9 Days in Japan: Part 8 – Last Day in Tokyo

My husband and I got married and went on an incredible six-week honeymoon around the world to England, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, a cruise through Asia, and Japan. I’ve shared our unforgettable journey through a series of 20 blog posts. Today marks post number 21, the final post in the series. It’s been surreal reliving the memories of the most epic trip of our lives and being able to share them with all of you. Thanks for going through the journey with us!

This was our final day in Japan, and although some of our other days included fully jam-packed itineraries, we only had a few items left to tick off of our must-see list. Today, we planned to experience those and then see where the rest of the day took us. We enjoyed yummy foods, Tsukiji Nippon Fish Market, Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple, Tokyo Japan Dome City, souvenir shopping, and traveling back home to America. Read on to complete our six-week around-the-world honeymoon journey ending with day nine of Japan: Tokyo!


Day 9 in Japan

We began our day with the most Instagram-worthy breakfast spot: A Happy Pancake Ginza. I found this breakfast spot online, and when I saw the pictures I just knew that we had to have breakfast here one day. First off, I LOVE pancakes. I admittedly am not a pancake cook though, because they always burn and look misshapen. In our house, the Hubbs is on pancake duty.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, the elevator doors opened to a lobby full of people. So I guess everyone else had the same idea as me for a pancake breakfast that day haha! Actually, I had half expected this; I read reviews online about how the wait is long, but it’s so worth it. We weren’t looking forward to killing one of our last daylight hours sitting in a crowded lobby. Fortunately, the restaurant took our name and allowed us to leave and come back in an hour to be seated. This was perfect!

We did a quick google search of what was in the area and came across a Kit Kat Chocolatory and Café that was just a six-minute walk away. My husband explained to me that Kit Kat is the most popular chocolate brand in Japan. The name sounds very similar to “Kitto Katsu,” a Japanese phrase meaning “You will surely win.” Therefore, Kit Kat chocolate bars are often given as gifts particularly among students ahead of exams, or to someone who needs a boost of luck. Who knew?! I had been seeing Kit Kats all over Japan but hadn’t pieced together until this point that they were special.

Since we already had breakfast booked, we knew we didn’t want to dine in their café and spoil our appetites (although the pictures online looked heavenly and were nearly convincing). We figured this could be a fun souvenir opportunity, and we were right. The shop itself is on the small side, but they had all the essentials: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and a new glorious pink chocolate that they refer to as ruby. This was the first time both of us had ever even heard of ruby chocolate. How unique! The picture below explains some facts about this new species of cocoa. It’s a bit sweet and sour flavor characterized by its acidity. Super special. Since this was something we’d never seen before, we purchased several individually boxed sticks as souvenirs for friends and family back home. The shop was a bit pricey, but the packaging makes them more special than if you purchase at a grocery store. There are actually over 300 flavor combinations of Kit Kat in Japan. With its wide availability and flavor options, Kit Kats are a fantastic and affordable treat to bring home for family, friends, and coworkers.

After spending some time and money at Kit Kat, we headed back over to A Happy Pancake Ginza. We’d worked up an appetite! The restaurant was still very full with a wait in the lobby. Shortly after we arrived, we were escorted in, past the kitchen which was visible to the diners through windows in the center of the restaurant. It’s so cool that the kitchen is open and you can see the chefs at work. Each pancake is super fluffy at an inch thick and nearly perfectly round (without using a mold)! It’s a pancake dream come true. We were seated at a little two-top half booth table. Everything on the menu looked so great. We ended up picking the tiramisu pancakes for my Hubby which were ¥1,390 (JPY), or $13.28 (USD), and the berries and cream pancakes for me which were ¥1,300 (JPY), or $12.42 (USD).

Each plate arrives with three fluffy pancakes and loads of cream and toppings. The tiramisu dish even included a mini creamer pitcher filled with hot espresso that you pour over your pancakes as extra dipping sauce. Just wow. It was so filling, I couldn’t even finish my plate. If you love breakfast or pancakes, this place is for you. We’ve actually tried to replicate these pancakes back in the states and have not mastered anything quite so thick. I’ve even gifted the Hubbs a Christmas stocking-stuffer of Japanese tall silicone pancake molds. They honestly help your pancakes get thicker, but the batter is just off, so they aren’t the same. We’ll just have to visit Tokyo again to get our fill of fluffy tasty pancakes.

After we had full bellies, we headed over to the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market, just an eight-minute walk away. If you love seafood and fish, I’d recommend you pass through here a little later for lunch so you can fully experience the dining aspect. Each kiosk had something a little more special than the next. They literally sold every type of seafood imaginable. Everything looked so fresh, like it was caught just the night before. There are proper indoor sit-down restaurants mixed between outdoor grill kiosks where you can grab seafood and eat while you walk, plus raw fish kiosks where you buy the fish and take it home to cook/prepare. We took so many cool pictures in this area and bought a few souvenirs of cute cartoony fish cookies for our coworkers. My favorites are below: flying fish, shark, humongous crabs, lobster, scallops, grilled squid, giant tuna head, and thick sliced nigiri. The streets are narrow, crowded, and smell of fish—it’s an awesome time!

One of the final attractions on our list was the Tokyo Tower, so we headed in that direction and stopped at the 600-year-old Zojoji Temple along the way, about a 36-minute walk. The temple is actually right next to Tokyo Tower, so from multiple vantage points on the property you can see both structures. Breathtaking mix of modern and ancient. We went indoors for a little prayer and then outside to walk through the gardens. A standout feature of this site is the garden for unborn children. The rows and rows of jizo statues represent the souls of children who died before birth (pregnancy loss, stillborn, or perinatal loss). The statues are believed to be protectors of children and unborn babies in traditional Japanese Buddhist teachings. Once a month, there is a ceremony for parents to use the statues as a way to say farewell and ease the child’s passage into the afterlife. Red garments are created and donated to dress the statues, and then gifts such as incense, flowers, and wind spinners are placed in remembrance. These babies never had the opportunity to experience this world, but their place of remembrance is colorful just as their life should have been. And though a somber place of prayer and loss, I found the garden to be beautiful and serene. As a newlywed, I said a little prayer for these babies to look over us in our future fertility.

Side note: In doing some additional post-trip research on Tokyo, I learned of the 200-year-old Suitengu Shrine, just an 11-minute drive from the Zojoji Temple. This shrine is also for babies and specifically devoted to conception and safe childbirth. This is a place for pregnant couples to visit after doctor’s appointments, new parents to bring their infants, and non-pregnant people to provide fertility well wishes. The statue of a dog and its pup on the grounds is a popular photo spot. Had we known this temple existed, we probably would have stopped here for a little prayer too.

Following the Zojoji Temple, we walked next door to the Tokyo Tower. One could call it the Eiffel Towel of Japan. There are two different levels you can gain access to with tickets: The Main Deck is ¥1,200 (JPY), or $11.47 (USD) per person and the Top Deck is ¥3,000 (JPY), or $28.67 (USD) per person. Advance sales are available at a discounted rate, and I do indeed recommend you purchase advance tickets. Unfortunately, at the time of our arrival, all tickets for that window of time were sold. We’d have had to wait around in the area for hours before the next available tickets would open. Since this was the last attraction on our list, and we’d already seen the rest of this area of town, we just took a selfie from below and didn’t actually go into the tower.

That was a huge bummer. After such an absolutely unforgettable six-week honeymoon around the world, we should have planned a more climactic ending for our final day. I know, tall order to fill to find something that would have felt like a proper ending of the trip… maybe we were always setting ourselves up for disappointment? How could it be that we would end our day not actually seeing our final attraction all because of poor planning and not booking the tickets in advance? I was really sad. We took out our phones to see if there was anything else to do in the area (just look at how serious my face is below while I’m searching haha). I had started to think that we’d just end up at our hotel room early for a good night’s sleep before the flight. When nearly all my hope was lost for a fun ending to the day, the Hubbs delivered and found something super fun for us to do!

