We chose Kawasaki due to its close proximity to Haneda airport. We knew about Kawasaki area after watching some online videos about Kawasaki (including the official promotion video from Kawasaki city). The downtown Kawasaki area near the Kawasaki JR station and Keikyu Kawasaki station is pretty much crowded by many hotels and shopping malls. For examples, there are at Lazona Kawasaki Plaza, La Cittadella shopping mall, Azalea underground shopping mall, atré Kawasaki mall, Dice shopping mall, etc.
For hotel, we picked Sunroute Kawasaki hotel since we thought it was a decent hotel near the train station.
HOTEL SUNROUTE KAWASAKI | TOKYO & KANAGAWA
It took about a short 15 mins walk from the train station and the hotel was rather easy to find. When we arrived at the hotel, we found out that the Excelsior cafe where hotel guests normally could get their breakfast there was under total renovation and was closed for public. Despite that minor issue, we were quite satisfied with the room that we got. It was clean and had no smoking odor at all. The bed was quite comfortable. The only thing that was quite tricky is to use the thermostat. Apparently during cold seasons, the air conditioning in many hotels in Japan (especially in Hokkaido which was our next destination) only has heater mode. They however provided a portable air purifier which could function as an AC too.
Since we arrived at Kawasaki late afternoon, we took some rests after we checked in. I was worried that we would not be able to wake up if we take a nap. My worry was proven right. We overslept until almost 8PM despite of we had set wake up call alarms! We didn’t realize it that most shopping malls around Kawasaki area closed at 9PM local time. When we got out from the hotel, it was already past 8PM. We found a small restaurant next to the entrance of atre Kawasaki mall. The food was good and not expensive. It was somewhat a mix between Japanese and Chinese foods. When I mentioned the food was “”oishii”” (delicious), one of the workers in restaurant told the chefs that a customer gave a compliment. They took it with great appreciation.
At one point, we diverted from main roads to go through alleys on the way back to hotel. There is a big pachinko establishment near the hotel and the area was full of night clubs and karaoke places. We didn’t feel quite safe while walking in those alleys. Few times we were approached by some men who offered their services. We politely refused it. After such incident, we decided only to go next to main roads walkways.
The next morning, we checked out from our hotel and requested for luggage storage since we want to go for lunch (skipped breakfast) at the nearby mall. We took a longer route to go to the Lazona shopping mall. On the way there, we stopped by at La Cittadella. Since it was still early morning, many stores and restaurants were not opened yet. La Cittadella indeed was beautiful. I felt like it was heavily influenced by Spain architecture but still maintain the Japanese flavor.
From La Cittadella, we walked north and then took a right turn towards the atré Kawasaki mall. I passed by Nikko hotel and also the small restaurant that we dined last night. From atré Kawasaki mall facade, there were escalators that go to upper floor where the Kawasaki JR station is. It was already crowded by people but the rush hour traffic was already reduced as it was almost 10AM. I observed the elevator was located at the far right corner of the station (which was important for us since we were carrying luggages). We walked towards the corridor that connects the station and Lazona mall.
As we were standing in the front of Lazona mall, the atrium was an open space, surrounded by many stores which was at the 3 – 4 floors wings of the mall, I noticed each of store’s employees were already standing in front of the store entrance. As the clock hit 10AM (it rang a bell but I wasn’t sure if there was a real clock or just an automated announcement via PA speakers), the employees were making a bow to salute customers. It was pretty impressive sight. What an amazing thing.
We entered the mall from the third floor. There was an amusement center near the entrance of third floor. As we walked around the third floor, I realized that we were hungry. We started exploring the mall and found the directory map and as usual, the food court and restaurants can be found at the basement level.
When we reached the food court, it was still empty and not too many people were eating there. To my surprise, I saw a familiar brand there (besides McDonald): Panda Express! There were many varieties of foods in the food court. Starting from Ramen, Udon, Chinese foods, Thai foods, Korean foods, Sushi, and all the way to Steaks. We ended up eating Japanese style bento. Of course, I chose Fanta Melon with bright green color which we don’t have it in USA!
With the stomach full, we walked back towards our hotel to grab our luggage and headed to Kawasaki JR station to go to Shinagawa JR station to catch Shinkansen to Kyoto! Surely there were many other things we could do in Kawasaki, but the time was already almost noon. We were lucky to be able to get Shinkansen by 2PM. When we reached our hotel in Kyoto later, it was almost 7PM. We definitely will visit Kawasaki again in future.