Sunday, 25 August 2019

Tokyo 2019 Day 1: Settling in Shinjuku

Our first stop once we entered Haneda Airport was, naturally, a bathroom. James went first while I stood with our carry-on bags and admired the early morning sun streaming through the massive windows.

I also admired the fact that in front of the toilets was a little speaker that repeated in Japanese, English, and I think another language or two, a description of the facilities. “These are the washrooms. First on the left are the ladies washrooms…” I thought that was such a great accessibility feature!

And of course, once it was my turn, I had to press all the buttons on the fancy toilet! I really loved the Japanese toilets, though I will admit that it was nice to come home to my familiar Aussie throne at the end of the trip. You wouldn’t think the height and shape of a toilet seat has much impact, but it does.

Anyway, with business taken care of we followed signs towards immigration. And oh boy, was the queue there long. We probably spent half an hour going slowly shuffling through the immigration hall, but fortunately once we were through that customs was a lot quicker. James also got a big smile from one of the staff members, who pointed to his shirt and said; ”Vegeta!” In case I didn’t mention it before, James’s travel t-shirt was a really bright and cool Vegeta one, and it really made him popular every time he wore it!

Things took a bit of a turn for the worse after we passed customs. I had looked up the airport and knew what we had to do, but had found the map confusing so was depending on signage. With both of us being really tired, it wasn’t the best way to start off. Our first port of call was the shower rooms…which turned out to have an hour long wait. That was just too much time so we didn’t get to start the trip with a refreshing shower like we planned.

Then we went to pick up our mobile wifi, where I had a panic in the line because I thought I needed my confirmation email and naturally didn’t have internet access yet. But it turns out they just need your passport, phew. Then we had to figure out how to get tickets for the Limousine Bus, which turned out to be super easy, but again it was just a stressful hole in my planning. I knew we needed to get tickets but didn’t know how! I also picked up Pasmo cards for us and with that all our prepping was done.

After all that was sorted we both tried some vending machine drinks (we got some barley tea that was utterly gross and then tried something nicer) and visited another bathroom, but unfortunately I took too long finding one and made poor James have to rush. Like I say, not my finest start to a holiday and definitely not helped by both of us being really exhausted!

But then we went down to the bus terminal and were easily able to board our bright orange Limousine Bus. I loved the fact that it was super clean and had cute crocheted headrest covers!

We got settled and took some silly photos with our drinks.

And then the bus moved out! It was actually a really nice way to start the trip, we got to sightsee out the windows and even though we were so tired, it was still really exciting. And luckily for us, the stop announcements were in English as well as Japanese, so we had no trouble knowing when our stop was coming up.

My favourite part of the bus trip was seeing Tokyo Tower out the window! I really felt like I was in an anime then, it’s such an iconic building!

We drove on a little further, and I recognised the robot looking building not too far away – we were getting near Shinjuku where we’d be staying! Very soon we were turning into the Shinjuku bus terminal (which was a massive building) where we disembarked, collected our suitcases, and went on our way to our hotel.

For this trip we stayed at the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, which was super conveniently located and pretty easy to find. We got to the hotel, left our luggage, and decided to explore. It was around 9AM at this point, and a lot of stores don’t open until 10-11AM, and we also couldn’t check in until 2PM. So we just walked out of the hotel, visited the nearest vending machine, then took a right hand turn, and wandered.

The vending machine right in front of our hotel.

Our first stop on our little wander? A 7/11! I had been dying to experience my first conbini so naturally we had to stop for some food and drinks. Unfortunately, I found the shop a bit claustrophobic so we were in and out pretty quickly, but then we were able to stand on a street corner and have a snack. Tried my first onigiri and one of the famous Japanese egg sandwiches, which honestly didn’t impress me that much.

I enjoyed how different the suburban streets in Tokyo were to the ones in Australia.

We then decided to head towards some of the Shinjuku department stores – which weren’t open. So we ended up going into the Starbucks in one of the buildings to rest with a drink until we could start shopping! I tried ordering a tea, but it was horribly sweet  and I threw most of it out. We discovered a new Japanese awesome thing at Starbucks though – separated trash, including a place to pour out any remaining liquids. So smart!

