Up until last winter, I was an international travel virgin. I had spent 23 years dreaming about the world outside the U.S., with Japan being the epitome of all the places I could possibly wish to go to. After some thoughtful planning, money-saving, and passionate dreaming, I made it happen!
We booked our tickets in advance on Expedia.com and in combination with our hotel reservations — something that saved us a ton of money! Totemo yasui deshita! We flew into Narita Airport and picked up our JR East Japan visitor passes, which gave us 10 days of unlimited access to any of the East JR lines; this included access to the shinkansen or bullet train! (Quite a deal!)
Our hotel was chosen mostly for financial reasons, but we were so relieved to have made this decision. Hotel Yanigabashi is run by a sweet family and a few dedicated staff members. Yasakute, shinsetsu deshita. Our room was authentically cozy, chiisai ga kirei deshita, and the bathtub was unlike anything I’ve ever bathed in here in America! I spent many nights winding down after a long day of walking and sightseeing by grabbing a beer from the downstairs vending machine and soaking in the gigantic tub! Yoku ofuronihaite imashita. The staff at our hotel offered assistance whenever we needed it, expressed sincere interest in our travels and enjoyment, and by the end of our stay they even had Christmas presents for us! Since then, I have happily stayed in contact with the daughter of the owners — Tomoko — and been able to form a nice friendship with her. Watashitachi wa tomodachi desu.
Asakusabashi is a neighborhood within Taito, Tokyo, a business-y area with convenient locations to train and bus lines, and ended up being quite a comforting place to call “home” for 2 weeks. Our hotel was next to a small river. There was an internet cafe across the street, as well as a cafe with yummy coffee and cake, and a 7-11 type store called Sunkus that we visited often for stocking up on snacks and food we could make from our hotel. There was even a temple within walking distance! Otera ni shashin wo tori ni ikimashita.
This is only the beginning of a handful of locations, and there’s so much info I have to give to any curious, soon-to-be travelers! And please forgive my possibly terribly wrong Japanese! Gomennasai!