Next stop was the Tokyo Japan Dome City. We took the train over, since this wasn’t exactly in close walking proximity. We’d passed the dome at other times on the trip but never got close enough to see all the attractions it had to offer. By the time we arrived, we were hungry for dinner. We found two of my American favorites: Shake Shack and Taco Bell! Just look at my face and how happy I was haha! What a 180 from the failed attempt of Tokyo Tower. We ended up grabbing a bite from Shake Shack, because it had literally been weeks since we’d had a proper burger. Shake Shack actually originated in Madison Square Park, New York City, so this was a taste of home that ended up turning into a sentimental dinner as we watched the digital picture wall show Shake Shack stores from around the world. When it finally displayed the New York location, I nearly cried. After our once-in-a-lifetime trip, it was time to return to reality. We were headed home—and, honestly, we were a little homesick.

We decided to ride the rollercoaster which winds through the footprint of the site, even going through the walls of the mall at one point. We absolutely love rollercoasters, so this was the perfect high-adrenaline thing to do to cap off the excitement of our epic trip, and it was honestly so fun.

After the coaster, we strolled through the mall. There was a lot to see inside, being multi-levels, and Hubby geeked out and found a store for Shonen Jump, the magazine brand that popularized the mega-hit animes Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball, Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh, and so many more. If you’re an anime fan or know someone who is, then this is a great spot to stop for a little shopping. There were traditional souvenir shops where you could buy things like Japan-themed passport holders, and also some home goods shops with affordable but cute items for sale. We also found some quirky “Japanglish” souvenirs (we got a kick out of the hat in the pics below).

We didn’t end up buying anything though, so we crossed the street and found a store called Don Quijote which sold a wide assortment of goods at very reasonable prices, which was truly awesome! We bought bags of individually-wrapped bulk Kit Kats in unique flavors for both our offices, and we bought Sake bottles in nice boxes that we could gift our parents and siblings. The Hubbs even bought a cable for his headphones that had broken on the trip. They had everything! If I had one pro tip for souvenir shopping, it would be to shop where the locals shop. No one really wants a useless trinket that says “Tokyo” or “Japan” on it. But if you bring them a unique food or beverage to consume, or a practical houseware item, it’s something they can use and they will appreciate. Check out some of the silly goods we found (and did not buy haha).

After shopping, we made our way (via train) back to the hotel with goodies in tow. We had a long night of packing ahead. Luckily, we had accounted for the space we’d need, and it all fit fine. We got a little sleep, then headed to the airport super early for our flight back to America (get a load of my early morning grumpy airport mug below). We flew from Tokyo Japan to Beijing China to New York City, which took about 20 straight hours of travel. I definitely require a day of recovery after crossing the globe like this. The jet lag is serious.

Packing Pro Tips:

  • If you’re going on an extended trip, leave half of your suitcase empty. You’ll need that space to fill with goodies from your travels. It costs a fortune to ship items home or buy an additional luggage and pay for a second luggage on the plane. Especially for our multi flight trip – the latter was definitely not an option for us.
  • Wear your bulkiest or heaviest clothing and shoe items at the airport and onto the plane. Why use up that weight in your luggage when you can wear it? This will save you luggage space and weight for more souvenirs.
  • Always keep your heaviest items in your carryon so long as your airline isn’t weighing your carry on (which actually happened to us in China on this six-week trip).
  • Pockets! The only time your bags are weighed is at the ticket counter. On another trip, we had these crystal candleholders that weighted a ton, and we were already overweight. We ended up putting them in our jacket pocket while our bags were weighed, and then put them in our carryon once we passed through security.
  • Paper takes up a lot of space and weight while traveling. Just look at how much paper products we collected over 6 weeks!! Had we been overweight at the airport, this would have been the first stuff I would have dumped. We weren’t overweight, so I could keep it. Most of this was from our cruise (daily itineraries and origami), tickets we purchased, programs/brochures we collected from activities we did, and maps of cities. You don’t really NEED this stuff, and if you have to part with it, just take a picture of the papers (like we did for our rollercoaster tickets above), and then recycle the paper to save weight.


So there you have it! This post completed our eight-part series in Japan and our six-week honeymoon around the world. Tokyo was fantastic. Even on a day like this, where we hardly had activities planned, we ended up having a killer time and stumbling upon unique attractions. Morals of the story are…

  • If you’re a type A person like myself, it’s ok to not have your day planned out in 15-minute increments (I’ll do a future blog post on my itineraries one day haha).
  • Do SOME research so you can ensure if it’s a timed entry or ticketed, that you can claim your spot. Also, there’s nothing worse than getting home and seeing a BuzzFeed article about the cool things to do in the city you visited, that you missed.
  • Go with the flow, and if something planned doesn’t work out, there is always going to be something else that’s fun to do. No need to ever go to bed early out of boredom when you’re in a new city.
  • Google Maps can literally save your days open itinerary. On this particular day, we didn’t plan the Kit Kat store, the temple, or the Tokyo Dome. All of that came from Google searching along the way.

Thanks again for joining me on this truly memorable 21-post journey. Now onto blogging about our next adventures! Stay tuned for future posts about our One Year Wedding Anniversary Trip to The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain!

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9 Days in Japan: Part 7 – Tokyo Continued

My husband and I got married and went on an incredible six-week honeymoon around the world. All of the posts on England, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, a cruise through Asia, and Japan can be found on our Amarvelous Honeymoon page. The final country we visited on our trip was Japan, and we’re in the midst of an eight-part series highlighting this amazing country.

This was our penultimate day in Japan, and we had a jam-packed itinerary as we attempted to squeeze in our final Tokyo activities. Today, we planned to spend most of the day in the Shibuya neighborhood. We experienced ramen, conveyor-belt sushi, Starbucks with a view, multiple street performers, the incredible Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the Meiji Jingu shrine, shopping at Takeshita Street, and the world’s busiest intersection. Read on to learn what makes Shibuya a necessary addition to your next Tokyo itinerary.

Day 8 in Japan

We were staying at the APA Hotel Iidabashi-Ekiminami in the Tokyo suburb of Chiyoda. The two previous days had been spent at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. I didn’t think we had such a late start, but we must have been exhausted and slept in a bit. Our first meal of the day was actually two bowls of ramen from a nearby restaurant that was already serving early lunch. The restaurant, which as of this writing has permanently closed, was called Tsujita Okunoin. It was a three-minute walk from our hotel and on the way to the train station. It was a long and narrow restaurant with an open kitchen against the long wall and a bar top with chairs along the kitchen. We found two chairs together and sat to dine. Our favorite ramen from Japan was actually in Osaka (at a restaurant called Ramen Makotoya Shinsaibashi, if you’re ever in Osaka). Although not as good as Makotoya’s, we found these bowls to be tasty and very filling to start our day off.

We decided to quickly begin our day in the Shinjuku neighborhood, which is a popular city district famed for its narrow, winding alleys and numerous snug taverns. We took the train six stops from Iidabashi Station to Shinjuku Station. It only costs ¥160 (JPY), or $1.52 (USD). After the train, we walked over to the Shinjuku Golden Gai. I would actually suggest you flip flop our itinerary and visit this area in the evening, as it was totally closed up and desolate when we were there. I bet it would be a cool nightlife area with bar hopping in the evenings. Wish we could have gone into a pub and enjoyed a beverage, but although it wasn’t too early for ramen, it was too early for drinks.

Along the walk from this neighborhood, we passed several different street activations and performers. There was a small children’s parade, a solo singer busking, a small trio of female singers on a mobile stage, and this random lottery activation where you are supposed to stick your hand inside a giant horse’s mouth and see if you won a prize (we didn’t win haha!). As a New Yorker, I found all these performances and activations to have the same lively vibe as when we walk through Times Square.

