Category Archives: Tokyo

Japanese breakfast at Sukiya Takeshiba – Minato, Tokyo

During our stay in Japan we tried each and every traditional dish we encountered on our way. We haven’t limited our exploration to the most popular ramen and sushi options and we included rice cakes, dried fish, matcha tea products and so on. In order to do so, we booked the hotel without any meal included to avoid the usual “international breakfast” you might find all over the world.

Obviously, the first morning we woke up in the Asian Country, we rushed to the nearest breakfast restaurant and ordered one of the “special” breakfast options (the menu was only in Japanese but luckily was provided with photos of the meals).

If you are used to western food and taste, you might find the Japanese breakfast weird. We have got steamed rice, miso soup (made with green onions, seaweed, tofu and fermented soy beans paste), nori (dried seaweed), tsukemono (pickles) and natto (fermented soy beans) and a raw egg.

The Japanese Break Fast

Japanese breakfast in a common restaurant in Tokyo. Natto (the fermented soy beans) can be disgusting for someone.

Since I didn’t know what to do or how to combine the food together, considering that no one was speaking English in the restaurant, I had to learn from another customer how to deal with the food I had in front of me.

so I added some soy sauce to the natto, I had the miso soup with the spring onions and some rice with the nori. I was enjoying my breakfast when I saw the other customer breaking the raw egg on top of the rice and enjoying it. My partner stopped eating while I managed to have the unusual mix. But the worst moment was when we had to eat natto. 

The taste itself is not bad, but the consistency and texture of the mix is weird. The fermented soybeans are covered by a filamentous and sticky jelly that resembles something really unpleasant. Again, my partner gave up at the first bite, I struggled to have a second. I had to drink an entire glass of iced barely tea to cancel the fastidious sensation from my mouth.

Needless to say that we have opted for a somehow more suitable breakfast option during the rest of our holiday.The service was nice and the food came quick because precooked and ready to eat. Even though it is based on a fast-food philosophy, the quality of the food was good enough.

Funny start of our holiday.

Airport Review – Haneda International – Tokyo

If you are planning to visit Tokyo and from there visit some other areas of Japan, you might be asked to chose between two possible airports: Narita and Haneda. Narita is the new international airport and it seems to be exceptionally designed. I have a couple of friends that flew to Narita and they all said the same: great airport but it is 40 minutes by train from the City.

By chance we had to fly to Haneda, the former principal airport and now the reference point for domestic flights and some selected international ones. The airport is extraordinarily close to the city that could be reached in 10 minutes with the available monorail, which links the airport with Hamamatsucho Station where the Yamamote Line (a circular JR line that connects almost all Tokyo neighborhoods), other JR Lines and subways are easily reachable.

We flew from Dubai to Tokyo with Emirates and landed in Haneda whose arrival terminal is very minimal but efficient. Indeed, we landed, passed through immigration and collected our baggage in less than 20 minutes. A high speed WiF is also available, which I successfully used to call home with Skype without any trouble.

The Airport staff are very polite and available to offer information and indication and almost all of them speak English in a suitable way (rare thing in Japan).

Haneda airport facilities

Haneda airport doesn’t offer the entertainment that Narita does, but it is very efficient. – photo from http://www.haneda-airport.com

The departure terminal is al-right with a check-in process efficient even though not really as fast as expected. Compared to Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai, Haneda seems really small, however,  it offers enough souvenirs shops and restaurants to spend easily 1 or 2 hours while waiting for boarding. just note that some shops close at 10 p.m., hence you might miss that nice bag you wanted to buy “after a quick bite” as we did.

The monorail is perfectly integrated in the airport and is easy to reach. Note that since it is operated by JR you can use your JR Pass to access it. However, if you have bought a JR Exchange Order in advance and need to exchange it with the real Pass, remember that the JR office in Haneda Airport closes at 18.30 Tokyo time and you will be asked to pay for the monorail ride if you land after that time.

The use of the JR Pass can seem quite complicated and its high cost can discourage from buying it but it is a valuable tool if you plan to visit more than Tokyo. This detailed JR Pass guide shows you hot it works.

Hotel Review – Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba – Tokyo

When we decided to travel to Japan and to spend few days in Tokyo, most of the best hotels in town were already fully booked or with only super expensive suites available. Among the ones with rooms available at an affordable price, we opted for Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba hotel that is conveniently located at 7 minutes’ walk from Hamamatsucho Station, which offers links to the major JR Lines (Yamamote in first place), the airport monorail and subway system.

It’s location is superb if you land at Tokyo Haneda Airport, especially at night, since the hotel can be easily reached in 20 minutes from that airport. Moreover, the hotel  is close to Tsukiji Fish Market and Hinode Pier from where you can get a boat and explore the bay or cruise the river up to Asakusa district.

The hotel is a bit anonymous, with very little decorations and the main entrance is tricky to be found. Just remember that the lobby is located at the 4th floor, hence you need to get the elevator from the 1st floor (note also that the ground floor does not exist in Japan. They start counting from 1).

Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba

The hotel is conveniently located close to Hinode Pier and Hamamtsucho Train/Metro Station – photo from Google Images

The hotel staff was very helpful but no one speaks a fluent English. However, they managed to handle a simple discussion about timings, rules and basic information.

As common in Tokyo, the room was very small with enough space for the bed, a tiny desk with chair and very few amenities. We had issues in managing our luggage since there was space to open only one bag at a time. We are 1.90 m tall and found the space just enough to survive even though the bed was surprisingly big enough.

The bathroom was minimal with a smart toilet, sink and shower. A hair drier and some toiletries were available as well as towels. Both bathroom and room were always very clean and in order.

When I booked a standard double room with city view, I was optimistically hoping to have a superb view of Tokyo. Unfortunately, our room no. 715 offered only close buildings and the elevated train rail.  The room is perfectly sound-proofed and we did not get disturbed by any noise coming from outside. However, you might prefer to try a bay view room for a hopefully better view.

The hotel offers a free WiFi connection that works perfectly in the lobby but has sometimes problems in the room. We did not have any meal at the hotel, therefore I cannot provide any comments.

The hotel accepts credit cards (useful to specify in Japan, since many commercial activities accept only cash).