Our last day in Japan had finally caught up with us and we had mixed emotions. I am generally resigned to the fact we are going home and embrace it, looking forward to getting back. Nicole on the other hand wants to wring the last bit of fun out of wherever we are. But Japan might be one of few places I’m with Nicole on the last hurrah. Lucky for us we had an evening flight out of Haneda which gave us quite a bit of time to get our last bit of Tokyo in before we headed back to Canada.
Episode 29: https://youtu.be/_cjdYTDeMns
On our last trip we noticed that our hotel was right beside a massive garden. We realized this a little too late to go visit, but put it on the list for this trip. It was the perfect place to visit on our last day as it was a very quick walk from our hotel, we wouldn’t waste any of the day taking the subway out to some other destination. As we walked towards the garden I realized that we passed it on every previous trip on our way to Tsukiji Market, somehow it never really stood out to us. And as soon as we entered Hamarikyu Garden we were blown away and couldn’t believe we hadn’t come sooner.
Hamarikyu Garden is very large, we might call such a place a park in the West. It had a myriad of paths taking you through open fields, past the river, over bridges, and around large ponds, it was impressive. The gardens once belonged to the Tokugawa family back in the 17th century when Japan was ruled by the Shogunate and Tokyo was called Edo. There still remains a piece of those old times, a 300 year old pine which is said to be the most majestic in all of Japan. I can believe it, the pine tree is massive. Not so much in height but in width as it has grown out to cover a large area. The gardens also have a bunch of tea houses spread out around one of the largest ponds on the grounds and there are more to come. They have set out to rebuild all 9 original tea houses which once stood in the gardens. At one of these tea houses you can come to enjoy some matcha and Japanese sweets while overlooking the picturesque ponds and gardens.
It was the perfect way to wind down the trip, taking a pleasant stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens. We spent about an hour at Hamarikyu before we had to head back to the hotel to finish a bit of packing and checkout. Even at a quick pace we didn’t manage to walk all the grounds, having to skip a few sections. A visit could easily take a few hours, more if a stop at a tea house is in the cards.
Once we had finished packing and checked out we decided to spend the rest of our time in the Ginza. We had to find some lunch and we knew that on the weekends the main street in the Ginza, Chuo Dori, is closed to traffic and turned into a wide pedestrian walkway. Silly us, we thought it wouldn’t be too crowded with all that extra space, but we were wrong. It was very busy. I guess a lot of people came out to enjoy the beautiful weather on that Saturday.
It didn’t take us too long to find a restaurant, one that did tempura and pork cutlet over rice, dishes Nicole and I were craving for our last meals. Nicole’s tempura was amazing, and my pork cutlet was outstanding. We were lucky to have ended our trip with such a great last meal without doing any research beforehand. And funny enough, as we were eating Nicole remembered that this was the restaurant she came for dinner alone on a previous trip when I became very ill and couldn’t leave the hotel. The location of the restaurant is down below, unfortunately we couldn’t remember the name. But you should find it following Google to the location I recorded.
Full and all walked out we headed back to the hotel to get ready to catch the airport bus to Haneda. On the way back though we made a quick stop into a great store called DONK!. It actually has a different name, Don Quijote, but this location has the name DONK! over it’s door and so that’s what we call it. Not to mention that DONK is a little easier to say. I’ve heard this place be described as a Walmart of sorts, I guess in the sense that they carry pretty much everything. We generally go there for the food and snacks, but they do have everything. This particular location always seems to be struggling to keep the shelves stocked with the most popular snack items. We checked on our way to lunch to make sure they had something Nicole wanted, and they did, quite a lot, so we decided to grab it on the way back and not carry it. By the time we got back there were only a few left. It’s crazy!
I was a bit beside myself that we were grabbing more stuff, our poor luggage was not going to be happy. But back at the hotel we managed to jam it all in, and get downstairs to the main entrance to grab our bus. This shuttle bus service is such a great way to get back to the airport. They have service that goes to both Tokyo area airports, Haneda and Narita. While we opted to take the monorail and subway on the way into Tokyo from Haneda, back when our bags were light, being able to get our bags stowed away and just enjoy the ride is perfect by this point in the trip.
The airport experience was fast and efficient. Tax free was a breeze despite all my worrying. See the end of the accompanying video for a description of what to expect when shopping for duty free and then leaving Japan with your goods. Checked in, through security, through immigration, we then quickly found the ANA lounge and got settled. The lounge was great, good food, beer pouring robots (they make an appearance in the video!) and several varieties of sake. As we had been out all day we opted for shower service to get refreshed. Before we knew it it was time to board our ANA flight to Vancouver where we grabbed an Air Canada connection back to Toronto. The ANA flight was good, food was good and I slept for a good portion of it. The AC flight was ok, we didn’t get lucky with a new cabin like on the way out.
It felt so good to walk through our front door. Back home! We had such an incredible trip, saw so many new and interesting things. We hope that you all enjoyed coming along through this video and blog series. We have lots more content coming of different places we’ve visited since this Japan trip back in 2016. Stay tuned for the next series coming soon!
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Park Hotel Tokyo – Our home away from home for our stay in Tokyo and the hotel we’ve chosen for each of our trips to Japan.
- Hamarikyu Garden – An expansive garden right beside our hotel, once belonging to the Tokugawa family which ruled Japan through the Edo period.
- Lunch in Ginza (Restaurant name unknown) – The food here was outstanding, I was drooling editing the video together. We couldn’t remember the name but if you follow Google to this spot you should see it, it’s white and green sign over the door.
- Walk in Ginza on Chuo Dori – On weekends the road is closed to traffic and opened up to pedestrians. It’s a nice stroll and if you get tired you can have a sit down at one of many table and chair stations along the road.
- Donk! – The Japanese Walmart, you can find just about anything here and for a decent price. We generally come here for the food and snacks.
- ANA International Lounge – The very well equipped and comfortable ANA lounge at the Haneda international terminal.
Thanks for watching/reading!