Winter Break 2019/20 my parents took my brother Jared and I to Japan for what was easily one of the best trips of my life. We flew into Tokyo (Narita) and after spending a few days there we went to Hakone for a traditional ryokan experience, took a train to Kyoto, explored Osaka, and then back to Tokyo for a little to fly home. I’m approaching this amazing experience city by city. Tokyo was like something out of a movie. The city was so large that the views looked like a green screen and the streets were clean like nobody lived there. Tokyo was lively, welcoming, and a perfect mix of traditional and modern. Narrowing down what to share with you was almost impossible. All photos were taken by yours truly 😉
Authentic sushi bar with some of the freshest fish. A perfect place for an omakase experience (the chef decides what he puts in front of you). Some of my favorites from this meal were the mackerel, fatty tuna, and sea-bass nigiri pieces.
We took our shoes off upon entry and sat on cute mats in this casual and intimate yakitori restaurant. Yakitori is simply grilled skewers covered in a delicious sweet tempura-like sauce. The chicken meatball and skirt steak skewers were my favorite. We kept ordering more kinds until we were stuffed.
Jiro Ono, known to be the greatest living sushi craftsman in the world, still works in his Ginza restaurant. Unfortunately, with age, his stubbornness, intolerance to tourists, and unreliable work hours creates an intimidating experience. However, his son Takashi Ono has his own exclusive six-seat omakase sushi bar where he mimics his father’s impeccable techniques with a more friendly attitude. The shrimp nigiri was no doubt my favorite here. Though, nothing beats the green tea, nutty and a real green color with amazing flavor.
This meal was an experience. We sat at a large table with all the veggies, fish, and meats laid out in front of us. Behind the food, two large men on their knees cooked what we pointed to on the small grill in front of them and then served it to us on paddles. It sounds incredibly chaotic but it was the most perfect way to have almost all Japanese cuisine in one place. We ate tempura, yakitori, sashimi, and so many more delicious items.
There were too many treats to choose from in Harajuku but I am glad I went with Crepes. They are displayed unrolled in a window and you choose the number in which you want to order. I got one with whipped cream, brownie, chocolate sauce, strawberries, and bananas. So yummy!
Tamagoyaki is a type of Japanese omelette that is sweet and hot. It looks like a stick of butter. I got one as a quick snack whenever we were at an outdoor market.
I dream about these pancakes. They are souffle pancakes that can be served sweet or savory. Obviously, I got mine sweet with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
A matcha latte became an afternoon staple on our two-week trip. Bitter with the perfect sweet notes, hot to keep us warm, and so very yummy. Like sitting for a cappuccino in Europe.
Over the rainbow bridge, sits Odaiba home to the rainbow ferris wheel and the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum. This Instagram paradise was one of my favorite places I visited on the whole trip. The music mixed with the colors, lights and interactive fun was a sensory overload in the most perfect way!
Akihabara is filled with Manga, Anime, and video games. Jared and I played tons of Mario kart in arcades and took pictures in photo booths that make you look like an anime character. My most favorite part was the Micro Tea Cup Cafe. The tiniest puppies I’ve ever seen and they all wanted to play.
Takeshita Street the most lively part of Harajuku is youthful and bright. However, the back streets have incredible little shops as well. I did a lot of shopping in Harajuku.
The chaotic Shibuya crossing is the busiest crosswalk in the world. After walking through it, I was shocked at how orderly and unintimidating it was to be a part of. The view from above was a different story. Shibuya also has some of the best retail in the city. I love shopping!
Asakusa carries an older vibe. The Sensō-Ji Buddhist temple is the oldest in Tokyo. Whilst there, we purified ourself with smoke, our tour guide Oka prayed for our family, and I pulled a wooden stick with a number to get a fortune sheet. I hope mine comes true!
Huge designer stores and department stores. I loved Dover Street Market which compiles some of the best pieces from each designer. Window shopping in Ginza is awesome!
Jared held onto the mic for most of the night but this was so much fun. Before dinner, we went to one of the thousands of Karaoke chains and got our own little room with tons of songs to choose from.
As a family, we make a point to check out public transportation as much as we can. Like the country, the subways were spotless and super easy to understand.
The hotel we stayed in had an onsen in it. Basically, a hot tub meets hot spring. So nice to go in after a morning workout or after a long day.
Tokyo was better than I could have ever imagined. The customs and culture there made it feel so comfortable. I hope to experience Tokyo again someday.