A $1,000 Day in Tokyo for $100
I walked out of Tokyo Station, the big commuter hub in the city’s Chiyoda district, and turned to look up at its gorgeous brick facade. I was lost. I couldn’t find the Tokyo Station Hotel — a well-reviewed luxury property that was renovated in 2012. My mistake, it turned out, was leaving the train station at all. The hotel and the train station coexist in one long, outstretched building, which was completed in 1914 and offers a refreshing prewar architectural counterpoint to the glittering glass-and-steel skyscrapers Tokyo is now known for.
走出位于东京市千代田区的东京站(Tokyo Station)，我转回身去，抬头望向它那壮观的砖石外墙。我迷路了，无法找到东京站酒店(Tokyo Station Hotel)，它是一处广受好评的奢华物业，在2012年经过了重新装修。事实证明，我错就错在走出了火车站。酒店和火车站其实都位于一栋长长的舒展建筑里。东京如今以闪闪发光的摩天大楼闻名，在那些钢铁玻璃材质的大楼映衬下，这栋建成于1914年的大战前建筑给人以耳目一新之感。
I looped back in and found the hotel’s lobby, as well as its chief concierge, Marie Antoinette Mori, who greeted me at her desk. Originally from the Philippines, Ms. Mori became fascinated with Japan during its big 1980s economic boom. She studied international tourism in Japan, married a Japanese man and began working in the hospitality industry, where her career took off. “I became one of the favorites of Mr. Stringer” — the former Sony chairman Howard Stringer. “I was the only one who wasn’t afraid of him,” she said with a laugh.
我绕了回去，找到了酒店的大堂以及在接待台旁向我致意的首席礼宾员玛丽·安托瓦内特·莫里(Marie Antoinette Mori)。莫里来自菲律宾，1980年代日本经济腾飞时期，她逐渐爱上了这个国家。她在日本修习了国际旅游专业，嫁给了一个日本人，进入了酒店行业，她的事业自此蒸蒸日上。“我是斯特林格先生最喜欢的人之一”，她指的是索尼公司(Sony)前董事长霍华德·斯特林格(Howard Stringer)。“我是唯一一个不害怕他的人，”她笑着说道。
Ms. Mori had prepared an itinerary for a fictitious guest, spending $1,000 (about 110,000 yen) over the course of a day in this often-pricey city. My goal was to remake the itinerary on a budget of $100 — necessarily cutting a few corners, but hoping to retain the spirit of the original.
HIGH Ms. Mori escorted me to the top floor of her hotel, into a huge room where sunlight flooded in through large skylights. Guests grazed on a large, comprehensive morning buffet. Ms. Mori recommended the Tokyo Station Hotel breakfast (3,800 yen), where they could enjoy standard Western fare (eggs made to order, coffee, pastries) or regional Japanese staples, where the Tokyo Station really excels: Ishikari-nabe (hot pot from the northern Hokkaido region), traditional rice porridge, soybean milk skin, and boiled rape blossoms. Ms. Mori said many luxury hotels in the area had comparable buffets. The Shangri-La, she said, specializes in pastries. “Over there they have a, uh … what do you call it?” she asked. “A Cronut.”
LOW From one buffet in a huge train station to another, I went to the considerably cheaper Bar Marche Kodama in the Shinagawa train station in the Minato ward. It’s also a little tricky to find: Don’t exit the station once you get off at the Shinagawa stop. Go into the Ecute department store and you’ll find the small restaurant in the back corner. Once there, I feasted on an eclectic, mostly Italian-inspired buffet of prosciutto, green salad, fresh corn, pasta Bolognese, crispy fried rice and, for dessert, Italian wedding cookies. The inclusion of the salad was particularly nice — Japanese cuisine is healthy, but not necessarily heavy on raw, leafy greens. Total cost: 620 yen.
我在大型火车站内的自助餐厅之间穿梭，然后走进了港区品川火車站(Shinagawa train station)内价格相当低廉的Bar Marche Kodama。要找到它也得费点功夫：在品川站下车后别出站。走进Ecute百货商场，就能在后边的角落里发现这家小餐厅了。在那里，我尽情享用了一顿兼收并蓄、以意大利风味为主的自助餐，有火腿、蔬菜沙拉、鲜玉米、意大利肉酱面和松脆的炒饭，甜点则是意大利婚礼曲奇。能在自助餐里加入沙拉真是太好了——日本料理很健康，但不一定会大量使用生的绿叶蔬菜。总花费：620日元。
HIGH Ms. Mori quoted a price of roughly 15,000 yen to have a private sedan with a driver for three hours to ferry our faux big-spender around the city. The Tokyo Station Hotel goes so far as to meet guests at train platforms and escort them to the hotel — a service that comes only with staying at the hotel, of course, which can run over $1,000 per night.
