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Japan – Conrad Tokyo and Ginza

Today I wanted to share with you all the first part of our Japan trip – Tokyo!

For other parts of this series, please see below.

Japan – Conrad Tokyo and Ginza
Japan – Sumo and Takazawa
Japan- Shiraume Ryokan
Japan – Arashiyama and Kinana Ice Cream
Japan – Park Hyatt Tokyo 

This was my third time in Japan and I was very happy to return. We flew in on United which is nothing exciting but they did have one of the best menus I’ve ever seen on a U.S. based carrier – I got the Washoku Zen selection and it came with a full bottle of hot sake as well. I typically don’t drink on flights (like to stay hydrated) but the sake put me right to sleep.

All my photos turned out pretty bad because it was dark, but here is an appetizer that was served – a tuna tartare that was actually really delicious. Good job United!

The flight was really smooth and Narita is only about ~11 hours from SFO. For those of you who haven’t flown into it before, Narita is Tokyo’s main airport and very nice, with the exception that it is about an hour’s drive away from Tokyo (and that’s without traffic). If you were to get a cab to go into Tokyo, it would be around $300, and car service is even more. Those figures are horrific to my little cheap ears and every time I go to Japan, I take the “Friendly Limousine Bus” which I’d describe as 99% bus, 1% limousine and that drops you off at most major hotels.

The bus is still $35 per person each way but it’s a pretty big savings from a cab. Anyway, we were on the bus for about an hour and then it dropped us off at our hotel – the Conrad Tokyo. I had never stayed in a Conrad before but thought this would be a great location to try (and I remembered that it was Frida Giannini’s favorite hotel from this article here).

Anyway, the Conrad didn’t disappoint and I’d recommend it. Some photos of our suite, which was huge especially by Japanese standards.

The bathroom which had a standalone tub and shower (that came with rubber duckies to take home!)

The view from our window – the Conrad like many Tokyo hotels is at the top of a high rise so all of the rooms are on the 30th floor or above.

Also one of my favorite details about the Conrad – these little bear keychains that appeared on our pillow each night. There were four colors and I collected them all. The housekeeping noticed that I liked them and even gave me some backup colors. Really I think these are the greatest idea for free advertising and goodwill because I pinned them to my bags and all around Japan people were picking them up and admiring them while noticing the Conrad ribbon. Their arms and legs moved too.

Now moving onto some food…I was really sick the first day unfortunately and thus decided to get some miso soup, which was delicious because it came with all these little clams on the bottom. This was all I could eat the first day. I was so mad because I was wasting precious meal opportunities, and in Japan of all places!

The next day I felt better and so I dragged my husband over to have some katsu. I love katsu but my husband wasn’t so into it as he’s only had it in the United States  – “But you’ll loooveee the katsu in Japan, it’s REAL katsu and it was fried in heaven!!”  I kept insisting. My husband refused to relent and ended up ordering some other random dish while I happily dug into my yummy pork. After a while my husband tried a few bites of mine and immediately started complaining. “I’ve been robbed!” he scowled, which is what he always does when my dish ends up better than his. The rest of the our trip he couldn’t stop talking about katsu and we had it two more times.

After katsu, we took the afternoon to walk around Ginza, a very upscale shopping area. I pretty much failed at taking any pictures of the actual scenery except for this one random one of a cat sitting upon a street sign.

Clearly it’s a common phenomenon for Asian females to be fascinated by cats trapped in cute if perhaps slightly precarious situations, because after a few seconds there were TONS of girls all standing around, photographing this cat! They were all cooing in Japanese, making mew sounds and saying “Kawaii! “ (cute)  “Kawaii!” over and over again.

After I had my share of the cat excitement, I went and got my husband who had escaped to a local DoCoMo store to hide from the cooing throng. We went into a nearby department store and went down to the food hall – the basement level which had a seemingly endless choice of vendors all serving yummy food. I was very interested in this Hello Kitty bento –

But decided that I wouldn’t fall prey to cute packaging only (well this time at least) and was craving something sweeter anyway. We ended up getting some chocolate and matcha covered belgian waffles from this stand:

It all looks so good, right? After that I also got some macarons to go – pistachio, passionfruit caramel and mango yogurt flavors. I love how detailed and thoughtful most Japanese packaging is – all my macarons during the trip came with hand sanitizers and some came with these nice “ice” packs that kept them nice and cool.

I realized that I didn’t buy any fashion while in Japan – just mainly lots of food! A lot of the styles were really expensive – way more than in the US. I did however make a stop by Hermes Tokyo just to poke around and the shop was really lovely. I also had to stop for this picture – I still have no idea what’s going on in it but there’s a lady in lipstick with a Bolide as an earring, and teacups and saucers as eyeballs and really, that’s good enough for me.

That’s it for my first Japan entry – the next one will be on Tokyo as well, and one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. Can’t wait to share with you all!