Japan: Tokyo SkyTree & Disney Resort (Part 2)

The Oshiage subway stop led us right to Tokyo SkyTree Town! Located here is a mall of sorts with different attractions. In the center is the SkyTree itself, on different floors of the adjacent building are also an aquarium, a planetarium, shops, and restaurants! We took a look around and were shocked by how many fun attractions there were in this one place! We were decided on the SkyTree and walked right to the base of the observation tower to buy a ticket to the top. Along the way we also spotted a small, outdoor ice skating rink!

ImageTokyo SkyTree

The Tokyo SkyTree is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower. At the height of 634 meters it is the tallest “tower” in the world! (“Tower” meaning not used for living or office work.) It is also the second largest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa. The line to buy tickets was quite long, in total we waited about 45 minutes. You are given a choice if you’d like to go to the observation deck at 350m or the one at 450m for an extra cost. We decided with 350m.

ImageAfter getting our ticket we were able to get right on an elevator 350 meters up to the observation tower. This floor can hold up to 2,000 people on a busy day. Lucky for us it wasn’t that crowded. On the right is a shadow of the tower on the ground below!

ImageFrom 350m you can see all of Tokyo and far in to the distance. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy so we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji. In the top right photo you can see a helicopter in the sky, quite tiny, and directly under it is the Disney Resort. To the right a bit is the Tower of Terror-esque ride and the huge volcano of DisneySea! The bottom left photo is a picture looking down through the glass floor of the SkyTree to the road beneath. Scary!

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After we walked around the whole deck we headed back down to the ground to check out the shops. First was the SkyTree Gift Shop. I was happy to find that they are capitalizing on the tower shaped water bottles just like Taipei101! And liquor bottles as well.

ImageShopping!

We then headed out in to the more mall type area with a lot of shops. Our favorite was this toy/novelty shop. We found a lot of anime memorabilia and Chris picked up a keychain of one of his favorite characters, Luffy from One Piece, hanging on the SkyTree. There were all sorts of interesting things to look and laugh at, especially this advertisement for something we could not figure out (bottom, right).

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After enjoying the shops we headed down the escalator towards the food court area. Here were many kiosks and shops set up selling all sorts of delicious looking goodies. Lots of packaged fruits, artisan cookies, fresh fish, and bakeries like “Kobe Croquette.” Upon exiting the building you walk by an enormous map showing the world’s largest towers and their heights.

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On the bottom floor of SkyTree Town are many buses and shuttles to take you all around the city. Here is where we boarded a shuttle straight to the Disney Resort where we would be staying the the remainder of our time in Tokyo!

ImageOur journey to the water’s edge, where Disney is located, took about 45 minutes and we were able to see more city life as the sun set. One of my favorite places we saw was “SHIDAX Please!” Don’t know what kind of place that is!

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Tokyo Disneyland Resort

We were dropped off at the central entrance of Tokyo Disneyland where the buses and monorail shuttle visitors around the resort. From here we took the monorail to our accommodations at the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel.

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Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel

And what a beautiful hotel it is! Here is the reception area. We arrived about 6pm and checked in. To our surprise we were upgraded to a suite on the 9th floor! We figured it was because many of the rooms were empty as it was the “slow” season.

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Here is our lovely room with an ocean view! Very spacious, separated bath & shower room, toilet with a bidet, a closet with robes and slippers, and lots of coffees and teas.

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Back downstairs is the dining area. There are a few restaurants located here. The brightly colored section is part of the all day buffet area. Look at the child buffet area! Probably not very efficient, but it is cute! On this floor is also a bridal shop (there is a chapel outside), a jewelry store, a Disney gift shop, a convenience store and a pharmacy.

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Here is the central hub for the hotel’s activities which include: Putt-putt golf, Swimming pool, Spa, Gym, and Table Tennis.

ImageLittle did we know that upstairs also held an ARCADE!

ImageAfter a few hours of looking around, grabbing some food and playing some games, we were more than ready to go to sleep! In the morning we awoke to a beautiful sunny day, perfect for visiting Tokyo Disneyland!

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Part 3: Tokyo Disneyland!

 

 

 

 

 

JAPAN! Our Chinese New Year Vacation (Part 1)

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With two weeks off from class, Chris and I had ample time to do more traveling. We decided to really make it worth our while and go to Japan. We booked cheap tickets on one of the cheapest airlines known to man, Scoot. We wanted to spend all two weeks there and be able to travel to all the tourist spots around the island but our budget wasn’t cut out for it so we settled on 6 days in Tokyo, which isn’t really settling of course.

