From authentic tea ceremonies to modern high tech. From fresh tuna, to tender wagyu and the best sushi one could ask for. From green tea, to Sake to creamy, cold beer. From Kimonos to vintage clothes – the old and the new. Tokyo really blew me away!
Tokyo was eye-opening in many different ways. I was somewhat overwhelmed by how vast the city was and the sheer amount of people. With little expectations, I was only going to leave loving the city and the friendly people too.
Getting around Tokyo is really easy, for the most part we walked places as it gave us a chance to enjoy the city from ground level however the metro works like clockwork and once you get the hang of it, it is really easy to get around!
Try and stay central in either of the following – Shinjuku, Harajuku or Shibuya. We stayed in a cute little Airbnb in the heart of Shibuya and absolutely loved it, however if you are wanting to stay in a hotel then I hear Dormy Inn is a great spot too.
I would highly recommend having a rough itinerary for your stay and grouping each day by areas to ensure you get to do everything you want and get the most out of your trip.
Tsujiki fish market
The former fish market is still lively, tiny little lanes packed with restaurants selling fresh seafood and produce, retail and wholesale outlets. I loved it here, be sure to get there nice and early as most places close by midday!
People will come at you from all directions, its pretty amazing to watch – especially at peak hour. You can even grab a coffee from the Starbucks on the corner and sit in the window and watch the world go by!
Happo-En Garden is a beautiful garden within the city. The gardens are small yet full of ponds, cherry blossoms, bonsais, history, beautiful little walkways and sitting areas. Entrance to the garden is free however we decided to take part (and pay) for a traditional tea ceremony in one of the cottages which is one of the better experiences I had. I love Japanese Matcha green tea and watching how it was traditionally made was a beautiful experience.
Harajuku – From high street shops like Zara to cool little thrift shops, Harajuku has it all.
There really is a lot to choose from, you will keep yourself entertained here for hours! Be sure to grab lunch at Afuri Ramen to fuel your shopping needs! Harajuku is also a walkable distance from Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Other: Unfortunately due to the time of year we were in Tokyo, we were unable to watch a Sumo wrestling tournament. This came highly recommended, so be sure to check to see if there are any tournaments on before your visit. Another thing we missed out on which also came highly recommended was the Robot Restaurant – we got caught up one day and missed the show so make sure you pre-book! However, we did go play some arcade games up the road which took me back to my childhood!
You honestly can’t really go wrong in Tokyo, from the ramen, to the sushi to the yakitori – it is all superb. Healthy too! The food is always presented in an aesthetically beautiful manner, made with precision and care.
There are so many places I could write about however I have chosen to limit it to the following;
Kaikaya Seafood – Tasting Menu (Shibuya/Dogenzaka)
Kaikaya was our first meal in Japan which really set the standards high! A great vibe inside with friendly staff who speak passable English! We got the set menu which we don’t normally do but I was so glad we did! We had an excellent seafood feast here – fresh, delicate flavours! Each dish was better than the last and to top if all off we had the best ice cream I’ve ever had! way to end the meal. Dogenzaka is a great little area to get lost in, it’s filled with restaurants, izakayas and pubs.
New York Bar at the Park Hyatt
The famous bar from the movie “ Lost in Translation”. If you want to treat yourself to a delicious cocktail, listening to live music whilst over-looking the whole of Tokyo then you need to go to the New York Bar. Be warned it is expensive, so plan to go for just a drink or two before dinner!
Omoide Yokocho – (memory lane) Yakitori Alley (Shinjuku)
This place is certainly a tourist attraction but a great place to go and get amongst the atmosphere at the start of your night. Lots of little alleys with cosy little eateries all serving delicious yakitori. Some even call it Yakitori Alley! It really is a great dining experience however they do charge a lot more than other places around town.
Itamae Sushi (Shinjuku)
Sushi is without a doubt one of the most popular foods to come out of Japan. We ate sushi every day and found the quality at each restaurant to be fantastic.
I’ve never been one to eat ramen however with it being one of Japans’ iconic dishes I couldn’t not give the delicious noodle soup a go – several times! With a few different locations around Japan, Afuri came highly recommended by a friend. We lined up in the cold for about 20 minutes (which made it taste all the better) and ordered our ramen on a pre-pay ordering machine with help from the friendly staff. The noodles, eggs, broth all tasted delicious and each item was cooked to perfection. The broth was lighter than some of the other places we went to however still tasted hearty and warming!
This one man show is worth the extra distance to get to. It’s a seriously good western breakfast that offers GF & DF options. It was so tasty, we went twice. Great cozy atmosphere, trendy dishes and fresh produce!
Coffee in Shibuya – Shot Coffee (opens at 7am) and About Life coffee.
Exercise – And if you do feel like exercising then head to Golds Gym, be warmed it costs about $40 and don’t forget your passport and they are very strict on their rule – no passport, no entrance. We clocked up a lot of kms walking each day so we didn’t feel the need to go to the gym.
Helpful tips & facts
Use the Citymapper app to get around. Be warned, Tokyo is an expensive city. It feels like a very safe city so travelling alone is an option. All the shopping malls have the best food courts hidden away in their basements. Tokyo currency is Yen. You can pre-purchase a 7 day pass which allows you to travel on certain trains.
Enjoy and let me know if you get to the visit any of the above! L xx