Wednesday October 4, 2017
Arriving in Tokyo was like coming back to visit an old friend. For Daniel and I, this was our 5th time in Tokyo and it was Leslie’s first time in Asia. After the adventure of getting the phone data card back in 2016, this time was much easier and we were able to get sim cards for our phones. These data-only cards are super convenient (if you have an unlocked phone of course) but the danger is that you run through the data super fast. My advice is to plan your wifi out ahead of time or find a place that offers a free hotspot. The next time I travel, I am seriously thinking of getting a global hotspot that I only have to pay for when I travel. Now if I can just remember to do that before I go overseas again!
For this trip since there was three of us, we booked an Air-BnB instead of the usual Kazusaya or other hotel. Hotels for three people are super expensive and difficult to find in Tokyo so our options were limited. AirBnB and similar services can also be challenging as when we were getting ready to travel, the government was cracking down on them. When searching for a place, I really didn’t know where I wanted to stay. I had an idea that I wanted to be in Minato near Tokyo Tower, but i could not find a place that was within budget and if I did it was gone fast. Part of the government issue is the lack of inventory.
Luckily we found a place in the Sumida section of Tokyo that offered free wifi and an optional DSLR if we wanted it. Sumida is an interesting place on the map – it looks close to everything (only a couple of stops from Tokyo Station) but not really accessible to Tokyo Disney Resort for non-Japanese speakers as taking the direct bus seems very intimidating (ed note: we never tried the bus because we were afraid – if you are up for it, it seems super direct to the resort).
Before leaving for Tokyo, I managed to look up on Google Maps where the apartment was located so I would hopefully recognize it in person (a far cry from the aimless wandering our first time in Japan). Also, our host sent us a PDF with directions to the apartment as well as instructions on how to use items at the apartment which proved very helpful.
Thankfully when we emerged from Kinshichō station we did take the correct exit (as indicated on the instructions) and I recognized the streets from my Google search. Without too much stress (although the walk seemed longer than it looked on the map), we finally found the place and settled in after a long day of travel.
All of our stuff together made the small apartment even smaller, but we all staked out a corner of either the living area or the sleeping area to have our stuff for the duration of the trip. The apartment had everything we needed – and even a balcony!
Time to sleep so we can hit the city tomorrow.