Essence of Japan--pre and post hotel recommendations

We will be taking a mid October Essence of Japan Tour. We will use our gift of time at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, but we will have another extra day in Tokyo at the beginning of the trip and an extra day in Kyoto at the end. Any suggestions for good hotels to stay at on our first and last nights?


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    Also wondering if we should spend the extra day at the end in Kyoto and take a night train to Tokyo and spend the night there since we will be flying out from Tokyo the following evening.

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    We did this trip in April 2023. At the end of the trip, we spent 3 extra days in Tokyo. Did a LOT of walking and some subway travel to parts of the city we didn't visit with Tauck. Travelled back to Tokyo via Shinkansen train, about 2 1/2 hours.
    I was happy we spent the extra time in Tokyo, as there was more to see and personally, I was a bit underwhelmed by Kyoto, probably because everyone raves about it. I glad we didn't spend an extra time there. What we saw on tour was the right amount, in my opinion.

    We stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo at the end of the trip. It is located on the east side of the city, within walking distance of Tokyo Station (15 min) and Ginza 5 min). The rooms are smaller than the Park Hyatt, but it's a beautiful Hotel and service was exemplary. Our TD told us Tauck used to stay there. It was about 500 USD/night per room.

    If you choose to do this, Tauck will transport you to the Kyoto train station, but will not arrange your transport from Tokyo to the airport. I took the Narita Express from Tokyo Sta to NRT and my travel companions took the train to HND for their flight. Be aware that the airport train ticket kiosks don't accept American credit cards (I tried both a Chase Sapphire Reserve and a Capital One). You'll need cash for that. The Tokyo subways do accept our credit cards (go figure!). The best place to get Yen is an ATM inside a 7-11. They are everywhere.

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    BKMD, Thank you for your recommendations. What were the highlights of your extra three days in Tokyo?

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    If you are dog lovers you should 1. watch the movie Hachi, a true story about a dog, then 2. take the subway to the Hachi memorial ( in Shibuya?) 3. wait on line to take your picture with the sculptures. (hint- keep plenty of tissues on hand while watching the movie)

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    TamC - I don't recall the names of specific neighborhoods, but we visited several that weren't covered on the tour. Visited lots of parks, people watching, a paella festival(!) in a park across from the Imperial Hotel, a visit to the Imperial Gardens, walking thru the bowels of Tokyo Station (which goes on for blocks underground including some excellent restaurants, walking around Ginza and its shops including a beautiful rooftop garden at the Ginza6 building, a visit to Tokyo Tower.

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