Tag Archives: tokyo

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Before we left Tokyo to come back home, we decided to stop by the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It’s a pretty cool museum that mostly covers the Edo period from the 17th-19th centuries in Japan. I was surprised by how large the museum was, and also by the quality of the exhibits.

The metro stop for the museum also happens to be in the neighborhood where Sumo is popular:

DSC05799Sumo Cardboard Cut-Out

The museum itself is located in a fairly modern-looking building. There are signs to the museum from the metro stop at Ryogoku Station. It’s pretty close by. The entrance fee to the museum is 600 Yen, or about $6 USD, and you can also get an English audio guide for free (refundable deposit). I really liked this museum, not only because the museum has really cool exhibits, but because it also has interactive ones. They also have a ton of dioramas throughout the museum which give you a complete picture of the Edo Period.

DSC05801Edo-Tokyo Museum

IMG-20120311-01125Kabuki Theater Exhibition- It looks tiny, but is actually a life-size building

IMG-20120311-01130Sitting inside a royal litter- Be sure to take off your shoes!

IMG-20120311-01136Shogun Armor 

IMG-20120311-01144Wood-working Exhibit

IMG-20120311-01151Alex lifting pails of water

IMG-20120311-01163One of the many dioramas depicting the Edo Period in Tokyo

IMG-20120311-01167Inside a traditional Edo replica home

 IMG-20120311-01168Instrument of Surrender from WWII 

IMG-20120311-01174Sitting in a Tuk-Tuk

IMG-20120311-01175Inside a traditional Edo period kitchen

IMG-20120311-01179Exterior of a replica home

Although we didn’t go to many museums while in Tokyo, I would definitely recommend this one. It was a lot of fun, and I think that both children and adults would get a lot out of it!

Tokyo DisneySea

I am not embarrassed to say that I am a huge Disney fan. I loved visiting Disney World as a child, and still go to Disneyland on occasion even now. So needless to say, the idea of Tokyo DisneySea was incredibly exciting! We only had one day to see Disney, so we chose to visit DisneySea over Disneyland, since we have one of those back at home.

We took the metro to Maihama Station, where we transferred to the Disney Monorail. The attention to detail is noticeable right away.


DSC05223Mickey Shaped Windows On the Monorail

DSC05226 DSC05228Mickey Handles, and the Cinderella Castle

DSC05237Entrance to Tokyo DisneySea

DSC05238Daisy Duck Greeting Visitors

DSC05241Inside the Gates

DSC05244View of “Mount Prometheus”

Don’t forget to buy yourself a pair of Mickey ears! While you can find all of the Universal “Mickey Ears”, they also have a good collection of hats that are only found in Japan. A lot of the girls’ hats feature giant bows.

DSC05245This hat is so “kawaii”!

DisneySea has a nautical theme to it, with different “Ports of Call”. The layout is very similar to EPCOT, with different themes surrounding a large, central lagoon.

DSC05246Mediterranean Harbor


Arabian Coast


Mermaid Lagoon


The American Waterfront

DisneySea has Tower of Terror, which is a free-fall thrill ride. The ride can be found at several Disney Parks.

DSC05252Tower of Terror

Even though we arrived on a Wednesday around 10AM, the Tower of Terror had already reached a 2 hour wait time. We had been to the Tower of Terror at California Adventure and Hollywood Studios, so we decided we could skip it.

DSC05254Tower of Terror Line

We had never heard of “Duffy” the bear until we got to DisneySea, but he is a huge Disney mascot in Japan. Duffy is really as big of a deal as Mickey Mouse. Duffy and Shellie Mae (his girlfriend) Merchandise can be found all over the park. DisneySea also offers Duffy and Shellie May food. We bought some Cranberry Popcorn that’s served in Shellie Mae buckets. It was so delicious!!

DSC05261Cranberry Popcorn, Yum

The American Waterfront is the Port of Call where you will find Tower of Terror and the SS Columbia, which is a large ship with a restaurant inside.

From the American Waterfront, we made our way over towards the Mysterious Island.

