72 hours in Tokyo, Japan.
Heres to another year of being blessed with the opportunity to celebrate my birthday in a different country! This year I want to focus on traveling to Asia, Central & South America. So my first trip to kick off the year was to Tokyo, Japan.
En Route: From San Francisco we flew to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to Haneda. The flight from LAX to HND was a little over 13 hours. Super happy we got first class with endless sake, noodles & movies. The Delta chanclas (slippers) were super cute to walk around the cabin in. 14hours later we finally arrived! HND airport is super easy to figure out when you take your time to stop and read signs. All the signs are either in Japanese or English. We needed to buy a bus ticket to get to our hotel, super easy to buy and the people are super helpful.
Currency: Japan uses yen. As airline employees we try to change our money in the US because we don’t get charged the exchange fee and we get a little bit more for our money. This time around we were advised to take money out from an ATM in Japan to get more for our money. That’s what I did. Not sure if there was much of a difference. ALSO if you travel a lot I would open a Charles Schwab account. They don’t charge for international ATM fees.
Keep In Mind: Japan is V E R Y clean. You wont find a piece of trash on the floor nor a trash can. I noticed when we ate street food everyone ate in boxed off painted squares, finished eating, threw their trash away and went on their merry way. So I think eating and walking is a no-no. There were signs painted on the sidewalks that said no smoking and walking. Im not a smoker but if you are, keep this in mind. Toilets are all bidets! Toilets paper is there as an option but I found this to be very green friendly, save the trees, use less paper. The subway closes at midnight. Japanese people were very aware of others, if they’re sick they wear masks so that people around them don’t get sick. They form lines while waiting for the subway so that the people exiting can exit, hassle free. People don’t talk loud and are so kind by always greeting each other, try to learn and remember “please” and “thank you” in Japanese.
Where to Stay: I would recommend finding an Air BnB in the Shibuya District. We ended up staying at the Hilton near Tokyo Disneyland. The hotel was literally right next door to Disneyland but since we wanted to spend our time in the city it was a hassle getting to the locations we wanted to visit via subway and an Uber cost $100. The next day we checked out and went to the Marriott located in the Ginza District. This district is also a great location. You’re surrounded by high end retail and walking distance to the famous fish
market. AND do not j-walk, you’ll get a ticket. (we didn’t get one but saw some guys almost get one)
What to Wear: Doesn’t matter where I go or how long I stay, I A L W A Y S overpack. I have gotten somewhat better about packing but not really 🙂 I took my favorite black and grey jeggings from Cotton On, layering tees, long sleeves & a dress (idk why a dress). Warm turtlenecks, a peacoat, denim jacket and peacoat. Also packed two scarfs, booties and my nikes. Never touched my booties nor the dress but I didn’t layer like crazy because it was pretty cold especially at night. With all the walking we did, my Nikes came in handy.
Food: Food in Japan can be intimidating only because there were times when I couldn’t read what the item was or consisted of. But never the less I wanted to try different things. First things first sushi! Went to a sushi boat restaurant that was super packed, we had to wait 30 mins to be seated. But once seated it was cool to see the chef make everything in front of you and send it down on a boat. I was worried about the mercury levels in raw fish and this restaurant only had sashimi so I ate miso soup. You also have to try the ramen. We went to Ippudo Ramen restaurant. I could seriously eat their all day everyday! The bowls of ramen was ginormous and soooo flavorful. My mouth still waters at the thought of their ramen bowls! Through out each location we visited there was something delicious to try. From cotton candy to fried chicken.
What to see: I found so many places via Pinterest. The most important would be the fish market. The fish market has been around for 100s of year and its going to be knocked down for the Olympics stadium. It was incredible walking through and seeing all types of different fish. We grabbed grilled fish at different vendors for lunch and a crepe for breakfast. The skewers of different seafood was my favorite. I grabbed unagi (eel), swordfish and scallops.
Banana custard crepe for breakfast <3
Next on the list was the Harajuku District. It was packed with people and so many cool shops. We had to stop at the Totti Candy Factory to get the Insta worthy cotton candies. These cotton candies were incredible and tasted so good. Make sure to stock up in green tea and strawberry Kit Kats!! For real food we couldn’t decide where to go then we saw a line for this chicken stand. So glad we stopped there to each. Warm fried chicken bites with 20 sauces to choose from.
The Shibuya crosswalk must added to your list as well. This intersection enormous and you can walk in whatever direction you’d like since all the cars stop. Best place to people watch is up in Starbucks. They are located in the corner on the second or third story.
Next on the list should be the Sensoji Temple. The temple was so beautiful and breath taking when you got closer and closer. Leading up to the temple was a row of street vendors. So many fun things to see, buy and try. I bought some souvenirs and tried some amazing treats. To know me is to know that I am obsessed with mochi. If you are a mochi lover like I am you HAVE to try these mochi balls filled with custard and topped with a strawberry. They were made fresh and soooooo addicting! Another must try is the warm sake thats made with rice milk and cinnamon. It’s similar to horchata but warm like champurrado. We kept going back for more and the guy that was selling it kept laughing at us. We also grabbed some ice cream and rice cracker snacks.
Definitely spend a night out in the Golden Gai area. It’s an area that consists of a bunch of little allies filled with tiny bars, holes in the wall. These bars are so tiny, some can only fit maybe 7 people at a time. My friend saw some bars that said “Japanese speaking customers only”. Don’t get offended if you see this or experience being denied service. It maybe because the owners don’t speak english or they are trying to preserve their culture. We sat at some bar that was decent size, ordered fried sticks of whatever you can think of. Fried broccoli, chicken, beef, potatoes, etc. we also ordered these beers mixed with soju.
Coming Back To-Do: Our time was very limited since we were only there for 3 days. SO there’s so much I want to do and try the next time I visit.
- Next time I want to take the bullet train to the country side.
- Visit the Robot Cafe and the cat cafes.
- Go to Disneyland since tickets are only 60 USD!!
- Visit the temples outside of Tokyo and dress up like a geisha.
- Try more amazing food!