Arrival in Narita Airport Sunday Oct. 5, 2014
Our flight arrived at 7:15 pm and typhoon Phanfone was still lingering in the city. Walking down the path towards customs and baggage claim, we found this great Welcome mural where we stopped for our first photos.
A helpful tip from JTB USA prompted me to take advantage of N'EX Tokyo Direct. Since we were tourists, we were eligible for the promotional half price fare. The Japan Railway's Narita Express train is a very convenient way to travel from Narita Airport to major Tokyo stations without having to transfer trains.
I couldn't really see much outside the windows of the train because it was dark and rainy. But my excitement was growing. My childhood dream of traveling to Japan has finally come true!
It was still pouring when we reached the Tokyo station so we decided to take a cab. I came prepared with a printout of the hotel directions with Japanese characters. (Google Maps is awesome.) It made it easy for our cab driver to understand where we wanted to go. After only a few minutes on the main thoroughfare, he made a quick turn into an alley and stopped. Then he pointed up to the neon sign with our hotel's name.
"Yup. This is it," I recognized Sotetsu Fresa Inn from the photos I saw online. We jumped out and got our bags. Thankfully, the rain was beginning to subside. My husband Alan tried to leave a tip but the taxi driver waved his hand to signal no. Then he pushed the money back into Alan's hand. Told ya. There's no tipping in Japan.
We proceeded to the building's second floor where the hotel lobby and front desk are located. The place was exactly how it looked when I used Google Business View. When shopping online for this hotel, I was able to take a virtual tour of the 2nd and 9th floors. So I felt like I've been here before. Gotta love new technology.
The front desk staff welcomed us with warm smiles and to our delight, they spoke good English. The young lady who took care of our registration gave me a welcome amenity. "For you," she politely said with a high-pitched voice and a slight bow. With both hands, she presented a mini drawstring plastic pouch. Inside were one-time-use packets of skin care products like cleansing foam and moisturizing oil and lotion. Nice touch.
As soon as our check-in was squared away, we whisked ourselves to our room on the 4th floor. Typical of hotel accommodations in Japan, our room was probably no bigger than a regular cabin on a cruise line.
It's amazing how you can make do with such little space. Everything was fine until we laid out our luggage. Then we had to walk sideways from our bed to the bathroom. LOL!
The hotel bathroom was just as tiny yet complete with all the amenities you could ever need: toothbrush with mini toothpaste, razor, plastic foldable brush (one that you can easily stash in your purse), and cotton swabs. There were two of each and every single one of them was individually wrapped in plastic.
But my favorite part is that the toilets had automatic bidets!
My good friend Jinky Cating recommended this hotel. She knew it was going to be my first time in Tokyo and she thought it would be good idea to stay in the quieter side of the city. Sotetsu Fresa Inn is located in the Kyobashi area which is near Ginza. We couldn't wait to explore the city in the morning. But for tonight, we'll enjoy our close quarters...and pajamas.