Sakura Illumination

After arriving at Haneda, we checked in at the Mesm, near the JR Hamamatsucho Station. We then had dinner nearby, which turned out to be the most disappointing meal we’ve ever had in Japan. After that fiasco, we went to see nighttime sakura illuminations at Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi before returning, getting some 7-Eleven onigiri on the way back.

Mesm Tokyo

After arriving at Haneda in the afternoon, we quickly entered the country and caught the next Keikyu train to Daimon. On our last visit, we lucked out and caught a limited express train, this time though, it was a local.

After arriving at Daimon, we walked to the east to reach the メズム Mesm, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. This highly rated hotel opened in April, 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. Hotel prices in Tokyo have been pretty high, and this stay was no exception. We utilized two 85,000 point free night certificates as the cash price at the time of booking was around $980 USD per night. It was quite a good redemption!

The corner room was fantastic. Everything could be remote controlled by a tablet. The room had north facing balcony as well as windows facing east. There was even a piano, a first for us!

The room was an upgrade from the lowest tier “Chapter 1” room that we booked to a “Chapter 2” room. There seems to be various room types within each “Chapter.” Our room seemed to be on the higher end with a balcony and corner windows. The highest level of room seems to be the “Chapter 3” suites. We were extremely happy with what we got though!

The bathroom was excellent with a huge tub and shower. The glass walled shower area has electronic blinds for privacy. The area around the sink had plenty of space to store things.

The toilet is in its own little room. It is, of course, a Japanese toilet with bidet function.

The bathroom amenities were packaged in a book-like container. It opens up to a bit of text about Takeshiba, the neighborhood that the hotel is located in, along with individually boxed items featuring a drawing of the hotel along with a ship.

Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, was right in the middle of the view from our balcony. The huge empty space that somewhat dominates the view is where the former Tsukiji Fish Market was located. It was demolished after the market moved to a new facility at Toyosu, near Odaiba.

We had a nice view of Hamarikyu Gardens, which is almost adjacent to the hotel. The entrance is on the northwest side though, which would be a little bit of a walk if we wanted to visit. I’ve been there once, back in 2015. From our balcony, we could see a few sakura trees in bloom. It is currently sakura season here in Japan, though past peak here in Tokyo.

The fridge is loaded with two beers, two orange drinks, and a water, all of which are provided free of charge.

We never figured out this little guy. This bear was at the end of the entrance corridor in our room. It is by Kentaro Koizumi and is named Tokyo Waves. It is described as, “BE@RBRICK wearing clothes with NINJA INK.” He is posable, sort of like a giant lego minifigure, which possibly explains the name. But the ninja ink? Additional text asks us to “please take a photo with flash, then something happens.” So, we did. Is it the apparent color change from a dark blue to a much lighter color? Or is something else supposed to happen?


While looking to see if there were any food options nearby, we discovered that there was a placed called Singapore Seafood Republic. Further research revealed that it is operated by the same company that owns Jumbo Seafood in Singapore. We love Jumbo’s chilli crab and were excited to find it at the menu here! Authentic Singaporean chilli crab is hard to find outside of Singapore. We last had it a few months ago in Taipei. While Japan isn’t really known for spicy foods in general, we figured it should still be good since overall food quality in Japan is fantastic.

We started off with some laksa. We had said it would be fine if everything arrived all at once, though it ended up arriving first by quite a bit. It was definitely more lightly flavored than in Singapore but the flavor was similar. The noodles were undercooked though.

Finally, the chilli crab. The biggest issue was that the crab was frozen and it had a very strong dead crab taste. This is a $60 USD dish, so it isn’t cheap. We talked to the manager who first offered to remake or give a 10% discount. Ultimately, we asked him to do better than that since we didn’t really want to just get another bad crab, and 10% off wasn’t really going to make us want to eat the crab. The issue seems to be that the crabs are frozen, something we didn’t even think to ask about as typically they are fresh. He ended up comping the dish, which was satisfactory.

We did keep the sauce to dip with the mantou as the sauce was still OK, though not really authentic. The Japanese don’t really eat alot of spicy food in general and it showed from the preparation. The Jumbo Seafood location in Taipei was closer to the original, though it was still lacking in spice. And of course, they actually had fresh crab.


After that disappointing dinner, we took the JR Yamanote Line up to Tokyo Station. From there, we walked a few blocks to the Otemachi station where we took the subway to Kudanshita. Kudanshita is at the northern edge of the Imperial Palace, just outside of the huge moat.

Chidorigafuchi, on the northwestern side of the moat, is a popular sakura viewing spot and has illuminated trees at night. This is referred to as, 夜桜 Yozakura, cherry blossoms at night.

