Welcome to Japan and Tokyo! After such a long time planning for the trip! I finally made it here! This is one of my highlights recently! I plan to have a total of 6 days in Japan. It is a huge city and even with 6 days, there are still a lot more places to visit and spots to check out. You can even do day trips out of the city. Furthermore, if you are a Disneyland fan, that can easily take up a day or two. Tokyo is huge and crowded! It is the primary tourist destination for travellers, the capital and also the financial hub. Follow me in checking out the city. Here is all I did in Japan. My guide to eating, shopping and sightseeing in Tokyo!
The first place that I checked out in Tokyo was the Ginza area. This is the bling and glam part of Tokyo. It is like Orchard Road or Fifth Avenue in NYC. It is the main shopping district. You can find all the usual luxury brands and department stores here. Along the stretch are also numerous restaurants ranging from Michelin stars omakase to teppanyaki outlets! You can also visit the flagship Uniqlo store here that towers an amazing 12 stories!
Tokyo Station is another spot that you cannot miss! It is super huge and a tat confusing too. The sprawling station has numerous areas and entrances. There are in fact even two sides to the station. On the side facing Ginza, it has a modern look and on the other side leading to the Imperial Palace grounds, you can find the historical look. This is known as the Marunouchi side.
Meiji Jingu is one of my favourites! I spend an entire morning here exploring the shrine and the surrounding grounds. We first explore the grounds. It is very quiet and scenic here. Kinda gives you the zen. The forest is more than 70 ha. It kinda gives me a central park vibe when you have this lush patch of greens right in the metropolitan city. The weather is amazing!
We then entered the shrine itself. This Shinto Shrine has a history of over 100 years. In fact, it is built in 1920! We were even lucky enough to witness a traditional Japanese wedding when we are here!
After spending the morning at Meiji Jingu, we headed to Harajuku! This neighbourhood is renowned for its colourful street and youth fashion. There are little stores here and there that sell all sorts of things. You can find a huge cosplay activity along Takeshita Street. Many stores are selling those crepes so you will surely want to get one.
Yoyogi Park is just next to Harajuku and we spent the remaining of our day here taking a walk in the park and chilling. The weather is amazing and being a weekend, the crowd is all out over here. It is so lovely to have a picnic over here or just lie on the grass and enjoy the cool and crisp air. This is one of my favourite parks and I love it more than Ueno. We came right in season and caught the Autumn colours. How pretty is this! We took so many pictures over here.
Shibuya and Shibuya Crossing! Nothing else needs to say about this place! Well, it is confusing as heck and the number of people here will surely give you a headache. Look at how crowded Tokyo is! I am proud to say that I have gotten lost at Shibuya! That’s checked! When in Shibuya, you have to check out the Hachiko Statue!
Another thing that you have to do is the Shibuya Crossing! As cliche as it is! It is kind of fun! I cross it a couple of times and wow you see the cross-section being filled up with people the moment the lights turn green. To get some of the best views of the Shibuya Crossing, head up to the Starbucks on the second floor. It is one of the best spots. To catch a video of the crossing, check out my IG!
Tsukiji Outer Market is a spot that all tourists shouldn’t miss out on! While the main market has since moved over to Toyosu Market the outer market in my opinion is the main highlight remains. You can come here to walk around, shop for the freshest seafood and also have them on the spot.
There is plenty to eat and shop for! Do check it out when you are here and come hungry! This is both a sightseeing and eating spot.
I also check out Ueno Park during my time in Tokyo. It seems a little late as the foliage isn’t that impressive anymore. Still a nice place for a stroll and a walk!
Ameyoko is another good shopping area. It is like a traditional market in Japan. When you are here you can also check out the Niki no Kashi. This store sells discounted snacks and prices are even cheaper than Don Quijote!
I did not spend much time exploring Shinjuku but simply pass by it when I was changing trains here. It feels super happening and has a ton of shops. You can find plenty of department stores here including the impressive 14-story Takashimaya. I visited the department store to grab some groceries from the basement supermarket.