Next stop was the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which was only a 19-minute walk from the previous neighborhood and led us into Shibuya neighborhood for the remainder of the day. The entrance fee was ¥500 (JPY), or $4.74 (USD). So far on the honeymoon, we’d seen some immaculate and very impressive gardens in Beijing China, but the roses and trees at this garden were really special. My favorite parts were the beautiful greenhouse with tropical plants and an indoor waterfall, a foot bridge over a koi pond shaded by a weeping willow tree (my favorite), a lush lawn for lounging surrounded by humongous shade trees including a blooming magnolia with flowers the size of my head, and a French-inspired formal rose garden. I think we spent the most time today in the rose garden. They probably had hundreds of varieties. I really enjoyed reading the name plaques for each one and took photos of the ones I found most beautiful. Hopefully one day I can find their seeds or saplings and plant them at my home. My absolute favorite flower was the hot pink Lavender Lassie Rose.

After the garden, we continued our walk to the Yoyogi Pony Park. This was totally spontaneous, but we saw it on the map and were intrigued, so we decided to walk over and check it out. It was only a 22-minute walk and not out of our way. Upon arrival, we learned that the rink and ponies were mostly for children to ride, not adults. They were attractive horses, and I did enjoy seeing them though. So if you too are a horse fan, then check it out. Otherwise, you can probably skip this unless you’re traveling with children.

We followed the ponies with a minute-long walk over to the Meiji Jingu shrine. We passed by the main sanctuary, torri-gate, and Ema (tablets conveying visitors’ gratitude and wished). As it’s a sacred place for prayer, we didn’t take too many pictures in this area.

Just a 10-minute walk up the road, we were at Takeshita Street, which is a road closed to vehicular traffic. It’s designed so the heavy flow of pedestrians can meander down the street and shop or dine in the colorful and trendy shops and restaurants. I thought the bright colors and kitschy characters on this street were adorable. Not to mention the great and unique shopping. I found a pair of fancy earrings for a pretty reasonable price. That was a score for Japan, as I found the pricing mostly similar to my hometown, New York City.

After shopping, we needed a pick me up, so we walked down the block to the Tokyo Plaza Omotesando Harajuku shopping mall to a rooftop Starbucks with a garden and great view of the city. Once again, we ordered our favorite drink in Japan, the affogato Frappuccino. Yum!! Then we took a break and sat to enjoy our drinks on the rooftop terrace.

We were walking down the Fire-dori Street and stumbled upon Shibuya Nitori, basically a home goods store. Think HomeGoods or Ikea of Japan. I can hardly resist a home store in America, and I wasn’t about to pass up my opportunity in Japan. First off, it was HUGE, and that had me all the more excited. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I am so glad we went in! It really was set up more as a shop for locals, as opposed to tourists. We found some really excellent and useful souvenirs for ourselves and family back home. The best part is that it was affordable, being that it wasn’t really stuff you would think to buy and fly home with. We got this incredibly delicate clear glass tea pot. It was packaged in a nice box, so it held up well on the flight (as a carry-on), and we use it all the time. Had we found something similar in a more touristy shop, we easily would have spent double.

Just up the road was our main attraction of the evening, the Shibuya Crossing. I know what you’re thinking… a crosswalk, this was the highlight of my day?! Well… this is the world’s busiest crosswalk and totally puts other busy crosswalks around the world to shame. They call Times Square of New York City “the crossroads of the world,” but after experiencing Shibuya crossing, I beg to differ. It’s basically five crosswalks at one intersection where vehicular traffic halts in all directions and then (depending on the time of year) hundreds (or thousands) of people cross at the same time. A literal sea of people. There is a great high-up vantage point from a Starbucks in the intersection if you wanted to experience it in person and then from a bird’s-eye view. It was really cool. While waiting at our crosswalk, we even saw this awesome experiential Super Mario street go-cart group race past us. I mean… seriously, how cool is that?! Had I known this existed, I totally would have booked the experience.

Video Credit: Domanation Travels

Dog lovers: There is a dog statue in the Shibuya Crossing intersection called Hachiko Memorial Statue. This bronze statue honors a loyal Akita dog. The story goes that the dog would meet his owner at the train station every day after work to escort him home. When the owner passed away, the dog continued to walk to the train station every day and wait for the owner to arrive. This continued for almost 10 years until Hachiko’s passing. To honor the dog’s loyalty and fidelity to his owner, a statue was placed at his waiting place. Hachiko the dog was cremated, and his ashes were buried in the cemetery with his beloved master, and his furs were stuffed and are on display in the National Museum of Nature and Sciences in Ueno Japan. Every year on his death day, there is a ceremony in the dog’s memory. Additionally, he is remembered with pop culture references in statues, movies, books, and other various media forms in Japanese culture. What a special pup.

We finished our evening with the best conveyor belt sushi at Katsumidori Seibu Shibuya. The restaurant was just next to the Shibuya Crossing in an upstairs floor. We actually got there right before they were stopping to take customers. We had to wait for a few minutes to sit down because they were so busy but it was 100% worth it. Conveyor belt sushi is drink and food items that go around on the belt in front of you. Depending on the color plate that you select, that determines price. It’s an adventurous kind of dining experience, because although you have a choice to select what you want from the belt, you are limited to what they are serving. You don’t really order special things as you would at a regular sit-down restaurant. My husband still raves over the rice-to-fish ratio in the nigiri. As you can see from the picture below of our finished plates, we obviously enjoyed the meal!

And that closes out another day on our six-week honeymoon around the world. This seventh day in Japan was jam-packed with an array of activities including dining, shopping, shrines, gardens, and monuments. We had such a great time exploring without a strict itinerary for the day. Some of the best finds were just stumbled upon as we strolled hand-in-hand through the city.

Join us in exactly two weeks when we post our final part of the nine days in Japan itinerary, which also marks the end of our honeymoon. Can’t wait to share it with you!

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9 Days in Japan: Part 6 – Tokyo DisneySea

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog. As our world heals from this terrible pandemic, I hope you and your loved ones are in lifted spirits and staying healthy. Especially for those that have experienced loss, I am deeply sorry for the difficulties you are experiencing.

Before we jump into the post, I wanted to explain our recent absence. Due to the global outbreak of Covid-19 back in February, and the significant global travel bans, the Amarvelous Honeymoon Blog had decided to postpone any travel-related blog posts. We continued to share Amarvelous Wedding Blog posts and theme those around Covid-19 event guidance. Then we decided to take a full third quarter hiatus from all posts as the world was learning more about the virus and beginning the long road to recovering and reopening.

And here we are today! I am incredibly grateful for your readership, and I hope I can spread just a little cheer in your life by sharing my travels, stories, and pictures.

So let’s pick up where we left off and recap our most recent travel posts! My husband and I got married and went on an incredible six-week honeymoon around the world. All of the posts on England, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and a cruise through Asia can be found on our Amarvelous Honeymoon page.

The final country we visited was Japan, and we’re in the midst of an eight-part series. If you’re a Disney fan (assuming you are because you’re here with us today), the last post was on Tokyo Disneyland, and today we’re going to discuss my favorite theme park in the world: Tokyo DisneySea!!

I don’t even know how to put into words how much I loved Tokyo DisneySea. It is a must-visit destination for literally anyone visiting Japan and anyone who loves Disney. It was pure magic and so well done. I share my love of this park with anyone who will hear it, and I can’t wait to make you a believer as well.

Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp


Day 7 in Japan

We began our day arriving at the park an hour before gates opened. I had read online in other blogs that arriving at least an hour in advance was the normal protocol for serious ride-goers as lines only got longer as the day progresses. Since we didn’t want to miss a single ride, it was an early (and long) day for us. I’ll note that we didn’t stay at the DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta due to the cost, but if you can splurge, you are allowed an early park entrance, which does help get ahead of the lines.

