Back in Tokyo, post-lockdowns (The Muji Hotel at Ginza)

This isn’t a paid review.

A lot of people wonder how we were even able to get a room here. It’s not like a swanky hotel. It’s actually four stars. This reservation was made 6 months ahead of our planned trip. Hoping that nothing would come in the way, I went ahead and booked the three rooms for a party of six adults.

Located right smack in the Ginza district, this hotel has the minimalist and environmental-friendly feel. The location is the crown jewel stand out for this hotel. Right in the heart of the Ginza district, where the posh high-end shops are never ending, the hotel is just a few steps away from Mitsuhikoya and Matsukaya Ginza, as well as the branded names of Fendi, LV, Gucci, Prada, Hermés, Bottega Venetta, Valentino, et al, or the likes of Apple and Samsung flagship shops, Ginza is home to several Michelin starred restaurants and the more upscale Tokyo Peninsula.

So why pick the Muji Hotel at Ginza? But this hotel is not without hiccups! Aside from the aforementioned location, the flagship Muji shop is located on the first five floors and a Muji Diner at the basement of this building. The hotel, with 79 rooms, is located on the 6th to 10th floor. The stores and diner close at 9pm daily. That means the access to the hotel from the main shop closes as well. You will need to use the hotel entrance at the back of the store to gain access to your rooms after 9pm.

The reception is located on the 6th floor. There is no luggage service, so don’t expect a baggage boy come rushing to the doorstep to meet you. There is also hardly anyone at the front desk after 11pm. When we arrived close to 11pm last Sunday, I called the hotel and was asking where the entrance was, we couldn’t understand each other. While the staff may speak English, it’s quite basic and things get lost easily in translation. This is, after all, not the Four Seasons at Maranouchi (a favorite of mine).

The rooms are decent. Most of them follow a type C design. In reality, when Muji had bought this building, it was originally designed to be an office and not a hotel. Which accounts for the way the interiors of the hotel have been retrofitted to an appealing but not functional look.

Type C room
Toilet in one of the type C rooms. This is the bathroom of my mom. The rest of the rooms have a really small bathroom.
The directions from the hotel side

There are standard amenities which you can take home with you. It’s a mini version of what you can find at the Muji store.

As modern as it gets, there isn’t a switch in the room (except the bathroom). All appliances, lights, curtains, alarm, cleaning services and phone calls are made through a smart pad. That includes the level of lighting and whatever you’d want to operate in your room without having to stand up. Just bring the tablet with you to control all settings.

Breakfast does not stuff your face in a buffet. Although still a buffet, it’s a rather simple spread of traditional Japanese dishes. Breakfast is at the WA Restaurant to the left of the front desk. To the right of the front desk is The Atelier – Muji’s library – where there are tons of reading material and coffee, tea and some baked goods. The bakery is located in the first floor, while the diner is at the basement. The bakery and diner are open after 11am. Food choices are standard and limited.

Your stay at the Muji Hotel won’t be complete if you don’t visit their whole 5 floors of shop – from fashion to household needs and appliances to school and office supplies and to their famous diffusers and scents.

Here’s the photo gallery of the five floors of the Muji store below the hotel.

The Muji Hotel at Ginza has its plus and minuses. With Uniqlo and GU just at its side and the posh shops a few steps away, it is, hands down, the best location in Ginza.

But if you’re looking for a hotel with less hits and misses, Muji Hotel at Ginza is over rated as an eco friendly hotel doesn’t really work well for the elderly and persons with disability. If you fall into the latter category, this should not be a choice for you.

It’s also stressful that they require all guests to check out promptly at 11am. And they need all the card keys when you check out (so that means that there’s no taking home those card keys as a souvenir). But there is always a place to put your bags in the lobby and you can always have lunch at WA if you’re waiting for a late afternoon flight.