DSC05265Pirate Ship in the Central Lagoon Area

DSC05267View of the Mysterious Island’s Mount Prometheus

The Mysterious Island is home to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”


“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”

Inside the volcano is the ride “Journey To The Center of the Earth”. It’s a roller coaster ride, and by far the most popular attraction we visited that day.


DSC05270Inside the Volcano

I know, you’re wondering how “Journey To The Center of the Earth” was….Well, I’m sorry to say I can’t tell you! The line was 4 hours long…yes, FOUR hours!! I am not one to skip out on things, especially at Disney, but this was excessive. Neither of us was feeling that patient, and for the first time in Tokyo, we actually felt overwhelmed by the crowds. People say that Tokyo is a crowded place, but it feels like nothing compared to DisneySea. I’ve been to Disney World on Christmas Day, and it didn’t feel as busy as this!

Even the concession stands had at LEAST a 30 minute wait time. If you see in the picture below, the food stand is underneath the bridge, and I took the picture from the back of the line. At this point, we made the decision to just walk around and explore the park.

DSC05280Long Lines For Food


Crowds in the Mediterranean Harbor

Ok, enough about the long lines! Just be prepared to wait at least an hour for everything, even the smaller kiddie rides. Now, we did have some luck with food at the Zambini Brothers Ristorante. We were able to find a short food line because there was a show going on in the lagoon. This would be my best piece of advice when visiting DisneySea: grab some food during the showtimes! The food itself was pretty good, and it was nice to just sit down for a bit after walking around!


We left the park after lunch, having been there for a grand total of three hours.On our way out, we spotted Mickey! I noticed that the “main” Disney characters only show up near the entrance to the park, right inside the ticket gate. I’m not sure why this is, but we were able to see Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy in this spot. In case you’re wondering, yes, there was a line to see them too! Haha

DSC05296Mickey Mouse

While we had planned on spending the entire day at Tokyo DisneySea, I’m sad to say that we didn’t want to stay after getting there. I’m really glad we got to see it, but we were not prepared for the lines. I don’t know if I’d personally go back, but it’s still Disney, and if you don’t mind enormous wait times it’s still a cool park. The tricky thing for us is that we are fortunate enough to live semi-close to a Disney Park. Therefore, a lot of the rides and experiences were the same as ones we have back at home and it wasn’t worth waiting in line for hours at a time. But for most people, visiting Disney is a once in a lifetime experience, or at least a pretty rare one. And in that case, a visit to DisneySea would definitely be worth it.

DSC05301Waiting For the Monorail to Take Us Home

Tokyo Day Tour: Imperial Palace

The second half of our day tour began with a delicious teppanyaki lunch. I will cover that later in a post about Japanese food.

After lunch, we headed to the Imperial Palace. It is located in downtown Tokyo, near the Tokyo Station. The Palace grounds are surrounded by a moat. We were not allowed to go inside the Palace itself, and it is closed to the public most of the year.

DSC05086The Moat

You can’t really tell by the picture below, however, the buildings here are only allowed to have views of the Palace up to a certain floor. After that, the windows are blacked out so that there are no views which would allow someone to see inside the Palace grounds.

DSC05090Buildings in Downtown Tokyo

DSC05092Pretty Trees

DSC05097Entrance Gate

DSC05101View of the Palace and Bridge


DSC05105The Moat

DSC05106Trees Outside the Palace


Tokyo Day Tour: Tokyo Tower

Alex and I were in Tokyo for about 6 days of our trip, however, we spent one day doing a group tour that we had found through Viator. It was an all day tour that went to all of the major Tokyo sites. Here’s an overview of our tour:

Our tour bus picked us up at the hotel early in the morning, and stopped at two or three other hotels before taking us to the main terminal where we officially joined our tour. Our group only had about 15 people, so it wasn’t too large.

Our first stop was to visit the Tokyo Tower. It looks like an orange version of the Eiffel Tower, and is actually taller. There is an interior observation deck, so you are able to have a 360 degree view without worrying about wind or rain, which were both concerns on the day we visited.