We arrived an hour early and were still rows of people back from the main gate. We sat on the floor like everyone else, laid out the map of the park, and began to mark out our game plan. I like to pack a marker and cross out rides and shows we know to be closed (for example, Journey to the Center of the Earth was under construction while we visited), and then smaller kid rides that we definitely wouldn’t be partaking in. We’ll marvel at their beauty as we pass, but if it’s not on our ride list, it’ll get crossed off. This helps us to keep organized and ensure we hit every attraction we wanted to see before the end of the night. I also number the rides in the order we want to try and experience them, and I recommend that you do the same, whether your list consists of the thrill rides, the kid rides, the shows, or everything.

Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp

The park is nestled into the most perfect piece of land in all of Tokyo. As its name suggests, DisneySea is located on the sea! Similar to other theme parks around the world, there is a central water system that the attractions surround. However, this park has more than one central lake. The center of the park is actually an island floating in the middle of a moat, and then there are more rides on the outer perimeter of the moat. Everywhere you look, there is water. The most special part is that from multiple vantage points in the park, you can see the retaining wall and the open sea beyond it. Truly beautiful. It reminded me of The Little Mermaid 2, when Ariel’s daughter Melody was in the castle looking out beyond the wall to the sea (except this wall isn’t quite as towering).

DisneySea is split up into seven ports-of-call (themed lands). Below I have provided a brief description of each port, our favorite attractions, and some photos. (NOTE: FP=FastPass and SR=Single Rider)

  • Mediterranean Harbor: This romantic Italian-themed port town includes mostly shops and restaurants, but also a couple of cool rides.
    • Venetian Gondolas: This attraction can take out as many as 16 guests while two gondoliers ride you around and serenade you as you go.
    • Soaring: Fantastic Flight: This ride actually opened in 2019 after our trip but it’s pretty great so I wanted to add it in. It’s similar to the Orlando Florida Epcot and Shanghai China counterparts, except the aircraft is a Renaissance-era Dream Flyer and some of the landscapes you fly over are replaced by Japanese landmarks such as Mt. Fuji and Tokyo DisneySea.
  • American Waterfront: As a New Yorker myself, I felt all the New England charm while walking through the New York Harbor area and old Cape Cod fishing village. There were a bunch of fun small details that made us feel like we were back at home.
    • Tower of Terror (FP): Japan takes a really unique look at this familiar ride. Since The Twilight Zone is not well known in Japan, the ride is just called Tower of Terror and creators developed a full storyline for the drop ride that is very different from all other versions of this ride around the world.
    • Toy Story Mania! (FP): This was such a fun 3D ride which includes individual cannons that fire simulated projectiles as you compete in five mini-games while you ride through the full experience. They keep score as you go, so you can gloat to your friends if you’re the winner. Lines can get extremely long as it’s probably the second-most popular ride in the park. It’s modeled after the California Disneyland Toy Story ride.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Port Discovery: Going from old world ports to this futuristic marina was a trip! It had the most modern vibe in the park.
    • Aquatopia: This was one of the most unique rides in the park. The ride includes 36 personal (two person) hovercrafts which moves around on wheels on a trackless system in shallow water for the illusion of floating on water. The trackless system provides a surprise route, as you don’t know where the hovercraft will take you next.
    • Nemo & Friends SeaRider: A simulated experience where you shrink down and go on a Dory-guided tour through the ocean. Check out this awesome 360° video from Adventures in VR, and don’t forget to swipe the screen around to see the full perspective.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Lost River Delta: This port is farthest in the back of the park and is depicted as a remote Central American jungle inclusive of ruins of an ancient civilization.
    • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (FP) (SR): This enhanced motion vehicle is nearly identical to the California Disneyland Temple of the Forbidden Eye. What a fun ride, and we hardly waited at all to get on due to single rider.
    • Raging Spirits (FP) (SR): A thrilling roller coaster attraction taking you through ruins of an ancient Peruvian Incan civilization. This ride was inspired by Disneyland Paris’s Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. This is the only ride in Tokyo Disney Resort (both Disneyland and DisneySea) to have an inversion.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Mermaid Lagoon: This one is for the Ariel fans. Mermaid Lagoon features the Palace of King Triton and seashell-inspired architecture. You will experience under the sea adventures with Ariel and all her friends in this mostly indoor port giving you a true under the sea vibe. This is also the perfect area to visit if it starts to rain, since it’s almost entirely indoors.
    • Mermaid Lagoon Theatre: King Triton’s Concert (FP): This show was really fantastic!! I could have watched it again and again. It included a beautiful display of live actors suspended by cables and floating through the air, puppetry, robotics, and display screens. This is definitely a must-see in my book.
    • Surprisingly, Hubby and I spent two to three hours here. There were lots of smaller rides in this area geared toward children, but Hubby and I rode all of them and enjoyed every single one. There was also a fun area with rope bridges and other obstacles.
  • Arabian Coast: A step into this port feels a bit like you’re in a waterfront Agrabah with architectural influences inspired by the Middle-East and India.
    • The Magic Lamp Theatre (FP): An indoor 3D pre-show and show featuring the Genie and friends was entertaining and a retreat from the heat.
    • Caravan Carousel: This isn’t just any carousel. This is a two-story carousel including famous Disney characters such as the Genie. A beautiful and unique take on a traditional ride. We rode at night, and it was magical. The pictures don’t do it justice.
    • Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage: This was my hubby’s favorite non-thrill ride in the park. It has a similar feel to It’s a Small World. You sit in a boat and ride around while the characters (which are even similar size and look to It’s a Small World) tell you the story of Sinbad. It had a nice song called “Compass of Your Heart” composed by Alan Menken playing in the background.
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp
  • Mysterious Island: Based off of Jules Verne’s novel The Mysterious Island, this island is Captain Nemo’s lair. The center of the island is a volcano (Mount Prometheus), and it’s in this port where you will experience the depths of the Earth and sea.
    • Journey to the Center of the Earth (FP): This ride was regrettably closed while we visited, so although I don’t have a firsthand perspective, I had done my homework in anticipation of going to the park that day. It has similar technology to Epcot’s Test Track and is the most popular ride in the whole park. That is partly because this ride is exclusive to Tokyo DisneySea and you won’t find it anywhere else in the world.
    • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (FP): After you board a small submarine, you go on a sea journey with some unexpected turns. Although you are not actually underwater, the special effects in and around the submarine are really convincing. This ride is similar to other rides at Disney parks around the world such as California Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage and the Orlando Florida Magic Kingdom 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride (which retired in 1994).
Photo Credit: Tokyodisneyresort.jp

Pro Tips:

  • FastPass: Maximizing FastPass while at the park will help you to see everything in one day. Disney app now allows you to do FastPass directly from your smart phone. It’s so convenient, because you used to have to go back to the ride to scan your ticket. Now you can sign up for FastPass from anywhere in the park. Don’t forget to keep an eye on time and ensure you don’t miss the ride window. Once you are allowed to reserve another FastPass, do it! All rides that offer FastPass are listed above as “FP”. As you can see, there are plenty of options.
  • Single Rider: There are two rides in the park that offer single rider options: Indiana Jones Adventure and Raging Spirits. Single rider allows you to go through an entrance separate from the main line which will save you a bunch of time (similar to FastPass). Although my husband and I were in a new country, we didn’t mind splitting up for a few minutes of the ride to save the hour wait time. We made a game plan of where to meet when the ride ended, and basically walked onto both of these rides without lines. If you are trying to accomplish every ride in a single day, plus some shows and dining, then this is an awesome option for you to take advantage of.


Disney is well known for creating inventive treats that are new concoctions, as well as serving familiar treats in the shapes of our beloved Disney characters. While in this park, we enjoyed several treats that were sometimes really yummy, and sometimes not.

