After taking the bullet train back from Kyoto the night before it was time for our last day in Japan... A full day in Tokyo before we'd head to the airport to end our trip with Hong Kong Disneyland. This final day meant indulging in a few like-to's that we didn't get to visit during our previous trip as well as one final Tokyo Disney stop before we had to say goodbye.
Staying at the Sheraton Tokyo Bay (the same hotel we stayed at during our honeymoon), we got a later start, having lunch at Ikspiari Kitchen one more time before heading into the city. We were able to visit my host father (from my high school trip where I stayed with a host family in 2006--we visited the rest of the family for dinner at the beginning of the trip) for a light bite and a tour of Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi near where he worked.
After our visit there, we moved back towards Odaiba to experience teamLab Borderless, a well known art installation that had come highly recommended, and even more highly Instagrammed. I'll let the photo captions do the talking to explain that unique attraction, but I strongly recommend giving it a visit if you're into trying something totally unique.
It is always hard, especially writing about it months later, to reflect in the moment on leaving Japan. It is no exaggeration that the country is the most welcoming, polite, gracious you'll find, thanks so much in part to the people and their persistence of culture. Having visited three times now, I feel at ease knowing that my experience has been consistently warm and welcoming each and every time. I talked up Japan to my wife based on two weeks spent as a sixteen year old and let her experience what I loved about the country firsthand during our honeymoon years later. Going back once more, the common anxiety of travel--going somewhere you've never been before (because on this trip we were) and a place where your language is not the primary... Those concerns melt away as soon as you step off of the plane.
It is no secret that Japan is my favorite place in the world and Tokyo easily is my favorite city. I have a family there that I consistently keep in touch with, which obviously tints my view a little bit, but every experience I've had has left me in a state of not wanting to leave... And desperately wanting to come back. There's a feeling of sadness, if not dread, that comes with a trip here coming to an end, unlike any I've experienced anywhere else. That is the best and worst part about Japan--the bliss of a trip here happening, and the sadness that follows it coming to an end.
At least this time around we had one more stop left on our trip that we were excited about...
Yotsubanokaori at Ikspiari Kitchen is another favorite of mine thanks to their fresh selection of tempura fried foods!
One last meal at Ichizenya at Ikspiarari Kitchen for this trip.
I'd always wanted to visit the Nihonbashi branch of Mitsukoshi. Many know the store because of the Epcot location at the Japan Pavilion but this is the real deal...
And it is absolutely gorgeous inside!
I can't look away!
So this ended up being more luxury than Harrod's and less like Macy's than I would have expected. Lots of window shopping, but not a lot I'd buy unless I was willing to spend a good chunk of change. We did buy a few articles of clothing before heading out though.
The Palette Town section of Odaiba features the MEGA WEB TOYOTA City Showcase, a show floor and driving hall to show off the latest Toyota creations.
But that's not why we were here...
teamLab Borderless is one of several teamLab installations throughout the world and one of four in Tokyo. The experiences this group designs are interactive, transformative and self-guided. There is no right or wrong way to explore... And if you take it at a casual pace, you'll probably be here for at least a few hours. We spent four and a half here.
The thing about teamLab experiences is that the rooms don't remain the same forever, meaning that if you stand here for twenty minutes, the experience will be totally different.
The lighting junkie in me was absolutely floored by Borderless.
Animals play a big part in Borderless...
teamLab basically took a large warehouse and turned it into an Instagrammable art exhibit and it is extremely popular...
One room is mirrored with a large number of rotating lamps... The light sequences were mesmerizing.
I'm absolutely loving this!
Animals hopping in a row along the walls of Borderless...
One of the big showstopping rooms...
My absolute favorite room was this overwhelming collection of hanging LEDs.
The effect was incredible, with lights programmed to go off to simulate movement, rotation, rainfall, stars passing and more. The room's floors, ceilings and walls were mirrored so the already large number of lights was even more impressive due to the endless effect provided.
In this room, you would lay on your back in a net suspended above the group looking up at a domed surface, where a brief transformative movie was shown. A similar standing experience was available in a room nearby, except this one could be controlled and manipulated by guests using a special app for the exhibit.
Animals marching endlessly in a row... An awesome effect pulled off by glass projections and more mirrored walls.
It's like you're walking through a traditional Japanese water painting.
The most frequently Instagrammed room...
Seriously incredible though.
Another favorite of ours was the Lilypad room...
As you walked through the room you went higher towards the tops of the lilypads to go from seeing their undersides...
To their tops.
All the while, the visual experience continues to change.
This rock climbing experience challenges guests to climb from one end of the room to the other, stepping/holding only on rocks of the same color. Those who do are rewarded with a special light and sound combo.
