After years of yearning for a trip to Japan, I finally got the chance to visit. My daughter’s forthcoming nuptials in New Zealand was the perfect excuse to book a stop-over in Tokyo on the way home.
Like most people I had hear vague whispers about the Japanese obsession for bathing. If you asked anyone what their favourite thing would be about a trip to Japan they would probably say the food, the sights or the people, but for me it was the rooftop Onsen at our hotel which really made my trip stand out.
ReaseRch led me to book accommodation at Onsen Ryokan Shinjuku, it had what I was looking for, good location, Japanese style and a rooftop Onsen (which stayed open till 2am).
We arrived at Shinjuku station, tired but really excited. Shinjuku is the largest and busiest station in Japan. It has 200 exits (we used Google maps constantly to check which metro line and train exit we needed) and 36 platforms, along with a labyrinth of shops and restaurants. To a girl from the sticks the surging wave of human traffic was pretty overwhelming, however help is always available from the smartly dressed station staff, who helped us find the correct platform from which to buy our tickets.
Our hotel was an oasis of calm, it is nestled along a quiet street, away from the bright lights and bustle. On entering we were always greeted by quiet smiles and the atmosphere was one of hushed civility, politeness and charm.
Rooms are small in Tokyo, so the lack of a wardrobe didn’t surprise me. The surprise was delivered by my introduction to Japanese toilets which offer a range of amusements for the uninitiated.
Breakfast at the hotel is Japanese, on the day we booked it this consisted of fresh mackerel, pickled shrimps, miso soup and rice. Our tender British tastes preferred an early breakfast in Shinjuku train station where you could order an egg and toast platter, this came with a small side of pea soup and salad, after enjoying this we’d jump straight on the metro and explore Tokyo, returning to spend late afternoon in the hotel’s beautiful Onsen. It’s rooftop views, free ice pops and tinkling chill-out music made it the perfect place to sit and watch the city’s lights come on whilst planning that evenings restaurant.
As the hotel is in the epicentre of Shinjuku, it’s only a short walk to the Golden Gai and Memory Lane areas, which means ttere’s plenty to keep you occupied in the evenings. And the food? As lovers of sashimi and sushi I can only say it was amazing and more reasonable compared to London prices. Japanese restaurant food really is the best of everything, Wagu beef (for those that can afford it) the freshest fish, seafood and vegetables, all lovingly prepared and beautifully presented. I can’t wait to return to travel further afield in Japan.