It was pretty dark as we started walking. We could see the top of the Tokyo Tower across the moat to the south. It wasn’t too busy in the area but there were still plenty of people around. We continued walking, not seeing anything resembling illuminated sakura. A bit of research revealed that the nighttime illuminations that we were planning on seeing had already ended!

Tokyo Midtown

So, we decided to head over to 東京ミッドタウン Tokyo Midtown, a shopping mall with adjacent park. It is supposed to have illuminated sakura at night. We returned to Kudanshita and took the subway to Aoyama-Itchome. From there, we walked for a while to the south to reach Tokyo Midtown.

Hinokicho Park wraps around the western and northern sides of the mall. We walked in from the western entrance. We could see small illuminated water fountains as well as some illuminated sakura trees!

The sakura line the small road that surrounds around the mall. While the trees seemed to still have most of their petals, they also had started to grow in leaves.

We continued walking until we reached the northeastern part of the park. There is a large sculpture, “Fragment No.5” by Florian Claar, in a field.

Very different from when we were here for the winter illuminations back in 2019! It was Christmas Eve and also our first night in Japan after just arriving from the US.

The best view was from a pedestrian bridge that goes over the road and leads into the mall. There was another bridge in the area by the trees but mall security wasn’t allowing people to take photos from it. We probably could have snuck in a photo or two though but didn’t try!

Roppongi Hills

We then continued walking to the south to reach the #六本木ヒルズ Roppongi Hills development. The Sakurazaka (Sakura Hill) is a road on the south side lined with sakura. And, it is supposed to be illuminated.

We approached from the southeast end of the road. We could already see a few illuminated sakura trees to the west!

The trees still seemed to have many petals but already had many visible green leaves, just like the ones at Tokyo Midtown.

We soon ended up near the western end of the Sakurazaka. We went up into Roppongi Hills to try and find the route to an overpass that we saw from street level.

We wound up on an overpass over the Keyakizaka (Zelkova Tree Hill). These trees aren’t illuminated in the spring but are in the winter.

We saw this exact same view back in 2019 during the winter illuminations, on the same even as our visit to Tokyo Midtown.

We backtracked a bit to find the correct overpass to see the Sakurazaka from above.

They probably looked amazing just a few days ago before the leaves started to grow in. They’re still in quite good condition though!

The far end of the overpass actually has stairs that go down to street level. The path goes through a small children’s play area first. While Japan, generally speaking, is completely safe during the night, it can still be a bit creepy!

We didn’t photograph it but there is a very interesting slide in the background. It goes from this play area down to street level. While normal slides are typically smooth plastic or metal, this bottom of this one was made up of metal rollers. We gave it a try and it was quite fun! I did it twice! This seems to be a thing in Japan as there is an extremely long one in Yamanashi Prefecture! It is 800 feet long. The one here in Roppongi is much shorter at 13 meters, or about 43 feet.

As we walked away to return to the Mesm, we encountered this interesting pair of benches. A bit unexpected and somewhat random as there isn’t anything else like it nearby.

Back to the Mesm

We walked to Azabu-Juban and caught the subway back to Daimon. From Daimon, we walked via what we thought would be a more direct path back to the Mesm. We stopped at a 7-Eleven on the way to grab some onigiri as we were a bit hungry after the disappointing dinner earlier.

Unfortunately, it turns out that there was no way to cross a major road that was in the way. So, we had to walk to the nearest intersection, which is where we would have crossed if we didn’t try to find a faster route!

On the way to the intersection, we walked by this sakura tree that was well past peak. Although the trees we saw earlier in the evening were marred by the presence of leaves, at least they still had very full canopies of sakura petals!

This is where we crossed the street earlier in the evening and the only reasonable street level crossing to reach the Mesm from the Daimon and Hamamatsucho stations. This little plaza has a bit of illumination on the trees.

There is a nice view of the Tokyo Tower to the west. The lighted path above seems to be a pedestrian walkway. Maybe a possibility to avoid having to walk at street level and to avoid having to wait for traffic lights?

After returning to the Mesm, we enjoyed our $1 onigiri in our approximately $1,000/night room! We discovered during our last trip to Japan that 7-Eleven’s beef & sweet soy sauce onigiri are fantastic! 7-Eleven also seems to have reliably excellent rice in their onigiri.

The night time view from our balcony was fantastic with the Tokyo Skytree glowing brightly in the distance. We ended the evening pretty late, at almost 11pm! We enjoyed the excellent shower and bathtub in our room and got some well needed rest after a long day of travel.

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