JAPAN 2019 - Tokyo Guide and Tips

1 May 2019

Hello lovelies!
In March my bf and I went on an adventure across the Pacific to discover the wonders of Japan. It was the first time both him and I had gone to Asia, and boy did we love it! FYI, the plane ride was quite long (13 hours from Toronto)! I napped 7 times and watched 4 movies. Total zombie at touch down.
 I thought I would share some of the great places we visited while we were there. Enjoy 😃
  • I would recommend learning a few Japanese words to get by, because it's something that's appreciated by the people who live there. But if you don't learn any Japanese, that's okay too! Worst case scenario you can get by with English and awkward hand gestures. 
  • Bring cash. Few places take credit or debit cards
  • Download Google translate - you can take photos of menus/packages etc and it will translate the text. LIFE SAVER!
  • If you have questions on a Tokyo guide by neighborhood, just shoot me an e-mail. Our schedule was down to the hour. We did a TON! Below is a small fraction of our adventures.
  • Buy your wifi portable router ahead of time. I got Ninja Wifi and used it all day for everything! It's tiny and fit in my purse with my phone and wallet. Yes, the tiny bag in the photo below! Worth it. We also used it to stream movies and chat with family back home. Yayz!
 
We caught some cherry blossoms while we were walking through many of the national gardens. So beautiful!

Ginza - Seiko Tower
Kabuki Theatre - You can sign up for a 1 hr set of these traditional Japanese plays since they last the whole day. There is an English translating device you can get to follow along. I really enjoyed it, and when I go back to Japan I will likely sign-up for a full day of the play!
Tsukiji Fish Market - Come early and enjoy the food!
Super fresh sushi from the fish market. I die.
It seems like strawberries are a big delicacy, and we picked up a sweet dessert with mochi and my favorite berry!
A rainy walk through Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple.  I think I got high off the fumes from the incense in there. Haha!
This was the most enjoyable tourist trap ever - the Robot Restaurant! I absolutely loved it - the dancing was fun and the light show was exciting. Don't waste money on the food, totally overpriced and it's better to spend on high quality Japanese food in Tokyo.
This was taken during our walking food tour in Ginza and the surrounding neighborhoods. I LOVED IT, TOO! Our guide was kind and wonderful. She showed us customs of the area, and what Tokyo citizens eat (and do) for fun. I could not recommend it enough!
These was some of the bar snacks we ate while grabbing drinks at the izakaya. We booked our tours through Viator
Walking through Ueno Park and enjoying the the spiritual areas around the city.
Shinjuko National Garden - we spent a while browsing their cozy greenhouse and appreciating all the horticulture. Also, since it was still quite chilly when we went in March, this was a lovely reprieve from the cold. The grounds were massive outside, and it was where I started seeing cherry blossom trees come to life.
My bf and I enjoying the city lifeee! 
We ate so much Ramen. OMGAWD. 
Sneaking through Omoide Yokocho, affectionally called... Piss Alley. It's a tiny strip covered in a canopy with fake cherry blossom trees, and dozens of small eateries that can fit only a handful of people at their benches. Such a unique place! Follow the link above for more history.
I spent a whole day in Hello Kitty World (Sanrio Puroland). It's chockfull of adorable characters, bright colors, rides and exhibits. I also discovered Gudetama, who I am now obsessed with. 
I know this venue is mostly for children (NOT touristy, and it's outside the city), but there were a lot of Harajuku teens and adults there as well. I would recommend setting up early for the Hello Kitty Parade; it's a big performance with a gorgeous light show, live music and dancing. Oh, and arial artists. I LOVED IT!

Gudetama life. Basically a lazy egg full on ennui.
My thoughtful bf also hunted down Portuguese food in Tokyo, and we had the pleasure of trying out Tokyo's pasteis de nata and quejadas. Not 100% authentic but totally delicious! Check them out at Nata de Cristiano.  Also, they had bifanas and Sagres. If you know, you KNOW!
Shibuya Crossing - famous, chaotic, and effective. There are actually quite a few multi-way crosswalks across Tokyo. 
Did you even go to Japan if you didn't visit a cat cafe (Cafe Mocha)? We were concerned the kitties might be exhausted/not interactive, but on arrival they had oodles of energy, lived in a beautiful two-storey apartment and had ample toys to play with. We caught all of them during feeding time!

I love her. She looked like a weiner-cat. I don't even understand.
Harajuko it actually this packed. So insane. I preferred wandering through Brahm's path, please do the latter if you can. The entire Harajuko neighborhood is actually quite a pleasure to explore, and like most of Tokyo, it has fantastic preloved designer stores. 

Harajuko life.
The most amazing part of our trip was getting to see Mt Fuji. It was just gorgeous, and the drive up was also amazing, because we got to take in the mountainous scenery. Oh and our tour guide was hilarious!
UGHHHH so pretty!
Motohakone - our tour involved going to this gorgeous area as well. We took a chair lift to the top of the mountain, where we got a beautiful view of the lakes and valleys, and also a peek of Mt Fuji again. 
This wonderful temple was at the top of the mountain. So picturesque. 
The tour also involved a boat ride along Lake Ashi - it was glorious. Afterwards, we took the bullet train home - I snapped a video of the train passing, and pretty much watched it non-stop for a day because I couldn't believe how fast it was. Brilliant! PS. Everything was part of the package, and I cannot recommend it enough! Viator has the best finds.
 
There was a temple at every corner. I loved it!
 
We also spent time at the Tokyo National Museum. A total eye treat, but also very informative and great for foreign tourists to learn more about Japan and its lengthy history. 
 
Sanrio all day, every day.
 
I don't know who these characters are, but they were so gosh-darn cute I wanted to be one as well!
 
Sensoji Temple
 
Akihabara - tech center and anime heaven. 
 
Here's a tourist hack: there's a free tour of the Imperial Palace every week day. You get to see parts of the grounds that are not accessible to the general public. A guard will be with you, and the tour is conducted in English. It is such a treat! Just make sure you show up early in the morning and get in line for a ticket. I think you can book online too. You will go through a security check-point before the tour. 
I had an amazing time in Japan, and cannot wait to go back again to check out other parts of Tokyo, join more tours, and take a trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima. This was an experience of a lifetime, and like most life events, it made me a more knowledgeable and open-minded person. Travel is a pathway to accumulating invaluable lessons 🙏

Cheers,
Chantelle 

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