Next stop is *drum roll*…………..Japan! The land of anime, sushi, Hello Kitty and, most importantly, Disneyland and DisneySea!
Now, I had no idea what to expect as I boarded that plane for Tokyo. Would the traffic lights turn yellow before going green, like in Hong Kong? Would the elevators be tiny and try to close on you before you were halfway inside, like in Hong Kong? Would there be fifty people per three feet, like in Hong Kong?
The short answer is no, sort of, no and no. The long answer? Read on…
The minute we landed in Tokyo I was struck by just how much like home it looked. Not only were the buildings much further apart than in Hong Kong, but the landscape was that pretty patchwork of farmland that I’ve grown up with, complete with plenty of trees growing all around. We landed at Narita airport, which is a good distance from everywhere we wanted to be (but also cheaper to fly into), so we were given the opportunity to see a lot as we took public transportation to get to our hotels. And the first thing I noticed were the bikes. Bikes EVERYWHERE. As in, there are so many bikes that they have just as many bike parking lots as they do car ones.
Maybe that’s why the air was cleaner than Hong Kong’s, although that could have been the area of town that we stayed in. Needless to say, I was very impressed by both their dedication and thigh strength – I would have died after just a block or two, even if the land is relatively flat.
It took some wandering, but we finally found our capsule hotel, although I nearly wiped out several times, thanks to these annoying bumper things that riddle both Hong Kong and Japan. Seriously, what is the purpose of this?
If someone knows, please share, because it’s been driving me nuts. And it’s EVERYWHERE on the sidewalk, like the root system of a determined weed out to trip clumsy travelers like myself.
Aaaaanywaaaays, back to the capsule hotel. That’s right, a capsule hotel!! Call me crazy, since I have claustrophobia and should avoid small spaces like the plague, but as soon as we decided that we were going to Tokyo I wanted to try out one of these famous hotels. You are literally reserving a bed, and that’s all; each dorm is filled with tons of bunks, and there is a joint shower/washroom area. Our bunks had curtains to allow us a little bit of privacy, which is nice, and I’ve always thought that it would be kind of fun to try one out. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it is ridiculously cheaper to stay in one – Tokyo is one very expensive city to visit.
After grabbing some dinner at a local Korean restaurant (because why wouldn’t you have Korean food while in Japan for the first time?), we went back to the hotel, a special woman only hotel that borders a nice park. As we were getting our numerous suitcases all settled, another guest saw us and came over to talk. Turns out she wanted to know if we snored. I looked at her, she looked at me, and we laughed and laughed and laughed…
…I woke up several times that night, terrified that I had actually been snoring and that she would find me. She didn’t, so I must not have been, and overall I enjoyed my capsule hotel experience.
But I will admit that I was glad to be leaving the next morning, because the next day was DISNEY DAY!!!!!!! Probably why I all but leapt outside to meet the poor unsuspecting cab driver, who was not prepared for all our suitcases and had to spend a good five minutes playing Tetris to fit everything in. We actually applauded when he was finished, and piled into the back so he could cart us off to our next destination, the Disney Celebration Resort. He couldn’t speak much English, and used an app to ask us what we thought of the city. I, in the spirit of camaraderie, quickly downloaded Google Translate and used it to tell him that the city was beautiful and we loved it. At least, that’s what I thought it said. The only English that he spoke was to kindly tell me that “Google Translate sucks.”
I quickly deleted the app and am now on the hunt for a better one. Recommendations are welcome!
After being dropped off at the hotel, I marched towards the check in counter, invigorated by just being on Disney property…only to be told that I was at the wrong hotel, that I had actually made a reservation at the Discovery hotel, not Wish, and had to literally cross the street. This must happen a lot, because two employees helped us with our luggage and acted as though it was perfectly normal to cross a busy street while pulling huge pieces of luggage as you tried to sort out just how you made such a mistake. I was very relieved when I was able to check in the second time around. The poor gentleman helping me spoke broken English, I speak no Japanese, but we managed to muddle through the transaction together. The one glitch was when I found out that our special perk, passes that lets us into the park 15 minutes early, wouldn’t kick in until the next day.
“But, we’re going to the park today,” I explained to him.
He blinked at me. “Works tomorrow.”
“Oh, well since we’re going today, you can keep these for the next customer.”
He blinked at me again…I blinked back at him…and took the passes. I think he breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally left the counter.
And then it was time for the park!!! Tokyo Disney has two parks, Disneyland and DisneySea. After sifting through other blogs, I determined that DisneySea was the one to go to because there’s no other park like it in the world. And oh boy oh boy oh boy am I glad we went there, because it was awesome! Favorite ride, hands down, was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, for the following reasons: screaming guys sitting behind us, a Japanese Indiana Jones shouting for what I assume was help, and a grand finale of The Stone (Indy fans will know exactly which one) chasing us. It was awesome!!!!
When I wasn’t freaking out over the fact that I was at DisneySea, I was marveling at the costumes. Adults could wear costumes into the park in celebration of Halloween, and everyone threw themselves into it with 110% enthusiasm. From Donald Duck to Zootopia, everyone was decked out in full gear. I felt positively underdressed with my Minnie Ears, let me tell you. And they LOVE Duffy the Bear. Purses, costumes, the actual bear – everywhere you look you see Duffy. No wonder I caved and bought a pair of Duffy ears, as if I needed an excuse for another pair of ears.
The snack food at DisneySea is just as much fun as the rides; we had the steamed curry chicken buns and Little Green Mochi, as well as an “American” hotdog (it was nothing like an American hotdog, and I may have started a feeding frenzy with the pigeons after feeding my leftovers to them). I did not try the famed popcorn, having no desire to eat curry popcorn, and definitely not garlic and shrimp popcorn. Nope, I’ll stick to my regular popcorn, thank you very much. Boring, but a classic.
There were two drawbacks to the day: one, it rained almost all morning, which is not fun when you are waiting in line for the park to open. Swag Master, MC and I literally stood nose to nose in a desperate huddle under the one umbrella we had for about 45 minutes. I decided to pass the time by asking them what their deepest darkest secrets are. The results: MC hates avocados, Swag Master is allergic to avocados, and I like grilled cheese and jalapeño sandwiches.
We are very deep people, obviously.
Second drawback is that one of the rides that we went on, which what I thought was supposed to be like the spinning tea cups in Disney World, was a disappointment. I boarded that kelp cup all primed and ready to spin us to infinity and beyond, but was horrified to discover that the ‘wheel’ is just a prop, and you can’t actually spin yourself. I was not amused by this, not amused at all. Only shopping at the gift shop soothed my disappointed nerves. Speaking of which, a note for any Disney pin fanatics: Tokyo Disney, or at least at DisneySea, is not into pins. I know, THE HORROR! What they like is food, so if you like cute snacks you’re in the right place. But pins? I managed to find two. Two! Great for my wallet, but a little underwhelming for my collection. Guess this means I’ll just have to go to other Disney locations!! 😉
Because we had such fantastic luck on getting on all the rides we wanted to, we left the park relatively early, around 2:30, so we could collapse back at the hotel. The plan was to finish the day by watching a movie (Disney, of course), but we were so tired we couldn’t even manage that. But being tired after a day at Disney is the best kind of tired. #livingthedream
I’ll stop here, because a) I have to proof read this tome before posting it and b) I have to save more for the next posting. Until next time!