Arriving in Tokyo & Picking up JR Rail Pass | Episode 1

Welcome to our very first video series! We are very excited to finally get this project to a point where we can start to share our adventures with you all.

Our first series follows our adventures on our fourth trip to Japan in the fall of 2016. We have pretty much always ventured South from Tokyo on our previous trips, only dipping our toes into the North, but on this trip we went all the way up to Hokkaido, the Northern most island of Japan.

Episode 1:

We were very lucky to have several new experiences on this trip.  The first was to finally fly All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the long haul flight segment of the trip.  We cashed in Aeroplan points to book our flights and were able to book a Toronto to Vancouver to Tokyo itinerary, all in business class.  To say I was excited about flying ANA business class is an understatement.  We were not expecting much from the Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver, but lucked out as the plane was newly refurbished and the business class cabin was amazing.  I would actually go out on a limb and say it beat the ANA business class cabin. But in terms of inflight service ANA handily beat out AC.  Overall we had very good flights.  Our stopover in Vancouver was a lot of fun, exploring the international area of the airport and lounge hopping between the AC Maple Leaf and the Premium Plaza lounges.  There was also an amazing aquarium which is a satellite of the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park.  The picture accompanying this post is of that aquarium.

Another new experience was flying into Haneda Airport instead of Narita International Airport which is where we have landed on past trips.  The advantage of flying into Haneda is that it is actually in Tokyo, whereas Narita is a good 50-60 minute train trip into Tokyo proper.  Our trip from Haneda to Shimbashi station, from which is a short walk to our hotel, was only 25 minutes.  The trip from Narita to Shimbashi is 70 minutes in comparison.

The excitement of being back in Tokyo didn’t really hit me until we were on the monorail from the airport and I watched as the bustling city passed us by during the trip. It was around 7pm by this point, after 22 hours of travelling, and we were both looking forward to getting into our hotel room.  The excitement hit us again as we exited the train at Shimbashi station and started to make the walk to our hotel through the Shiodome site which was starting to feel like home after staying here each trip to Japan.

The last new experience was 3 weeks of adventure exploring regions of Japan which were totally new to us.  Trips two and three had been a mix of revisiting places and exploring new places, but this trip was all new.  Heading North, we were going to visit Hokkaido, the most Northern of the 4 main Japanese Islands, and the Tohoku region of Honshu which is the largest of the 4 main islands.  Our final destination on our tour brought us back South of Tokyo to Osaka for the first time. Topping all of that off was a full week in Tokyo.  We had a lot ahead of us to be excited about.

Before all the adventure could begin we had a few errands to take care of on our first full day in Japan. Our main priority was to get our JR Rail Pass, and in the process figure out if we could load our Suica cards using our credit card (Spoiler: we could not!). What’s a Suica card?  Good question, and one I failed to answer in the video. Japan has a great system of loadable cards which are used to pay for public transportation in various cities.  But that’s not all, they are also accepted at some convenience stores and vending machines.  Very convenient! Nicole also had to drop something off she had bought on a previous trip to get repaired while we travelled around.

That gets you caught up in much of the travel day which we did a poor job filming.  The goal of these show note posts will be to fill in any blanks left out from the videos and to give a little more detailed information about the locations we visit incase you want to try and visit yourself.


There were several locations featured in this episode

  • YYZ – I don’t think we have ever been at the airport that early in the morning.  Our flight to Vancouver was at 8am which meant an early 4:30am pick up from home.  It was the second time we got to use the Air Canada business class check-in area, which was a pleasure as it has been empty both times.
  • Shiodome Media Tower – the footage of me starting to explain our travel day, including the shots of me on the escalators were in a business tower which also houses the Park Hotel Tokyo.  I was actually heading down to a Family Mart, my favourite Japanese convenience store, in the basement of the building.
  • Shimbashi Station – the shot of me coming up the escalator with stained glass behind me and buying our tickets with the suica cards we still had credit on from the last trip was at the Shimbashi station.  This is the main station closest to our hotel and connected via the underground pathway of the Shiodome complex. History Note: Shimbashi is one of Japan’s oldest railway stations opening in 1872.  The original structure is long gone, the current one replaced it in 1909.
  • Tokyo Station – the ticketing office where we got the JR Rail Passes and the shot of us finally giving in and using cash to fill our suica cards was at Tokyo Station.  Tokyo Station is massive, and we’ll be back here several times throughout the series.
  • Katsukichi in the Shin-maru Building – that amazing tonkatsu lunch was at Katsukichi which is located on the 5th floor of the Shin-maru building. This is right across the street from Tokyo Station, conveniently at one of the entrances close to the ticket office where we did the JR Rail Pass pickup.
  • Shopping in KITTE Marunouchi – a few quick shots inside the mall were from KITTE Marunouchi, also across the street from Tokyo Station, a block over from Shin-maru.
  • Park Hotel Tokyo – you haven’t seen much of the hotel yet, but will get to see more when we return to Tokyo later in the series.
  • Natural Lawson – this is a special version of the Lawson convenience store chain which sells healthier food options.  We stopped in to get some snacks for the next days train ride, and Nicole picked up some instant noodles she had later in our room.
  • YVR Aquarium – the aquarium in the end card is the same one as the image for this post, and is a satellite aquarium of the main Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park.

Thanks for watching/reading!

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