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Where We Are: Tokyo, Japan

We have arrived in Tokyo: home to our final international Disney resort and our final international marathon! We had so many specific things to do here that we actually didn’t have a ton of time to do much exploring in the city. Although, we still managed to drink bubble tea in Harajuku, shuffle through Scramble Crossing, and eat conveyer belt sushi, so we think we’ve gotten to hit the highlights of this vibrant city.

Scramble Crossing is presumed to be the busiest intersection in the world. Located just outside Shibuya Station, 10 traffic lanes and 5 pedestrian crossings converge with an estimated 2,500 pedestrians crossing at each light change, averaging 500,000 people crossing the intersection each day!

Tokyo Disney was absolutely incredible. Many people put Tokyo DisneySea as their favorite Disney park, and I can see why. We personally put the park as our number two favorite park, behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, but we still adored our time at the park. DisneySea is nautical themed with lands like Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront and Mermaid Lagoon. The lands are impeccably themed with the same level of detail that puts Animal Kingdom as our favorite park. The snack selection is also on point with treats like blueberry popcorn, Toy Story green alien mochi, and pizza spring rolls (which sadly we didn’t get to try because that stand was being refurbished while we were there).

Tokyo DisneySea with a view of Mysterious Island.

We also ran the Tokyo Marathon, our third World Marathon Major. The race was great, but the logistics left much to be desired. We waited over an hour in line for packet pickup (longer than we waited for any ride at DisneySea!). The people here just seem to be totally cool waiting in lines, and as a result, there are always lines everywhere.

We ran the race for charity, and at the end of the race, we got shuffled into a line to take us to the Charity Lounge. This was more punishment than anything and it was almost a full hour before we boarded a bus, creeped through marathon city traffic, and then walked almost three full blocks in the cold only to end up in a room with chairs. Compared to every other race where you finish the marathon and then pass out in the grass 100 meters later, we found this to be the actual worst. But the race itself was great, and the energy of the spectators along the course was the best we’ve seen.

All smiles as we brave the cold at the Tokyo Marathon. We ran a solid race, barring some IT band issues.

First Impressions on Tokyo

  • Space toilets. The bathrooms here are fancy AF. Nearly every one we’ve used has had heated seats, automatic cleaning functions and motion activated background music. By each toilet is a remote control with features like bidet spray type, pressure and temperature. We looked forward to having to use the bathrooms here! For comparison, we just left Beijing, home to the squatty potty (aka hole in the ground) and public bathrooms without stall doors, so yeah, it was a bit of an upgrade.
  • Everyone is SO nice. I hate to generalize entire populations, but I have not crossed a single person who has not said hello, offered to help me, or greeted me pleasantly. Even people who don’t speak English (most everyone here) have been patient and kind as we point to order and communicate with hand signals. Before we arrived, we’d heard the people here are very friendly and so far we can 100% confirm this positive stereotype.
  • People follow all the rules. Related to being nice, people here are also just uber polite and follow every single rule. This is most easily observed at Disney resort, where there are many rules and instructions to follow. People wait patiently in line for everything, whether it’s a photo spot or a place to watch a show or parade. The polite culture actually comes at a cost to productivity and efficiency. Here, it feels like no one wants to challenge anyone’s ideas, and as a result, there is some really poor execution of ideas (like the marathon expo). Kenny looked this up, and this is in fact a known issue with Japanese business culture.

    This picture perfectly captures the polite and rule following-ness of people in Japan. Just look at how orderly everyone is sitting waiting for a show to start at DisneySea.

What you need to know — Tokyo:

  • Population: 9.2 million
  • Altitude: 40 meters
  • Exchange Rate:  106 Japanese Yen to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Japanese
  • Walking Tour: Nope
  • Time Zone: Japan Standard Time, UTC +9 (13 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Kind of. They have Uber for hailing Taxis, but not ride share.
  • Public Transit: Yes, they have a great transit system including many buses and trains
  • Emergency Number: 119
  • Running: Tokyo Marathon, baby!
  • American Football: No longer in season.
  • Starbucks: Yes!
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: Yes! Sakura Strawberry Pink Mochi Frappuccino and Sakura Strawberry Pink Milk Latte. We tried the Pink Milk Latte, and it was tasty, but we didn’t realize it didn’t have coffee, so that was kind of a bummer. Also, I was bummed because I knew that the American Cherry Pie Frappuccino was no longer featured, but I thought they might have a drink that was equally exotic, but I didn’t so much find that to be the case.
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: No
  • Coffee Price: A grande specialty latte at Starbucks is about 600 yen (~$6 USD) and regular brewed coffee is between 400 – 500 yen (~$4-5 USD)
  • Beer Price: Oof. Expensive after Cambodia’s 50 cent beers! They range form 600 – 1,000 Yen (~$6-10 USD)

The gorgeous view from the Asahi Sky Room near Asakusa.