LOW Logistics are tricky for those unfamiliar with the city. Get to know and love the train, because you’ll be spending quite a bit of time with it. Tokyo’s system is expansive and can be, in a word, daunting. There are over 100 different railway lines in Tokyo, and most of them are privately held by competing companies. The two big ones you’ll need to know are JR East, the largest railway system in Japan, and the Tokyo Metro, the city’s busiest subway system.
穷游。对不熟悉这座城市的人来说，交通是件麻烦事。你需要了解并爱上火车，因为你会在火车上度过不少时间。东京的交通系统价格不菲，而且可能令人望而生畏。东京有100多条铁路线，大部分由一些相互竞争的公司私人所有。你需要知道这两家大公司：一个是日本最大的铁路公司——东日本旅客铁道株式会社(JR East)；另一个是东京最大的地铁公司——东京地下铁株式会社(Tokyo Metro)。
If you’re planning to use only the subway or JR lines, there are passes for that. A combination ticket, though (which can be purchased in JR stations), is the better way to go. For 1,590 yen, you’ll be able to use several lines for one day, including all of Tokyo’s JR lines and the Tokyo Metro. Another option is to buy a Suica or Pasmo card (available at ticket vending machines in major train stations), reusable cards on which you load money; you touch them to the turnstile each time you ride.
There is a 500-yen deposit to pick up one of those cards, but it’s worth it — you won’t have to deal with individual tickets, you’ll get a small discount on rides and you can even use it to make purchases in some stores and at the city’s ubiquitous vending machines.
Related pro tip Get a SIM card for your phone — data only. You won’t want to be without a maps app when you’re walking around. Cards in the $15 to $20 range are widely available. (Make sure you get the right size: the latest-generation iPhones, for example, use nano SIM cards, not micro SIM.)
HIGH The Asakusa neighborhood is known for its Sensoji Buddhist temple, Tokyo’s oldest. Ms. Mori recommended a rickshaw tour of the neighborhood, passing along Sumida Park, one of the many places in Tokyo to see sakura, or cherry blossoms, in the early spring. A two-hour tour costs 16,250 yen.
LOW I set out to do some exploring on my own, and see some sakura in the process. A follower of the Frugal Traveler Twitter account recommended the Nezu Museum in the Minato district. While the Nezu’s collection of Buddhist art and Chinese bronzes was interesting, I was most impressed with the lush garden out back. The garden — about four acres — is shockingly big in a place where space is so precious. It truly feels like an escape from the city. Admission was 1,000 yen.
穷游。我自己去乱逛，沿途看到了一些樱花。穷游栏目(Frugal Traveler)Twitter账户上的一位关注者建议参观港区(Minato district)的根津博物馆(Nezu Museum)。虽然该博物馆收藏的佛教艺术品和中国青铜器很有趣，但我印象最深刻的是博物馆后面的一个花木茂盛的花园。它大约占地4英亩，在空间如此宝贵的区域，它真是大得惊人。这里真的能逃离城市的喧嚣。门票1000日元。
From there, I hopped a couple of trains over to the Korakuen station and walked up to the University of Tokyo’s Koishikawa Botanical Gardens. After paying admission (400 yen) I headed from the southeast entrance to a huge open expanse in the center of the garden. I found families picnicking, children playing and people lining up for coffee and tea from the ramshackle snack bar called Coffee Time (a coffee is 300 yen). All were enjoying the budding cherry blossoms and cool spring weather.
我从那里换了几趟火车，在后乐园站(Korakuen)下车，走到东京大学(University of Tokyo)的小石川植物园(Koishikawa Botanical Gardens)。买了门票（400日元）之后，我从东南口前往花园中心的一片开阔的空地。很多家庭在这里野餐，孩子们在玩耍，人们在一个名叫咖啡时光(Coffee Time)的简易小吃店前排队购买咖啡和茶（一杯咖啡300日元）。大家在观赏刚刚绽放的樱花，享受凉爽的春天。
HIGH Ms. Mori recommended the omakase tasting menu at — where else? — Sukiyabashi Jiro. The 90-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono’s already formidable status was made outright legendary with the release of the 2012 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” The 10-seat restaurant is difficult to get into, but Ms. Mori can make the arrangements. “We can get you into Jiro,” she said, “but then you have to go. You have to. We can’t have no-shows at Jiro.” The price for lunch (or dinner) is 30,000 yen.
富游。莫里推荐数寄屋桥次郎餐厅（Sukiyabashi Jiro，她肯定会选这里）的厨师发办品尝菜单。90岁的寿司大师小野二郎(Jiro Ono)已经具有令人敬畏的地位，2012年的记录片《寿司之神》(Jiro Dreams of Sushi)更是让他成为传奇。这家餐厅只有10个座位，很难进入，但莫里能安排。“我们能搞到座位，”她说，“但搞到你就必须得去吃。你必须去。我们不能订了又不去。”一顿午餐（或晚餐）3万日元。
LOW Jiro received three Michelin stars; Tsuta received one. It was the first Japanese ramen shop ever to receive such an honor. The small, unassuming space, close to the Sugamo station on the JR Yamanote line, is difficult to get into for different reasons: They take no reservations and operate on a ticket system. I went early one morning, around 7:30 a.m., and waited outside the restaurant with a handful of other people. Eventually the door slid open and a man came out with a handful of small, laminated tickets. He handed me one: “Come back,” he said. “Between 12 and 1 p.m.” He took a 1,000-yen bill as a deposit, then went back inside and closed the door. When I returned at noon, I was treated to the best bowl of shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen I’d ever eaten. The broth was deep, intense and slightly sweet. The accompaniments — soft-boiled egg, bamboo shoots and pork slices — were done perfectly. The basic ramen bowl at Tsuta is 950 yen — I paid a total of 1,250 for three extra slices of pork.