  • First things first, a MAJOR shout out to the staff in the show lottery kiosk (more info on that process below) that truly made our entire day of snacks possible. Hubby and I had been wearing Disney celebratory pins for our wedding and did not win lottery tickets for the show. The staff recognized our pins, and the fact that we were not granted tickets, and asked us to hold a minute. They came back and presented us with two lanyards and a small piece of paper. This gift allowed us to consume UNLIMITED popcorn all day long from popcorn kiosks. It was incredible. Popcorn is nothing new. We have it in America and all over the world, but Japan Disney does it right. They offer the most variety of, and in some cases inventive, flavors that we’d never seen. On that particular day, they were offering seven flavors (an example of this can be seen on the bottom left hand corner of the park map above). As we went through the park, we tried every flavor, some more than once. It was wonderful. I think I liked all the flavors except the seaweed flavor which was too fishy for me. What a generous gift. We have never received any type of kindness like this from theme park staff. It truly made our day. We actually filled up on so much popcorn that we hardly ate anything else, but it was worth it.
  • I ordered a really tasty seashell-shaped sea salt (wow say that three times fast) ice cream in Mermaid Lagoon.
  • From the not-so-great side, we had a pasta dish from a restaurant inside the Mediterranean Harbor that was actually really awful. As an Italian myself, I’m a very tough critic and shouldn’t have ordered a pasta dish in a Disney Park in Japan. Mistake number one and I really blame myself for that. But word to the wise, just because it looks like you’re strolling down a Venice street, does not mean the food will taste authentic.

Pro Tip:

  • As I noted above in our popcorn gift section, we had been granted that gift because the staff recognized we were celebrating. If you aren’t aware, at most Disney Parks around the world, you can ask at Guest Services if they offer free celebratory pins. These are FREE SOUVENIRS, people! Disney usually offers a few kinds. Sometimes a generic “celebrating” or “birthday” or sometimes “just married.” It’s a long story, but we actually traveled on our honeymoon WITH “just married” pins from Orlando Florida Disney because we wanted to wear pins in the park and weren’t sure if they offered them. We had visited Hong Kong Disney ^^^^LINK: https://amarvelousevent.com/blog/two-days-in-hong-kong/ ^^^^^ a few weeks before Japan, and wore our Orlando pins to that park. At guest services we were provided new Hong Kong “just married” pins! Score!! Now in Japan, we asked at guest services if they gave pins, and unfortunately they didn’t (don’t let that stop you from still asking for the pins, as perhaps they changed the offering since 2018). So we wore our Hong Kong pins around the park, and I’m sure that had we not been wearing the pins, we never would have received the popcorn gift because those two ladies wouldn’t have known it was our honeymoon. To make a very long story short: get your free souvenir and wear them to the parks.

Land Shows

There are several land-based stage shows that are ticketed or walk-up. For the ticketed shows, tickets can be reserved in two ways: a computer-generated lottery system to win assigned seats, or a standby line. The lottery machines are located at Biglietteria in the Mediterranean Harbor just before the gondola bridge (or from the park app on your smart phone once you have entered the park), and I recommend you try lottery first before standby. Simply hold up your ticket barcode for everyone in your group, choose your show time, and then the screen tells you if you win or miss out on tickets. We tried our hand at the lottery and did not get tickets. And the standby lines were always a madhouse, so we missed the show I really wanted to see. Such a bummer as I am a theatre enthusiast and would have loved to have seen the production (even though it was probably in Japanese).

  • Big Band Beat (Lottery): A large production swing jazz show and known as one of the best shows in the park. This is the most coveted lottery ticket.
  • Hello, New York!: Presented in the New York area of American Waterfront and shows Mickey and friends enjoying the Big Apple.
  • A Table is Waiting: An outdoor show that follows a catchy tune and takes you through different cuisines from around the world. Seating is available on a first-come first-served basis.
  • My Friend Duffy: Presented at the Cape Cop Cook-Off, order a meal and sit back to watch the show while you dine.
  • Song of Mirage (Lottery): Brand new. In the Lost River Delta, Mickey and friends go on an adventure in search of the Rio Dorado.

Sea Shows

There are several sea shows in the Mediterranean Harbor ranging from a single barge to full-on productions. Many people claim a viewing spot as early as two hours in advance of the show. So if you are serious about having an unobstructed view, pick your spot, grab a snack to munch on, and park yourself there for a good deal of time. A few coveted spots to watch from are in Mickey Square (right in front of the harbor), Lido Isle (a small island to the left of Mickey Square), the bridge between American Waterfront and Mysterious Island, and the stage area in front of Zambini Brothers to the right in the harbor.

  • Mickey & Friends Harbor Greetings: Single decorated barge with Mickey and all his friends parading through the harbor to say hello. We saw this during our visit.
  • Transit Steamer Greeting: Brand new. Similar to above with Mickey and friends saying hello, except this time on an antique steamer boat.
  • To end the night, we grabbed a spot around the lagoon to watch the nighttime parade on the water that was called Fantasmic! It was absolutely magical. Such a creative display of moving boats, characters, water, lights, and pyrotechnics. Really impressive. Disney retired this show in March of 2020 and released a new show called Disney Light the Night, which is a fireworks and music display that can be seen and heard from all over the park and not just along on the water. You’re in for a real treat to end your night, because Disney knows how to say goodbye and thanks for visiting! The video below will give you a glimpse of the Fantasmic! show we experienced in 2018.

Video credit: TokyoDisneyResortOfficial

Pro Tips:

  • Sometimes if the park isn’t too crowded, shows will be on a first-come first-served basis, and you won’t need the lottery system.
  • Sometimes the first show of the day is first-come first-served and it’s just a 30-minute wait in line to gain entry. So if you’re at the entry gate early, you are almost guaranteed to see the show if you head straight to the theatre.


Easter in 2018 was April 1st, and we visited the park at the end of May while they were still decorated . Look at all these cool eggs!

We had the most incredible day at DisneySea. It was both of our first times there, we experienced a new park and new rides, were spoiled by the park staff, and just had the most magical time. Of our six-week honeymoon around the world, DisneySea is definitely the thing I rave about most. Whenever I know someone going to Japan I recommend it, whenever I learn about someone who loves Disney Parks or has visiting all the Disney Parks on their bucket list (like me), I share our experience with them. It was really an unforgettable day, and I can’t wait to visit Japan again and go back to DisneySea!


Although my post covers our 2018 experience, I wanted to provide you with a park update as Disney had planned some additions that were slated to open in spring of 2020. I don’t believe the park was open for that launch due to Covid, but it will be an exciting time once the park reopens.

Video credit: TokyoDisneyResortOfficial

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9 Days in Japan: Part 5 – Tokyo Disneyland

Disney holds a very special place in my heart. I was raised on Disney movies, and most of my all-time favorite movies are from either Disney or Pixar. I grew up in South Florida, and we lived in driving distance from four major Disney theme parks. We spent many family vacations and school trips at the parks. It’s also on my bucket list to visit all the Disney parks and castles. On our wedding day, the Hubbs gifted me tickets to three Asia Disney parks that we would be close to (Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo Disney Sea). Smart man knows his wife.

As you can see, Disney is really important to me. There was no way I was going to visit Tokyo and miss out on two Disney theme parks. When in Tokyo… am I right? Since there is so much to say about both parks, I decided to do them justice and split them into two blog posts. This particular post is going to only cover Tokyo Disneyland.

🐭 🏰 ✨

Day 6 in Japan

We woke up very early because I am super serious when it comes to theme parks. I am one of those people who is first in the park, has a full game plan for the day, and would be devastated if we arrived late and missed out on something. Plus, since you pay for the full day experience, I like to actually be there the full day from open gates to closing fireworks.

Photo Credit: Disney

Getting There

We left our hotel and took the subway on our corner headed toward Tokyo Station, which took about 12 minutes. Next, we transferred to a second subway line that took another 16 minutes but took us right to the Disney area. Once you depart the cutely branded train, you walk down the train station and along a long sidewalk path leading to the park entrance. If you’re like us, then the park won’t be open upon arrival. So we took a seat in the sea of people who had also arrived early for the entrance.

