We booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Tokyo to celebrate the start of summer, my son’s college graduation, and the successful renewal of my passport. On the morning of my flight, I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep so I made some spam musubi and smoked meat for the flight attendants and for us to eat on the plane. We flew on Hawaiian Airlines from Hilo to Honolulu and were so happy the check-in process was smooth and we only had to sit on the plane for about 30 min before taking off. We made it to HNL where we stood in a line before gaining entrance to the Plumeria Lounge where I ate some minestrone soup and relaxed with a Chardonnay and Mele Macs. There were a bunch of other Hilo pals flying to Fukuoka, Haneda, and Seoul who were in the lounge. Yup. Travel is back! Since we weren’t sitting in business class on this trip, I made sure to take advantage of the food and drinks available to us before getting on the long flight to Haneda Airport. I guess because I woke up so early, I was exhausted on the flight. I slept fitfully the whole trip and didn’t get to read or watch any shows.
Getting in through customs and immigration was quick and easy. If you are going to Japan soon, here is a tip — for easier entry into Japan so you don’t have to fill out forms upon arrival go to this site to enter your info. https://vjw-lp.digital.go.jp/en/ We didn’t do that and it was still no problem so don’t worry if you don’t remember to do it.
We stayed at the Royal Park Shiodome again. The location is convenient and we are familiar with the area and the room is great. When we got in, we walked around the Shimbashi area and visited an izakaya that Aaron had gone to before–Izakaya Ichirou where we ate piman shiokombu, roasted garlic with miso, yamaimo French fries, tebasaki, chicken thigh yakitori, geso karaage, fried kisu, and some edamame. Of course, we washed it all down with some nama beer.
The plan for our first full day in Japan was to take a day trip to Mt. Takao. We took the train to get there. So easy to navigate the transit system. I used Apple Maps to help me figure out the best routes to get from one place to another. it does help that Aaron and I kind of know our way around so we can make informed decisions about the best path somewhere. I recommend that you add the digital Suica card to your phone. I use an iPhone but I am sure it works just as well with an Android. You can easily reload money to the digital card as needed. Additionally, if your express mode is turned on, you don’t have to even unlock your phone to go through the turnstiles. Just put your phone near the scanner and even in locked mode, it works.
We headed to Mt. Takao from Shinjuku station where the ticket machines there have a discount ticket package you can purchase. The ticket package includes a round-trip train ticket to/from Shinjuku and round-trip seats up/down the mountain on the cable car or chair ride. We made it to Mt. Takao (Takaosanguchi Station) and walked from the train station to the town. Near the start of the hike, you’ll find a restaurant that opened in 1830 and is a famous soba shop that serves tororo soba. On this very warm day, the cold tororo soba that I ordered hit the spot! The hike was a great way to get outdoors and get moving after a long flight the day before. If you like the outdoors this would be a fun day for you. There were a lot of hikers there–including elementary-age children on a school trip. Most of the people there were local Japanese and there wasn’t a whole lot of signage in English.
After a long day of hiking, we headed back to the city to recharge, shop, and explore. My son went off on his own after dinner and even had the fun experience of missing the last train back to our neighborhood. Instead of catching a taxi as I would have done, he ended up walking back. It was about a 4+ mile walk back and luckily, Japan is so safe. Living Hilo Style in Tokyo.