Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Plans are Forming

Today was another long day for Ian and me.  That seems to happen when you begin to count down to vacation.  I now have an hour break on Wednesdays because I was teaching three Essential 2 classes, but Chun wha moved the three students from my 4:30 class into other classes.  So, I used my time to work on our itinerary for Tokyo.  I hope I have time to finish it before we leave!  I also printed out a subway map for us to get comfortable with.  I've made some circles around areas we want to see.

The red circle is where our hotel is.  The yellow is Akihabara (Electric Town).  The Asakusa Senso-ji temple is circled in dark green and the Disney Resort is in light green.  The blue circles the Harajuku District and the orange is Shibuya, two close, but different shopping and entertainment districts.  We could also take an express bus from one of the stations to Mt. Fuji.

So, those are our basic plans.  I don't know if any of our followers have been to Tokyo, but if you have, give us advice!  Or is there something you've heard about in Tokyo that you think we should check out?

Tomorrow is our Christmas Eve!  Bummer that we have to work, but it could be worse, I suppose.  Good night!


  1. Well, I've been to Tokyo a few times, but not as a tourist, so I didn't do a lot of sightseeing.

    The electronics district is pretty amazing, and you've already got that. I forget whether it's Shinjuku or Shibuya where all the teenagers gather (or at least used to). It's amusing, but only for the first 5 minutes. The most interesting part is that even the most rebellious freaks are totally polite.

    If you are flying in to Narita, be prepared for a really long bus ride in (like a couple of hours, depending on traffic), unless you can take a train. I don't recall if there is a train, because I had too much stuff with me to take a train. The other airport, Hanida (? I forget the exact name) is closer in, and for shorter flights, so maybe you will come in there.

    Be prepared for lots of bad air pollution, but warmer weather. I could hardly stand to walk down the street because of the horrible choking exhaust everywhere.

    The temple is also probably a good choice, though I've never been there, but people say it's beautiful.

    Also, bear in mind that Tokyo is HUGE, so while things look close by on the map, they can take a really long time to get to. Also, the inner loop trains can be super-crowded, like you see in tv news stories. Less central trains are only bad at rush hour, at least the ones I was on. The trains are great, but in some stations it can be really confusing to figure out what ticket to buy, or where the platform you want is, since in some places there is no Latin lettering. But, I found that people helped me when I looked confused.

  2. Also, if you really want to blow some money, you could try taking a bullet (shinkansen) train somewhere. I think that would be a cool experience.

    Not sure how much time you have, but Kyoto is a big draw. Tokyo is NYC on steroids, but the countryside is alleged to be beautiful. I never made it out of greater Tokyo myself, much to my regret.

  3. It's going to be fun! I can't wait to hear more about it. My advice...while we'll miss your blog entries, don't worry about it while you're there. Just play and write about what you did there when you get back. And get to Disney very early to get your tickets. When I was trying to get tickets, I think she said the ticket booth opens an hour before the park opens. It was hard to understand her but that's what it sounded like.

  4. Oh yeah, the other thing about Tokyo, no doubt much like Seoul, is that it's really easy to get lost on the little streets and alleyways in places like Akihabara, even if you have a map, and especially if you don't. The streets tend not to have street signs, for example, and often are not on the map.

    Also, unfortunately, most of the really good maps do not have Latin characters. I tended to use a combination of maps. Of course, if you have a GPS-equipped smartphone it's probably not that big an issue. But, if you don't, try to get some good maps. They're sold at bookstores.

    Meanwhile, I suspect finding vegetarian food will be a problem. Most of the cheap food is fried seafood of some kind. I used to buy my food to take back to the hotel at 7-11 which is not like US 7-11s. But, I eat animal products. One bright spot is that there are a lot of noodle places, even right out on the street. Again, whether they can do vegetarian is unknown.

  5. You guys will have a blast, I am so excited for you. Go with the flow, and I would definitely try to get to Mt. Fuji.Merry Christmas Eve

  6. Peter- We'll be spending a decent amount of time on the subway because, as you said, nothing is as close as it looks. Seoul taught us that. We're pretty used to comically crowded and tight situations, but thanks for the heads up on the trains. Which lines count as "inner?" I don't think there are any street signs in most of Asia. Korea doesn't even have real street addresses for the most part. Vegetarian food is a problem everywhere, we just find a few things we can eat and stick with that. What did you go to Tokyo for?

    Judy- We're bringing a computer with us, and while I probably won't blog everyday, it will be much easier to handle it periodically, then to try to fit everything in and remember the details later. The blog's not a chore, so no worries.

    Mom- I want to visit Mt. Fuji, I just don't want to freeze! I think it will be worth it, though.

  7. On the subways, I don't really remember which lines are the busy ones, even looking at a subway map I had handy, but it's the ones that loop around the inner densest core of the city.

    Tokyo does have some street signs, but as I hazily recall, mainly on main streets.

    I was there several times on business, because we had a joint research project with a group at NEC's central research lab in Kawasaki, just outside Tokyo.

    On the vegetarian food, Tokyo is cosmopolitan enough that there are undoubtedly vegetarian restaurants, but the problem will be finding them. Also, the crappy hotel rooms I had in Kawasaki, unlike the fancy hotels in Tokyo proper, had a rice cooker in every room. In my case, that came in very handy for boiling eggs for breakfast. Which, btw, I was able to buy at some greengrocer down the street... or at 7-11. The greengrocer had lots of other good stuff, too. But, that was in a not-hotel area. If you're in a place with mainly hotels, that will be hard to find, and obviously you don't want to spend all your time foraging for food.

    In pulling out my subway map, I rediscovered that I had a pretty decent district-organized map booklet of Tokyo published by KDD, the phone company, which some hotel gave me for free. Of course, this was like 6 years ago by now, so it may no longer be available. Dunno where you're staying, but I found that if you stop by a fancy hotel, they will (a) speak decent English and (b) be happy to give you all sorts of maps and things that they have, without caring whether you are staying at their hotel.