Tokyo, December 2015 Trip Report - The city, the airport, our hotel, shopping and more!

Hello everyone,

Last month Jon and I were in Tokyo for a week, where we visited Tokyo Disney Resort and the city of Tokyo itself. I will be writing the bulk of my Tokyo Disney Resort report on the Character Central blog, as per usual, but here I wanted to share my thoughts on our (non-Disney) hotel, shopping in the city, some airport fun, trains, and Disney merchandise in the city and at the resort.

Let's start with the merchandise at Tokyo Disney Resort.

Tokyo Disney Resort, in my opinion is the best place in the world for Disney merchandise. The sheer volume and variety of items that they sell is phenomenal, and really put the US parks to shame. There are specialised stores selling merchandise you can only find in those particular places at the parks, and the seasonal items are different every year. Whilst we were at Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR), several celebrations were happening: Christmas season, Journeys with Duffy (10th anniversary of his arrival at TDR) and, while it was a couple of weeks away, the New Year and Year of the Monkey.

Instead of my going on and on about how awesome all of it is, take a look below at just some of the items I saw for sale in the parks this trip.

Tokyo Disney Resort are also really big on pressed pennies, and often have many varying seasonal ones, and ones exclusive to the monorail stations, hotels and other areas. For whatever reason, I took a photo of this one (below), while we were there.

On the Tsum Tsum Central blog, I will (eventually) be making a full post about all the Tsum Tsum merchandise we came across while on our trip, but for now I thought I would share these really cool drinks bottles that were on sale at the resort in the hotel stores.

The Disney Store Japan, like TDR, has an immense amount of varied merchandise, with items far, far better than anything on sale at the Disney Store in the US and Europe. Disney Store Japan knows its guests, and they aren't afraid to give them what they want! We visited three Disney Stores while in Japan. There is one at Ikspiari (the TDR equivalent of Downtown Disney/Disney Springs), and several in the city, of which we visited two. Let's start with the Ikspiari store.

Although for the most part Disney Stores across Japan carry the same items, there are some differences. Some stores have exclusive merchandise for that store (such as Tsum Tsums), with the Ikspiari store this past trip having the D23 Japan overstock items, which was really cool since we didn't get to attend the event itself.

The Shibuya Disney Store is what I personally consider the "main" Disney Store in Tokyo. It is exceptionally themed and is spread over several floors. There is an Alice in Wonderland themed area, a Darlings bedroom, Andy's room, not to mention the castle facade on the front.

This store stocks more than any of the other Disney Stores we've visited in Japan. You can also buy Tokyo Disney Resort park tickets here.

The other store we visited this time was a newer store in the district of Harajuku. This store is within a larger department store, and while it was interesting to see another style, it wasn't the best store. I don't have a lot to say about it except, it was interesting to see, but not worth the epic trek to get to it!

Whilst walking around the city, I saw this strange creature. I think it was some sort of pill/drug, but I could be wrong...

A place that I had heard about that I really wanted to visit was Nakano Broadway. It's a shopping mall, but it has smaller, locally run stores that sell hand crafted items, second hand items, collectables, books, etc. It's a quirky place, and you can definitely spend a lot of time browsing there. The main reason I wanted to go though is because I had heard about some stores there that sell older TDR merchandise (previous seasonal items, and so on). We were not disappointed! Wow! They had some truly amazing items, and all things considered, the prices weren't too bad, either. Let's take a look at some of the stuff I saw.

A Japanese friend of ours also took us through another store, but unfortunately I've no idea what the name of it was. But I do have some photos from what I saw inside.

Somewhere along the way, I believe in Shibuya, we stopped for food and we found somewhere that actually had waffles that we could eat (being vegetarian in Japan is like being a penguin in the desert).

