WHere to stay in tokyo (young couple, quiet area, central)
December 12, 2011 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Where should a youngish couple that likes quiet stay in Tokyo ? (keeping somewhat central)

We are going to Tokyo as a stopover to our month long trip in Asia. We are only there for 1.5-2 days arriving in the afternoon from Hawaii on day 1 leaving early morning of day 3 to Osaka/Kyoto. We are not big cities people when we travel (we live in one, that is enough). I dont know that my hubby will enjoy this type of crowd AT all..I am trying to make this stay as comofrtable as possible for him. Walking might be preferred given the crowds in the subway but depends on the weather.

We are big into food, will want to see the temples, possibly the garden if It is doable with decent winter gear, and anything interesting as far as shopping goes for us would be related to cooking and paper and traditional japanese (arts, clothes etc..) What is the right neighborhood for us ?? Is Ueno a good fit? Budget: $200/night max. ( )

Tech/crowded mall/crazy shopping/ big partying in night club: not so :)
posted by kirikara to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We spent a couple nights at a business hotel in Ueno. Tiny, tiny room (even by Tokyo standards) but I think it was around $100 a night. The open air marketplace just south of Ueno park is amazing, and the more upscale shopping in Ginza is an easy subway ride away. Don't be afraid of the subways, the YouTube videos you've probably seen of insane crowds are not the normal situation. I found the subways no more crowded on average than NYC. We really learned to love the subway system, it's color-coded and quite easy to figure out, and you can buy a prepaid card that you load more money into as you go so you don't have to worry about calculating exact fares. I am the kind of person who loathes shopping malls and gets claustrophobic in crowds, and I had no trouble at all over the two weeks I spent in Tokyo.
posted by contraption at 4:27 PM on December 12, 2011

Seconding contraption about the subways. I was a little scared of them when I worked in Tokyo at first, but other than the very packed rush hours in the morning and evening (and that's, from what I remember, about an hour on each side of the day) the whole train system is easy to navigate, comfortable, and clean.
posted by xingcat at 4:33 PM on December 12, 2011

Uh. I don't really think what you're asking is possible. Tokyo is like the big city. You're gonna have to use the public transport the entire time- or at the very least from narita to your hotel, then to tokyo station for your rapid transit to Kyoto (which is so definitely more your kind of place)

The big thing you can do here is to time your transit correctly. The difference between rush hour and off hours(and this is fairly obvious) is EXTREME. If you've got a morning ticket to Kyoto, you're gonna either have to get on the 6ams and wait at the terminal, or suffer the horrible congestion that is tokyo station during the morning turnout. If you get one of the chargable transit cards, available in the underground area of the airport, it'll make moving through the terminals less hectic.

For what to do, I'd consult something like this, because the festivals will more likely have the smaller vendors of folksy items. Ueno is a good central area for the 'older' stuff in tokyo. There's a lot of guides on this out there.

Your hotel preferences make it sound like you'd want a homey ryokan, but these run expensive if you want anything decent (though 200/night is doable) Hostels.com can help here. However, the construction of some of these lends towards thin walls, and your neighbors may be young touristy types themselves, so YMMV. The uniqueness of the izakaya, or japanese pubs, shouldn't be missed out on, and they can be found anywhere in the city.
posted by MangyCarface at 4:33 PM on December 12, 2011

We stayed in a Japanese-Inn (ryokan) in Asakusa, which is close to a shrine. That was quiet.

I have stayed in Gotanda, but I would not recommend that per se. Shinjuku has quite a number of nice hotels out a bit, (west side) when the busy street area is east side. Meiji-jingu (shrine) is lovely, and if you do the 500 yen iris-garden, you will be alone. It is nice to be in center Tokyo, and yet there are places you can be alone.

Crowding is not a problem. Sure you can go to Hachiko crossing Shibuya if you want to see it, especially on a Friday night. But trains are only "really busy" 8-10. After that, you will get a seat every time. The trains go every 3 minutes, so they are incredibly useful.

Now, cooking, you need to go to Kappabashi for that sort of shopping, but since they cater to .. catering.. they have unusual opening times. Odaiba is good for shopping for a whole day, as well as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukero.
posted by lundman at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2011

I went to Tokyo last summer with some fellow college students, and stayed in Asakusa, in Kikuya Ryokan. It was small, clean and comfy (in the traditional style, i.e. futons rather than western-style beds), and above all REALLY quiet - it was in a residential neighborhood that was worlds away from the images I had of Tokyo. From there it was easy to reach Senso-ji temple, and to take the subway to anywhere else we wanted to go.

For quiet activities, I'd really recommend the Tokyo National Museum, which has a really extensive and gorgeous collection of art from throughout Japan's history. The garden was also worth a look. Those two things plus Senso-ji and some shopping will probably take up your 1.5-2 days. There's a big shopping street/mall-type thing called Nakamise in front of Senso-ji, where you can buy gifts or eat; but of course it's crawling with people, and priced accordingly. We found that there were a lot of really great, cheap restaurants basically everywhere: tiny noodle places, or places serving katsu don and the like - the equivalent of fast food, but super fresh and healthy and delicious (plus of some sushi places, but sushi was more expensive).

