Travel Guide: Tokyo

In March (woof, I know it was awhile back – but it was in the middle of our Kitchen saga) I had a business trip in Tokyo and was able to spend 36ish hours exploring the city. Here’s a few highlights of what we saw:

Day 1: We arrived in Tokyo later in the afternoon on Saturday – after waiting for our bus, an hour drive to get into the city and checking in the hotel around 6pm. We were exhausted, so we grabbed dinner at one of the many restaurants in the hotel.

Airport Transportation: The affordable, easy option to travel from Narita Airport to the city center is via Airport Limousine. Depending on where your hotel is, it should be around $30 each way.

Takeshita Street

Day 2: We started the day in Harajuku, walking down Takeshita Street. Harajuku is at the forefront for trendy teen fashion and Takeshita Street is a pedestrian street to take it all in. It is filled with Tourists, unique cotton candy, trendy shops and a great place to people watch.

From Harajuku we walked to the Shibuya Crossing, which houses the two busiest railway stations in the world. Grab a drink at the Starbucks and go up to the second floor to watch the crossing from above.

We started our walk over to the Shinjuku National Gardens. The goal was to stop and eat lunch at Fuunji, known as the Top Tsukemen Style Ramen in Tokyo. Between jetlag and not even thinking to look at their hours of operations, the restaurant was closed on Monday’s. So there we were, starving and a little lost. We walked around the Shinjuku area and found a Ramen restaurant (with a line wrapped around the street – assuming this equated to it being tasty).

Tsukeman Gonokami Seisakusho was listed one of the Best Ramen Restaurants in Tokyo in 2016. After waiting an hour and a half, the girls we met in line walked us through how to order and the process once we got in.

All in all the restaurant was very unique and so different from all the ramen I’ve had in the United States.

Day 3: Started the morning on the east side of Tokyo at the Senso-ji Temple. It was built in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. It is a beautiful temple and the streets leading up to it are filled with vendors.

From there we walked to the Akihabara neighborhood which has the nickname of “Electric Town”. It is a very interesting neighborhood full of maid cafe’s, animal cafe’s (hedgehog), anime, arcade’s (okay, slot machines) and soo much people watching.

Restaurants:
NoMado Grill – Tasty Akasaka/Steak house with an open kitchen atmosphere. We had Japanese Pork Prosciutto Alugra, Pea Soup, Grilled Aging Japanese Beef and a wonderful fruit and pastry dessert.

Grilled Aging Japanese Beef

Sushi Gonpachi G-Zone Ginza – Traditional Sushi House. We had the Yuki Course which consisted of : 1) Appetizer 2) Assorted Sashimi 3) Chawan Mushi Egg Custard with Sea Urchin & Salmon Roe 4) Grilled Salmon 5) Edomae Sushi 6) Shijimi Clam Miso Soup 7) Dessert – Strawberry Gelato

I give myself a lot of credit that I at least tried everything. My Favorite courses were the Assorted Sashimi, Grilled Salmon, Edomae Sushi and Gelato.

Kushiagemono Shun’s – Fried Skewer Restaurant. We were served a 20 course Tempura Meal that included items from Scallops to Whale. You have 5 different sauces and the servers will place the skewer in front of the sauce that will compliment each item – really wonderful when our language barrier was so high.

Shrimp at Kushiagemono Shun’s

Lodging:
New Otani Hotel – where we stayed
Park Hotel Tokyo – Located in Shiodome, offers traditional Japanese hospitality.
The Millennials Shibuya – Offers High tech Comforts in Futuristic Pods.

Transportation:
To and From the Airport: Airport Limo
– Around Town: Foot, Uber/Lyft, or the Subway.
When we visited, it was beautiful spring weather and we loved walking around.

Packing List:
Yen – In today’s day in age, you think more about telling your credit card company that you’re leaving the country vs getting local currency. However, I’d suggest bringing a little cash with you ~USD 100.
Download CityMaps2Go App before leaving for any country abroad. It allows you to download the map, search for your tourist attractions, save places to “Your Trip” and get around town without using data.
Walking Shoes – I’ve been eyeing these lately: New Balance or Nike Air Force 1
Portable Phone Charger – The various translating and directional apps will drain your phone battery pretty quickly. Check out this Luxtude Phone Charger.
Umbrella – I found that umbrellas as apart of the culture in Japan. Great to use for a surprise rain shower or to keep you out of the sun
Large purse – I love my Kate Spade Bag I purchased a few years back that is large enough to carry a water bottle and umbrella, while offering zipper protection. Similar: Polly or Margaux
Universal Adapter or Plug – Our hotel offered a few United States Plugs in each room. I only needed it to charge my laptop (or any other three pronged outlets). I’ve used this travel adapter on a few trips and dig that it’s all in one.

What I loved about Tokyo:
Culture- As a self declared rule follower, I loved that everywhere you went people followed the rules. The city felt like very very organized chaos.
– Candy Matcha Kit Kats, all the Hi-Chews, wild gummies – you name it – we tried it.
– Heated Toilet Seats – game changing, especially after you’ve walked around all day on a chilly spring day.

Bathroom Mirror Defogging You heard me, the bathroom mirror defoggs a square so when you get out of the shower, you can see your face.


Karaoke Bar – Wow. We had the best time. You have got to check out one of the many bars in the city.

Where to see Cherry Blossoms:
Naka Meguro
Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade
Imperial Palace
Shibuya National Garden

Things I would’ve loved to do if we had more time:
Restaurants:
Robot Restaurant – A unique restaurant (I’ve heard the food isn’t great, so eat before hand) that will blow your mind. It is had to put it in words, but check out this video.
– Dumplings from Din Tai Fung
– Pizza from Savoy
– Artisanal Coffee from Koffee Mameya
– Rumored to be a hidden gem with traditional Japanese cuisine at Narukiyo
– Dine at the Restaurant, Gonpachi Nishiazabu, where they filmed the Kill Bill Fight Scene (I’ve never seen it, but the menu looks amazing)
Bar High Five – Ranked as one of the Top 10 Bars in the world, they hand carve a diamond out of a block of ice. Be sure to read the rules before heading that way (no flash photography, USD 10/per person to enter, no groups larger than 4, etc).

Attractions:
Tsujiki Market – Tokyo’s Fish Market
Asakusa Shine – Shrine built during the Edo Period and survived the air raids of 1945.
Imperial Palace – Residence of Japan’s Imperial Family.
Shinagawa Aquarium
Ueno Zoo
Ueno Area: A very old town with a large park, Museums and shopping area called Ame-Yoko
Yanesen Neighborhood: A down-to-earth cozy little town in Central Tokyo
Sanrio Puroland: If you’re a Hello Kitty lover and willing to take a long train ride, check out Puroland.

If you’re going on vacation and need some more details- check out Where’s Mollie, NY Times Guide, Where to Travel Next and The Blonde Abroad‘s Blog Posts.

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