With over 37 million people Tokyo is the most populated metropolitan area in the world! It is beyond vast! You might imagine with that many people it would be loud, hectic or dirty, but it’s exactly the opposite! Unlike many big cities I’ve visited you don’t hear horns honking on the roads or see garbage on the sidewalk, and although there is definitely hustle and bustle the people are incredibly respectful of one another. There was an overall feeling of nice pretty much everywhere we went!
Tokyo is broken up into 35 Special Wards and each ward is then broken up into districts or neighborhoods each with their own name and distinct feel. I found that the lines were blurred when talking about some of the more notable wards or districts. for example, Shinjuku is a Special Ward and a district/neighborhood… We had the opportunity to stay in two different neighborhoods during our visit, Shinjuku and Ginza, and visited many more!
Prior to our trip I read a lot about the different areas of Tokyo trying to work out where would be the best place to stay. Because it is such an immense place it wasn’t immediately clear to me which area of town would best suit our needs. I wasn’t sure I should pick blindly, so I picked somewhere I had heard of before. I picked the Park Hyatt Tokyo from the 2003 movie Lost In Translation. Yep! I chose our hotel based on a movie. It turned out to not only be one of the nicest and loveliest places I have ever stayed, but also one of the friendliest!
The Park Hyatt is located in the Shinjuku Park Tower which is the second tallest building in Shinjuku. The hotel occupies floors 39 – 52 providing spectacular views in all directions! Our room was on the 43rd floor! We were able to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mt. Fuji, but within 10 minutes it was gone. No wonder it has the nickname The Shy Mountain! That was the only time we saw Mt. Fuji the entire trip. I read that if you’re in good shape you can climb Mt. Fuji in one (very) long day. I’ve added that to my bucket list!
The rooms were decorated beautifully and were very spacious. When we arrived in the room there were toys and amenities just for the children and for all of us there was a lovely tray of strawberries on skewers with various dipping sauces. Another plus for the kids was the large heated pool located on the 47th floor! Don’t worry if you forgot your swimsuit… they’ll rent you one!
We ate at three different restaurants in the hotel and they were all excellent, but definitely on the pricey side. The breakfast was a buffet and in classic SimonStyle he was into trying the more unique items offered. He discovered he liked okayu or Japanese rice porridge quite a lot, its sort of like oatmeal (which of course he won’t eat at home). Unlike Americans the Japanese people don’t generally go out for breakfast. We discovered this one morning while doing our usual let’s wander around aimlessly for hours looking for food with no idea where we are going. So, if you like a traditional breakfast you might consider grabbing it in your hotel before you head out for the day!
Like most tourists visiting Tokyo we made a trip to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market! The biggest fish market in the world, its famous for the fish auctions which take place there each morning at 5:30 am! We weren’t up for running to see a fish auction at what in my opinion amounts to the middle of the night, so we took our time and turned up at a more reasonable hour. There was still plenty going on by the time we got there and we didn’t feel that we had missed out on anything.
We spent the morning exploring all the different offerings, fish of course, but also spices, dried goods, vegetables, flowers, housewares and more! We sampled a number of different food items and met a very nice man who tried to teach us a few Japanese words, and gave the boys bags of miniature dried shrimp to munch on. Yum?
Nō Wasabi Kudasai
Tim knew of a tiny little sushi restaurant located right near the fish market and after seeing all that fresh fish for sale we were definitely ready for some lunch! A few things to keep in mind when eating in Japan:
- The majority of restaurants in Japan specialize in only one type of food, i.e.You won’t find tempura, sushi and ramen in the same establishment.
- Sushi isn’t less expensive in Japan.
- It’s really hard to explain “no wasabi please” when you don’t speak Japanese
Once the kids realized all of the above they learned to just wipe off the wasabi and go for it. The variety of sushi offered was definitely more diverse in Japan and we had fun trying new things. Elliot’s favorite was salmon roe! Both my boys love Japanese food and on day one of the trip Simon made it his mission to not only eat in as many different types of restaurants as he could, but also that he wouldn’t use any “American” utensils, only the traditional Japanese utensils provided to him! That’s my kid!