After our stay in Kyoto and Hakone, we finally arrived in Tokyo. What a city! There is plenty to see and do, so much culture, history, fashion and food! We accommodated ourselves in an AirBnB room in well-located Shinjuku and could access all of the main sights from there easily. Of course we visited many more places than listed here, but that would have resulted in a novel length blog post. Therefore, I’ve created a collection of my most memorable moments of this weekend:
Friday: The Tsukiji Fish Market
About 15 years ago, I got myself a DuMont travel magazine about Japan. I just loved the pictures and articles, and what impressed me the most was the story about the Tsukiji fish market. I made a promise to myself to visit this market one day. And now, I did.
The full experience Tsukiji would include the tuna auction at 4.30am. We decided not to got for that as it would have ruined our entire sightseeing schedule, but as a compromise we headed to the market at 8am. Not so much of a hustle and bustle anymore, but a good time to take photos and catch a glimpse of the vendors’ daily routine (but take care of the lethal electro carts everywhere!).
Any edible sea dweller can be found here. From pulpo to all kinds of fish to weird snails and eel, there is nothing which is not sold at Tsukiji. It is highly enjoyable to wander around, trying to figure out what kind of strange seafood lies in the eskies and to watch vendors cut up entire tunas. Pretty awesome. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:
After that, it was time for 10am morning sushi! We just left the fish area and walk to the blocks surrounding the market where you will find a broad offer of sushi places. When you’re there, mark my words: order something raw and preferably tuna. You will never get better, fresher and more high quality sushi in your entire life. Had some green tea and a beer with that (if you can eat raw fish at 10am, you can also have a beer, right?). What can I say: I was a very happy girl that day.
Saturday: Asakusa and Don Quijote
Another temple! Even though I’m kind of fed up with temples after travelling extensively in Southeast Asia in the past months, I’d strongly recommend this one: Sensoji. Located in Asakusa, this massive Buddhist temple is worth a visit. Moreover, the area around it is more than charming. Vendors sell traditional Japanese snacks like tako-yaki (fried squid nastiness but oh so good!), souvenirs and kimono accessories.
After the temple has closed and night has dawned, the district comes to life with many street restaurants where people rather come for a beer and some snacks to go with that than an opulent dinner. It’s a good place for chatting with friends, have a glass of sake (or the other) and enjoy simple foods such as okonomiyaki (weird but very delicious, savoury pancake filled with cabbage and other ingredients) or yakitori chicken skewers.ˀ
When you are in this area, it is imperative to pay a visit to Don Quixote store. You want the sick Japanese shit? This is your place. From Sailor Moon mascara to all sorts of costumes, weird sweets, alcohol, purses, shower gels and kitchen utilities, there is nothing you cannot find there. Sugoi!
Sunday: Lazy day in Shinjuku
On Sunday, our plan was to check out Shinjuku. So we strolled through Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks. You have to pay an entrance fee for the park which is quite an uncommon thing in my opinion, but you can spend hours in this well maintained garden. Also, you can access the glass house with is home to many cool plants for free, so it’s worth it.
After that, we walked over to Hanazono shrine which hosts a temple flea market every Sunday. If you like flea markets in general, are looking for a bargain or are a vintage aficionado, this is your place! You can absolutely find some jewels in the junk. From ceramic to old photos and cotton yukatas, there are plenty of souvenirs to bring back home. And even though they have fixed prices, you can always haggle a bit and probably get a little something extra.
Generally, there are some nice shops in this area, from high-end (Takashimaya) to brands for everyone (MUJI <3). After a shopping spree, we treated ourselves with a massive bowl of simple ramen. Carb overload!
… and other things
Here are some other places I really enjoyed in a brief overview:
Meiji Jingu: A Buddhist shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. I just washed my hands there.
Tokyo Skytree: Almost 650m high, this impressive tower has a wonderful platform from where you can get a sick view over Tokyo. On clear days, you can even see the Fuji-san (of course we did not, I just came to terms with the fact that I will never ever see that mountain!)
Harajuku: Holy crepe! This beauty was wolfed down by us at Harajuku, the area in which you can find Cosplayers, Gothic Lolitas and other crazy manifestations of Japanese youth culture.
Edo-Tokyo Museum: Why shouldn’t a sumo wrestler ride a bike! Took this shot on our way to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which is, hands down, the best municipal museum I’ve ever visited. Strongly recommend it!
What are your favourites spots in Tokyo?
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