I can’t believe it’s already been 6 months since Jay and I’s trip to Japan this past Spring. I apologize for the long hiatus. I hit a block somewhere around June of this year where I needed both a mental and physical break from social media, needed to hit refresh and find meaning again in the connections in my life that seemed more real and tangible. I found a new outlook being without it, and being back, I just wanted to really hone in on what brings me joy, and how I can share that joy. What matters most to me at this moment in time is just being myself and tuning out whatever negative energy comes my way. I’m finishing off this Japan series finally, and will try my best to recollect the memories I have of it, even though the minute details have somewhat faded away already.
I loved Tokyo. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s both tech-savvy as much as it is traditional, and there’s just so much going on in each district that I don’t even think there’s a single word to really describe it all. You can take the railways to each district and you’ll find a distinct personality for each of them. In 6 days, we tried to get a taste of it all: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, Harajuku, Roppongi and Akihabara were the most notable to me.
We took the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo. The bullet trains in Japan are amazing and something you need to experience. It felt like being on an airplane on the ground. Even as fast as it was going, I didn’t feel it at all. The rise was so smooth, I even took a lil nap. I also had these little cut sandwiches to snack on during the ride, they’re found all over the city and one of my favorite quick, cheap snacks to get at the 7-11s and family marts.
We booked our hotel in Shinjuku, one of the main city wards in Tokyo. Honestly, Japanese food is one of Jay and I’s favorite things to eat and were really really excited to eat in Tokyo. It’s hard to choose where to begin with so much variety, but Jay and I just went with our cravings each day and tried to find a good Tonkatsu restaurant as our first meal. I forgot the name of this restaurant, but it was maybe a 10 minute walk from our hotel and was inside a busy shopping mall. Even though in America we kinda see mall food as mediocre, Japan’s mall food or subway station foods take it to whole new levels. It ranges from food court style to gourmet. And ugh…. I have never in my life had Tonkatsu this crispy and juicy. I don’t usually eat a lot of pork back home, but this was somethin’ else. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Expect a lot of that kind of reaction through any of the food posts I’ll be sharing tbh.
After dinner, we walked around Shinjuku and took in what I always imagined Tokyo being like: bright colorful lights, tall buildings, crowds everywhere, and super high energy on every corner. It’s sensory overload. We met with my cousin and his friend that night and played in one of their Sega arcades. Jay spent a lot of time trying to win a Shiba doll for me but no luck
We were craving dessert and I surprisingly loved all of Japan’s coffeeshops I went to on this trip. I wish I could’ve gone to more. I had this warm Japanese soufflé topped with vanilla cream which was delicate and not overly sweet. The next morning, I wanted to try a breakfast place but Japan actually isn’t too big on breakfast. They’re always hustling and on-the-go that it seems rare to wake up and have a sit-down breakfast with friends and family. Most of the food places that would serve breakfast aren’t open until 11am, and we found this cute breakfast spot in Roppongi called Eggcellent. I loved the decor, and am in love with Japanese aesthetics.
Animal cafes are popular in Japan. Before going to this owl cafe, I had to research whether these places were safe or humane for the animals that inhabit it. As cool as it was to be able to see these owls up close, Jay and I felt sad because these nocturnal animals should be sleeping during the day, but instead are kept awake for tourists to see. Some cafes do let the owls roam free after hours and are actually in-bred into captivity so are used to human interaction. It’s controversial, much like zoos, so it is to your own discretion if you wish to visit one of the many animal cafes they have in Japan. They really are such majestic creatures though.
Walking around the shops in Harajuku, Japan’s fashion district. This was one of my favorite places we got to explore because it was so unique and everyone seemed to beat to their own rhythm. So many different quirky, original, sometimes bizarre looking styles, but I loved it.
A few blocks away, you can escape from all of the craziness of Harajuku and find yourself in a completely different atmosphere of Zen, History, and Serenity. This is Meiji shrine. Each shrine located in Japan is dedicated to a specific emperor that ruled Japan during that era to enshrine their souls after they die. Meiji shrine was dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken that ruled during the Japanese industrial revolution.
Barrels of sake because Emperor Meiji loved drinking sake. So different from the city, right? It’s like its own peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.
Wishes, dedications, blocks of gratitude.
We walked back to Shinjuku and of course, more eating. Nabezo is a Shabu-Shabu/Sukiyaki restaraunt where you have boiling pots of seasoned broths in front of you and can put all the meat and veggies your heart desires. Jay and I loveddddd this meal. It was his first time trying Sukiyaki, and this one was also all you can eat and had a bar full of veggies and endless bowls of rice. We have yet to eat Shabu Shabu in Vegas, but once it starts getting cold, we’re definitely eating more of this.
The famous Tsujiki Fish Market the next morning. To this day, I am still kicking myself for not waking up early enough to see the Tuna auction, but the market is still worthwhile and had the freshest pieces of fish and seafood I have ever tasted.
The best Toro I have ever had in my entire young adult life.
Fresh seafood everywhere.
Black sesame and matcha soft serve.
Tokyo Skytree, the biggest skyscraper in all of Japan. It’s an expensive entry fee and we were all hesitant at first to go up, but honestly the views were incredible. I’m sure there are equally as good views in cheaper places that you can research, but you know…. When in Tokyo.
After Tokyo SkyTree we walked to Akihabara which is Anime City. Wish I got photos of all the shops we walked into, just figurines on figurines. We tried so hard to find my best friend an Inuyasha figurine but the only one we saw was $90 and super, super tiny. We left empty handed and the memory of me accidentally walking into an area of a store dedicated to Hentai. Don’t ever walk downstairs of an anime comic shop or else you will encounter questionably sweaty men and images I wish I could unsee o_o
The sun was setting on our second day. For dinner we grabbed a bunch of gyozas to-go at this popular gyoza shop and had Freshness Burger because even American food tastes realllly good here. Jay and I took the train to Odaiba, which is a seaside, artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Jay and I wish we could have spent more time here because everything was so high tech and futuristic looking. I loved seeing the view of the bridge and the buildings lit up on the sides with moving, neon colors.
Dinner was fancy and memorable. We were craving meat and just steps away we found a restaurant that served premium Kobe beef. Just… exceptional. A small plate of marbled meats that we grilled at our table. We wished this meal never ended. So good, so tender, beef that melts in your mouth like butter. The cows are pampered so well, receive daily massages and are even fed beer to keep them happy lol. Ugh. Nothing like it really.
Big moving Gundam statue!
Rode this big, colorful ferris wheel to end the night.
And that’s the end of Part 1 of Tokyo, whew! I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to finish the other parts since this post literally only consisted of the first three days in Tokyo out of 7????? ?? But again, I love creating these posts as both a time capsule of memories for myself and for your lurking pleasure.
With all of my matcha love,