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Nov 3, 2011 07:25 AM

Tokyo Transit 5PM - 11AM


I'll be transiting in Tokyo on Dec 23 ~4-5PM until 11AM the next day.
I'm planning on having food trip in one of the Tokyo district, or more, possibly visiting fish market before heading back to aiport (Narita). I need to mae decision since I need to book the hotel for the overnight stay.

Option 1:
5PM - 11PM - Tokyo: What's the best area that I can enjoy multiple food in one night?
Return to Narita, stay at Narita hotel
Enjoy the morning in Narita

Option 2:
Similar to Option 1 but stay in Tokyo,
Early AM visit Fish market then head out to airport

Any better idea? I'm not looking for fancy restaurant, want to enjoy the good quality and variety of Japanese food, I'm a big guy, can handle multiple dinner or more smaller dinner.
I prefer going to area that has direct access from airport and just explore the area, but again I'm open for advice.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. If you want convenient access to both Tsukiji (fish market) and Narita, you may want to check out the Royal Park Hotel, next to TCAT (Tokyo City Air Terminal). It is perhaps a seven minute (1000¥) taxi ride from the hotel to Tsukiji 230¥ by Hibiya line), and one hour to Narita. The area also has a lot of exceptional restaurants.

    1. There isn't an specific area for food in Tokyo. Every major station will have more restaurants than you can afford to eat at. The Narita Express stops and departs from many stations (Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku etc), but if you want to maximize your time and go to Tsukiji, stay in Ginza.

      The best idea would be one excellent (fancy) japanese dinner at night, where you can try many top ingredients you won't find anywhere else, and then sushi at Tsukiji early in the morning (Sushi Dai is the most popular there, opens at 5 AM).

      There're too many restaurants in Ginza/Shimbashi/Nihonbashi, fancy or cheap.

      1 Reply
      1. re: babreu

        Thanks for the reply, I guess I'll find the cheaper hotel near CTAT, park hotel will take too much of the food budget.
        Any good itinerary for the areas mentioned, for food? I'm looking for a couple cheap to midrange food and possibly 1 high end one.

      2. The Keisei Skyliner runs from the airport to Ueno in less than an hour. Ueno area is a great place to graze/eat and explore- especially if you've never been to Japan. There's some interesting parts of Ginza but I don't think it's a particularly fun place. Ueno is also on the same subway line as Tsukiji.

        18 Replies
          1. re: klyeoh

            I'm going to have 7AM - Midnight layover on my way back to US, so I'm thinking of doing more sightseeing during the day. Maybe Ueno area might be more suitable for this day?

            What about Shinjuku area for night food? It's on the same subway line to Tsukiji as well.

            1. re: boilerup

              Shinjuku might be a good bet - there are tons of restaurants there, and it's only 21 minutes to Tsukiji by subway - farther than Ginza, but not that much.

              I don't know that I would recommend the TCAT neighborhood for your purposes; in my experience a lot of restaurants in that area tend to be closed on holidays (and December 23 is one). Shinjuku is more a seven-days-a-week town.

              1. re: Robb S

                I always forget to consider the Oedo Line.

              2. re: boilerup

                If you are arriving at 7am for a layover, you might want to consider that to be the day you visit Tsukiji. You'll have missed the auction, but the market will still be going for a little while. That's probably the best place to kill time early in the morning in Tokyo. I'd don't know what else there would be to do for a several hours. For your stopover, I'd party hardy for the night and take your time getting to back to the airport. This is unless you are deadset on doing Tsukiji tuna auction from the crack of dawn.

                1. re: Silverjay

                  I don't really need to see the auction, just food and market experience, it's a good idea to postpone the tsukiji trip for my 2nd layover. Let me do some more reading about Ueno / Shinjuku then. I'll post again about what I find/plan. Thanks.

                  1. re: boilerup

                    Is it your first time in Tokyo? Are you interested in anything other than food? If so, you should go to areas that are more representative of a modern city like Tokyo, such as Shibuya, Roppongi or Ginza/Shimbashi/Marunouchi. I like Ueno (I even stayed there during my first time in Tokyo, at the now demolished Sofitel Hotel), but this area and Asakusa are the old, simple part of town. Not the most exciting place to be, honestly (if you want traditional, just go to Kyoto).

                    If I had less than a day in Tokyo, I'd definitely stay in the Shibuya/Harajuku area, or maybe Shinjuku. These areas are the soul of Tokyo.


                    You want to see lots of people (including beautiful women) neon lights and all the stereotypes of Tokyo: Shibuya.

                    You're a geek or a nerd: Akihabara.

                    You're 40+ or into fancy restaurants and shops (or just want to be close to Tsukiji): Ginza.

                    You want to eat soba and see a temple or a zoo: Ueno and Asakusa.

                    1. re: babreu

                      Ueno is one of the livliest street neighborhoods in the city, with an open market, street food, a wierd ass park, and plenty of neon and metal. Nobody has the image of that part of town as old and simple. What are you talking about? Why would you recommend milling about a bunch of sterile 21st century multi-use mall complexes and and trying to avoid African touts on the street in Roppongi? From Ueno it takes about 15 minutes to walk to Akihabara or 2-3 minutes by train.

