It’s our last full day! We woke up to eat our hotel’s breakfast which I didn’t have high expectations for and didn’t even bother to bring my phone to take pictures. It ended up being AMAZING! They had a good selection of breads including a green tea bread, eggs and bacon, yogurt and fruit for western style. Then they had a huge selection for Japanese breakfast – rice, curry, soba with several toppings, vermicelli noodles, salads, miso soup, and more! What a delight. Now I’m bummed we missed the breakfast on our Naoshima adventure day haha
Then we set off for Tokyo via bullet train. It is a 2.5hr ride during which I napped and edited draft blog posts. I got as far as writing “Day Two: Tokyo” just the title, before deciding I’ll just write that post and Day Three when I return. (Note from the future: it took me about six months to write day two, and as of July 9, 2017, I still have not written about THAT DAY, November 27!)
I’m currently writing this in the lounge room of our capsule hotel. I got up at 640am, mainly because I had had to pee since 4am but didn’t want to get out of the very creaky bed. Extremely uncomfortable sleep although the rest of the hotel is amazing!
This is a female only capsule hotel which I’m really glad we got. The vibe is very nice and cozy, and there are features I suspect are provided only because we are female only. The easiest way to describe it is living in a spa. The carpet in the room is very soft and everywhere smells nice. The bathroom is shared and open and has three tubs of varying sizes. I got up and it seemed like I was the first one up and I immediately jumped into the tubs after a quick shower.
The only complaint I have is the mattress is very thin and feels like I’m sleeping on a packing crate. The wood also creaks whenever you move so once you wake up at night, you can’t help but hear everyone shifting around, trying not to make noise. Otherwise, it’s actually quite roomy to me. There are lights and electrical outlets for each capsule.
You get a locker but it’s basically big enough for two backpacks, I imagine because these are meant for business travelers with light luggage but have become traveler favorites over time. I actually have no idea what the history of capsule hotels are. They give a lock chain to tie your luggage to a rail so no one can make off with it, though if you don’t have a lock to your luggage zippers, that won’t stop anyone from just opening your luggage. They have a lounge area that I’m sitting in with two computers, a basket of snacks and hot tea.
You wear wooden slippers around the hotel when moving between rooms but no shoes in the room. They provided robes that other people wear but I do not. What else can I say… this hotel happens to be 13 min walk from the nearest JR Yamanote line station, Shibuya, which is a major shopping area. But on our walk there, we discovered alllllll these super cute restaurants that were off the crazy crowded area. It felt like being in Nob Hill with a very nice neighborhood vibe.
So we arrived in our hotel, locked up our stuff, then walked to Shibuya to browse the stores and eat a light snack and eventually meet with Robyn’s friend Melanie. My main place I wanted to go was Tokyu Hands which is like a nice hybrid department store and Target, where it sells everything. I bought one thing for myself this trip that was not a souvenir. Coasters. Wooden coasters. For $40!!!!!! I don’t know what came over me at the time. I’m trying not to think about how much I spent on these beautiful coasters shaped like a hamburger. (Note from the future: I still have never used these coasters and sort of hide them to forget about how insanely expensive this souvenir was. I also now obsessively check the prices of coasters in expensive stores)
We had three dinners today. First was a ramen place that I suspect is a chain and it was YUM.
Then we met up with Melanie in a giant Muji and headed back to the cool street toward our hotel. On the way to Shibuya, we had seen a really cool seafood restaurant. At the time, all of these restaurants were closed and you could see all the employees just prepping for dinner, which was really cool to witness. Robyn checked it on tripadvisor and found out it was the #2 restaurant in Shibuya!!! We walked back and were told there was no seating if we didn’t have reservations. Major bummer. Then they said to check with the smoking section of the restaurant. We went to check how smoky and crowded it was and somehow struck up a rapport with one of the employees and he told us to come back at 9pm and we could get a seat at the non smoking section. Score! It was only 8pm at the time so not that bad. We asked if we could just sit outside and drink and he looked very uncomfortable with this idea but was so bent on accommodating us, he went back inside to check then said we could have either beer or hot tea. We asked if there was a place he’d recommend to drink and he said, yes! A standing bar on the left side of the street!
So we walked down, not very far, and found a super cute Italian place. We went in, people were sooo nice and friendly here, and got wine for Melanie, a lemon cider for me and a beer for Robyn. Then we realized their pizzas were ¥500 aka $5!!!! So we got one with lemon and cheese, though he had recommended the best one was with tuna which I really wanted to try but no one else was feeling adventurous. (Note from future: Having now had a tuna pizza in Alaska, I’m now SUPER bummed I didn’t get to try this in Tokyo)
Then it was 9 and we walked back to the fish restaurant and the guy immediately had a table for us!!!! Very exciting. Sadly Melanie didn’t really want any seafood and Robyn just wanted a sashimi platter, which did look amazing, but I also wanted to try like eight different things on the menu because it seemed like this was a Japanese tapas place. I ended up getting a whole white fish hahah the second most expensive thing on the menu after a sashimi platter with 6 servings haha.
We also shared a scoop of cherry blossom Gelato and a green tea cheesecake, which reminds me, I need to eat a LOT of ice cream before I leave today because one of my goals was to eat a ton of cool asian flavored ice cream!
We kept staring at all the amazing dishes the table next to us was ordering and Melanie leaned over to ask what certain things were, which led to us answering “we’re from California” and the guys at the table throwing the “west side” hand symbol at us and all of us laughing so hard the entire restaurant including the staff was looking over at us. Even the wait staff was super nice and we felt so taken care of despite the language barrier.
By the time we left, it was 11pm. I was satisfied but could’ve had a dinner #4, if mainly just for the story of having four amazing dinners, but unfortunately everything in the neighborhood was closed.
And that was our night! Robyn and I went to shower and there was one girl sitting in the hot tub which was a little awkward because she wore a bathing suit while we were butt naked.
(Note from the future: Hm. I guess that was the very last sentence it end my Japan trip summary. How very anticlimatic. Well, we went to sleep that night in the capsule hotel, and as I said, it was SUPER uncomfortable because the bed’s mattresses were so thin. I wrote this entry in the morning, and eventually went to check on Robyn. We packed up then took our luggage into storage at the subway station. Then … proceeded to do … Harajuku again then walk around Shibuya then Shinjuku. Very long day, because our flight wasn’t until night time. We arrived in Vancouver but unfortunately our second leg became incredibly delayed (I had forgotten a layover in Canada in December might experience snowstorms). The amount of time we had to kill in the YVR is unfathomable. I don’t even want to try to recalculate all those wasted hours, but I do now feel I know YVR way too well.)