I didn't get very far...
Another room had a projection mapped obstacle course... I didn't get very far on this one either.
There's even an interactive play area for the younger guests.
Believe it or not, this is an interactive trampoline that responds visually as you jump up and down on it. It is incredibly fun and very tiresome.
Active projection mapped surfaces fill this roamable space...
One final room...
Prepare for a detailed look at the menu at Wendy's First Kitchen... If only because Wendy's is so different in Japan compared to what it is in the US.
Look at all of the floats!
Would you ever order alcohol from your local Wendy's if you could?
I was tempted to try the UMAMI Chicken Tatsuta Sandwich...
You'd never find pasta at a Wendy's back home, let alone one with fish eggs.
All of the different french fry flavors!
After all that, all we got was melon soda.
Palette Town has its own ferris wheel but we passed this time around.
Only in Japan would you find this kind of high quality tile mural installed in a public transit station.
Time to say our final See Ya Real Soon to Tokyo Disney...
Bon Voyage is really the place to go when it comes to Tokyo Disney Resort merchandise.
Easter ears fun!
I definitely bought one of these Usapiya to bring home.
I love this store so much!
You can tell I'm stalling...
Walking around the resorts has always been my way of squeezing a little more "Disney time" out of the trips when I've already had my time in the parks.
The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is gorgeous regardless of the time of day at which you visit.
The interior is expansive... Not unlike the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.
Tile murals and marble floors...
Zima is still a thing here.
Tokyo Disneyland Hotel crest out front...
Time to head out...
While we won't likely be back in 2020, Tokyo is never far from top of mind when it comes to planning our travel.
So many Kit-Kat flavors!
Baumkuchen is a popular treat in Japan despite being rooted as a German pastry. We definitely brought some home with us.
I miss these Japanese flavors...
One last katsu curry for the road.
What do you do when flying between Tokyo and Hong Kong? Watch Back to the Future Part 2 and drink Fanta Melon, obviously.
Fun Fact: Needles is played by Flea, bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As we left Japan, I turned out my window on the plane to be greeted with this view...
The best view of Mt. Fuji I've ever gotten despite three total trips to Japan.
I definitely took some sushi with me for the road... The next movie to watch, Into the Blue.
And with that, we entered our final two days of the trip, spent entirely at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
bert425 wrote:Seeing your explanation of what it is? yeah, that's exactly what it tasted like. I'm glad I tried it too, but it wasn't one of my favorites on my trip to Japan.
Definitely one of the more "interesting" things I tried on the trip... The texture was probably the thing that surprised me the most. Like a savory marshmallow skewer.
Condor wrote:Overall a great trip! You did several different temples in Kyoto than I did and they look fantastic. I love your Mt. Fuji aerial photos too.
The crazy thing is just how many temples there are in Kyoto to choose from... We had planned for several more and simply ran out of time. We're probably going to plan another day to go back next time to hit some of the ones we missed.
Nrthwnd wrote:All I can say now, is Kit Kats RULE! Thank you for that photo, Adam.
Seriously, the amount of Kit Kat flavor choices they have in Japan is overwhelming. There's a specialty store in Tokyo that we have to plan to get to at some point in one of our future trips.
ytterbiumanalyst wrote:That's incredible. I'm having a hard time picking which photo I like best. That stainless steel pillar department store is pretty awesome, and Mt. Fuji, and melon soda...so much to love in Japan.
Thank you! Mitsukoshi was worth walking around just for the visuals! We need to go back when we have more time to explore more of the Nihonbashi store--it really was crazy just how much there was inside.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
We landed in Hong Kong and quickly grabbed a cab (a surprisingly easy process) from the airport to Hong Kong Disneyland... Research and reviews pushed us to choose Disney Explorers Lodge as our hotel for the trip, and man was that a great choice! This hotel is part Animal Kingdom Lodge, part Aulani and part Polynesian Village Resort wrapped into one awesome package. The decor was right up our alley, and the view from our sea-view room was fantastic!
It didn't take us long to drop our stuff off in the room and make our way to the park by bus. It was a bit of a shock to find the park hours so much more narrow than elsewhere... The park opened at 10:00 AM (with the lands opening in successive phases) and closed entirely by 8:00 PM. This was great for us having just spent a week and a half roaming Japan at full speed, and thanks to the lower crowds, was more than enough time for us to enjoy our day and a half at the park. In this first day we arrived at 4:00 PM, so we only had four hours to squeeze in as much as possible, including the Paint the Night parade and the We Love Mickey nighttime spectacular on Main Street. We decided early on to plan those for our first night in case we loved them enough to want to repeat on our second night.
