Don't think you can do Tokyo in a week? Well you can, and I did!! I just came back from spending a week in Tokyo with the amazing cast of the Come Fly Away tour. It's their final stop on the tour, and my visit was a gift from Stephen. This is Stephen Hanna and the amazing Meredith Miles on the poster. AWW!
Originally I was supposed to go for ten days, but then, I had a whole bunch of callbacks for some exciting shows that would be happening in New York this fall. None of which will be happening with me, but it was the perfect timing to go away for a week.
The flight to Tokyo is LONG! I left NYC on Friday, and arrived in Tokyo on Saturday evening. I had a Delta flight to Detroit then from Detroit to Tokyo. I appreciated the breaking up of the flights, so I could stretch my legs a little. Once I got to Tokyo I quickly exchanged my cash for Yen, which I recommend bringing Cash with you to save a little money on fees.
Then I took a little bus to the hotel the Cast was staying in Shibuya. Shibuya is a bit like Times Square meets the East Village. Lots of tall buildings and busy intersections, but mostly restaurants, bars, and shopping.
I got up and ran the next morning through Yoyogi Park with my buddy Jimmy Ludwig, Happy Hour Guys. Jimmy was playing another theater with West Side Story, and was already a running buddy of mine. Perfectly coincidental, and it helped with the Jet Lag a lot.
Monday we had planned to spend the whole day at Tokyo DisneySea. If you don't know what Tokyo DisneySea is, well I'm not going to get too in detail on here. You can check out my photo album on facebook to see some of the details. I would describe it as the most detailed, and thought-out Disney Theme Park ever created.
The Japanese take their Disney very seriously. When we got there an hour and twenty minutes before the park opened, there were already hundreds of people in front of us. By the time the park opened there were thousands behind us.
Once you passed through the gate, people ran like bloody murder to get on rides, or fastpasses or who knows what! We took our time and by the end of the day we had seen pretty much the entire park. Including their version of Fantasmic which is HUGE!
The next day, Stephen did his Matinee and then we went to Tokyo Disneyland, because I had to compare. C'mon!
Imagine an even more spread out Magic Kingdom Park. It had so much space that I didn't know what to do with myself. Since we got there at 5, we didn't have much time to ride everything, so we did the old stand-by attractions. Pooh's Hunny Hunt is a must if you go there, because the ride-technology is unlike anything you've ever experienced. It was very cool.
If I were to sum up their parks to ours, I would say that everything there looks brand spanking new. They take such good care of everything. In fact that goes for most of Tokyo in general. The people really respect each other, and their work. However, the Disneyland theme park is missing the simple charm, and clear storytelling that they perfected here in the states. For instance, when I was standing to wait for the Pooh ride, I could see Tomorrowland and Toontown, and yet I was supposed to be in Fantasyland. Not very clear story-telling. (You are getting the ultra-nerd from me on this)
Anyway, the next day I got to explore the Imperial Palace Gardens. The Imperial Palace was the birthplace of Tokyo (Edo, when it was built), and is sort of like an older more rustic Central Park. I also went to Harajuku, and explored the Meiji Jengu Shrine.
That night we went to Asakusa, my favorite neighborhood of all the stops we went to. It was the most "Japanese." In Shibuya there are Starbucks, Subway Sandwiches, etc. Not in Asakusa. It also contained Shens0-ji Shrine, one of the oldest surviving Shrines in Tokyo, considering we almost obliterated the town in WWII. We shopped for awesome souvenirs there, the best selection anywhere I found in Tokyo, and ate awesome Sushi. They also have a Theater where they do traditional Kabuki shows, but we passed on that out of exhaustion.
When we woke up the next morning, it was at 4:30 AM, so that we could get to the Tsujiki Fish Market. This by far was the most experiential of all of our trips in Tokyo. This is the market where the worlds leading Sushi restaurants get their fish. They auction of huge whole fish in the AM, and slice 'em, ice 'em and ship 'em. You can watch the whole thing, but at your own risk. There is water, fish guts, and trucks everywhere. Needless to say, we didn't stick around very long, and found a cool place to sit and have some fresh Sushi just off the market. I've never had sushi that taste this good. The salmon practically melted in my mouth! Delish!
The return flight was the worst. There was a girl behind me with a tick-cough that rang every five minutes. For 13 hours! The planes entertainment system broke. I had to watch part of the Avengers 3 times. It never made it to the end! But I made it back safely, and now I'm obsessed with knowing more about Japan.
If you want to know more about Japan, check out this documentary on Netflix called Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire. And if you ever get a chance to go, GO! I can't wait to return, so that I can climb Mount Fuji!
What's the farthest place you have ever visited? I want to know. Leave a comment here, or send me a message on facebook.