Senso-Ji is another of my favourites! I am sure you have seen this place in various travel pictures. It is one of the top attractions in Tokyo. I love how unique this place is. You walk in a row of stalls that sells all sorts of food and souvenirs. Then at the end of Nakamise Dori Street, you have the shrine. I love the vibes here although it is slightly crowded for my liking. The Senso-Ji is completed in 645 and this is Tokyo’s oldest temple. Make a wish here and soak in the incense which is said to give you good luck.
Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue is the last place I visited and I am so lucky to still get a view of the golden autumn leaves! It is such a lovely sight. I also lucked out in getting really good pictures here with nobody in the background. It is now one of my favourite pictures ever! A must-visit!
Eating in Tokyo
I was never hungry when in Tokyo! There is simply too much to eat and too little space in your stomach. Three meals aren’t enough to check out all the places that I have marked down. Money is another concern. Although in Japan you can go for 5 or 6 bucks fast food like yoshinoya to omakase and kaiseki meals that go for a few hundred pop! Dining in Japan and especially Tokyo also can be a stressful thing, especially if you want to go to some of the highest-rated dining establishments. Reservations are a must and more than likely so you have to do it way in advance and thru your hotel concierge. Some of them do not even take in reservations from “outsiders” and only repeat customers can come back. Talk about exclusiveness! With that being said, there are still tons of food and snacks for you to enjoy. Just let me briefly share about the meals I had over 6 days. There are a couple more little stalls here and there that I did not take note of too. There is certainly much more than just sushi when you are talking about Japanese cuisine and dining in Tokyo!
First up, Teppanyaki! Having a chef cook in front of an iron griddle right in Tokyo is one on my bucketlist. Furthermore, having Wagyu? Amazing! That brought me to Ginza Steak! I have heard about this place given that it is a nice balance between price and money. It also offers unlimited wagyu beef! That sounds tempting. Teppanyaki is by no means affordable. There are various courses and menus that you can choose from at Ginza Steak. It differs according to the beef and the parts you choose. It goes from 6380 yen to 16280 yen. We went for the A5 Kuroge Wagyu Beef AKAMI steak course which goes for 8580 yen. You can find the menu here. To me, wagyu is already very fatty and has good marbling. You don’t need to go for the more fatty parts.
First up we start with a quiche with cheese and bacon.
Then a chestnut potato soup.
We were also served the special dish of the day which is like beef sukiyaki with onions. It is decent!
Then we come to the highlight where we will get to have 4 different parts of the A5 Wagyu! Look how pretty they are. We were asked how we like the beef prepared. They were served with garlic slices, peppers and sauce on the side.
We then had garlic rice. I felt like the portion was on the smaller side. It is not even half a bowl.
Finally, for desserts, we were offered some hot tea and ice cream. The tea is great after all the meat we had.
They have three outlets in Tokyo. I went to the main store which is on the fringe of Ginza in Shinbashi since it is the closest to my hotel. Do make reservations as they are not a huge place. You are limited to a 2 hours dining time and the last order will be taken 75 mins after you start. That sounds strict! Which is why I will not say it is unlimited. The chef was kind of rude when we asked for more steak and we only managed to get two extra servings. I am not sure if we are over the time but I did not have a good experience because of this. This is a stark contrast to Japanese hospitality. Overall, I enjoyed it but doubt I will ever return since there are plenty of other outlets for me to try. Lunch is a deal if you were like to try this place.
Besides the omakase lunch I had on my first day at Kyubey I had another sushi meal at Sushi no Midori! This is one of the highly recommended places in town. They have various outlets around the city. The prices are very good and offer high-quality offerings at a fraction of the price. We went for their signature set and got a side of fried salmon belly.
Ichiran! What else needs to be said about this place? The concept is novel to me and it is perfect for solo travellers who do not like interaction. We went to one of the outlets near Ameyoko. There was a short wait. You then enter the restaurant and order from one of the machines.