                      And, no, Shibuya and Harajuku are not the soul of Tokyo unless you're a 15-year old girl shopping for a cellphone strap....but yeah, Shibuya is a great place to walk around.

                    2. re: boilerup

                      Shinjuku is dense and vibrant and the modern center of the city. The only thing is- it's best to have destinations in mind when dining there. I mean for good places. I'm not sure it lends itself to wandering in from the street if you can't read Japanese. Most dining places are not on the ground floor. Ueno is more low rise and has many places at street level that you can check out and walk in from the street. Parts of Shibuya are like this as well along Center-Gai, The bottom line is, they are all very lively at night.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Thanks for the update.
                        So if I want to explore food and drink with budget of 20-25k yen from 6 PM to Midnight around Shinjuku/Shibuya (from a major subway/train station) and all within walking distance, what would you recommend? Variety of the Japanese food is desired. I guess the neon and ambience will be the bonus or part of the experience from moving from one place to the other.
                        I think I'm decided to spend e night in Shinjuku/Shibuya area, skip the Tsukiji until my next layover, and take the morning easy for return to Narita.

                        1. re: boilerup

                          I think all things considered, Shibuya would be more fun to do that if you're going to pick one neighborhood. But Shinjuku and Shibuya are on the same train a few stops from each other., so you could see both if you really wanted. For eating and drinking, I personally prefer Ebisu, which is next to Shibuya on the same loop line. I suggest researching places in these three hoods and then posting your plan here to get fine tuning advice.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Will do, Silverjay. I want to stay in capsule hotel in Shinjuku area, seems to be interesting experience. I'll put my plan here soon, will chill out on the weekend first.

                            1. re: boilerup

                              I think you are onto a winner with Shinjuku/Shibuya/Ebisu. Kozasa Sushi comes highly recommended by Japanese friends who live nearby in the chi-chi environs of Shoto.


                              If you have an interest in sake Nakamura is a fantastic contemporary izakaya. They have an excellent seasonal menu and thoughtfully selected sake. I was there a few weeks ago with family and was surprised to discover that they had an English menu. A counter seat and English menu would be perfect for a fresh-off-the-boat solo dinner such as yourself.


                              For something less refined, but possibly more fun, Nonbei-yokocho is a great area to potter around, peeping in the doors of the rabbit warren of shops that line the alleys. A fun and rowdy night can be had at the yakitoriya, Torishige. It's popular and it only a few seats, so they have strict seating times with a 2 hour limit. Best to go early (6pm) to try your luck.


                              1. re: wekabeka

                                You've linked someplace called Ozasa, which makes bean paste cakes out in Kichijoji. I haven't seen a website for Kosaza in Shibuya yet. It's REALLY hard to get a reservation there. I tried last couple of times and couldn't get a seat. Also, it is buried in that hilly Shinsen neighorhood between 246 and Kyu-Yamate Dori. I scoped out the location last time and needed a GPS map. It's on the first floor of a residence and you enter through a carport. Kind of crazy. I wouldn't go without a solid reservation, a good map, and plenty of lead time to find it.

                                Torishige is hard to get a seat as well. Have you done a Nonbei-yokocho crawl in Shibuya before alone? I have not, but that might have a steep learning curve if you're fresh off the plane. Something similar but more approachable for a newcomer might be the Ebisu Yokocho - .

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  Silverjay, thanks for your feedback regarding Kozasa. It prompted me to contact the 2 people who recommended it - their replies: "We booked two weeks in advance - no problem." The caveat being that they are locals and they are embassy staff, which may have some bearing on their ability to get seats. In regards to location: a taxi driver with GPS will get you there fine.
                                  As for Torishige, I have been there with friends and alone. In fact the last last time I went there was 2 weeks ago after the Rugby World Cup final. Even though I speak Japanese, as a solo foreign female it was indeed learning curve - but a positive one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Torishige was a recommendation, but it is, of course, just one of many eateries in the area, so I stand by my assertion that it is a place of interest.
                                  That said, you have a good point that the more sanitized Ebisu Yokocho, may be a better entry level option.

                                  1. re: wekabeka

                                    A taxi ride and the meal at Kosaza would basically blow the 20-25 K financial load in one meal. Finding it on foot and milking out the meal will also kill a lot of time before he has to hurry back to the capsule....

                                    Thanks for the info on Torishige. It would be great if you could write up a Chowhound thread about the place- language caveats and all. If you have a chance I mean.

                                2. re: wekabeka

                                  Oh, disregard my link to Kozasa. I'm writing this via my iPhone and pasted the wrong link into my reply. By the time I got back to my computer the window for editing had expired.

                                  1. re: wekabeka

                                    To be accurate, the 'omakase' dinner is at around 14,000.-yens without drinks. For reservation for 20:45 on a week day, schedule one week in advance. The most difficult place to put a reservation is still Sushi Mitani in Yotsuya (i had no chance yet)... seems it takes like months in advance for reservation, and the 'omakase' is at 30,000.-yens. Oh well, some high end sushi seem untouched by the crisis...