Hello, everyone! Today I am continuing my Japan travel post and writing all about our stay in Tokyo. I feel like it’s taken forever for me to get through my travel posts, and it’s because I’ve only posted one a week to spread them out and not inundate you guys with them. However, this means it feels like I’ve been dragging them on, so I’m going to try to finish them up this week. Tokyo will be the last installment, but I have split it up into two posts as there’s just so much to talk about. Part 2 will be up tomorrow! I also have to work on replying to comments soon, which I’m so behind on!
When people think of Japan, they most likely think of Tokyo. While a city like Kyoto is historical and traditional, Tokyo is a bustling modern metropolis. I especially loved Tokyo for all of the eating and shopping, but we visited a lot of interesting places here too! We spent 5 full days here, and two half days at the beginning and end.
We stayed at Hotel Sunroute Plaza, which seems to be a very popular place that a lot of people stay at, because it’s very reasonably priced and in an amazing location. It’s only a 3 minute walk from Shinjuku Station, which is a huge hub station that can bring you all around Tokyo.
We arrived mid-afternoon via bullet train, and like every city we visit, after dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we usually spend the first day exploring the area around our hotel. We decided to make our way to the Harajuku area, and on the way there, our first top was Meiji Shrine.
By the time we arrived Meiji Shrine, it was getting late and parts of the shrine were closed, so we weren’t able to walk through all of it. From the entrance, you walk through a really pretty park lined with trees, before arriving at the shrine itself. Because it was late, there weren’t very many people around, so it felt really peaceful here!
After we had our fill of Meiji Shrine, we continued our trek to Harajuku.
Harajuku is a district in Shibuya, and Gwen Stefani made it popular in her 2004 song Hollaback Girl (lol). Harajuku used to be a place where cosplayers hung out, but now it has become a major tourist attraction. The most popular street in Harajuku is Takeshita Street, which is aimed mainly at young girls. While I found the street crowded and a little overhyped, it’s still quite fascinating to see – on one side of the street, you may see a super pink and girly store, and right across from it will be a shop selling punk clothing.
Takeshita Street is also known for their many crepe stands, which can be found on every corner. I ate not one, not two, but THREE crepes here (and an adorable ice cream cone!)
Our second day was dedicated to visiting Tokyo DisneySea, which was a freaking dream come true! I am a huge Disney fan and one of my goals is to visit to every Disney park in the world (although we missed out on Disneyland Paris when we were in Paris last year because we didn’t have enough time). We really lucked out on this trip, because not only did they have the Halloween decorations up (also something I’ve always wanted to see), but they just so happened to be celebrating their 35th anniversary. I was going to do a separate post on DisneySea, but it poured rain for most of the day and I didn’t really get very many good photos. I haven’t decided if I still want to do a separate entry for it.
We’ll be in Hong Kong in a few weeks, and while I’ve never had much of an interest in visiting Disneyland Hong Kong because it looks the least interesting out of all the Disneyland parks, I kind of want to do it on this trip for the sake of completing my “visit all Disneyland parks in the world” goal. I’m currently trying to convince my parents that we should go, and failing hard at it.
It pretty much poured the entire day, so for the most part we tried to stay out of the rain. We started the morning at Rainbow Cafe eating the most delicious Japanese fluffy pancakes. These were so so soft and fluffy – I still think about them!
After this wonderful breakfast, we headed back to Takeshita Street in Harajuku, which was just a few blocks away from Rainbow cafe. Japan came up with the concept of cat cafes which now can be found all around the world, and while my husband and I both like cats, we’re both more dog people. Harajuku has a Mame-Shiba Inu (mini Shiba) cafe, and the Shibas there were super adorable. I found that they didn’t particularly love people though, and I couldn’t tell if it was because they’re sick of being manhandled by humans day in and day out, or because that’s just the temperament of Shibas.
Next on our stop was Ghibli Museum, which actually took a while to get to as it was across the city and a bit of a walk once you got off the station!
You may or may not have ever heard of Hayao Miyazaki, the director of famous Japanese animated movies such as My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Kiki’s Delivery Service (just to name a few popular ones). Ghibli Museum is a museum that showcases the work of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, the film studio that he co-founded. I’ve actually only seen 3 Miyazaki films (I grew up on Totoro and watched two others as an adult), and my husband has seen none, but we were told that we should still visit anyways.
Getting tickets for this museum was pretty ridiculous – you can’t buy tickets at the door, but they are available online on the 10th of the month prior to your visit (so August 10th for us because we were visiting in September). When we realized on August 9th that it was already August 10th at noon in Tokyo, we went online to buy them and 95% of the tickets were already sold out!
We were both pleasantly surprised by the museum, which was so whimsical and cute! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but the majority of the displays were about the creative process of the films, a ton of the original artwork, and a room that shows the technical engineering of the films, which was really magical. It also has different animation shorts on rotation that is exclusive to the museum – we saw a continuation of My Neighbour Totoro! The cafe and gift shop inside the museum is fun to look around, but rather pricey, though.
Our visit at Ghibli Museum ended at around 6pm. We still wanted to explore Tokyo a bit even though it was raining cats and dogs out, so we decided to head to Shibuya to find some dinner.
Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most famous districts known for business and fashion, and also a great nightlife. Everyone knows Shibuya for Shibuya Crossing, which is supposedly the busiest intersection in the world. Once the crosswalks turn green, this intersection becomes a mad but organized scramble of people crossing the street. I took a video of the crossing, but no pictures as it’s kind of hard to capture in a photo while in the dark. To be honest, besides the crossing, I found Shibuya to be really similar to Shinjuku – lots of tall buildings with shopping and food.
That night, we ate at Ichiran Ramen, which was a really interesting ramen place. Once inside, you place your order at a vending machine and give you your ticket. They’ll then bring you to a booth that is partitioned on all sides, so that you’re sitting on your own instead of at a table facing the person you’re having your meal with. The booths reminded me of when I wrote my driving test! – no cheating allowed while eating your ramen!
Your ramen is served through a partition in front of you – on the other side of the partition is the kitchen. The Ichiran Ramen process is very efficient process, designed for people eating on their own who just want to get in and out. You don’t even have to talk to anyone during the whole experience if you don’t want to!
I forgot to mention in my Observations Post that garbage cans are hard to come by in the streets, so bring a plastic bag to store your food wrappers and whatnot!
There are TONS of places to shop in Tokyo – I feel like shopping warrants a trip on its own! However, the place we kept going back to was Don Quixote (pronounced “Donki”), which is a tax-free discount store filled with everything you can imagine, including snacks, cosmetics, household items, electronics, and clothing. There are Don Quixote stores everywhere in Tokyo, but our favourite was the Mega Don Quixote in Shibuya, which seemed to have a bigger selection. We probably spent about 2 hours in here, LOL.
While walking around the streets of Tokyo at night, we saw these driving tours where tourists can drive around Tokyo in little Mario Kart carts. They even dress them in costumes, although not necessarily Mario Kart characters (the girl in the yellow below is a minion). These were so awesome to see!
That’s it for Part 1 of Tokyo. Stay tuned for my final Japan post tomorrow, which covers Day 4-6!