly cute "Disaster Preparedness Tokyo" book
, which is a handy manual to the residence of Tokyo on how to be prepared and survive an earthquake. The copies were only 140 yen each, which was about $1 at the time of our trip. I bought 12 copies and gave them out as souvenirs back home.
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of photographic opportunities in Shinjuku as well.
"Piss Alley" aka Memory Lane.
We noticed a Krispy Kreme and had to check it out to see if there was any difference. There was not and just like the American version the donuts came with a free side of guilt.
We had very few opportunities to see Mt. Fuji during our trip, so we were delighted to find that when leaving the hotel one day, we noticed it in the distance.
In defense of Park Hyatt Tokyo, the views they offer are spectacular. We had no desire to go across the street to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building or the Tokyo Skytree because the views we had were more than satisfactory. Does that make up for the bad service we experience? No. There are views found elsewhere for free, with people who are more than happy to assist you.
Shinjuku is worthy of a day trip at best. There are better hotels to stay at, and better places to spend your time if needed. Surely there are treasures around, but for the time we had and the things we had planned, not many of them were found.
Stay tuned for us to walk the streets of Shibuya!