tokyo, japan

 

Sleep... We stayed in an Airbnb in Shibuya for our first few nights. Shibuya is a great location if it is your first time in Tokyo. Very central and easy to access a lot of sites from there. We then moved to the  Claska Hotel in Meguro for our last night. 

Read... Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Bring home... Adorable onsies for all your friends having babies. And visions of everything you should have bought but didn't!

Before you go... Purchase a Japan Rail pass if you plan to travel outside of Tokyo by train. In my opinion this is the best way to see the country... efficient and convenient. You can only buy these before you arrive in Japan so be sure to plan ahead, but they are so worth it and will save you a lot of money. Another life saving tip. Order a pocket wifi ahead of time to pick up at the airport upon arrival. So easy and totally necessary. And when you are done just drop it in the mail at the airport before your flight! 

Pack... Walking shoes. I bought these Nike sneakers for this trip and wore them every single day. No one wears sandals, so instead opt for comfortable flats or sneakers. 

Money matters... Bring cash. A lot of restaurants, bars and coffee shops are cash only. And remember, no tipping in Japan.

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{ explore }

Tsukiji Fish Market - In order to see the tuna auction in action you need to arrive by 2:30am to line up. They only take two groups of about 60 people total, and the day we were there it filled up by 3am. As painful as that sounds, the market is moving across town at some point in 2017 to make way for construction around the 2020 Olympics. If this is on your bucket list, go now! 

Meiji Shrine - the largest shrine in Tokyo, a pilgrimage here is a must-do to begin to appreciate the Shinto culture. Go early to avoid the crowds, or on Sundays when there are wedding ceremonies taking place. 

Shibuya Crossing - snag a spot in the Starbucks window for the best view. Or wait for the light to change and partake in the hustle and bustle yourself. 

Mori Museum - we didn't make it here, but have heard this is a great place to soak in some culture, with a great view as a bonus.

Daikanyama - My favorite neighborhood that we explored. The quiet, narrow streets are charming, with low roofs and endless adorable storefronts to window shop as you stroll by.  I loved the off the beaten path and almost Parisian type feel. 

Shimokitazawa a cool neighborhood with a hip, young vibe, it's worth venturing out here. Its a short subway ride from Shibuya, or a nice walk if you are making a day of it. Cool off with a refreshing juice at Live Juice when you arrive, and then snag an outdoor table at one of the restaurants for some fun people watching. There is also some great vintage shopping to be found in the area.

 

 

{ eat }

Kinkabo (Kanda) serves spicy ramen that lives up to the hype. Their spice barometer should be fair warning - its serious!

Cona (Shibuya) - When you need a break from sushi and ramen, pizza is the answer. 

Midori-Zushi (Shibuya) - Some of the best restaurants are found in train or subway stations. This sushi spot is delicious and authentic. 

Ramen (Tokyo Station) - I couldn't tell you how to find it (that station is a maze), but there is a row of ramen restaurants a level below the train tracks, and it was some of the best ramen we had the whole trip. And yes, we actually missed our train because we decided to eat here first! Worth it. 

Live Juice (Shimokitazawa) - Fresh juice on a busy corner in this cool neighborhood. 

About Life (Shibuya) is a great little coffee stand (just a window) in Shibuya. We went twice!

Cafe Culture (Western Shibuya)  I loved this cute little spot in western Shibuya. Stop in for good salads and pastries.

Lourmarin (Daikanyama) - Another cute coffee stand in Daikanyama if you are shopping around there and need a pick me up.

Ivy Place (Daikanyama) - A fun place to relax after an afternoon of shopping in Daikanyama. This restaurant has a more Western focus, but looks delicious. We enjoyed a few beers and lots of people watching on the patio. 

 

 

 

{ drink }

Bar Martha (Ebisu) - This place is amazing. A cool vibe and vinyl records played all night. Grab a spot at the bar and enjoy the bar snacks all night. Be warned, as tempting as it is to take photos, they will kick you out if they catch you!

Bar Trench (Ebisu) - This cozy bar is tucked away on a back street of Ebisu.

Park Hyatt (Shinjuku) for the lost in Translation experience. 

Golden Gai (Shinjuku) - The small bars in Golden Gai may only fit a few people each, but these alleys are lined with a variety of experiences. These charming alleys do attract a fair share of tourists, so come early if you are serious about staying to snag a spot.

Hotel Claska (Meguro) - A bit out of the way, but if you find yourself in Meguro, definitely stop in. Hotel Claska was the first design hotel in Tokyo. And while it is a bit worn now, the boutique hotel, and slightly hipster, vibe (Think Japanese version of the Ace Hotel), makes it a fun place to have an early evening cocktail. 

Spring Valley Brewery (Daikanyama) - If you are searching for a wider range of beers beyond the light Japanese offerings, look no further. This brewery serves a great variety of beer and has a perfect patio to enjoy them on. 

Anjin (Daikanyama) - A chic cocktail bar on the top floor of T-site to refuel during your shopping spree. You'll be tempted to take photos of everything (I was!) but unfortunately that's not allowed. 

{shop}

T- Site (Daikanyama)  - The coolest bookstore you may ever come across. Worth a visit.

Brick & Mortar (Naka-Meguro) - This gem, tucked away in the charming Naka-Meguro area, was one of our best finds (thanks to the recommendation from a friend). Stocked with fabulous home goods, vintage finds, one of a kind ceramics, and cheeky gifts, this is a great place to stock up on gifts and items to take home. I was also tempted to just move in. 

Niko and .... (Shibuya) As soon as I heard this store compared as the Japanese version of Anthropologie I made a beeline for it, and was not disappointed. I stocked up on a few gifts (for friends and also myself) and thoroughly enjoyed just wandering around. There is also a nice little cafe in the front of the shop if you have travel partners that are not so interested in shopping.

Gallery  & Shop "DO" (Claska Hotel, Meguro) - Japanese design heaven. could have brought home everything in this store. 

 

{ october 2016 }