I went to Japan for the weekend! Well actually 5 months ago but due to glitches on the website and having to redo it a few times, I gave up on posting it! Originally this was a planned weekend trip with the guys, but it ended up being an impromptu girls weekend when they didn’t make it out. It was a quick two hour flight from South Korea.
Once we got to Japan, we hopped on the NXT train that took us directly to Shibuya in about an hour and ten minutes. Shibuya is known for having one of the busiest crosswalk intersections in the world. When we first walked through it during the day, I kind of felt like “this is it?…” but viewing the intersection from above at night… SO MANY PEOPLE.
Tokoyo has municipalities that together make up the core and the most populous part of Japan, kind of like when you go to Chicago and stay in Lakeview, which is still considered Chicago. We stayed one night in Shibuya (Tokyo) and two nights in Ginza (Tokyo). Our first day there we walked over 20,000 steps and explored all over the Shibuya area. Here’s a couple highlights of what we saw:
We went and ate ramen at a restaurant called Ichiran that concentrates on Tonkotsu ramen. There is limited seating, so you wait in a line outside until you are close to being seated, then once your inside you put your money into a vending machine and choose what you want from the selections. Once seating is open, you sit in your own small cubicle to eat privately. Your ramen is delivered and they close the curtain and you can eat in peace. It was a really cool concept and the ramen was delicious.
After ramen we hopped on the subway and went over a few stops to see the Meiji Shrine. The Meiji Shrine is located right in the city but in a forest that covers 170 acres. The forest consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan. The picture below is of the Torii gate where you enter the shrine. The function of a Torii is to mark the entrance to a sacred space.
A couple feet inside there were barrels of sake and wine that were donated (pictures below). The temple itself was being restored so I didn’t get any good pictures of it.
After the shrine we ended up on the famous street, Takeshita, a pedestrian shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants. We stopped at a place called Cookie Bar Cookie Muncher! I had a cookie ice cream sandwich that was amazing! It is a company from New Zealand and this is their only international location! Here is a link to their website: https://www.cookiebar.co.nz/
Later that night we got conveyor sushi! I was such a disgrace to sushi lovers because I only got the cucumber rolls and fried chicken 😡 Everything else freaked me out because they didn’t sell “California rolls” or “Philadelphia rolls” that I normally get … only the real stuff! It was an awesome experience… you sit down and order on your own personal screen and the sushi comes right out to you on a conveyor.
The next day we set out to Ginza… Ginza is a popular upscale shopping area of Tokyo, and is considered one of the most expensive, elegant, and luxury streets in the world. Here are some pictures of the area:
Once we checked into our hotel, we headed to Asakusa, Tokyo, to see the Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple– the oldest temple in Tokyo. It was only a few subway stops over from Ginza. Here are some highlights:
After walking around the temple we checked out the shopping street area called Nakamise. This street has centuries of history and sells all types of Japanese souvenirs, we ended up stopping for lunch and had ramen again! While walking around after lunch we discovered an Owl Cafe… yes, real owls! We had to stop inside and check it out, but I should have known I would freak out considering I really dislike birds!
We stopped back at the hotel for some rest and then headed out to eat in Ginza. After eating we stopped by a cute little pub right by the hotel. I got confused with Yen and Won being so close that I accidentally bought an $11.00 beer but it was worth it! (Reference: 1,000 Won is a little less than $1.00 USD and 1,000 Yen is $9.20 USD).
The next day we checked out the imperial garden… it wasn’t all that exciting to be honest, but it was pretty. See pictures below:
We also went to the Tokyo Tower right as it was getting dark to overlook the city. The Tokyo Tower was undergoing renovations so we couldn’t go to the very top, but it still had great views from the main deck. It was about 150 meters (492 feet) up.
We went and checked out the Tsukiji Fish Market during our time in Tokyo. This place was SO crowded with street food vendors set up on every alley right next to each other. There were also restaurants you could tuck into off of the alleyways. Some of the restaurants had crazy long lines out the door. This is supposed to be the place for the best sushi, but once again I failed and did not have any while we were there 😡
Our final morning in Tokyo we were set on finding a nice breakfast place. South Korea doesn’t have a lot of breakfast options so we were determined to find something in Japan. We found a Hawaiian style breakfast place in Ginza to get our fix before we headed back home. (I couldn’t eat all of this).
Japan was amazing and luckily I got to head back there with Matt before we left SK! I will update another blog with our adventures there! Xo- MJ