Where we stayed
Our host, Jin, was super sweet and accommodating, even with our very last minute request. She was answering our emails well past midnight! Her English wasn't perfect but we had no trouble at all communicating online thanks to translation apps - face-to-face was a different story, but we're all alive right?
Jim actually met us at the train station and walked us to the apartment, pointing things out along the way and showing us how to get in. Everything was very secure and squeaky clean (duh. Tokyo.), though compact. Thankfully, my mom and I are used to being both squished and cheap, so the teeny tiny apartment was no problem at $30/night. There was one double bed, a small bathroom and a mini kitchen and tea kettle.
What We Did
There are multiple different lines on each route and many, many exits at each station, which may cover multiple blocks OR be within only a few blocks of an entirely different station.
Apparently it's possible to buy a (deeply discounted) prepaid ticket before arriving in Japan, but I think the accountability of having to use the machines each time is what kept us from being lost more than once.
In fact, we only made one mistake on the train, and that was going the wrong way on the loop from our apartment to Tokyo station.
All the fish EVER are here and I have never seen so much Styrofoam in all my life. Boxes and boxes of ice and fish and more ice and fish are EVERYWHERE, and being toted around by adorable little fishermen on buggies. The Fish Market is incredibly overwhelming and truly a glimpse into daily Tokyo life. There are wholesale tuna markets early in the morning that are technically not open to tourists, although you can register for a special pass. Once the operating parts of the market calm down later in the morning, the place fills up with tourists taking pictures, lining up for fresh sushi, and munching on snacks from the stalls.
Ameyoko Flea Market
Keio Department Store (Shinjuku)
This is one of those stores that will blow. your. mind. Most of the mall is what you'd find in a typical, upscale American department store - clothes, shoes, accessories, make counters, lots and lots of people. But the really amazing part of this store (and apparently quite a few in Japan) is the basement. It is sort of part food court, part novelty food gift store with hundreds of counters where everything is being sold. From prepared salads, to bakeries, fancy candy to steamed buns, it's ALL here. There are also a lot of samples to get your hands on. Japan in general also had some of the most outrageously expensive fruit I've ever seen. If you don't want to deal with converting Yen to Dollars yourself, I'll give you a hint. That bunch of grapes is $135US.