Photo Credit: Disney


I highly encourage you to buy your tickets in advance of arriving at Disney. We were visiting from America and purchased ours online and used e-tickets from our iPhones to scan and enter the park. We had no issues, and it saved us from waiting in lines that morning to purchase tickets. Not to mention that sometimes when you buy online in advance you can get a discounted rate, and you guarantee they won’t sell out for the day.

We had purchased the 2-Day Passport ticket that came out to ¥13,200 JPY ($118 USD) per person. That is actually really affordable for not only theme park tickets, but especially for Disney tickets. So that comes out to about $59 per day. In comparison, if you commit to four days at Orlando Disney parks, they will give you a discounted rate of $89 per day (totaling a whopping $356 + tax)!

We bought the 2-Day Passport since Tokyo has two Disney parks, Disneyland and Disney Sea. We planned to spend day one in Disneyland and then switch over to Disney Sea on the second day. I highly encourage you to see both parks, because when’s the next time you will be in Tokyo? However, if you only had time or funds to see one park, then it MUST BE DISNEY SEA. I’ll cover Disney Sea in the next blog post, so stay tuned to see what makes that park so special.

Pro Tips:

  • 1-day and 2-day tickets are sold in senior, adult, junior, and child pricing brackets. Special rate tickets are not always sold like this, but sometimes as a flat fee for any age.
  • There is a discount ticket called the After 6 Passport. This ticket allows you entrance into the park after six in the evening on weekdays only so you can enjoy the later shows and potentially shorter ride lines as families begin to head home early for the day. The price is an incredible flat rate of ¥4,300 JPY ($38 USD) per person. That’s a great savings!! You 100% won’t see the whole park from 6pm to closing, but with that savings it may be worth it to some.
  • There is also a discounted ticket called the Starlight Passport for use from 3pm on weekends and holidays, and the price to enter is ¥5,500 JPY ($49 USD) for adults, ¥4,800 JPY ($43 USD) for juniors, and ¥3,600 JPY ($32 USD) for children.
  • There are also 3-day and 4-day tickets available. I’ll say that we spent two full days, gate opening to closing fireworks in the park, and I felt there were things we could have still seen. We didn’t get to see every show in each land, and there were lotteries that we lost so we missed those shows. We just weren’t in Tokyo long enough for a 3-day or 4-day ticket to Disney. This was also our first time in Tokyo, and we were there for some culture and exploration too, not just the parks. I felt we experienced most if not all the rides. But should you be interested, the pricing is broken down by adult, junior, and child pricing on the Disney Tokyo website.


Tokyo Disneyland has a very similar layout to Orlando’s Disney World. The heart of the park is Cinderella’s Castle, surrounded by several themed lands: Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Westernland, and Adventureland. The main difference is that there is no Main Street USA to enter the park. Instead, at Tokyo Disneyland you enter the park in the World Bazaar, which has restaurants, shops, arcade games, and a double-decker bus tour attraction.

Photo Credit: Disney

Pro Tip:

  • In the World Bazaar and 10 other places around the park, there are mailboxes. Letters and postcards placed in these mailboxes will be imprinted with a special Tokyo Disneyland design and delivered to the post office. It would be neat to send a postcard to someone back home, or even to yourself if you scrapbook or like keepsakes. Wish I had known about this one on our trip!
Photo Credit: Disney
Image Credit: Disney

On the exterior, the castle looked similar to other parks’ Cinderella castles. From the outside, there was a set of steps you could use to walk up and enter the castle, and this is where the similarities stop due to a different interior. From there, a room themed with the scene where Cinderella tries on the glass slipper was inside. It was very beautifully done with stained glass windows and tile mosaic floor and wall murals. There were several photo ops Hubby and I took advantage of. There was also one shop in the castle that sold high end statues, tiaras, and other more expensive china cabinet knickknacks.

Instead of me outlining every single ride in each land, below I have provided a taste of my favorite ride from each land (excluding FastPass rides, which we’ll discuss below).

  • Tomorrowland’s Stitch Encounter allowed us to talk live time to Stitch in a humorous theatre style show. We visited in May, and it was a really nice escape from the heat. All other large attractions in Tomorrowland are FastPass.
  • Toontown’s Gadget’s Go Coaster is a small but quick coaster that takes you through all of Gadget’s latest inventions.
  • Fantasyland’s “It’s a Small World” was so fresh and different from all other Disney Parks’ versions. Seriously best in the world thus far that I’ve seen. I absolutely LOVED that they sprinkled Disney movie characters into the regular international children. For example, Belle was in the France area, Peter Pan was in the UK area, Jasmine and Aladdin were in the Arabian area, Simba and Timon/Pumba were in the African jungle area… And they had new characters like Elsa, Ana, Moana, Merida, and more… It was all really well done.
  • Critter Country has a Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes ride where a bunch of people get into a large canoe and then you paddle yourself throughout the ride. We regrettably didn’t get to go on this ride, but it’s something I’ve never seen in a theme park, so I figured it should make the list.
  • Westernland featured the Tom Sawyer Island Rafts ride that carried passengers from the mainland, down the rivers of America, and over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We also didn’t have the opportunity to ride this one, not enough hours in the day. But it did look neat. I think by the time we had gotten to this area of the park, it was already closed because they close before sunset.
  • Adventureland had one of my favorites: the Pirates of the Caribbean ride where we get ready to set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow. I think this version seemed more recently updated than the Orlando ride.


FastPass is a free way to skip the lines of the most popular rides in the park. If you were familiar with the old FastPass system at Disney Orlando Florida parks, then you already understand the system in Tokyo. But for those that are unfamiliar, Disney Tokyo allows you to get FastPass tickets once you have entered the park. All you have to do is bring your park ticket up to the participating attraction you’d like to ride and insert it into the machine, collect your newly printed FastPass ticket, and come back later at the designated hour window of time to skip the line.

There are eight rides that have FastPass:

  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! (Exclusive to Disneyland Tokyo)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • Splash Mountain
Don’t judge us for taking this pic! OK, maybe just a little…
  • Space Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Exclusive to Disneyland Tokyo)

Pro Tips:

  • The most important thing to understand is that the park will run out of FastPass tickets EARLY! Every ride only allots a certain number of FastPass tickets per ride per hour, and they are all distributed first thing in the morning. The day we were there, they ran out of FastPass tickets in under two hours of the park opening.
  • There are some rules the machines will make you follow. Since you have to scan your park ticket to receive a FastPass ticket, the smart system tracks which FastPass tickets you already have, and then only lets you have one ticket for that particular time slot. There is usually a two hour wait period between FastPass ticket times. For example, if your first FastPass ticket window is from 10am, then the next allowable time you can have a FastPass ticket is beginning at 12pm.
  • I suggest you arrive at the park early (before they open) and get in the queue to enter. Once the gates open, you should make a beeline to your number-one FastPass attraction and immediately get the ticket. Your goal should be to get a ticket for what you believe will be the most popular ride in the park; that way, you can guarantee you’ll ride it. Then your goal should switch to obtaining as many additional FastPasses as possible. So head directly to your next FastPass attraction to pull that ticket… and so on. You are able to hold several FastPass tickets at a time, as long as the two-hour rule is followed, so maximize and optimize on this timing.
  • If you’re visiting with a group of people, then you can designate one responsible and fast person to hold all the park tickets. They can quickly go to the FastPass machines to retrieve all the tickets for your party while everyone else waits in another ride’s stand-by line, uses the restrooms, or grabs a bite to eat.
  • The most popular rides for FastPass are Monsters Inc. and Pooh, since they are exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland. You can find the rest of these FastPass rides at other Disney parks around the world, and although they are great attractions, there is a little less of a draw in my opinion. The internet will tell you to get a ticket to these rides first thing in the morning because lines are heavy all day long. However, most of the morning rush will run to these rides for FastPass. We did the complete opposite to avoid crowds and ended up getting more FastPasses throughout the day. We gamed on the fact that later in the day those lines would die down. We still rode Monsters Inc. and Pooh, it was just later in the day in the stand-by lines. So you can take two different routes as one of the first people in the park, you can firstly go straight to the exclusive rides (more popular option), or you can go straight to the next best rides and avoid the crowds (what we did).