You can reserve a room online at this link:

Back in Tokyo, post-lockdowns (Getting there)

Japan culture and Japan itself is my go to place when it comes to Asian countries. A country deep in history, it also enjoys the climate one would truly appreciate when it comes to experiencing the four seasons of the year. Japanese people are respectful and their traditions remain deep in honor and accountability in spite of the rapid changing technology and generation gaps in this ultra-fast paced century.

The lockdown years were frustrating for those who enjoy traveling. And traveling is what my mom even at the age of 85 and wheelchair bound, enjoys. In spite of the physical and emotional challenges in life, traveling and relaxation makes her difficult life easier to get by.

The post-lockdown travel is a challenge – not only to those who are able-bodied but more so, to the physically handicapped.

Current travel requirements to Japan include full vaccination and ONE booster. Nope, Sputnik vaccines do not count. And if you only have a full vaccination or your full vaccination was a Sputnik vaccine and you had ONE booster of any other COVID vaccine brand, that didn’t count either. What to do? Get an RT-PCR, 72 hours before your flight. Validity for that PCR test is 72 hours prior to your designated flight.

You will need to fill up your travel details on this website and upload the quarantine requirements (vaccine certificates), obtain an immigration QR code, and obtain a customs QR code as well.

When your digital requirements are fulfilled, you should be able to get all these within less than 12 hours. The immigration and customs QR code are almost immediate. Don’t forget to take a photo shot of your QR codes and save to your photo gallery, just in case you don’t get a wifi signal or you’re too stingy to go for data roaming on your mobile phone.

The long Holy Week and holidays contributed to the exodus of Filipinos from the city. The airport was crowded and the immigration line was bad. Everyone wanted to be part of the “priority” (senior citizens and PWD lane) with the kids, teenagers and everyone else in their traveling party in tow. Discipline isn’t really part of the DNA of the Filipino.

Even boarding was mayhem in Manila. When the ground crew began to announce that boarding for children would commence – the rush to the gate was like all hell had broken loose. It’s like – didn’t you get a seat assignment?

The four and a half hour travel to Japan on ANA was smooth. Food was served promptly. But the choices on the Manila to Haneda leg wasn’t really great. You’d think that paying for business class you get you more than just slippers and a heavy blanket – but more decent choices as well. The over-all cabin crew service, however, was superb and made up for what was basically lacking in the business class food service.

Did I mention the cabin crew? Yes I did and this cabin crew really did a great job in attending to my mom, in spite of the 3/4 full business class flight. And here’s the icing on the cake…

Upon arrival in Haneda, we would need to use a bus gate. That would mean stairs! Fifteen minutes before the arrival into Haneda, the chief purser had informed me of this. We were instructed that when we arrive and all the passengers have deplaned, there would be a special arrangement for my mom who would be hauled by traction down through the door on the right side of the plane where the special bus would connect us to a vehicle that would attach to the “cargo” and take us straight into the gate near the immigration area.

From the airline front door to the traction bus
In the traction bus which brought her down from the lift into a vehicle that took her right into Terminal 3

I was literally blown away with the service of ANA and the crew at the Haneda International Airport. Two staff were with us from the time she was shuffled from the plane into her own wheelchair, to the queue at immigration (in the priority lane), until we got our baggages, till we met our chauffeur at the arrival area.

Great job ANA and domo-arigato (どうもありがとう) to team ANA!

[On a side note, the average duration from arrival to exit took the other members of our party 2 hours to queue in Haneda. So many tourists arriving that same evening! In spite of the fact that we waited till the whole plane was emptied of passengers before we could deplane, and took our ‘private’ transfers from the bus gate to immigration, we were finished within an hour after our arrival into Haneda. The Japanese immigration was not spared from the stampede of tourist arrivals. All those who had kids in tow (even if they were not with children less than 2 years old or who did not require strollers or assistance) were on the same ‘priority’ lane as the elderly and disabled. The woman triaging the passengers was completely overwhelmed at the multitude of arrivals that compounded with the language barrier, there was nothing much she could do.]