Karen and I arrived at Ueno Station at around 5:00 pm Japan time, Saturday, March 23/19 after being up for well over 24 hours and now we had to navigate out of the train station and find our hotel. We had picked up the Wi-Fi hotspot device and I had made use of our time on the train by getting both of our phones set up to use it so we had access to google maps. We were staying on our own for two nights at the Tohoku Hotel Ueno and the hotel had provided English printed instructions on how to get to the hotel via the Ueno train station.  Luckily the instructions weren’t too hard to follow even with our foggy brains and between the printed instructions and google maps we managed to find the hotel with no issues.

Tohoku Hotel Ueno

The hotel was older, and the rooms were small, we knew that when we booked (most hotel rooms in Japan are small) however we read the reviews on TripAdvisor and everyone said the hotel was clean and the price was right, so we booked it. There wasn’t an elevator though, and we were on the third floor. We packed light but were both so tired that the thought of hauling our luggage up two flights of stairs was daunting. As luck would have it the owner of the hotel happened to walk by and picked up our bags and walked them upstairs for us. Yeah!! He didn’t even speak English, I guess he only had to look at two tired woman travellers and took pity on us.

The hotel room had an old-fashioned lock on the door, and you had to hand the key into the front desk when you left the hotel and pick it back up again when you came in. The room was small with two twin beds and one tiny bathroom but hey it was clean, and we were tired. This was only about a 2- or 3-star hotel but I would recommend it. The staff were super friendly, spoke a little English and the hotel was conveniently located about a 7-minute walk from both a train station and a subway station and right near one of Tokyo’s biggest parks.

The first order of business though was food. We ventured out, speaking no Japanese to find food. We found a small restaurant (all restaurants are small in Japan, I mean really small like they only seat about 20 people at most), near the hotel, ate and then tried to stay awake a little longer to get us onto Japan time. By 7:00 pm though we were done and much-needed sleep took over.

Ueno Park Sunday, March 24, 2019



Our hotel room didn’t include breakfast so the next morning we had to go in search of food again. We decided to head towards the JR train/subway station as there is usually lots of shops and restaurants in those locations. We weren’t disappointed. The majority of shops were closed as it was early however, we had checked online and found that there was an Anderson’s bakery at the train station that would be open. It was and the food was fabulous. We got it to go and stopped at the local Starbucks, also conveniently located at the train station. We found a vacant table in the back and ate our bakery goodies while having Starbucks tea (we aren’t really coffee drinkers). I know, I know here we are far from home and sitting in a Starbucks but hey we were still getting acclimatized.

Starbucks Ueno Station

Karen at Starbucks Ueno Station

We spent some time window shopping around the train station before heading over to Ueno Park. It was a beautiful sunny day. A little chilly but there was a bit of warmth to the sun. The Sakura (cherry) trees were just coming into bloom and they were setting up the spaces under the trees for Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties. We were early enough that it wasn’t that busy in the park, later in the afternoon that wouldn’t be the case, in fact you could barely move.

Ueno Station Mascot 

Restaurants in Ueno Station 

We spent a leisurely day enjoying the park which included some shrines and museums before having a late lunch early supper back at the train station and calling it a day!

The next few pictures are all from Ueno Park and the last picture is of our late lunch at a restaurant in Ueno Station. 

Starting our Pre-trip with OAT

On Monday, March 25, 2019, Karen and I had to travel the subway to a different part of Tokyo for the start of our tour with Overseas Adventure Travel. Karen and I decided we would take the subway around 10:00 am even though we couldn’t check into the new hotel until 3:00 pm as we figured it would be less crowded and easier to navigate since we weren’t exactly sure where we were going and had luggage with us. With the help of google maps and purchasing a Suica card (a card you can use on trains, subways, convenience stores and some vending machines) we made it to our new hotel without incident.

We were able to drop our luggage off at the hotel and then went in search of food. It was another beautiful sunny day and we still had several hours to kill so decided to check out Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens which was only a few blocks from the hotel. It so beautiful and peaceful in the Garden, it is hard to believe that we were in the heart of Tokyo.  This garden is the oldest of Tokyo’s gardens and is considered by many to be one of the best. I know I thoroughly enjoyed it and we spent at least 3 hours wandering the park’s many pathways and sitting in the sun enjoying the sights.

The park is right next door to Tokyo Dome so after finishing up in the park we headed in that direction to see what we could see. We stopped in at one of the many restaurants there and had a snack before heading back to our hotel to officially check into our rooms.

The pictures below show Karen and me in our first subway in Tokyo and the rest are taken in Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens.

Culture Giggles

Dinner that night was an izakaya (Japanese pub) located in a small mall just behind the hotel.  Here is where the culture differences set in. Karen and I got seated and were handed an English menu. So far so good right? Except we were seated in a corner and there was no one else around our area. We sat and waited for quite a while for someone to come and take our order. Now at home, this is not totally unusual if a bit annoying. Just as Karen and I were wondering if we were going to have to go and search someone out, I noticed something. Doorbells! I sat pondering why I was hearing doorbells when it hit me. I remembered watching a Youtube video where in Japan there are doorbells on the tables that you ring when you are ready to order. Sure enough, when I started searching, there was our doorbell. I hit it and Karen, who was facing in that direction, said as soon as our bell rang our server popped out from behind the wall where they were obviously waiting for us, probably wondering what was taking us so long!! Ha, I’m glad I remembered that show on Youtube or we might still be waiting. Karen and I had quite the giggle over it all.

Well, that brings us the end of this installment. Next we start our pre-trip tour.


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