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Unread 30 May 19, 05:28 PM  
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AntonyJ
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Also just back - Thoughts on Japan

I got home Friday last week from a 10 day trip to Tokyo - since then I have been catching up on things at home, seeing family and friends down south (they live in north west England, me outside Glasgow) on how it was. Yesterday I told my "story" three times - I was hoarse by end of it

We did 2 nights at Hilton Tokyo Bay to do the parks, then moved to JR Mets Hotel Shibuya and the final night was at the new Muji Hotel in Ginza. We had a day trip on Shinkansen to Kyoto to see the older Japan.

Flights
As you may know we used 240,000 Virgin air miles and about 740 in taxes and fees, to get flights on ANA from Heathrow to Haneda. My partner was in First, and I was in Business. The cabin crew were so polite and quiet, at times I had to ask them to speak up as could not hear them over the noise of the cabin - air con etc While we both had seats that became flat beds, neither of us could really sleep in them due to movement of the plane etc - and best described as dozed on and off for about 5 or so hours. Must have been enough as we never suffered from bad nights sleep while there. I ate food on the plane I had never eaten before, swore I would not, like seared tuna - it was delicious!

JR Rail Pass and Suica Card
With our day trip to Kyoto, the JR pass paid for itself, so all the local train trips we did were covered by the pass, or nearly all - think there was a trip on the underground we did where we had to pay. The Suica card is like an Oyster card in London, but you can use it to buy things in many many places. You load money on it (I added it to my iPhone which had both advantages and disadvantages in doing) at machines in stations, but used it for the Disney Monorail, buying food and drinks in Disney, many vending machines took it - in fact am struggling to think of places I could not use it in Tokyo, think one place we ate did not take it and was cash only. Personally, it is a no brainer to get one if you are doing Tokyo a lot.

General
From the moment you got off the plane you noticed things are different in Japan. Customs etc was very quiet, when we went to collect luggage there was a lady at the top of the baggage carousel, turning all the cases around so the handles faced out! Tokyo, at least the parts we went to, had a very 80's feel about it, apart from Ginza which was very sleek and upto date, the city was not as high tech as perhaps I expected. The ticket machines in the stations were mostly "press a physical key" type, no touch screen or perhaps holographic as I had hoped In no way was it a let down, just ... noticed.
The Japanese people are polite, considerate and go out of their way to help you - I was taken aback several times a day on how considerate they were. There are daft things about Tokyo, my partner smokes so had to go to designated smoking areas on the street, but all there was was a barrier wall between them and the outside (on just one side) so the smoke went all over anyway. In buildings they often had smoking rooms, the Hilton had one for example that was Coke Cola themed
One thing that did annoy me was the use of single use plastic - they have it on everything, even selling single bananas in it! The other thing I noticed was air con - it was all over the place but never at the sub zero temperatures am used to in the States. Best described as took the edge of it. Our 3 hotel rooms air con allowed us to go cooler which I like to sleep with, so was fine.

Disney
From the moment I approached the monorail station, Tokyo Disney was a step above Florida Disney. The theming of the train was next level, the stations were immaculate. The rides are just amazing, the merchandise it over whelming - I could go on. DisneySea made me cry a little, I was so amazed when I walked into it, under the archway from the globe fountain.

I was seeing fellow Disney fan friends these last few days before I go back to work, telling them how amazing Disney Tokyo was.

Was telling them the theming is out of this world, the rides amazing, and all that stuff and then have realised that the major difference was the absence in the Japanese parks, of us, the Westerners.

The Japanese people and their manners, consideration for others, made the difference.

There was no inconsiderate people pushing, jostling, standing in the way, trying to push in front. The Japanese queue quietly, are considerate of others and just so puffin kind and helpful. Not quite 100% like that, character greets are a bit of a free for all by Japanese standards for example, but still.

It was not until I noticed that something was missing from Japan, the day to day real life niggles and things others can do to get on your wick you deal with day to day here, the tiny things others do that just cause a teeny bit of friction / that I have become oblivious to as it is just ... life here.

Once those countless tiny tiny tiny rough corners are removed , things just are ... better.

What made Tokyo Disney Resort the best Disney I have been to was not just the amazing attractions, the theming ... it was Japan itself and its people.

