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One Night in Tokyo

Hello! Happily, my frequent flyer ticket from Chicago to Indonesia has me overnighting in Tokyo, where my husband and I have never been.

We arrive at 4pm on a Monday and have flight out the next morning at 11am. I'm hoping that we can take the express train into town, drop off our luggage, eat traditional sushi, visit a few izakaya, get up super-early to visit the fish market, and head back to the airport.

I made a reservation at the Hotel Monterey Ginza because it looks to be pretty close to the Tokyo Station (which I understand is easy to get to from Narita on the express train) and to the fish market. It doesn't look like a fancy hotel, but looks fine for a few hours of rest, which is all I expect we'll have time for (we can sleep on the plane).

I would greatly appreciate recommendations fairly close to the hotel for a casual, traditional sushi restaurant. Somewhere we won't need reservations on a Monday evening. Also, recommendations for nearby izakaya. I figure we'll enjoy a light sushi dinner and then go for more bites and drinks afterwards at a few izakaya.

Given that I don't know Tokyo at all, I thought it would be best to ask for expert advice here from folks who know the area.

Logistics tips are of course also appreciated.

Thanks so much,
R

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  1. I can't make recommendations in that location but I would do sushi at the fish market in the morning.

    My internal clock was seriously messed up when I traveled to Tokyo last year, I never thought I would be up early enough for fish market .....

    1. RChicago, will you be taking NRT-DPS with JAL? If so, I had the same exact trip as you few weeks ago. I stayed at Park Hyatt and took the limo bus. I arrived at the hotel around 645PM and went straight to Isetan Shinjuku and had tempura dinner nearby. In the morning, I woke up at 330AM and couldn't go back to sleep. I agree with jk102's suggestion for the fish market trip for sushi. I know it sounds too early, but if you're like most of us, you'll wake up!

      The NRT-DPS plane was at 335PM, if I recall. I took the 12:05PM bus from Park Hyatt and arrived plenty of time for some treat shopping in NRT.

      1. I would advice against Tsukiji in the morning. If you fly out at around 11, you should be at the airport not much later than 9, which means you should leave your hotel not much later than 7 or 7:30 (Should take 90+ minutes to the airport!) While this leaves enough time to get to the fish market super early this seems like really stressful.

        So if I was you, I would just get sushi from one of the "sushi zanmai" shops (http://www.kiyomura.co.jp/sushi-e/) in the early evening, then walk around Ginza/Marunouchi, then maybe hit an Isakaya. Anything else seems like stressful overkill.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Scharn

          It's 58 minutes from Tokyo Station to Narita, so all you need to do is be at Tokyo Station for the 8am NEX- and that's only if you're dead set on being 2 hours early for the flight. The tuna auction is at 5;30am and some of the Tsukiji morning shops are open from around that time. All you need to do is leave the market by 7:30 and take a taxi less than 10 minutes to Tokyo Station. That hotel is halfway between the market and Tokyo Station, so it was excellent planning.

          1. re: Silverjay

            So, these guys that have never been in Tokyo and presumably don't speak a word Japanese, will wake up at 4:30 in the morning, check out of the hotel, then with their luggage find a taxi at 5 AM, make the driver understand where exactly at Tsukiji they want to go (my money is he will drop them off at the tsukiji subway station), then realize that the entrance to tsukiji is basically a loading area / parking lot, then schlepp their luggage through tsukiji, find a sushi shop, eat there, schlepp the lugagge back, find a taxi, get to Tokyo station and immediately find the NEX tracks?

            1. re: Scharn

              Yes. That sort of thing is done all the time- probably from hotels that are even less conveniently located than their's. Chowhound is a place of intrepid food travelers interested in this type of experience. Not worry-wort hand wringers content on sitting out the night at a chain restaurant.

              Buy the NEX ticket the night before and give yourself about 15-20 minutes to get from the entrance of Tokyo Station to the platform since it is the one furthest underground. I would personally take the 8;30 NEX and get to Narita by 9:30 since everything there moves pretty quickly

              1. re: Scharn

                Assuming you guys have heavy luggage, you can store them at NRT and just go to Tokyo with light carry on -- especially only for less than 24 hour stay. You can collect your baggage before checking in to the next flight.

                I would've done that had I taken NRT express train. But since I took the bus and I really did not have to lift a finger with the heavy luggage, I decided to bring all of my bags to the hotel.

