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Japan Day 1: Tokyo – Narita, Tokyo & Shinjuku

DAY 1 : TOKYO

After almost 16 hours flight time & 4 hours transit time from Seattle, we finally arrived at Tokyo Narita airport around 1 pm on June 20th. Going through immigration was a breeze. The first thing we did upon arriving was to look for transportation to Tokyo. There are many options available but we narrowed our options down to 2:

Bus option:

 From Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station:
 Bus: Airport Limousine Bus   ** This bus makes stops at many major hotels in Tokyo
 Costs: ¥3100 per adult and ¥1550 per child
 Travel Time: 1 1/2 hours travel time to Shinjuku (dependent on traffic)

Train option:

 From Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station:
 Bus: Narita Express (NEX)
 Costs: ¥3190 per adult  and ¥1600 per child  *FREE if you have the Japan Rail Pass
 
Travel Time: One hour to Shinjuku

For this trip, we bought the Japan Rail Pass. (If you are still undecided about  buying the Japan Rail Pass, read THIS. ) Since we have the Japan Rail Pass, we decided to take the NEX which is free with the Japan Rail Pass. But first we had to exchange our JRP vouchers for the actual tickets. You can do the exchange at the JR office which has a location in either terminals. They can also be found at major train stations

How to redeem the JR Pass?

  1. Fill up a form available at the office
  2. Turn in the form at the counter together with your passport & JR Pass Exchange Voucher like the one below JPRExchange
  3. Select a start date for your JR pass. Depending on your schedule, you might start your pass the next day if you arrive late in the day. For us, we only had 7 days to spend in Japan anyway. So it makes sense to activate it immediately since we were planning to take the NEX into Tokyo
  4. Wait for them to activate pass and you will end up with this! JRP
  5. With the JR Pass on hand make all train reservations that you will need for the first couple of days. We made reservations on the NEX (shown below) and also for the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto on Day 3. NEXTix

 

Travel Tip:
Since the Japan Rail Pass has a fixed date of validity, make sure that you calculate properly when to start using the Japan Rail Pass. The validity is based on a full days and not a 24 hour period. So if you activate it at 5 pm, it is considered 1 day. In our case, we only have exactly 7 days in Japan, so it made sense for us to activate it that day. 

With our JR pass in hand, we made a mad dash for the train which was leaving in 10 minutes. On the NEX, there is an area at both ends of each train car for luggages.

NEXLuggage

The train was pretty empty since they run every 30 minutes. It took about 1 hour from Narita to Shinjuku Station. Everything was fine until we got to Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku Station was a total different experience! That place is massive and totally confusing! It has >36 platforms and >200 exits! Apparently an estimated 3.6 million people pass through it everyday!  Needless to say, it took us a while to figure out where we needed to go!

Travel Tip:
Make sure that you know which Shinjuku exit you need to exit from or you will get lost just like us :

After lots of aimless wandering around Shinjuku Station, we ended up on the 7th floor of Lumine Est above the East Exit of the Station. Guess what is on the 7th & 8th floor of Lumine Est? FOOD!!  Ah… so many restaurants, so many choices! Since we were in Japan, we decided that we will start off the trip with ramen at Hirugao.

HirugaoShinjuku

After eating, we decided to abandon thoughts of shopping since jet-lag was setting in. We headed to the bus stop outside the Odakyu Department Store and took the Hyatt Regency Tokyo shuttle bus that took us to our hotel – Hyatt Regency Tokyo which was only about 5 minutes away.

Hyatt Regency Tokyo lobby
HyattRegencyJapan

We checked in to a 3 person room and had a great view of Shinjuku Central Park.

Hyatt Park

And also our rental wifi from Pupuru was waiting for us at the hotel counter. Hurray!!

Pupuru

And that was it for the 1st day. Jet lag was setting in very quickly. ……zzzzzzzzzz……..

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