You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘airport’ tag.

Our flight to the Philippines was supposed to be a 24-hour whirlwind of Boston –> Chicago –> Tokyo –> Manila, but this is what we saw upon afternoon landing in Tokyo:

runway crash

The unfortunate runway accident meant our flight was canceled until tentatively the next day, forcing us to rearrange a rather jam-packed itinerary of meetings and workshops in Manila. To make the best of it, we decided to take the bus into the city instead of staying at an airport hotel. The trip from Narita into Tokyo ended up being surprisingly far — approximately 90 minutes by bus.

We ended up booking a room at the fancy-yet-pompously-westernized Westin Tokyo, near Ebisu Garden Palace. (I would suggest checking out Hotel Nikko in SF if you are looking for a beautiful Japanese-style hotel) Ebisu is a nice but sleepy little neighborhood, so my first impressions of Tokyo were slightly underwhelming (where were the bustling avenues, esoteric street fashions, and Judge Bobs that I endearingly associated with Japan over the summer? )  .

Our resident documentary filmmaker Nicole left us to have dinner with a friend, so Leo, Zack + I got a restaurant recommendation from the concierge and set off for a late dinner. We never ended up finding the recommended place, but instead decided to pop into this rather authentic looking restaurant that turned out to be a worthy selection–the food was so-so, but boy what a festive atmosphere! We were seated next to this gigantic 30 + party of Japanese businesspeople chilling out together after work.  The room would occasionally break out into synchronized clapping patterns and rounds of congratulatory “hoy!s” as we ate. I don’t think I have ever seen an American business unit be so carefree and lovey together. Perhaps the corporate world here is too focused on short-term career goals and conservative propriety to develop these kinds of boisterous, sake-filled business relationships en masse.

jolly corporate function!

jolly corporate function!

After dinner, Zack and I tried to maximize our 16 hours in Japan by exploring the city at night. An ice-bar that we had hoped to visit was closed for reconstruction (they give you a parka while you drink in an igloo-like environment!), so we once again asked our adorable concierge to go off the record and recommend some truly hip places that he himself would go to.  We took the subway into bustly Shibuya district with a very vague idea of what we were looking for, and just walked around aimlessly down main streets and side streets. It was nice–Tokyo is a city that really shows off at night. I was surprised by the number of people coming home from work on the subway at 11PM—the subway station felt like the same sea of suits you would see at Government Center around 7PM.

tokyo street at night

tokyo street at night

We wandered through a neighborhood of affordable love motels…

a bargain for love

a bargain for love

great room selections!

great room selections!

classy

classy

…and after some cryptic instructions to go down the street and take a “left-right”, found the place our concierge directed us to– a dungeon-themed bar ( called “The Lockup” ).  Excepting the japanese hipsters milling outside, the entrance to this place was an eery descent into dark passages and spooky noises. Very haunted-house-esque, I think I screamed a few times, haha. The bar was just closing as we got there (it was a Monday night), so we moved on. It does seem like a cool place to hang out though–will definitely have to come back the next time I’m in Tokyo.

we thought the concierge said "rock-up"..

we thought the concierge said "rock-up"..

dungeon style booths

dungeon style booths

thoughtfully neon

thoughtfully neon

I was in dire need of some sake by this point. Fortunately we were able to pick up a wasted American expat named Cedric, who took us to his favorite place, the Gaspanic! for drinks. It was quite empty (again, Monday night…), and unfortunately seemed to cater to a more touristy crowd. We shared the space with some Euro-looking hipsters and a sketchy boy canoodling with his girlfriend. Overall, recommended if you have a longing for clubs blasting Chris Brown + Akon, not recommended if you are looking for good sake or to feel like you are partying in Japan.

a SUPER cup of sake

a SUPER cup of sake

Cedric, keeping his LA roots alive

Cedric, keeping his LA roots alive

We then took a cab to Roppongi Hills / Mori Tower to try and get a better view of the city, but everything had long been closed. Even so, I really appreciated the calmness of the urban space and the solitude of being there afterhours–I’m beginning to think that 3AM sightseeing is the best way to get an intimate feel for any place.

Afterwards, an amused cabdriver took us to the well-guarded Imperial Palace for a nighttime jaunt around the moats, and we called it a night at 5AM, just in time for our 6AM wake up call.

Overall, a wonderful introduction to Tokyo + the country of Japan, though I am wistful that we missed the cherry blossoms. Next time!

I’m in a business class terminal right now. Not only are there plugs, workstations, and free wall street journals up the wazoo, there is also a roomfull of iMacs with Internet access, comfy armchairs, and a huge lcd tv.