I previously wrote about booking an ANA flight to Australia with a free stopover in Tokyo. I used Hyatt hotels for my stays there. My trip report of points and miles to Tokyo, Hyatt hotel reviews, and our activities is here. And you can learn more by listening to this episode of our PODCAST!
Japan took a long time to reopen d/t Covid. They are still pretty strict. My first problem occurred when I went to print my husband’s vaccination record and found out that they consider a valid certificate to include 3 vaccines (must have a booster). My husband only had the original vaccines. It was too late to have him get a booster, so he had to get the negative COVID test. Luckily, he was negative – that is always a little nerve-wracking.
You must go (at least at the time of this writing) to Japan Web on an app or computer and complete several steps, register your travel, and get a QR code to fast-track through customs.
We arrived at about 3:00 pm to the Narita airport. There are two airports near Tokyo, Narita, and Haneda, and often you fly in one and out of the other or vice versa. That was our case.
On arrival to Narita, many airport workers ensured we had the right info from Japan Web on our phones and where to go. If you haven’t completed the info on Japan Web, the airline gives you paperwork, and the workers put you in the right lane. We quickly went through the first area, scanned our QR code, gave index fingerprints, and went on to the next checkpoint. Here we scanned our second QR code and our passports and went onto the final area. It was all really quick, really easy. The key was having the Japan Web information done, and kudos to the helpful airport workers!
There are two main options to get into Tokyo itself. You can ride the express train or take the Keisei Narita Skyaccess train, which a reader suggested we do. To do this, after arriving at the North terminal, we took the escalator downstairs to the airport. There were a ticket station and helpful information desks where you could get tickets. Everyone was very helpful.
We found the area to wait for the train. On our ticket, we were in car 7 and seated at 11a and b. The train ride was about 45 minutes to Ueno station. There we followed the taxi signs and were at the Hyatt Centric Ginza in about 10 minutes. I had taken out Japanese Yen from the ATM before we left the airport. (It is always helpful to have the country’s currency for transportation if you can’t use a credit card). Our driver knew no English, but I showed him the picture and address of the hotel and wrote the name in Google Translate. It must have worked because we made it there safely, so our points and miles trip to Tokyo was off to a good start!
The Hyatt Centric Ginza was pretty unimpressive from the street. However, it was so, so cute – we loved it! We used 21K points/night to stay here for 2 nights. The cash price would have been about $650/night. The lobby area is upstairs and very cute and modern. Unfortunately, no suite upgrades were available, but we were given a deluxe room upgrade. There was a lot of room, and it was well-decorated and quite large.
We were informed that the Globalist breakfast was a buffet. They also showed us an area for WOH members to grab snacks and beverages 24/7. On arrival in Tokyo, we noticed that almost everyone wore a mask. Our hotel encouraged it but didn’t say anything when we didn’t have one on at first. We did start wearing them to make people more comfortable, though.
The room, though not a suite, was huge! Heated toilet seats – heaven!! (I’m missing them, to be honest). We loved the decor and thoroughly enjoyed the service at the hotel.
The breakfast buffet was excellent – so many choices! They could have cooked the eggs a little more, though. 😬
After a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the Hyatt Centric Ginza, we took walk to explore the area. We reached the old Tokyo Fish Market, which was crowded but very interesting. This is called the Tsukiji Outer Market.
The main event for the day was Sumo Wrestling. I booked this with the goal of Mr. Relunctant Traveler enjoying his stay. The surprise was that I LOVED it! It had so much ritual, drama, and excitement that I wished I could go again. There are three 14-day tournaments each year in Tokyo, and we were lucky to be there during one. We booked this as a group tour on Viator, and I was glad we did because we got so much background information. Even when there are no tournaments, one can take a tour to watch training. After our three week trip, which also included Australia and New Zealand, we both said that this was our favorite excursion!
Initially, I had planned to tour the city ourselves via Visit a City. I’ve used it before for self-guided tours. I changed to a private tour due to the size of the city and the language barrier. I was so glad I did. Our guide, Michi, filled us in on the history of the shoguns leading to the Emperors. He taught us how to use the subway and took us to a great lunch place, the Shibuya Tokyo Food Show, where we had many options. We saw the following sites with him:
An excellent guide to Tokyo can be found here. It is perfect if you want to see the city on your own. I was really happy with our guide, though. You can also get a free guide to tour Tokyo here. I would have done that if I hadn’t already booked a guide. Let me know if you use that free service.
It was cold, and we were tired after this day, so we headed to our next hotel, the Andaz Hyatt (loved it!), and ordered delicious room service. Here is my review of the Andaz Hyatt. If the Hyatt Centric was cute, the Andaz was the WOW! factor. Using points and miles to Tokyo is a dream when you stay in such nice accommodations. Having Globalist status makes it even more excellent!
Again we chose a private tour via Viator for a day trip to Kamakura. We wanted to get outside of the city and see something different. Here are a few different day trip options.
Our guide was harder to understand that day, making it a more challenging learning experience. He was very sweet and accommodating, though.
We spent about 10,000 Yen in transportation expenses and admissions on this trip, including the best burgers because we were craving them. Kamakura is a cute beachside town where we saw some kitesurfing and sailing despite the colder temperatures. It would be especially fun to visit during warmer months. In Kamakura, we visited:
We saw that our last day would have some rain, and we had walked 8 miles plus on each of our last two days. It was time for rest and get massages! Luckily, we had a huge room to hang out in and late checkout (5:00 pm), so we could shower and relax after our massages. The last day of our points and miles trip to Tokyo was a time to recharge before heading to Australia.
Our primary trip was to Australia and New Zealand. Getting a free stopover to Tokyo, Japan, on points and miles was the cherry on top of an already fantastic points and miles trip. We enjoyed the people’s hospitality and the city’s beauty and vastness (even without cherry blossoms in bloom), and we would heartily recommend it to others.
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