Oh Tokyo.. how I can’t wait to see you again soon. We spent over a week in Tokyo at the end of our trip, relaxing, eating and shopping our way through the city. It was our last stop in Japan and with so many days allocated to the city, we decided to take it easy. Here’s a snapshot of what we got up to..
ASAKUSA TEMPLE & NAKAMISE
I loved Asakusa temple and the shopping street in front of it as a good place to pick up touristy souvenirs to take back home. The area is extremely packed when we visited (during Golden Week!). It was basically shoulder to shoulder the whole way through. The pics show it all!
Again, we visited Shibuya on a Saturday during Golden Week. I feel like I say this a lot about Tokyo, but I’ve never seen so many people in my life. Shibuya Crossing was jaw dropping for me, it was a sea of people that never stopped. We hung around Shibuya in the late afternoon and did some shopping at Uniqlo (I prefer this branch over the Ginza flagship store), Tokyu Hands (way too overwhelming for me), Muji and more. It’s a big hub of food, shopping and nightlife here so you could really spend ages looking around. However the real gem of Shibuya was….
UOBEI GENKI SUSHI
This place was the best! Located just around the corner from Uniqlo in Shibuya Crossing. For about 100Y + tax per dish, you can try everything from fatty tuna, fatty salmon to all sorts of fish you never see in Australian sushi restaurants. There are also a range of other sides like hot chips, ramen, cheesecake, pineapple, jelly drink and more. Everything arrives on a bullet train like contraption, it’s super fun to see your food come straight to your seat. Note, the lines here can be quite long but the line does move fast and is definitely worth it. We lined up and visited this place about 4 times during our stay. Each time the line went out the door but each time we waited only about 30 minutes.
TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
I loved the hustle and bustle of Tsukiji fish market but man was it busy. Tsukiji is closed on holidays, Sundays and usually Wednesday. With its odd opening hours, it’s best to google their opening calendar to make sure the day you visit is one that it is open. The market is split into an inner indoors market and an outer outdoors market. The indoors market is meant for wholesalers buying fish and is not much of interest to tourists, nor is it really open to tourists. The outer market is the one you’ll want to visit. There’s heaps of food stalls at Tsukiji, doing all sorts of fresh sashimi and the like. The prices are expensive here but the food is delicious. You can also pick up other food goods and kitchen goods here like chopsticks, knives, matcha, dried snacks and more.
One of the sushi restaurants we visited a few times in Tsukji was Sushi Zanmai. We chose it because it had lines that made it look popular enough but weren’t long enough that we didn’t want to wait. Turns out, Sushi Zanmai is a chain of restaurants that originated in Tsukiji. There are quite a few branches in Tsukiji market and the surrounding streets and every time we felt hungry, we just happened to pass one. The food here is delicious! We tried both the a la carte menu as well as the sets, seriously, the eel and the sea urchin here was so, so good. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
STUDIO GHIBLI MUSEUM
Tom loves Ghibli movies and so we made sure we made a trip to the Ghibli Museum. Note, booking tickets to Ghibli is a strenuous process. As a tourist, you have to buy them online from travel agencies months before hand and there is a set allocation of tickets for each day. So do make sure you look into this before visiting. The museum itself was cute and perfect for animation fanatics, however everything was in Japanese so it was hard to understand and/or read the exhibits. There was also a short film that you could watch in the Museum which was also in Japanese so I’m assuming it is catered for Japanese tourists only. There’s a cute cafe at the museum, the Straw Hat cafe which serves a range of desserts and dishes. The line here was so long. In fact, the moment it became Golden Week in Tokyo, everything came with a line.
SHIRO-HIGE CREAM PUFF FACTORY
Was it worth the journey? Why not! I spent one morning whilst Tom was sleeping in on an elusive hunt for totoro cream puffs. After about 40 minutes on various trains, I finally made it to Shiro-hige, a small cafe in the suburbs selling totoro cream puffs. They’re 440 yen each (on the expensive side for Japan) and come in a variety of flavours with green tea being my favourite. You can buy these takeaway to take home which is what I did so I could share them with Tom. They’re super cute and such a typical Tokyo novelty. If you have spare time in your itinerary or you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out.
TAKESHITA ST, HARAJUKU
The day we visited Takeshita St was the epitome of standstill-ness. It was like Golden Week just decided to go even more crazy. We couldn’t even ‘enter’ Takeshita St for some minutes when we arrived due to the crazy amount of people there. At one point, there were police officers holding a rope down the middle of the street, enforcing a left lane and right lane for walking and yelling into the loudspeaker for crowd control. It was absolute madness and we ended up spending almost 3 hours on Takeshita St just trying to make our way through it all. A stop at Totti Candy Factory was definitely necessary for the famous rainbow cotton candy and we also tried to escape the crowds by heading into Daiso to have a browse as well.
A note about Golden Week in Tokyo..
Everything about Golden Week was crazy in Tokyo. Originally when we booked our flights to Japan, we had no idea we had booked during some madness called ‘Golden Week’, which we later found out to be the national holiday week of Japan. Just our luck! We were determined to tackle it anyway and decided to arrange our itinerary so that we would be spending Golden Week in Tokyo instead of Kyoto, which I heard is extremely hectic during Golden Week. I can report back that Tokyo was hectic as well, but I think the difference would be that Kyoto is much smaller so all the attractions would be packed, whereas Tokyo is massive and if you head off the beaten path, there’s always somewhere to find a bit of peace and solitude. We did tackle some of the main attractions (Asakusa temple, Takeshita St, Tsukiji market) during Golden Week and though it was crazy busy and took longer than expected, it was still doable. So if you happen to find yourself in Tokyo during Golden Week, it’s crazy but fear not, you will get through it!
Did I mention I loved Japan so much that my sister and I have decided to explore it again this November? I am so excited.