I’ve been super lax on the blog front I know but since we came home from Japan, I feel like the pace of life has picked up here. Now this is no bad thing, but over the last few months I definitely got used to having one main ‘action’ to achieve each day so a slight re-set of the mind was needed. Needless to say, sitting at the table, rather than on my wonderfully large sofa, helps focus my mind a bit. But onwards with my one-sided love letter to Japan.
A lot of people say that Tokyo is pretty similar to Seoul – both major hub-bub cities on steroids but I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Seoul is home now and most of our trips into Seoul include something practical, Tokyo felt a lot buzzier to me. Whatevs. On with the tale
We were staying in Shibuya with friends which has the perfect mix of a nice, homey neighbourhood and things to do, as well as being very central and one of the JR Pass train stations that you can exchange your voucher at etc. I think if (when!!) I go back, I’d plan to stay in Shibuya again – not least because we did stumble across the yummiest bakery (Viron, for those of you nearby, keep an eye out!) which assuages all my “what-is-raj-going-to-eat-today” worries.
We had two full days in Tokyo, and in typical fashion, we totally overdid things on the first day, and then had a much lazier, easier day to follow, when we realised how tiring the sightseeing was (It’s a hard life..)
Day One saw us visiting the following places (in this order).
Meiji Jingu Shrine – it was a beautiful day and so walking through the woodlands here was well worth it. But pace yourself when it comes to Shrines as you don’t want to out-shrine yourself before getting to Kyoto…
Harajuku & Takeshita Street – give yourself plenty of time to stroll slowly through the street here. Well, slowly is the only way given the number of people but what I mean is that you want to take the time to look in the stores and just people watch a little bit. THE thing to do here is eat crepes, so plan to be here at a dessert suitable hour (basically anytime!)
Just round the corner from Takeshita Street, we wandered down Omotesando Street and Cat Street -the Bond Street / Carnaby Street of the Tokyo. All the brands figure prominently here and there are some great deals to be had if you keep your eyes peeled!
Via the Akibajinja Shrine – literally by the subway on Omotesando Street, so you can’t miss it, we then went to Asakusa and the Senseo-Ji Shrine. There is a lovely market just in front of the shrine which was fab to wander through – most stores, like everywhere in Japan, are cash only so come with a surplus of cash rather than relying on your credit card!
From here, the sun was setting so we went to the Tokyo Sky Tower and hung around until it got dark for some stellar views. Foreigner Tip: The queue to get in is huge (1 hr plus) , but if you walk around the outside to the West Entrance, you can buy a slightly more expensive ticket that gets you to the front of the line… I felt a little bad, but not as bad as I would have felt if I had to stand in the queue with no snacks.
Last stop was Shinjuku for dinner – now, as it was Golden Week (albeit the end of Golden Week) many restaurants take the opportunity to have their annual holiday or at the very least close early. So we struggled to find anywhere to eat even though it was only 2130 – thank goodness for Pizza & Pasta (and even they wanted to get rid of us as quickly as possible!)
The next day was a rainy day, so we felt justified in being less pro-active in terms of being good tourists and our day largely revolved around food.
We started off with a bowl of Vegan Ramen in Tokyo Station – the restaurant there is obvious and apparently famous – well worth a visit in my (usually carniverous) opinion. We tried to walk to the East Imperial Gardens, but rain stopped play and instead spent a couple of hours mooching around the Tokyo National Museum (ed: Now I’m planning Samurai Costumes for Halloween…)
From here, a little wander around Akhiabara – turns out even electronics are super expensive in Japan, including ice-cream at the most bizarre cafe: AKB48 Cafe. AKB48 are a 60 (yes, SIXTY) strong girl band, of ages from 13 – 29 who take shifts in performing music shows / live theatre and they have a themed cafe. I felt the ick of all the lone men who were obviously there for pervy purposes, as did Raj when I informed him that some of the girls were actually young enough to be his daughter, so we didn’t stay for our full alloted hour. I think if I were to visit a theme cafe again, I would choose something less innocuous – Robots perhaps. Dinner was at a lovely little Mexican place in Hiroo called La Jolla, followed by some very delicious wine at home!
I can’t wait until Raj’s cousin and her wife (to be) move to Tokyo and I have a year full of excuses to visit… And perhaps next time will allow for people watching seeing as we covered so many sights in such a short time! The best pics from the trip are on instagram (@ishwarya) but here are a couple to make you want to book flights…