Once you reach your seat you can then pass the orders to the staff along with the sheet with your customization. We got a side of onion pork to share which was pretty good as well. I enjoyed the ramen and it was comforting. Although the seats aren’t comfy at all. It is more of a eat and get lost kind of place! Pro-tip, if you want to get some of the instant Ichiran packs back home, buy them at Don Quijote instead as you can get them tax-free.
Mcdonalds! I was keen to try it after hearing that they have some special menus but it turn out to be nothing special. Not bad to try but otherwise, can skip! Mos Burger! You just have to give it a try when you are in Japan. It is really good and nice! They have some special items as well! Great place for a simple snack or a meal.
Yoshinoya! This is one of my favourites and so affordable. Simple meals if you are in a rush. Some of the outlets I visited are so small and they do it counter style. They have various options and sizes. You can opt for a mini bowl or get double the portion if you are really hungry. I tried their pork rice too. Why can’t they do it so well over here in SG?
Mochi! Hands Down are my favourite snack in Japan. They are so delicious! Mochi is something that you have to try when you are in Japan and often you can only get it here. The delicious one is always to be eaten within the day itself or at most the next day. This also means that you can’t buy it back home. We had so many mochis all over Japan. There is one good from a random stall in Tokyo Station. Craving it so badly right now!
Ginza Akbono is a famous stall selling one of the best mochis in Tokyo. It is pricey but never miss out on this place. They frequently run seasonal specials depending on the season. So delicious. Get a couple of them and pop them in right outside the stall.
Convenience Stores! Can’t believe I am putting this year but this is a thing to do! The FamilyMart and 7-Elevens here are on another level! I love their snacks. They also had some seasonal offerings. The fried chicken at FamilyMart is also very good. They are a convenient place to get all sorts of snacks and drinks. You can find them littered all over the place. Prices here are very good and fair as well.
Here is a bonus sharing! Head to one of the department stalls supermarkets like Takashimaya! Go look at the fresh food section! Those seafood and items are so fresh and delicious. You can easily whip up your meal here. How about having a steamboat? I will do this anytime! Go when it is about to close and you can even score some deals! The Japanese pork that we got here was so good! I can’t wait to do this again and with a larger pot!
Besides what I shared here, I also had an Omakase meal at Kyubey. You can read about my experience here. I also had some meals at Conrad Tokyo.
Shopping in Tokyo
I won’t say that I shop a lot in Tokyo, well besides the snacks part! Department stores are in a totally different league here in Japan. The Takashimaya have 14 floors. You can shop in any area in Japan. The popular ones would be Ginza, Shinjuku and Tokyo Station areas. If you are looking for snacks simply head to one of the department stalls or the train station. Tokyo Station is like a big mall itself.
Don Quijote or better known as Don Don Donki over here is your one-stop for all snacks and food. This is where you get your souvenirs in Japan. They sell all sorts of things. Everything looks good and lovely. Do note that the queue for the dedicated tax-free cashier might be long. There are too many snacks that you can buy in Tokyo and Japan. Seriously! Bring an additional suitcase and even that might not be enough. We went to Japan with 3 bags and returned with 7. LOL!
Uniqlo is another worthy stop. I am sure that this brand is not foreign to you guys! You can visit their flagship stall in Ginza with 12 floors! Prices are a lot cheaper here! You can also get tax-free. Do note to bring your bags as they charge for plastic bags!
Tokyo is a huge city and despite having 6 full days here, it felt like I had barely covered the place. There is much more to it and plenty more to explore if I had more days here. You can also do a day trip to Yokohama or Mt Fuji. Furthermore, some people will be in town to do Disneyland as well which can take more than one full day. Spending a week here will not be considered long. I can’t wait for the next time to be back in Tokyo and is already planning to do so this year. I would be keen to explore more and check out some of the places that I didn’t manage to visit this time around such as the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo Metropolitan Observatory. I need to spend more time exploring Shinjuku in the evening.
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