                1. re: Scharn

                  Yeah, I'm with you here ...

                  Simply cause I've traveled far beyond my MIL's arms.

            2. Great help. Thanks so much folks.

              To jk1002, we're flying JAL, but to Jakarta. We'll return from Denpasar through Tokyo.

              To the many folks offering Tsujiki morning advice, thank you. As some have surmised, while we're new to Tokyo, we're not new to travel. This is my fourth trip to Asia. It's really great to have an idea of how much time to allow. I like the idea of leaving the luggage at the airport and traveling lightly, which means we won't either have to stop back at the hotel to pick up our bags or drag them around the fish market. It sounds like we can safely be at the fish market from 5am to 7am without any worries about missing our 11am flight. Given the proximity to the fish market, I'm guessing it won't be difficult for the hotel to find us a cab before 5am.

              I like the idea of eating sushi at the fish market. I mentioned this to my husband, who agreed, and thought we should have a different focus for our one dinner. Is there a place relatively close to the hotel where we could enjoy a wonderful kaiseki meal for around $100-150 per person (before booze)? Somewhere we wouldn't need a reservation on a Monday night and that we could enter dressed pretty casually? I think we're pretty adventurous eaters and would prefer a restaurant with both wonderful and challenging food. I don't know if this helps, but we do enjoy things like tripe, heart, uni, jellyfish, raw geoduck, etc. While delicious food is the priority, we'd love to have our server throw down some dishes with ingredients we'd never tried before. (Btw, while we eat Japanese food fairly regularly, we do live in Chicago, so the options are pretty uninspired. Our favorite Japanese meal was a long, multicourse at Morimoto in Philly years ago.)

              And then an izakaya or two to visit after?

              Again, many thanks. I've skimmed a few guidebooks and they don't contain information nearly this helpful - - so thanks.

              R

              4 Replies
              1. re: RChicago

                Sounds like a great plan, especially carrying just overnight bags into the city with an early morning sushi breakfast in Tsukiji with beer of course.

                I like the skyflyer's idea of a tempura dinner. There is nothing like sitting in front of the chef in a good tempura restaurant (such as Ten-ichi which has several shops in Tokyo), and eating fresh, high quality seafood and vegetables cooked and served to you course by course. Tempura may sound quite ordinary compared to a kaiseki meal, but that is hardly the case in places such as this. JMHO.

                I know you will have a great experience whatever dinner you decide on.

                1. re: RChicago

                  I just want to tell you that you are awesome.

                  Good luck with everything!

                  1. re: RChicago

                    If I had one night and wanted something casual but basically kaiseki, I'd go to Sasahana, which is on the same street as the Monterey (the east-west street; it's on the other side of Ginza but less than 5 minutes). Sit at the counter, watch the chefs, great food, easily within your budget, looks pretty but you can dress however you want.

                    http://iitokorone.blogspot.com/2009/0...

                    You shouldn't need reservations. It might be good to have the hotel call since I'm not sure there's any English, but I seem to remember other foreigners and a general willingness to help from the staff. The best way to order if you can is to get the smallest course then order extra items, but again, you could get the middle or upper course to simplify your life.

                    I'm from Philly and went to Morimoto last year. If that was your favorite Japanese meal, I'm pretty sure Sasahana (or many other places in Tokyo) would change your life!

                    After that, the best option for izakaya-like things would be to walk south about four blocks and then turn right so you hit Corridor street in Yurakucho, a big strip of casual places under the rail tracks.

                    I think sushi in the morning is a pretty aggressive plan, but if you can pull it off, it would be great.

                    1. re: jem589

                      Thanks, jem589, for the tips. Sasahana sounds like it's exactly what we're looking for, and we will definitely ask the hotel to call ahead for us. Yes, I am hoping for something much better than Morimoto!

                      I mentioned the tempura suggestion to my husband, but he's not a huge fan of tempura. :(

                      As many folks have mentioned, this is a pretty aggressive plan, but I'm hoping we can do it. We have such a short time in Tokyo and with the high cost of getting from the airport into Tokyo, we definitely want to make the most of it. Plus, our visit is sandwiched between two lengthy flights - - plenty of sleeping to be done inflight.

                      Thanks again and if anyone else has suggestions or tips, I'd really appreciate them!

                      All the best,
                      R

                  2. My fiance (well soon to be wife) will be doing the exact same thing on our way to Bali for our honeymoon. How did it work out for you? Do you have any advice?