We’re super excited to be starting a new series of Working Remote. A series where we take you along on a trip balancing working with exploring a location some where in the world. Part of our excitement of this series is that we finally managed to make Tokyo a working remote destination. Japan is definitely in my top three favourite countries to visit and this has been a very big dream for a very long, long time.
Episode 1: https://youtu.be/u1i8Y1SItl0
The main goal of having a blog that accompanies the video series is to fill in any details about the trip that would help others experience some of the things we did. Give more details about our accommodations or locations and attractions we visited so that if our video encourages someone to travel to the same location they have a head start in planning out the details. Well, that was the original goal I had in mind when we started, but somehow that was lost and I ended up recounting the story of the video in the blog. With this series I aim to return the blog back to it’s original vision!
With that out of the way, let’s look at some of the details behind this season of Working Remote.
On this trip we had a long travel day. In fact door to door we were travelling for about 29 hours. It could have been about 10 hours shorter but we opted to fly EVA Air. We had the chance to fly them in business class on a points redemption trip in the past and were very impressed. Having some flexibility in when we started this trip allowed me to find a really good deal on premium economy tickets with EVA. It’s a bit of a splurge, but one we’re willing to make as they have a few advantages on these long working remote trips, especially when the travel time is long.
Firstly is the luggage allowance, at least double that of economy. When comparing EVA to Air Canada, more than double economy. That comes in handy when you need to bring more with you than you would on a vacation. The second advantage to premium economy is the cabin and service. Much more comfortable seats than economy. The in-flight service is also improved. It’s a great compromise between economy and business class.
The other factor that sealed the deal was that we could fly out of Toronto Pearson at 1:45am in the morning. That means we could leave after work on a Wednesday, catching the very early flight Thursday and get into Tokyo on Friday. On these working remote trips we like to get into our destination late on a Thursday or early on a Friday. This suited our preferred schedule nicely without having to take 3 days off from work.
This did have us connecting through Taipei, which is where the extra 10 hours came from. I’m a bit of a travel geek so I’m willing to make the compromise of spending more time to experience more travel. We’ve never been to Taipei, and not that I claim to have really been now, we at least got to experience the airport.
This was our itinerary:
- BR35 – YYZ to TPE at 1:45am EDT Thursday, landing in TPE at 5:00am CST Friday (15 hour flight!)
- BR198 – TPE to NRT at 8:50am CST, landing in NRT at 1:15pm JST Friday
It was a large amount of flying, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. EVA is great and timing wise it worked out well. If I could find a similar deal on direct flights with Air Canada I would opt for that though!
Once in Japan at Narita International Airport we had to make our way into Tokyo. There are several options:
- Taxi – expensive have never done this, probably never will!
- Airport Limousine Bus – usually our preferred method as they will drop you off at your hotel (if you are staying at one on the route), but best part is they deal with your luggage for you.
- Train – usually the fastest option and most comfortable. There are a few options, you could take a local train or the Narita Express which is designed to transport travellers. The advantage of the Narita Express is there is plenty of space for luggage, local trains generally none.
We opted for the Narita Express because we were staying at an airbnb. In this case a limo bus could have worked as there is a hotel on the route close to our airbnb, but our new home station, Ikebukuro Station, is a little closer. There was a catch though, there are very few Narita Express trains going direct to Ikebukuro Station, most would have had us stop and transfer to another train. Luckily our timing worked out that we were able to catch one of these direct trains.
We were very lucky to get through customs and immigration, pickup our luggage, purchase tickets for the Narita Express and make it to the platform all in about an hour. If we had missed this train we would have been forced to take a different one with connections. We took the Limited Express Narita Express #28 which left Narita at 2:18pm.
We reached Ikebukuro Station at around 3:45pm and then only had about a 20-25 minute walk to our Airbnb. Without luggage in tow we found the same walk to be about 10 minutes, but navigating the second busiest station in the world with all our luggage was challenging. But heads down, we pushed on through.
For these longer stays we have relied on Airbnb. We generally aim for around 30 days and are looking for a condo of sorts which has a kitchen and decent space to work. There are other options we plan to investigate, but Airbnb seems to be the easiest. We’re not huge fans of the company, have had a few “issues” with their customer service, but luckily never had an issue with a host or their accommodations.
We settled on the neighbourhood around Ikebukuro Station through a combination of available accommodations, price and interest of the area. We have not spent much time in this area of Tokyo at all, I don’t even think we ever used Ikebukuro Station. Many things lined up which pushed us to pick this area as our temporary home.
We found this exceptional unit on Airbnb: https://abnb.me/9Zlg5tkcr5 – And we would highly recommend it. Not only was the space modern, clean and well designed, the host was absolutely amazing. Very attentive and willing to help. It had everything we were looking for, except a decent work space. I wasn’t very concerned when we choose the unit, but it did cause me a bit of grief at times. I overcame that mainly with working at Starbucks or other coffee shops as much as possible. While I do prefer to have a dedicated desk or table to work at, in Tokyo where space is limited you have to make some sacrifices. In the end I think we choose the right mix.
That’s a few more details on our travel day than we covered in the episode. If you have any questions about anything I might have left out please let me know in the comments below. Checkout the list of locations seen in this video below which includes links to Google Maps so you can find them all as easily as possible.
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Toronto Pearson International Airport – Toronto’s international airport where we start the majority of our travels. Terminal 1 is a delight to travel through, lots of shops and restaurants to chose from.
- Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport – Taiwan’s largest airport which hosted us for 5 hours as we waited to connect to Tokyo. Look for the free lounge areas, many including showers (bring your own towels and toiletries!).
- Narita International Airport – Japan’s largest international airport welcomed us back to Japan after a slightly stressful journey. This was our first time back through Narita and we were pleasantly surprised to breeze through the airport in record time for us.
- Seibu Department Store – Large department store in Ikebukuro Station with really good food options, both prepared foods and groceries. We stocked up here in preparation to ride out Typhoon Hagibis the following day.
- Tendon Tenya – Our favourite “comfort food” chain in Japan. Discovered several trips ago in Sendai, we’ve looked out for it every trip since. We were very happy to see a location minutes away from our home away from home.
Thanks for watching/reading!