Single Rider

There is another way to skip the line at two of the best attractions in the park: Single Rider lines. Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain both have an option where you walk up to the FastPass line attendant and say you’d like to ride “single rider.” They will magically step aside and let you into that lane without a FastPass ticket.

My hubby and I did single rider as much as we could. There is a chance that your party gets split up when you go to ride, but these rides are only a few minutes each, so you can experience the ride and meet up after in the exit gift shop. At bare minimum, the ride wait times are half an hour, so for us to save a whole hour (minimum) of our day riding single rider, that left more time to do other attractions and shows.


One of the most interesting things we learned about dining in a Tokyo Japan theme park is that the Japanese love popcorn. This park had FIFTEEN popcorn stands featuring SEVEN different flavors: soy sauce and butter, caramel, curry, corn potage, honey, salt, and milk chocolate. They do every once in a while change flavors without notice on the map, so you may have different flavors when you visit. It is so popular they they even denote an entire section of their map to showcase the numbers of popcorn stands throughout the park.

Some other special snacks you could look into are character-themed mochi dumplings, Mike Wazowski melonpan, pizza spring rolls, Mickey-shaped churros, and mango soft serve ice cream (that has been compared to the dole whip).

As far as regular (non-reservation) dining goes, it seemed like every opportunity Disney had, they themed the food. There were eggs with Mickey Mouse-shaped yolks, Mickey Mouse glove bao sandwich buns, Mickey-head waffles, and Mickey and Minnie-head steamed Buns. I am sure this list could go on forever, but you get the idea. Very on-brand. Very cute. You will want to eat it all.

Parades and Shows

There are a bunch of shows throughout the day, but these are a few really special ones that I will highlight.

Dreaming Up! (Daytime Parade): You guys, this is a mandatory must-see if you come to Tokyo Disneyland. I think my favorite part of the day. The whole parade lasts about 45 minutes in person. However, Hubby and I loved the music so much that we downloaded the song, and it runs only about 20 minutes. It is the happiest and most catchy of all Disney songs I have ever heard. Really special. There are several reasons why this parade is so unique. One is that the parade music doesn’t play throughout the whole park; it actually plays the music specific to each float as the float gets to you. Another is that they include a diverse group of movies and characters. And finally, the floats are gorgeous animatronic machines. The characters literally fly off of the floats as they sing and dance. Just WOW. It’s the most beautiful parade that I’ve ever seen.

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights (Nighttime Parade): This parade is during the night with all floats and some characters lit up with thousands of lights. I believe in Orlando I’ve seen this same style of parade, but this one was really much better. It was fresh and really well done. As I am writing this, I am trying to think of which was my favorite float, and they were literally one better than the next. Some standouts were Belle and the Beast (a personal favorite childhood movie), Jasmin’s palace and the Genie from Aladdin, Captain Hook’s pirate ship from Peter Pan, and the Ice Castle from Frozen.

Disney Light the Night (Nighttime Fireworks): Following the Electrical Parade, there is a five-minute fireworks display to signal the end of the evening and the park closing. This show will run rain or shine, so if it rains, then they may cut the Electrical Parade, but you at least get to see Light the Night, and Disney knows how to do fireworks.

In addition to those three most popular park-wide shows, there are other smaller shows in each land that have specific timing throughout the day. Some shows require a free ticket since space is limited and coveted. The way you can try to get a ticket is by heading to Tomorrowland Hall and scanning your park ticket at a machine. Tickets open up 45 minutes prior to each performance. You should have all of your groups tickets together when you are ready to scan. If you are a winner, then your show tickets will print. If you’re not a winner, then you can come back later and try to win for another show.

Photo Credit: Disney
This is the exact spot in the park where you can enter lotteries for shows.
Photo Credit: Disney

Pro Tips:

  • Plan your day to include the top three parades/shows. Definitely don’t have a FastPass or dining reservation on top of one of these time slots.
  • Arrive early for the parades. We claimed our curb-front spot early so we would have a less obstructed view over people’s heads. This really is important because you could be ten people deep and have a decent view of the elevated floats but no view of the characters and dancers on the street level. You will inevitably miss something if you arrive just when the show is about to start.
  • If you had more than one day in Tokyo Disneyland, then I would recommend one day you experience all of these shows, and the next you skip them and do the rides with really short lines while everyone else is busy watching the shows.

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Photo Credit: Disney

Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, and although it’s only the 6th largest park, it is extremely impressive. We spent a full day in the park, from gates opening to closing fireworks, and we didn’t even get a chance to see everything. I have visited eight Disney parks, and this is one of my top favorites. You can tell there was a different quality and attention to detail put into this park over the others. We had an absolutely magical time at our first Tokyo Disney theme park, and our next Amarvelous Honeymoon blog post will cover our time at Disney Sea, which (if you can believe) was even more spectacular!

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9 Days in Japan: Part 4 – Tokyo

This week, we’ll be covering our next few days in Japan, which also marked the last leg of our six-week honeymoon around the world. If you have interest in reading about the other cities that we fit into that unforgettable trip—London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Bangkok, Sanya, Okinawa, a cruise through Asia, Kyoto, and Osaka—then click here and enjoy.

🚅 ☕ 🎮 🍣 🦉

This is Part 4 of our 9 Days in Japan series, and it will cover our first day in Tokyo, the best Starbucks drink ever, the Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum, the lively Akihabara region, an owl café, and conveyer belt sushi.

Before we get into the activities of the day, I wanted to show a map and provide you with a brief understanding of the Tokyo neighborhoods. Tokyo is divided into over 1,000 neighborhoods! The ones separated by color blocks in the map below are the most popular. That being said, the numbers within those large neighborhoods perhaps better represent the main attractions and regions. You can see that although the map is large, the numbered bullets are densely populated into one small central region. If you are looking to visit Tokyo, then that area should be your focus to find a hotel and book activities.

If I can break that down as a New Yorker, this is the difference in comparing the five boroughs of New York City to the touristy borough of Manhattan. Although the other neighborhoods are a part of NYC, they are more of a residential space for locals than the central hub.

Photo Credit: japandreaming.com

Day 5 in Japan

We arrived in Tokyo around 2pm via bullet train from Kyoto. The fast train journey was super convenient and a great alternative to flying. We covered that journey in our last post: 9 Days in Japan: Part 3 – Kyoto Continued

In the other Japanese cities, we elected to use Airbnb as our accommodation, because pricing for hotels had been so costly. However, in Tokyo we decided to stay in a hotel for several reasons. This was the final few days of our six-week vacation, and we wanted to end it with a bit more pampering (you know, like having someone else make our bed). We found that pricing wasn’t too much of a difference between the Airbnb and our hotel. Additionally, we had a not-so-comfortable traditional Japanese futon bed in our last Airbnb, and my backache told me that it was time to sleep on a proper mattress again before coming back to reality in the States.

We ended up staying at the APA Hotel Iidabashi-ekiminami. This hotel was really conveniently located and in walking distance to several of our daily activities. The room was modern and clean but super tiny. Most of the actual room was a bed that was wedged awkwardly into the corner with little space to walk around. We spent very little time in the room anyway, so the tiny size didn’t bother us, but it was our smallest room in Japan. I guess that was the trade-off we took when we paid nearly the same price from large Airbnb to tiny hotel.

Be sure you go to the right APA hotel, as there are two a couple of blocks apart and it was easy to get them confused. We initially walked into the wrong lobby, and they didn’t have our reservation, so they suggested we go to the other location, and that was our hotel!

