Two things that have a special place in my heart are Japan and quilts. So when the dates for the Tokyo International Quilt Festival are announced every summer, my fingers start to get twitchy and I start wanting to book a package deal on Expedia and attend. The fact that the quilt show dates pretty much always include my birthday makes it seem like not much of a leap to the trip being a birthday gift to myself. So Tokyo in January 2016 is happening! Happy thirtywhatever birthday to me!!!
There are a few things that make planning this kind of trip a little tricky. The first being that the dates for the show can be a little hard to pin down. As a matter of fact, if you check the English info page for the Quilt Festival, it still has info from the 2015 event. However if you go to the Japanese page, the dates are there (January 21-27, 2016) which makes booking travel possible.
In addition, Tokyo can be a little overwhelming if you're not familiar with it. It is a huge city and it has a reputation for being expensive. Luckily there are hotels around the Tokyo Dome that are surprisingly inexpensive. My preferred travel site is Expedia - they have a wide variety of hotels and the package deals for Tokyo right now are pretty great. If you're searching for bundle deals, put in TYO (Tokyo all airports) as your destination. Most international flights are via Narita, but more recently Haneda has gotten some, too. It may be cheaper to fly into one airport and out of the other. When you're selecting a hotel, set the neighborhood as Iidabashi. That's the area of Tokyo near the Tokyo Dome. I had never heard of it before I stayed there on my trip in 2014, but I thought it was perfect for going to the quilt show and other places in Tokyo. It's not a touristy area, but there are plenty of casual restaurants, cafes, fast food (Mos Burger!) and convenience stores and it's well connected to various train lines. There are great little places to stay that aren't fancy, but are clean, safe, convenient and quite affordable - on my last trip, I was at the Hotel Villa Fontaine Jimbocho. My major complaint was no wifi in the rooms (what?!?), but that was also a blessing in disguise because when I was in my room, I was able to rest and sleep and not be on my phone all the time. Note: I stayed in that hotel in 2014 so they may have changed the wifi situation since then!
Ok, so we've figured out the dates for the show and how to find a reasonably priced hotel near the Tokyo Dome! :) There is more planning to do but that can wait until another day...