DSC04968View from our bus


DSC04970Ticket Collection

DSC04971Elevator Ride


DSC04974Inside the Observatory

DSC04984View from the Tower

DSC04986Shinto Shrine inside the Observatory

DSC04989Rainy Day Views

DSC04990Alex Inside the Tower

DSC04993Look Out Below!!

DSC04995Glass flooring

Japan Rail Pass and Shinkansen Bullet Trains

Getting around Japan is relatively easy for a visitor. In our case, we planned to go outside of Tokyo and spend a few days in Hakone (Mt. Fuji area) and in Kyoto. We purchased a Japan Rail Pass, which allowed us direct access to these towns.



DSC05551Train Schedules. An English translation flashes up on the screen as well.

A Japan Rail Pass seems a little complicated at first glance, so I will try and simplify the information to give you a basic idea of how to obtain and use it.

These rail passes, operated by JR Group Railways, allow you to travel throughout Japan on Shinkansen Bullet Trains. The passes are only available to foreign visitors and Japanese nationals that live outside of Japan. Your passport must have you listed as a “Temporary Visitor”. We didn’t need to do anything special in order to get this stamp, you just have to be visiting for less than 90 days. I stressed about this part beforehand, but trust me, it will be stamped in your passport!

The tricky thing about the Japan Rail Pass is that it needs to be purchased *BEFORE* you arrive to Japan. You must buy an exchange order, which can be done through a travel agent. If you go to the JR Group’s website, they have a list of where you can buy exchange orders in your country. For us, we just picked it up at a local travel agency, and paid for it up front. You then take the exchange order to a train station in Japan, where you pick up the actual pass. Shinjuku was the closest station that gives out passes, so we found the JR kiosk and picked up our passes after giving them our exchange order.

While you’re there, you have the option to book your train trips, and can usually reserve seats. They have a giant book with the train schedule, and you just tell them where you need to go, and they will print out your train tickets. Do not worry about reservations, they will not fill up! No one else can book in advance either, so don’t worry about it. Our personal experience was that the trains were not very full anyway, with the exception of the ones headed into Tokyo. Even then, we had no problems with booking and finding seats together.



Our first bullet train was the Romancecar from Tokyo to Hakone. We had lunch on the train, as they offer a small selection of foods.


DSC05347Getting on the Romancecar

DSC05354Drinks from the ROMANCECAR Cafe in Shinjuku Station

DSC05360Lunch on the train

DSC05362Shinkansen Bento Box lunch

I’m sure you’re wondering about luggage space. There are spaces in each car that specifically make room for luggage. It’s a pretty decent space, and will fit two large pieces of luggage (or so I estimated). Additionally, there are spaces above the seats to store carry-on items, similar to what you have in an airplane. We brought an overnight bag, and sent our luggage through the Takkyubin service. This is a service that runs throughout the country and delivers your bags to your next destination. It makes it easier for you to travel without lugging around a big bag, and you can arrive with your bags delivered to your next hotel. I am obsessed with this service, and don’t know why more countries haven’t thought of this! It’s incredibly efficient, and pretty affordable. If I remember correctly, it was around $20 to send our luggage to Kyoto, and were able to arrange it through our hotel in Tokyo. I know a lot of people have trust issues overseas, but don’t worry, your bags will arrive safely! Our bag was even wrapped up to prevent damage!


JR Pass is only available in 7 day, 14 day, or 21 day passes. This means that you can travel as many times as you wish on the JR system throughout the duration of your ticket. The ticket is activated on the date you choose, so all you need to do is tell the people at the kiosk what days you want your pass for.

Because the JR pass offers unlimited travel, it can be VERY expensive. We bought the 7 day pass, which was around $400/ per person. That’s a lot of money to spend, but if you use it wisely, it can be so worth it and you can get around the country very quickly and efficiently. I obviously would NOT recommend this pass if you are only going to be in and around Tokyo for the extent of your trip.

The last piece of advice I can give about the JR Pass is to arrive early! The trains are very punctual, and they WILL leave when they are scheduled to leave!

I hope I covered all of the basics! This is a great pass for exploring Japan.