Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Japan trip! Again!

Next month, it's back to Tokyo. First time in two years. You can look forward to another series of posts as we navigate our way through typhoons, get lost in urinal poetry and celebrate our love of deep-fried McDonald's apple pies.

Actually, this time we're going on business, but we'll still pack in some fun too. Not all of it will make it in here - hey, we do have private lives too.

Every time we go, it's a hell of a time trying to figure out how to get there. We're veterans of this now so we know all the tricks, but every year it gets a little harder. And this year, we ended up getting the best deal through Orbitz, of all places.

We're flying ANA (our preferred airline) and staying at the Oakwood Apartments Shinjuku while we're in Tokyo. (We're doing family stuff part of the time, so we won't be there the entire trip). This isn't a hotel, it's a serviced apartment building. We're getting a studio, so it's like a hotel room, except it has a kitchenette and a washer/dryer, but no room service. I think it's a good tradeoff, especially when you add in the balcony, the 37" HDTV with DVD player, and the free wi-fi. Not to mention the sky lounge. All for $120 per night! In Shinjuku!

I actually wrote an entire post on finding a hotel in Tokyo. It's hard to get a bad one there, so really my main requirements these days are price, transportation, room size and view. Pretty much every hotel we've (or I've) ever stayed at in Tokyo has had an unbelievable view. We got spoiled rotten on our last trip staying at the Grand Prince Akasaka, an amazing hotel with probably the biggest standard rooms you're going to find anywhere in Tokyo and gigantic picture windows to show off the city.

There's nowhere else you're gonna find a banquette in a standard room in Tokyo.

I wanted to stay there again but it was a little too expensive this time. That's a weird thing about Tokyo; some hotels are crazy expensive but others are suspiciously cheap given what they offer. And they rotate. The Akasaka Prince was also only about $120 per night last time we went, for a room on the 30th floor. Actually, I don't think I've ever paid more than that. Every time I go, I'm actually a little afraid we're going to get to the hotel and they're going to tell us we've been scammed and don't actually have a room. We almost booked the gorgeous Intercontinental Tokyo Bay for $109 this time around, but the price changed to $193 literally as we were talking about it. You gotta be quick.

More great views - this was from the Shinagawa Prince (the original of this is huge, I shrunk it down for the blog):

These were from the Makuhari Prince in Chiba:

The other funny thing about Tokyo (and that's not Tokyo directly above, the other photos are) is that it's not what you'd normally think of as a beautiful city. But there's something pretty amazing about its generally boring skyline, and that's the fact that it literally stretches forever in all directions. And there's hardly even any variation to it; it's not like New York, which has two little areas of tall buildings and the rest is flat. Tokyo is like something out of science fiction; it's like Coruscant in Star Wars, maybe even more impressive in some ways.

Well, I'm rambling. I can't wait to go. More definitely to come.


  1. I miss Japan too. It's been a whole three years since I've been. I think I tend to focus a lot more on the countryside than you; the first time we went we visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, etc., but since then it's primarily been the small hometowns of my wife and her friends. The city's nice, but I really love (and was surprised by) how rural much of Japan is.

    My wife and kids get to go this year (they're staying for two months, starting mid-June), but I'm going to be stuck stateside. The kids are semi-celebrities in their small town, as the only kids with brown hair and a fluent grasp of English. They'll spend a month and a half or so in school there.

    Incidentally, I left a comment on one of your much older posts regarding undokai. My oldest had his yesterday.

  2. I did see the comment on Undokai (I get all my comments emailed to me).

    I don't dislike the rural areas at all, I just have a hard time with the lifestyle. I think I'd have a hard time with a rural lifestyle in the United States too. There are things I love about rural areas - I love the peace and quiet, I like how nice everybody is, and it's just a nice overall atmosphere.

    But I have a hard time with things like sleeping accomodations, the lack of air conditioning (the cities there are not much better, but they are at least marginally), the GIANT FREAKIN' MAN-EATING SPIDERS, the lack of anywhere to properly sit down, etc.

    Also I live in the NYC suburbs now, so rural life in Japan doesn't feel a *whole lot* different except for the fact that nobody can understand me and I am always at least somewhat physically uncomfortable. I always end up way too excited whenever we go to a McDonald's or a Denny's, because I can actually sit down and eat.

    It would probably be different if I had my own place in the country there, or were staying at a hotel. Nothing against my wife's family at all, I just need working a/c, a real bed and a chair, and fewer exposed beams at forehead height :)

  3. Oh, neat -- I'm in the NYC suburbs myself in north Jersey; my son's undokai was at Ikuei, a school in Englewood Cliffs.

    LOL at the man-eating spiders. Yes, I can understand that point of view. ;) I recall one year being pressed into duty a fair number of times to kill spiders the rest of the family was afraid to approach.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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