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First time in Tokyo - Asakusa and Ueno

First time in Tokyo - Asakusa and Ueno

Old Jan 15, 19, 7:13 pm
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First time in Tokyo - Asakusa and Ueno

First time visiting Tokyo and Japan. Wondering your thoughts on staying in Asakusa or Ueno area as a base for a first timer?
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Old Jan 15, 19, 7:50 pm
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They're interesting neighborhoods - old fashioned, blue collar, and traditional in their own way. You'll find accommodation and food cheaper than in the glitzy parts of town, which makes these areas attractive to budget conscious tourists. They might not look as tidy as recently developed areas, but they're safe, clean, and full of character.

Ueno is one of the five or six hubs that encircle Tokyo, so it has great railway connections (including the Shinkansen lines to the north and the Keisei line(s) to the airport). It has more of a "big city" feel, but there are nearby neighborhoods like Yanaka that give you a sense of a bygone era. It's handy for several national museums in Ueno Park. Asakusa is by the river and sees a significant number of tourists who visit Senso-ji (an impressive temple complex).

Plenty of foreign tourists stay in both areas. Since Tokyo has an excellent transportation network, they're both fine as bases to explore the rest of the city.
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Old Jan 15, 19, 10:12 pm
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Stayed in Ueno near the station. Great location for moving around Tokyo
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Old Jan 15, 19, 10:25 pm
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Originally Posted by SQTraveller View Post
Stayed in Ueno near the station. Great location for moving around Tokyo
do you recall the property you stayed at?
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Old Jan 16, 19, 12:20 am
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Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
do you recall the property you stayed at?
Mitsui garden.Rooms were a bit small but it's Tokyo

They're a chain if I recall correctly
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Old Jan 16, 19, 3:50 am
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I would stay where you are closest to the train/subway station or closest to multiple subway lines.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 4:00 am
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Think also about airport transportation. IMO the most convenient is the Friendly airport limobus door to door to your hotel, from/to both HND and NRT, but you need to check the schedules carefully as some hotels have very frequent service while other (sometimes larger) hotels don't.

Yes you can take NEX to Tokyo station (or.....) and transfer to the subway system (or a taxi), but this is bad with luggage as you typically must walk up and down stairs and the transfer path in major stations can be a long walk.

It's common for people, including locals, to take the limobus to/from a convenient nearby hotel with good service but again you're probably then transferring to a taxi. Moreover, for the return to the airport, hotel guests have priority, so you could face a problem with being left behind if the bus you need is full.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 4:30 am
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I stayed at The Gate hotel in Asakusa, which I thoroughly enjoyed, on my last trip there. Liked the neighbourhood - I'm not interested in glitz and high-end stuff, and it was very well connected. You can get the train direct from NRT to Asakusa Station (the Keisei Limited Express) which delves into the metro. There are lifts to take you to street level. Easy enough if you're Black-Catting your luggage and don't mind the longitudinal seating.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 6:12 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Think also about airport transportation. IMO the most convenient is the Friendly airport limobus door to door to your hotel, from/to both HND and NRT, but you need to check the schedules carefully as some hotels have very frequent service while other (sometimes larger) hotels don't.

AFAIK, Ueno isn't on any airport bus routes. Fortunately, the Keisei railway offers good, direct, services from Narita - The Skyliner express fare is about Y2,400 with a journey time of about 40 minutes. The Limited Express fare is Y1,030 for a journey time of about 80 minutes.
From Haneda, the route to Ueno is a little more convoluted. You could take the monorail and transfer to the Yamanote line. As you say, it's not ideal if you have a lot of luggage.
Asakusa is well served with direct trains that go from both airports to Asakusa subway station, as Stut mentioned. These services depart from the Keisei station at Narita or Keikyu station at Haneda.
Definitely agree that you should not take the Narita Express via Tokyo station if you're heading to Ueno or Asakusa.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 10:21 am
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Is there a reason you have to stay in these districts opposed to Shibuya or Shinjuku which will offer you a lot more close by especially at night?
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Old Jan 16, 19, 10:28 am
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If a person is not into nightlife or the fashion scene and doesn't need to make any business connections AND would like to save some money, then there is no particular advantage to staying in Shinjuku or Shibuya. Both are crowded, confusing, noisy, and short on attractions that might be considered "typically Japanese."

The northern part of the Yamanote Line is quieter, cheaper, and more likely to give the visitor a look at what life is like for typical middle class residents of Tokyo.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 10:56 am
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Tokyo is basically a giant blob of loosely related neighborhoods (which are each basically a city unto themselves with very distinct personalities). In all of my visits, I never find myself in the same area two days in a row (unless I am at Disney), because there are just so many interesting places to go to all over the place. The great thing is that they are all easily within reach from train. The single most important factor in choosing where to stay is the proximity to a subway station that provides good connections to everywhere else. Pretty much any stop on the Yamanote circle line is going to be close (or at least easy to reach) to wherever you want to be. Ueno and Asakusa are perfectly fine bases for a trip.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 11:11 am
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I stay in that area whenever I am forced to stay in Tokyo. Anyone staying in or near Ueno should avoid the limo-bus and travel from the airport via the Keisei Line - the Skyliner or the Access Express. I think the Skyliner is far superior to the Narita Express.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 11:56 am
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OP, will you be flying in/out of NRT or HND?

I ask since there are no-connection train routes for NRT-Ueno and HND-Asakusa

Ueno is my family's and my favorite hood. I think that I have returned there > 10 times.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 2:54 pm
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For a first time visit, I'd chose Asakusa of the two neighborhoods your selected. It's convenient to both airports via train (Narita is a bit more direct than Haneda and you can do with 0 transfers), is close to Tokyo Metro, and while definitely quieter than Shinjuku or Shibuya, still has something going on at all hours of the day if you wander deep enough in. Prices are also quite reasonable, and the proximity to the shrine and the tourist stuff that accompanies it makes for a really nice daytime environment.

I stayed at the Hotel Hokke Club Asakusa, they're a Japanese chain with a bunch of locations. Very clean and comfortable room, though Tokyo sized and less than a 5 minute walk to transport, 7/11s, restaurants and other things.
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