What was nice for us too was the fact that just a week earlier the new Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle attraction had had its grand opening. The crowds in this corner of the park were a little heavier than others, but it made exploring the rest of the park even easier as a result. The new attraction is a retheming of the former Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, maintaining the omnimover track and clamshell-style doombuggies, but removing the manual spinning controls from the former attraction. The new attraction replaced almost all of the former scenery with a mix of practical and screen environments that immerse guests in a battle between Doctor Zola's Hydra swarm bots and the titular characters from the films (Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly reprising their roles in the attraction). The ride sits somewhere between the classic Buzz Lightyear and its evolved form at Shanghai Disneyland, with less practical effects in this one, but more screens embedded organically in the sets. Honestly, I loved it. Paired with the Iron Man Experience (and the Iron Man meet and greet), this new Marvel section of Tomorrowland tells a cohesive story that feels like something that meshes with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is really amazing to see what is being done with Marvel in the parks.
We were able to get a decent amount accomplished in our first day, with our full day the next being even more production (photos from that day will round out the report with the final update)...
After two years of traveling the world we finally managed to make it to the last of the Disney Parks destinations on our last. And as it turned out, we arrived on our five year anniversary to the day.
Our awesome sea-view room in the Disney Explorers Lodge.
Little Easter touches in the room...
Look at that cute toiletry tin!
What a gorgeous setting for this resort!
Tiny castle becoming not so tiny castle...
This was still relatively early in the construction project.
Let's be honest... Mystic Manor is the #1 reason we wanted to come to Hong Kong Disneyland.
This might have been #2... Or at least in the top ten.
It was a strawberry sorbet and it was delicious!
Easter in Mystic Point...
I love all of the details scattered about Mystic Point...
I stopped to read every sign in this queue...
Seriously folks, Mystic Manor is the pinnacle.
I went in knowing so little about the inside of the ride experience and it made all of the difference in the world. I was blown away from the pre-show til the end of the ride.
The Mystic Movers are so awesome.
The sheer amount of effects found in this attraction is insane.
I've got many more photos from Mystic Manor for our final update, but know that this is my favorite Disney ride out there... I caveat that in the sense of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is my favorite Disney *experience* because of the combination of storytelling from the queues, pre-shows and the ride, but as a stand-alone ride, I believe Mystic Manor is the best of the best.
Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars was also highly anticipated for us... And thanks to short queues, we were able to ride this twice before the park closed. I have more photos to share from our second day, but it was a ridiculously fun ride... The best "Thunder Mountain" style coaster in existence and a fantastic evolution of the most brilliant elements of Expedition Everest.
This corner of Tomorrowland has become the Stark Expo, featuring the Iron Man Experience and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle had its grand opening just a week before our arrival and we were eager to try it out.
I love that both attractions' stories are so closely tied to each other.
Paul Rudd reprises his role of Scott Lang/Ant-Man and brings his trademark humor to the attraction.
Some really neat touches throughout the queue.
Evangeline Lilly also returns as The Wasp
The Dagger ride vehicles may look familiar...
The new experience is ridiculously fun and handles the experience of growing and shrinking throughout the ride in a really clever way.
Meat pies on Main Street from the Main Street Bakery while we wait for Paint the Night...
Fluffy cheesecake while we're at it!
Before Paint the Night was the We Love Mickey show, a projection mapping spectacular on Main Street U.S.A. that runs in lieu of a fireworks and castle spectacular.
Mickey shows up at the end of the experience and guests flocked to see him!
The original Paint the Night Parade still runs at Hong Kong Disneyland...
Many of the best floats that made their way to the Disneyland version are featured here.
Including this beauty.
The Frozen and Incredibles floats aren't featured here.
But thankfully my favorite float is!
Another cute and unique entrance statue for another Disney destination.
Since our evening ended early at the park, we figured it was a good time to go exploring... First up, Disney's Hollywood Hotel.
Some cool exterior touches for Easter...
More Easter fun.
One second we're here...
And after a few steps, we're back here.
We noticed something fun for the Epcot fan (me) in our room... Let's see if you can Find it.
Quite the company name.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
Great report as always Adam. Ya know Tokyo Disney has been and still is #1 on my parks bucket list but I have to say Hong Kong is really creeping up there, the resort just looks fantastic. They already have some really unique attractions and with the new Castle, Frozen land, and the Avengers Campus coming soon I'm curious to see where this park eventually ends up on people's Disney parks rankings.
Great report! I really like Hong Kong Disneyland, I found it to be a very charming park with kind of a cozy feel to it. It also helps that the two times I have visited there have been very little people resulting in many re-rides and walk on space mountain
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