Skipping back to Nakano Broadway for a moment, I want to tell you about the Tsum Tsum arcade game. I actually have a video of the full game play, which eventually I'll be posting to the Tsum Tsum Central blog with a full description, but I thought it was worth mentioning here, too. For those who have no clue what Disney Tsum Tsum is, it's actually two things that amount to the same thing - stackable Disney characters; one is a game however, and the other plushes. Of course, the brand has gone crazy, and now you can get just about anything that depicts Tsums on it, but the principle is still there - stackable Disney characters. There is a game app for smart devices, and the plushes are on sale at many, many locations, including the Disney Parks and Disney Stores. It started in Japan, of course, and has really taken ahold of the world! (Getting sidetracked here, but one day last year I went to the doctor, and Jon had a Tsum case on his phone - my doctor squealed out, "You play Tsum Tsum too?!", so you get how popular it is.) So back to this arcade at Nakano Broadway. There are machines in arcades across Japan that have the game loaded on them, and if you live in Japan, you can keep your progress by having a game card that stores your game information. I won't post the video here, as it is real long, and I want to go into more detail about it on the Tsum Tsum Central blog, but for now, here are some photos of playing the game.

When we took the train from the airport to TDR at the start of the trip, I wanted to use the bathroom. Japan has a lot of quirky points, but I'm not sure a toilet with a viewing window is the best idea! (I'm serious, see below!)

Whilst on the subject of the airport, I kept notes on my phone of the arrival procedure, because I know that many people who have read my Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Planner on Character Central really find this sort of thing useful. Here's what I have (I'll keep it brief, to bullet points, for sake of easiness in case you want to copy it/save it for your own reference):

    *Follow signs to arrivals
    *At immigration desks you'll need passport and the customs and landing cards
    *You'll get fingerprinted and photographed
    *From there you collect luggage
    *In the luggage hall before the exit you face customs
    *Customs can be strict and ask a lot of questions
    *They may ask to see inside your bags, and even scan you personally
    *Once through, you'll be in arrivals. Narita Express train desk is basically opposite
    *Tickets are about $20 per person
    *Follow signs to all trains
    *JR Express leaves from same platform as all others
    *Be careful to get on the correct train and even the correct car and seat, as all Express tickets are reserved seating only

I hope that helps!

On this trip we stayed at the Hotel MyStays Maihama, which is a five minute walk down the street from the pedestrian entrance to Tokyo DisneySea. Standing outside the MyStays you can see the monorail beam and the Disney Ambassador Hotel, it's that close! The price and the location of this hotel make it an excellent choice. The rooms are typically Japanese (small), but are well equipped, clean and comfortable. For whatever reason I don't appear to have photos of the actual room, but I do have some of the lobby and outside the hotel, including one with a view towards the Ambassador on a rather gloomy December morning!

I want to demonstrate how easy it is to get into the resort from the MyStays, so I actually have a photo walking tour from the hotel to the entrance to the park!

You start by turning left out of the hotel, walking straight and crossing over a street. The second crossing you come to is at the corner to the entrance of Tokyo DisneySea.

Once you have crossed over that street, you will come to this magical entrance:

Follow the pathway all the way around to the left, and you'll find yourself at the entrance to the monorail station and the park! It's that easy!

When we returned to the airport this time, we took the bus from the Tokyo DisneySea bus station, which is just inside the pedestrian entrance, which I detailed above. I took a photo of the bus schedule and signage for reference, which you can view below. The third photo is a perspective shot, looking from the bus stop towards the park entrance, to give you some idea of how close it is.

Finally, once we arrived back at the airport, we had some time to explore. There are some interesting stores at Narita, including a really cool Pokémon store and a Sanrio one. Of course, being Christmas, there were Christmas decorations, too.

That's everything for this part of my report! I'll be posting my Tokyo Disney Report trip report on the Character Central blog throughout this week, so look out for that on there!

In case you missed them, here are the links to my Hong Kong reports that I wrote recently, which were all part of this same trip.

*Hong Kong - city, shopping and hotel etc
*Hong Kong Disneyland part 1
*Hong Kong Disneyland part 2

Have a great week everyone,