Mar 29 – Apr 1 Citidines Shinjuku Tokyo (photo credit: Citidines Shinjuku Tokyo)
Booked the Studio Twin which is around 25sqm, a decent size with a small useful kitchenette to make simple breakfasts or for those hungry nights. It’s a pretty short walk from nearest subway station Shinjuku-Gyoemmae but for arrival day with all those luggages, it is only approximately about a 1,000yen taxi ride away. I’ve been here 3 times when I visited Tokyo, I liked the coin laundry on site which is really convenient if you want to travel light and not pack too many clothings.(detergent included in the wash machine too) Save those 100yen coins for these. Ask for travel adaptor from the front desk for those charging needs. It is near to many eateries and convenience stores, the 24h ones helps you find food anytime you need for eg Sukiya and Matsuya and your family mart and lawson’s.
For this trip, the main reason I stayed here again though was that it is within walking distance from Shinjuku-gyoen which has more cherry blossoms than Ueno park, yes I am here for the cherry blossoms! The rates varies widely depending on the season and how far in advance you book, book early for those FLEXI rates since you can easily cancel within 24 hours from check in date. Just a gauge, I booked it for S$250 a night per room, it easily rose to S$350 a night closer to the date since it was near the hanami season.
We did a quick one night stay on our stopover at Tokyo before our flight back to SG. It was a last minute decision so couldn’t find a reasonable hotel to stay for the night. Thankfully, airbnb had a room at Shibuya where we wanted to be.
It is a cosy and compact apartment as posted on the airbnb website(link provided). It has 4 beds! for the 4 of us. It has a small kitchenette with a single stove and a small microwave and fridge. The toilet and bath(together) is terribly small. The main sitting and sleeping area is well renovated I would say but not the kitchenette and toilet. But we are only here for a night stay so it was more than sufficient for us especially the location was really good, walking to Shibuya station was easy and with so many shopping and eating places around, you won’t get bored. But I won’t recommend for long stay since it doesn’t have a washer/dryer in the apartment, a few days should be fine but you could easily find a coin laundry nearby I guess. Another plus is that the host is friendly and active in giving us updates and welcoming us to the place, it was a good experience overall. Due to the location, it is not exactly cheap, we paid close to S$300 a night for a very small apartment but it was still cheaper than 2 hotel rooms in Shibuya, I had to fork out S$600-800 for a hotel night stay.
The only reason why everyone is here during this season is simply because of the Hanami. I visited 2 gardens popular for their cherry blossoms ~ Ueno Park and Shinjuku-gyoen. And on my return trip from Hokkaido, I popped into Meguro River for some more cherry blossoms viewing before heading home.
Ueno Park Cherry Blossoms (30th March 2017)
Spring came late to Japan this year, the weather was still pretty cold. Despite a first cherry blossom budding early, and it was forecasted to be in full/peak boom during our stay-sad truth is, it was not. The park is crowded with lots of people and with only a few early cherry blossom trees blooming, imagine everyone wanting to take a pic with them. We just took a few quick shots and left the place.
Shinjuku-gyoen (31st March 2017)
We were happy here since there were more trees that were in bloom plus there were more varieties, although it is also far from peaking but there were more blossoming trees to feed our ‘hunger’ for viewing them. The garden charges a 200yen admission fee as opposed to Ueno park which is free. There is security check for bags at the entrance too. But the garden is huge and there’s lots of space to move around even if there were crowds there too. However, the tourists groups usually stick around the main entrance(I guess because they have a limited time?) so go further into the garden and stroll leisurely you will enjoy it much more, we even spotted a wedding couple taking photographs.
Meguro River (13th April 2017)
Meguro River is a very long river, the easiest to walk to it is alighting at Naka-meguro station on the Toyoku line/Hibiya line. We stayed at Shibuya on our return trip so it was just one convenient stop away.
The cherry blossoms are still very much in bloom although the petals are beginning to fall. Unfortunately the night lighting has ceased so we weren’t able to view it with the night lightings but it was still a very beautiful sight and especially with the crowds gone, we found ourselves strolling endlessly along the river banks, stopping at every bridge to snap photos. Our unending thirst for the blossoms clearly shows. There are many cafes dotted along the meguro river for these beautiful sights, you could just popped in any and sipped a drink while enjoying the sight.
We were walking aimlessly around Akihabara after lunch(and after a disappointing Ueno park) when we decided we needed a rest stop and by chance we were right in front of this cat cafe, so we decided to pop in. The interior is beautiful and so are the cats. It charges 200yen for 10 per minutes and drink is optional, do note though the drinks are free flow if you pay 350yen for it, it is however vending machine drinks. I thought there was a minimum stay of 30minutes so we paid 600yen each but it seems others left quite quickly so I guess you could just stay for 10minutes if you wish. But for my kids, I think they could stay in there for as long as they wanted if they could. There were not many people which makes it good for us, we find ourselves alone with the many cats in the cafe. There is a TV and some manga to read(if you can read Japanese lol). It was a good resting stop.
You pay only when you exit, you have to keep track of your own time which you will be given upon entry. Sterilise your hands upon entry, you have to remove your shoes and wear those provided. TIP: If you are going when its cold with your coats/jackets, please remember to remove them!(else you will have a hard time removing all those cat furs). Lockers are provided for the shoes/bags/jackets. If you love cats, you could stop by and laze the afternoon away.
Frankly speaking we find places to eat as we move around, so we never really plan on going to a specific place to eat and we eat at economical places around Tokyo, especially around stations where it’s always order, eat and go kind of places so I seldom take food pics whenever I travel unless its really good/special. So you will find that I will not talk too much on this topic in my travelogues.
This is only the first post of my Japan 2017 trip, there are more to come. ;D