After checking into the hotel and unpacking, we ran out to go explore. There is only one timezone in Japan, so we weren’t exhausted from jetlag, but we were exhausted from maximizing our time in each city and simply running low on sleep. First stop was to a Starbucks to get the jolt of caffeine that we would need to get us through the day. Since we’d been in Japan, hubby had been purchasing a drink called an Affogato Frappuccino. It’s basically a vanilla bean Frappuccino with made-to-order vanilla ice cream, a shot of espresso, and whipped cream topping. I mean, YUM! Today was the first day I followed suit and ordered this glorious drink and I now feel it’s a MUST-HAVE JAPANESE TREAT. Being that they don’t even sell it in America (or anywhere else in the world that we‘ve seen), it’s a must try. Also, note the adorable cartoons that the barista drew on our cups… how cute is that?!? Attention to detail.

Caffeine wiring us up, we were now ready to explore. Our next activity may not be one that interests most, but the hub’s career is in energy and water, and so when we learned that the Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum was in walking distance from our hotel, we decided to check it out. The museum is open nearly every day 9:30am-5pm (closed on Mondays and for winter holidays) and it offers FREE admission with audio headsets to accompany your self-guided tour. So if it’s a rainy day or you have time to spare, then it’s definitely worth checking out.

Our museum visit included reading all the plaques and listening to the full guided audio and it took us about 50 minutes to complete the two-story building. It was really well done and informed us on the history of clean water in Japan from the early 17th century through today. We’ve been to many museums, but this was our first water museum. Definitely a unique museum, and hubby was really happy he was able to experience it.

Next stop is the Akihabara region. It was only an 18-minute walk from the water museum, so we decided to walk instead of taking public transit or taxi. The walk was fast, and there was plenty to see along the way. This area is really busy and reminded me of Times Square with its bright LED screens, lots of shops, restaurants, and attractions. This was one of my favorite evenings in Japan, because it was just so happy. We literally couldn’t believe our eyes. Sensory overload, and a complete 180 from our past Japanese cities of Okinawa, Osaka, and Kyoto that were more cultural and perhaps seemed sleepier and more tranquil than what Tokyo had in store for us. You could already tell that Tokyo had more nightlife and was going to be awesome.

The streets were lined with store after store of game shops. There was a big variety, from gumball toy capsule type machines (gashapon), claw games, video games, and proper casinos with floor after floor of colorful and loud slot machines. The gashapon shops were the kind where you insert a coin, turn the dial, and then a ball pops out the bottom that opens up to reveal a small trinket inside. We went into shop after shop that only had these machines. They literally sold nothing else; it was just a rectangular shop with every wall covered from floor to nearly ceiling with an impressive quantity of machines. Depending on how great the prize inside was, we observed you could pay anywhere from ¥100-1,000 JPY ($1-10 USD)

We took this opportunity to purchase some unique souvenirs for folks and pets back home. For example, we got these adorable hats designed for cats. We chose the ones in the bottom right that were in the shape of the clown fish and blue tang fish from Finding Nemo the movie (lucky the two balls came out back to back and coordinated). We actually gifted them to hubby’s parents and sister who have small dogs. They were adorable. As you can see, the most unique and kitschy items could be found in these machines.

The stores with claw games and video games were better than our best arcades back in the States. It was like a gamer’s paradise. So many options. So many prizes. Again, they were full stores where they didn’t actually sell anything, but rather you pay to play, and you could win a prize in the end. And it was store after store of this same model.

The casinos were really intriguing. I am not a table games type of person; if I go to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, or on a cruise ship, I only play slot machines. These casinos were huge, and it was as if they were designed with me in mind. Like 10 stories tall with floors full of anime-themed slot machines. They were all LED and so bright and flashy. Definitely no old-school Vegas-style machines. This was the future. It was also extremely loud inside. Think of if you put your slot machine on full speaker, then multiply that by the few hundred machines they had in the building… it was insanely loud haha! We didn’t stay too long before we decided to seek refuge back outside on the busy streets. If you are an anime fan, then I bet you could walk around and find your favorite characters. That may be a fun experience to play a machine you’ll likely never find back in America.

There were many electronics stores including small vendor shops as well as large company stores carrying an array of products. There were also many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga toys and goods.

We also saw really kitschy food and beverage spots such as maid cafés, manga cafés (manga kissa), and animal cafés. The maid cafés had waitresses dressed up on the sidewalks outside to entice passersby to come in. When inside, they act like maids and other characters while they serve the guests. The anime cafés are a type of internet café where customers can read comics and watch DVDs in addition to having access to the internet. This one usually charges for the duration of time you are inside. The animal cafés we passed ranged from dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, hedgehog, snake, and owl, but I am sure there are many more options. Really something for everyone.

I am a huge animal lover and just couldn’t leave Japan without experiencing an animal café. I had my heart set on a shiba inu dog café. We learned that the more popular animal cafés featuring dogs and cats get booked in advance, so you will need to reserve this. We hadn’t thought to pre-book, and since we weren’t coming back to this area of town, we just looked for a café that had availability. The owl café was the first one that we could go into. The ¥1,500 JPY ($15 USD) fee included two hours to play with owls and two non-alcoholic beverages from a vending machine.

The only thing I knew about owls prior to this experience was that Hedwig from Harry Potter was a snowy owl haha. So I literally knew nothing. Before the staff set us free to explore, they gave us a brief tutorial on how to approach the owls and how to pet (or not pet) them. They told us not to make sudden movements, to pet the owl with the back of our hands, to not put our hands by their faces, and to take off all of our jewelry.

Each owl had its own perch or home space. And there were owls everywhere. We went one by one and each took a turn petting them. Owls are strange creatures, because they can rotate their necks up to 270 degrees. So we’d approach the owl with it’s head turned away, in an optimal petting placement, and as we’d put our hands closer, the owl would sense us and quickly whip their heads around, which would scare us and we’d quickly pull our hands back. If you remember the directions above, no approaching the head and no quick movements were two things to avoid. So I was getting nervous every time they would turn their heads. We had a fun time nevertheless and spent almost the entire two hours there. It was unique and exciting, but I did learn on this day that I was actually afraid of owls.

After the owls, we headed back into town to find a sushi restaurant on the walk back to our hotel. We stumbled upon Gansozushi Iidabashi go-round sushi restaurant (conveyor belt sushi, or kaiten-zushi) and stopped in to dine. We really enjoyed this style of dining where you sit at a sushi bar and there is a conveyor belt that brings plates of sushi around. If it looks good, you take it off and eat it. When finished, the server totals up your bill based off the colored plates. Red would be one price, green or blue would be another. The restaurant also offered unlimited self-serve green matcha tea and all of the accompaniments for sushi—fresh, real wasabi (nothing like the dry green paste that we have in the States), fresh ginger, and soy sauce.

This was literally the best sushi that we had ever had in our lives. Hubby says that he still dreams about it to this day. Hubby eats the raw fish options like tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, and so on—while I only eat cooked ones like California rolls and shrimp tempura. The fish was so fresh, and the fish-to-rice ratio was very generous compared to America for basically the same price (if anything, Japan was cheaper than America). The rice was perfectly cooked, expertly seasoned, and the ideal lukewarm temperature for real handmade sushi. The sushi master behind the bar, at the center of the conveyor belt, can make custom orders too, so don’t hesitate to ask for whatever you want. It’s also crazy how cheap the sushi was, even the raw fish cuts that are usually expensive in America. We basically had all-you-can-eat sushi of the most premium-quality sushi we’ve ever eaten, and it cost the same as our go-to sushi buffet in Brooklyn. Highly recommended!

🚅 ☕ 🎮 🍣 🦉

Our first day in Tokyo was incredible. We were able to get out and walk everywhere, drink some great coffee, enjoy an unexpected and free water museum, be wowed by the lights and sounds of the Akihabara gaming area, play with owls, and dine at a delicious go-round sushi restaurant. There is so much more excitement to come from Tokyo including DISNEY!!

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