Language
Am ashamed and slightly proud (but defo more ashamed) that I spoke not one word of Japanese on the entire trip, and got by fine.
YES there is a thing about me being lazy, but my over riding fear with foreign languages is that I end up sounding like the policeman from 'Ello 'Ello. The signs were in English (perhaps not perfect everytime) and the train stations signs were in English and Japanese.

Trips
We were based in Shibuya after Disney, then did final night in the new Muji Hotel in Ginza. With trips to other areas of the city and the day trip to Kyoto on the Shinkansen. Each was excellent and Google Maps was soooo useful. Most places we went to had wifi but having the mifi made it easy to get around with Google maps.

That is it for quick thoughts, will try and do fuller trip reports over next few days. Happy to take questions

Edited at 06:48 AM.
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Unread 30 May 19, 08:21 PM  
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Pumpkin Pie
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We also rented the pocket WiFi which we used when out and about with Google maps etc.

Thanks for your report - I look forward to your updates.
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Unread 30 May 19, 08:42 PM  
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Gill H
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Thank you! We are considering a trip in the next few years (budget won't allow next year as we originally wanted).

Would you say a day trip was enough for Kyoto? It seems a long way to go. What were you able to do in the time you had?
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Unread 31 May 19, 06:47 AM  
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AntonyJ
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Originally Posted by Gill H View Post
Thank you! We are considering a trip in the next few years (budget won't allow next year as we originally wanted).

Would you say a day trip was enough for Kyoto? It seems a long way to go. What were you able to do in the time you had?
Well the trip to Japan, after Disney, was to see the modern mega city of Tokyo, rather than all its history. So the Kyoto day trip was half riding a bullet train, half seeing the older city - and for us was about right.

In the time there we looked round teh area called Gion and saw the older streets with people dressed as geisha but most we saw we are convinced were tourists dressed up that way for a few hours. We went and saw a few temples in the area and nipped on train to Fushimi Inari Shrine to see the red gates as you walk up the hill. This was very busy and teeming with tourists. We were also stunned at Kyoto station to find the side of the site, which is hard to describe but is a HUGE hole they have built part of the station, shops etc into. It was a long day but not too bad and the trip on the Shinkansen meant we saw lots of more rural areas as we sped past them.

Edited at 06:56 AM.
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Unread 31 May 19, 01:02 PM  
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Alidoll
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Is it better to fly via London? Is it easier as been looking at routes from Scotland and emirates fly via Dubai but thats two posts from Scotland via Heathrow so now wondering if that would be better (going 2021 and will have an 11 yr old and 79 yr old in the group) so trying to think what would be easies for them.

Can you get round both Disney parks in one day and if you had an extra half day - which park would you spend the extra time in?

Reading other peoples trip reports makes me so excited so thanks for posting. Ive always wanted to go to Japan and 2021 will be the year I finally get to visit.
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Unread 31 May 19, 01:18 PM  
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Gill H
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Having watched lots of TDR Explorer videos, we want 3 days minimum in the parks.

Even after 11 visits to DLP we find two days are not enough there. How much more so in a new park!
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Unread 31 May 19, 03:10 PM  
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Pumpkin Pie
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Originally Posted by Alidoll View Post
Is it better to fly via London? Is it easier as been looking at routes from Scotland and emirates fly via Dubai but thats two posts from Scotland via Heathrow so now wondering if that would be better (going 2021 and will have an 11 yr old and 79 yr old in the group) so trying to think what would be easies for them.

Can you get round both Disney parks in one day and if you had an extra half day - which park would you spend the extra time in?

Reading other peoples trip reports makes me so excited so thanks for posting. Ive always wanted to go to Japan and 2021 will be the year I finally get to visit.
I live in Edinburgh and had booked our flights a while back when there was a lot of uncertainty about flights and Brexit and decided to play safe and not go via any European country as we were supposed to leave the EU in March originally.

We did look at Emirates but the stopover time was horrendous - if it had t been I would have flown with them. To cut a long story short we reluctantly decided to fly with BA via London (dont like BA or Heathrow) but to be honest it worked out okay. If we go back I would still look at Emirates etc.

We didnt go to Tokyo Disney and just went DisneySea but I doubt you could do both parks in one day. It was tiring walking around one park in the heat and there is a lot to see and do.
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Unread 31 May 19, 04:05 PM  
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Great report, am going to send this thread to myself to keep referring to. Can you tell me what MIFI you bought and do you just carry it in your pocket for when you need to use it for maps?
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