Stay away from: Akihabara (the stereotypical loud crazy nerd paradise); Shibuya (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/110/309451832_5c7b91d189.jpg) and maybe Harajuku (fashion, mainly for teens, and so crowded; though much less so outside the main handful of shopping streets).
posted by jlibera at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2011

I stayed at the Andon Ryokan (near Asakusa and Ueno--their website says a 30 minute walk--though I'm not sure what area it is in exactly) and liked it a lot, it was quiet and reasonably close to sightseeing things. They also have a giant top-floor private bathing/jacuzzi room that you can reserve--it was great and would be perfect if you're looking for something relaxing.
posted by firefleet at 5:36 PM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, I should note that we are not expecting to walk everywhere :) I am well aware it is huge city, I am just trying to get the right angle so we enjoy it as much as possible. I have researched most of what we would like to do, I am just having tons of trouble defining what the best area for me to look for a hotel should be.
I am expecting to try to Ryokan for a night once in Kyoto/Osaka area. I dont think we will do more than one night, I get cranky if i dont sleep well and I am not a super hard mattress type :)
If the subway is the way you described it, it should be no issue at all then! But I know it would be nice not to have to take the subway everywhere, especially for dinner. but then again that depends where I decide we should eat.

Some people mentionned Ueono and Asakusa. is that where I should basically look for a hotel as far quite central but yet not crazy busy neighborhood?
posted by kirikara at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2011

Ueno and Asakusa are not 'busy' like Shinjuku or Shibuya are, and they are reasonably interesting, though to get to other parts of Tokyo, you'll need to take a train. If you want to see temples and shrines, and get away from crowds, you should go to Kamakura or Nikko. Trains to Nikko leave from Asakusa, and you can even get (for a premium) a private, four seat room on the train.

If your husband doesn't like crowds, you really, really shouldn't go to Ameyoko (the above-mentioned open air market in Ueno). On any day off, it is absolutely packed, like shoulder to shoulder packed, as you slowly shuffle down the street. It can be a lot of fun if you can deal with that, but if you can't, you really, really need to avoid it.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2011

From what we saw as tourists, those are great neighborhoods for being easy to get around but still pretty calm. We stayed in a ryokan in Taito-ku, which is kitty-corner to both those neighborhoods, and it was also good in that way, though a bit more residential than Ueno and Asakusa while still being accessible (if you change your mind about a ryokan in Tokyo, we stayed at Sawanoya ryokan and really liked it.)

Oh, Ghidorah just mentioned Kamakura, we went there very late in our trip and if/when we go back, we will definitely be staying there for some period of time. It's an extra half-hour train ride from the city (I would maybe not go there if I was only going to be in Tokyo for a day), but it's gorgeous.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2011

I stay at Ryokan Katsutaro (not the annex) and love it. Cheap, clean, comfortable, great neighborhood and very close to transit. Enjoy your trip!
posted by cyndigo at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

My ryokan for an edit button ... THE ANNEX not NOT the annex.
posted by cyndigo at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want to stay in town, try Asakusa/Ueno.

On the other hand, if you want a taste of smaller town life, with temples and food, you could always stay someplace in Narita, which is noted for its temples. It'll be a little cheaper than the city, and also offers good transport connections for the rest of your trip.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:31 PM on December 12, 2011

I had an Unplanned Travel Adventure™ that had me staying at the ANA hotel at Narita overnight followed by a late-afternoon flight out the next day. Not desirous of going all the way into Tokyo I spent the day wandering around Narita, going to an onsen, seeing the temple, etc.

You don't say which airports you're using for your flights in or out of Tokyo. Narita is way out in the sticks, but Haneda is within the metropolitan area. It would be hard to avoid the crowds if you're staying at Haneda.
posted by Runes at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: I am arriving in NRT and leaving from Haneda so a little bit of both. I do want to visit the city itsef for sure, not trying to avoid it in anyway.
Just making sure we choose the right area to stay. I found these two hotels so far:

The monterey is super cheap right now, it is tempting...($109/night)
posted by kirikara at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2011

I stayed in Ryokan Katsutaro, which was on a quiet street, several years ago and really like it. It also boasted comfy down blankets and free Internet access, IIRC. I couldn't remember the babe and am glad cyndigo stayed there too!
posted by pineappleheart at 8:57 PM on December 12, 2011

Remember the name. There were no babes there. Wasn't that kind of place.
posted by pineappleheart at 8:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try sunny page's traditional Tokyo for parks. (http://www.sunnypages.jp/travel_guide/traditional_tokyo) The reviews tell you which ones are pretty quiet and the page is a good general guide to Tokyo anyway.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:16 AM on December 13, 2011

Your comment about "the garden" and needing winter gear there is baffling to me (many gardens in Tokyo), but for the rest of your requirements I suggest the Yanasen area. Unfortunately, not many hotels there, but it's not far from Ueno, the end-point of your train ride from Narita. However, given how short your time in Tokyo will be, it might be much easier on your hubby if you find a place within walking distance of Ueno -- many places around the station, and after the evening rush dies down, most of them will be quiet.
posted by Rash at 8:15 AM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Hi, not sure what you mean by the fact you are baffled about my garden comment and winter gear. We are going in Early february and from what I gathered online, it is not especially warm there (coming from Maui and going to Thailand, it surely be a shock). I don't know that I will want to walk around outside for hours on end if the temp is not that warm. (monthly average shows 40-48F)

Funnily enough, after getting great advice on here. I talked to hubby and he seemed to be absolutely fine being in the craziness for a couple days and thought he would enjoy it. So I ended up finding a sale on the Monterey Hotel in Ginza (super cheap at $109 for a double room) and booked that. We will see how we like it! Thanks everyone.
posted by kirikara at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2011

Winter in Tokyo can be very dry, which means that even if it is cold, it's not the uncomfortable. For winter gear you'll want some layers, including a sweater, and a mid-weight coat.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2011

Yes I agree. Tokyo doesn't get much snow, but when your inquiry mentioned winter 'gear' I pictured skis, parkas, snow-shoes and sled dogs, which wouldn't be necessary even in Tokyo's largest parks.
posted by Rash at 8:33 AM on December 16, 2011

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