At this point it was almost 11AM, so we went back outside to wait to Marui Annex to open. Soon enough some staff members pulled open the doors and we could go in – and James got another compliment! One of the door staff told him he had nice hair ^__^

I’ll give you one guess what our first goal was…

Even though I was tried and overwhelmed (Japan wasn’t quite what I expected and it threw me off for a while) walking into the lolita stores still gave me a massive rush of positive feelings. It was real! I was there! Everything was right there in front of my and it was beautiful.

Weirdly, I found the lolita stores both overwhelming and simultaneously a little disappointing. I’ve been spoiled by the vast variety available online, so seeing store stocked with only parts of current series (that I know weren’t fully sold out) was a bit of a letdown. On the other hand, being able to see everything, and browse everything, was amazing. I fell in love with one of Meta’s regimental stripe series which I hadn’t liked online, and Baby’s store made my heart sing because it was all just so typically lolita.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed browsing Kera Shop and the Ozz Croce  stores the best – probably having a lack of expectations let me enjoy them for what they were, and being unfamiliar gave me that thrill of discovery.

I didn’t end up buying anything and we left Marui Annex after a lot of browsing to go get some lunch. With the help of Google Maps I led us to Nabezo, a shabu shabu place that does all-you-can-eat that I had read about and was keen to try!

Lunch was very good, though we were both so tired we didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have. But it was great to be able to eat some meat and loads of vegetables at our own pace.

When we were finished eating it was still too early to check in to our hotel, but we were so tired we just went back there anyway. We booked in for a massage at the in-hotel spa for later in the evening, and just sat around for half an hour until we could finally check in a 2PM.

We got up to our (tiny!) room as quickly as possible, were finally able to take a shower, and by a bit after 3PM we were crashed out in bed together – we wanted to get through the day without a nap but after not sleeping on the plane we had to.

But poor James! I was out like a light, and apparently I snored, so the poor man didn’t get much of a nap at all. So when my alarm got us up at 5.15PM I’d had say around four hours sleep in the last thirty six hours and he’d be lucky if he’d had half an hour. I’ll tell you this now – we are not going to do overnight flights again!

We got dressed and wandered down to the spa for our massage, which was very restorative. I will say that I’m totally spoiled now – the spa had heated massage tables! I was in heaven. It turns out my masseuse had visited Cairns in Australia before, so we chatted about that a little, and after the massage the staff gave us some delightful berry tea to drink.

Tired but happy!

Then we went out into the chilly evening to shop some more – this time to Closet Child Shinjuku! Even more than going to the brand stores I had been really looking forward to going to as many Closet Child stores as we could manage, and this one, around fifteen minutes walk from our hotel, was just the start.

Once we found Closet Child (going up the stairs for it was a little…ominous) it was like stepping into a little piece of lolita heaven. Here was the variety I loved! But because I’m a sucker for delayed gratification first we browsed the gothic and punk section, where James found me a really cute Hello Kitty x Peace Now t-shirt which I just had to grab. Then I got gloriously distracted by all of the accessories! I wanted jewellery, particularly sweet stuff, and I got it in spades. I’d hoped to find some headbows and I found lots. And I grabbed a cute BTSSB capelet because why not? Impulse purchase for the win!

My Closset Child haul! The Hello Kitty t-shirt is now a staple in my everyday wardrobe ^__^

After browsing the store very thoroughly I went to pay, and the staff members encountered some kind of issue calculating my total. I have no idea what happened, but it took them a good five minutes to figure it out. Fortunately I know what “daijobu” means so when one of the shopgirls (who had the most amazing blue scene hair I’ve ever seen) said that to me mid-way through I knew it was, in fact, okay.

A sneaky photo while waiting at the register.

With shopping achieved and the two of us still being super tired, we headed back to our hotel via the Family Mart opposite to by some things for dinner. In the end, Family Mart dinner turned out to be a regular thing for us on this trip, it was just so cheap and convenient.

Back at the hotel we ate our food and relaxed. I also messaged an Aussie friend of ours, Jake, who we were going to meet up with at some undetermined point and figured that out, which involved shuffling our intended itinerary around a bit. And when that was sorted, we were able to go to bed for a proper night’s sleep.

In case I’ve never mentioned it on this blog before – I like sleep ^__^


  1. Yeah, it is surprising how little brand shops have on display at their store. I think it's in the same vein as designer shops only having a couple of items out. Most of them are happy to pull things up from other branches or reserve the pieces for you at other branches, but that only works if you have enough time around.

    1. It does kind of make sense, but to my tired brain it was a bit disappointing.