HIGH Who doesn’t like a little costume play built into their vacations? Ms. Mori recommended something called a “kimono experience and photo shoot,” wherein the patron pays for elaborate kimono dress (in one of several styles: oiran, maiko or geisha), as well as hair and makeup. A photo shoot follows. Men, don’t think you’re getting out of this: There’s a samurai option for you. The oiran set with two kimonos costs 27,000 yen.
LOW I found a different way to incorporate both ceremonial clothing (of sorts) and culture into my visit: taking in a Japanese baseball game. I bought my ticket at one of the many 7-Elevens in Japan. (7-Eleven is owned by a Japanese company.) It was a complicated process, one that involved a helpful clerk trying to spell my name in the Japanese alphabet — buying at the stadium probably would have been easier. It also involved deciding what “cheering section” I wanted to sit in. I decided on an outfield ticket on the side of the home team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
穷游。我找到了另一种把仪式服装（算是吧）和文化融入旅行的方法：观看一场日本棒球比赛。我的票是在7-Eleven便利店买的（日本的7-Eleven特别多，因为它由一家日本公司所有）。购买过程还挺复杂，一位乐于助人的店员努力用日文字母拼写我的名字——在体育场购买的话很可能会容易得多。我还得选择坐在哪个“喝彩区”。我决定坐在主队东京养乐多燕子队(Tokyo Yakult Swallows)那一侧的外场位置。
The game was positively raucous — at one point, everyone in my section produced tiny umbrellas and began thrusting them up and down and chanting (a pro-Swallows chant, I assumed) while a small brass band backed them up. The stadium grub selection was great, too — a big bowl of ramen could be had for 750 yen, yakitori for 100 yen, and a whiskey and melon soda for 600 yen. My ticket cost a reasonable 1,800 yen.
HIGH Seiji Yamamoto is the chef at Nihonryori RyuGin, a modern kaiseki restaurant that was awarded three Michelin stars. Mr. Yamamoto is known for incorporating modern culinary techniques with the refined, traditional kaiseki dinner. The descriptions of RyuGin’s courses are wonderfully abstract: Dishes have names like “Coolness Warmth Playfulness Nostalgia and Temptation” and “A Message From the Coast of Japan.” Dinner costs 27,000 yen.
富游。山本征治(Seiji Yamamoto)是龙吟餐厅(Nihonryori RyuGin)的大厨。这家现代怀石料理餐厅获得了米其林三星。征治以把现代烹饪技巧与精致的传统怀石料理相结合而闻名。龙吟餐厅对菜的描述非常抽象：菜名都是“冷静温暖嬉戏怀旧与诱惑”或“日本海岸的讯息”这种风格。正餐价格为2.7万日元。
LOW I was also in search of a taste of the coast of Japan, in the form of a sushi dinner. I met up with my friend Mayumi, a Tokyo native, and presented her with my annoyingly specific parameters: something good but not that good; cheap but definitely not poor quality. She good-humoredly took me to a small place near the Kyodo train station in her neighborhood, about a 20-minute ride from Shinjuku: Midori Sushi, an unpretentious restaurant next to a KFC. The chef Ken Hosono’s 10-course omakase menu featured an exceptionally silky-smooth squid, along with barracuda, fatty tuna, uni and a wonderfully buttery scallop, among other pieces. The cost was 3,000 yen per person. Not only was it one of best sushi dinners I’ve had in recent memory, but it was among the cheapest — a difficult-to-hit sweet spot that every frugal traveler seeks out.
穷游。我也想以寿司晚餐的形式寻找日本海岸的味道。我约上朋友真弓(Mayumi)，她是东京本地人。我告诉她我麻烦的特殊要求：好吃但也不能太好；便宜但绝不能品质低劣。她好脾气地带我去经堂火车站(Kyodo)附近的一家小餐馆，她家就住在那一带，离新宿大约有20分钟车程。那家朴素的小餐馆名叫绿寿司(Midori Sushi)，旁边是一家肯德基。大厨细野贤(Ken Hosono)的十道厨师帮办菜单包括十分丝滑的鱿鱼，还有梭鱼、多脂金枪鱼、海胆以及美味的黄油扇贝等。费用是每人3000日元。它是我近期记忆里最美味也最便宜的寿司正餐之一——这是穷游旅行者都在追求的难得的平衡点。