By Starrene Rhett Rocque
When in Tokyo, a city filled with all of the lights, culture, and chic that you can stand, it’s nice to set intended destinations but smart to embrace the highly likely possibility of getting lost. This is good thing, especially when you’re bonding with your significant other. My husband and I, who had been married for all of 6 months, chose Japan for our honeymoon because it had been a life long dream of mine to visit. The year he proposed was supposed to be my year to head to Tokyo but planning and budgeting for a wedding forced me to post-pone indefinitely until he suggested that we set up a honeyfund and make my dreams come true. With the help of nearly $10,000 raised in wedding gifts and Inside Japan Tours, we planned what became the trip of a lifetime.
Our Honeymoon to Japan included multiple regions but we chose Tokyo as our homebase because flights to Narita tend to be cheaper and more convenient than other areas of the country. Tokyo also isn’t far from other popular destinations like Hakone, a mountainous region rife with traditional Japanese style inns and secluded from urban life, Kyoto, where traditional Japan meets the 21st century, and Osaka, which is possibly home to the best food in Japan, so a day trip on a bullet train (shinkansen) is another option to consider. However, while in Tokyo, we stayed at the Century Southern Tower Hotel, a sky scraper abode that starts at the 22nd floor, has breathtaking views and is centrally located a train ride and in some cases walking distance away from most of the city’s action—think the areas of Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Rappongi Hills—the places you absolutely need to see. And speaking of seeing, from the hotel, you can glimpse the surrounding Shinjuku neighborhood, and landmarks like Yoyogi Park, Tokyo Tower and if the weather permits, the majestic Mt. Fuji.
DAY 1 – SHINJUKU
After starting off your day with the all-inclusive breakfast package at The Century (the scrumptious buffet features a selection of a traditional Japanese breakfast: fish, veggies, green tea, Western style or both), head out and explore the closest neighborhood, Shinjuku. Your first few steps outside of the hotel will guide you to Takashimaya Time Square, a shopping center where you’ll find high-end and mid-range products. Head straight to Tokyu Hands, the perfect place for uniquely Japanese gifts. Imagine if Michaels, Home Depot, Pier One Imports and Target merged and created a super store, this place would be the result. You even get a discount here for brandishing your passport. Eventually, head to the Golden Gai district, known for small alleyways and over 200 bars, each serving assorted varieties of beer, and/or food items like ramen noodles and small plates like baby sardines and chicken skin. Nagi is where you want to go for the noodles and Tachibana Shinsatsushitsu provides “experience.” Here, you’ll share the bar’s one table with other customers but also get served by a barmaid in a nurses uniform. This and the combination of alcohol sets a nice mood for you and your beau.
DAY 2 – GINZA
The Ginza district is akin to New York City’s 5th avenue. Shoppers with expensive taste will find retailers like Hermes and Chanel but go to an authentic Japanese department store like Mitsukoshi and while there, head straight to the basement, which is the real treat—literally. It’s an underground food market that specializes in confections like macaroons, bean cakes, frozen yogurt and other yummy delights. The Sony Building is a must see. Think of it as a museum of sorts, where tech enthusiasts can check out almost every Sony gadget imaginable, even devices that aren’t for sale yet.