First let’s talk about the airline ZipAir. They are a new budget airline and honestly have the lowest prices around. I can’t say I recommend them but it’s debatable:
- Most inexpensive economy and “first class” seats (which is actually known as Zip Air full flat seats) to Japan, out of all other airlines
- Free and pretty good internet on the plane while in the air
- Non refundable/no credit (unless your flight is more than 3 hours delayed) – this said, all my sisters and I had delayed flights both ways, but no more than 2 hours each time.
- Their first class, actually called Zip Air Full Flat, is zero service whatsoever unless you pay extra for food and amenities.
- Also you don’t get priority boarding or check in if you book Zip Air Full Flat
- you can’t use your TSA Pre with Zip Air! So too bad if there is a long security line!
- They don’t inform you about the covid restrictions for Japan until you get to check in when it could be too late, like it was for us!
Alright so let’s get to the recap!
You guys may have seen this on Instagram already but the original day we booked our flight out of Honolulu, when we showed up to check in, they asked to see our vaccination proof. We didn’t know we had to have the booster (ZipAir emails did not mention it) and neither Jasmine nor I had ever gotten the booster. Chantel did get the booster already and was able to check in and fly to Japan as planned, but alone. Jasmine and I rushed to get a PCR test, hoping to get one in time to make it to the next flight, but it was just a disaster. The first place was closed even though it said open online, and the second place said they did it online but they don’t. We were lugging our luggage via ubers around this whole time! Finally we dropped it off at the apartment before going to third and hopefully final location. So the third place did it but it was $300 each!!! And they also had one of the rudest nurses I’ve ever met in my life. We got our negative results and ended up just booking the first flight out the next day.
Once Jasmine and I had our PCR results and fast track all done, check in, flight and customs all went smoothly. Since we had to rebook new flights the night before however, we were not able to pre-order food on the plane so I bought like $50 worth of prepackaged Starbucks plates which ended up being the perfect amount for us two. Also, we had a private shuttle Jasmine found the night before for just about $150. So that was great since we had heard from our sister Chantel who was able to fly in on the original day we planned, that it took her 3 hours by train to get to the hotel!
The hotel we stayed at during the whole trip is called Hotel Villa Fontaine Grand Tokyo which was in the business district, Roppongi. I didn’t expect to like either our hotel or Roppongi so much but there were in fact many cherry blossom trees there and it was a very quiet area! We were amazed by the hotel’s soft water and our hair felt really soft from using it! We also fully enjoyed that our hotel was above a train station so coming back to it each day and just going directly to the elevator right next to the train entrance/exit which went directly to our hotel was just a breeze! The hotel rooms were not big, and did not have a view either but we barely spent any time here other than sleeping.
We arrived pretty late in the evening and ended up just meeting with our friends Melanie and Albert. We then walked to a ramen spot called Ippudo. It was sooo oishi!
We were still trying to get over our jet lag on this day so that was rough! This day started off with a delicious $5 breakfast at a popular “fast food” spot called Sukiya! I love that fast food in Japan is so healthy haha!
Then we spent 45 min getting lost in the trains trying to get to Ueno Park. Once at Ueno Park my sisters and I met back up with our friends Melanie and Albert and walked around there for awhile. It was a little frustrating how many people were there, plus there were some very unattractive green nets almost everywhere so it made it hard to get a nice photo. I did randomly get some cute ones with someone’s dog though!
The walking shoes I wore for most of the day: Linked here
This is why we decided to leave and instead visit Chidorigafuchi park (near the Imperial Palace) and it was amazing!!!! I love Chidorigafuchi park wayyyy more, as it was just so much more beautiful and peaceful. The little boating area was way cuter than the Ueno Park one too. We wanted to rent boats but they were sold out at like 4 pm! And they said there was no way to reserve so I guess go early! On this day we walked way too much for my taste – like 16,000 steps!!
On our way back to the train station, we almost passed this shrine called Yasukuni Jinja. However, we noticed the golden light shining through the cherry blossoms trees which filled the courtyard and it was simply magical!! We had to stop and shoot some photos to try and capture the moment!
In the evening we tried to eat at a sushi restaurant, but we did have a pretty decent size group and we got denied at the first two places we tried. Finally we found a restaurant called Tsurutontan Roppongi and that was good!! The wait was pretty long though so we did some shopping at Don Quixote which was nearby and let me just say that place is insane! There is a Don Quixote in Hawaii, and I have been many times over the years, but it is nothing compared to the one in Japan! You guys must check out Don Quixotes and 7-Elevens in Japan!!!
- ZipAir is the most inexpensive airline to Japan, but there is a reason for that!
- Book a private shuttle from the airport to your hotel, at least a few days in advance. You will save a lot of time once you arrive!
- Hotel Villa Fontaine Grand Tokyo in Roppongi is a great hotel!! Great location and affordable.
- In my humble opinion, Chidorigafuchi Park is nicer than Ueno Park! At least during cherry blossom season.
- Go early to rent a boat at Chidorigafuchi park. They don’t rent boats when it’s raining.
- Places we enjoyed eating in Roppongi: Sukiya for breakfast, Ippudo and Tsurutontan Roppongi for dinner!
- You must visit Don Quixote and 7-Eleven in Japan!
To be continued…