We like to get the most out of our days, even if it means putting ourselves through a bit of torture: this time being a 3:30am wake up call and 6:30am flight in order to get an extra full day in Tokyo. All went smoothly in the early hours of the morning; no traffic, easy check-in, barely any lines at security, and once again we packed light with just a backpack each (plus a few layers of sweatshirts and jackets). We boarded the plane and spent the flight trying to catch a few zzz’s before landing in Tokyo. This was pretty much our only option because Scoot doesn’t have televisions in their planes but instead invite you to rent an iPad, or use your own device to stream a few tv shows or movies for a cost. The company also saves money by not providing food or drinks, except at an extra cost. It was no Cathay Pacific (my new saying).  To be honest it wasn’t a horrible flight, but you definitely get what you pay for (On the way back to Taiwan our plane was delayed and the flight attendants were lounging around the terminal and only got up once the ticket agent told them the plane was ready and to hurry up.) So fast forward a couple hours and we were looking out our window to see the beautiful snow-capped Mt. Fuji and the narrow beaches welcoming us.

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ARRIVAL

We arrived in Tokyo around 10:30am (3 hour flight plus an hour time difference) and began our adventure. First was figuring out how to get where we wanted to go. You can research these things all you want but when you are faced with something like this…

Image it can be a little overwhelming. We wanted to take the Narita Express to our first sightseeing stop at Shibuya Station. Against my better judgement Chris tried to figure out how to buy tickets on his own, mostly because I didn’t see the point while there is someone behind a counter whose job it is to help you do this. In the end I won and we bought tickets from the Ticket Office instead of the machine. For the record, Chris would’ve bought the correct tickets, but I just wanted to make sure!

The Narita Express connects the airport to many of the major urban train stations without transfers, that is why we decided to take this as opposed to the regular subway station.

Here’s Chris figuring it out.. and the ticket booth on the other side.

ImageHere we are boarding the space-age train.

ImageThe ride was extremely comfortable with a futuristic feel. Although the train wasn’t high-speed, the ride was noticeably smoother without the constant jiggling of normal trains. Halfway through the ride, a woman with a cart came down the aisle with food and drinks; it felt a bit like Hogwarts! Chris and I had some snacks and enjoyed the view. The landscape had a midwestern feel but the architecture of the buildings were distinctly Japanese. The ride showed us a glimpse of life on the outskirts of the bustling Tokyo metro.

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SHIBUYA

After about an hour we reached our destination! Shibuya is home to many famous attractions such as Shibuya Crossing, Center Gai, the Hachiko statue and more. After walking up from the train station, you are in the thick of it. People everywhere! To the left of the station exit/entrance is the famous statue of loyal Hachiko, the dog who waited for his master to come home every day from work and continued to do so even after his master’s death. (Hachi: A Dog’s Tale with Richard Gere is based on this true story.)

ImageRight ahead is Shibuya Crossing which you’ve probably seen in movies like Lost in Translation, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and the infamous point zero of zombie infection in Resident Evil. Here vehicular traffic is stopped so people can cross the intersection in all directions at once.

ImageOnce you cross the street you are now in shopping central! Stores and boutiques line the pedestrian street of Center Gai. We were here about lunch time and it seemed like many people were just enjoying the afternoon, walking about.

ImageContinuing left from here is Love Hotel Hill, this area has a few “love hotels” which you can rent for a few hours of the day or night.

ImageThen off to Spain Slope, so called because it is reminiscent of a Spanish street scene, or so they say. (Pictured top middle) Also pictured are some interesting things we saw around the area.

ImageFrom here we took a right toward the eight story Tower Records, each floor dedicated to different genres of music. Inside was packed with anything and everything music, plus a cafe.

ImageAfter walking around for quite a while we had seen most of what Shibuya had to offer. We decided to head to our next stop across town, the Tokyo SkyTree.

TOKYO METRO

We walked back to Shibuya Station to consult the map and buy tickets for our next train ride. Here is the map. Needless to say it took us a bit to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go, then Chris bought the tickets from the machine.

ImageThe metro tickets are about as big as a fortune from a fortune cookie and you have to slip it into a turnstile to walk through on to the platform. You also need it to get off the train, so you can’t lose the tiny ticket! The train after lunch was quite empty, mostly men in suits with briefcases. It was as quiet as a library, too.

ImageAfter a lengthy trip across town we had reached our destination, the Tokyo SkyTree! More to come!

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Part 2: Tokyo SkyTree, Shopping, Tokyo Disneyland and Accommodations