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Exploring the world: Tokyo edition

posted on 6/16/2018

So we went to Tokyo, Japan in May 2018. I’ve never been to Asia, so experiencing Tokyo was pretty unique. From all the toilets with all their buttons to push to all the unique cafes.

When we first arrived at the airport all I noticed were all the vending machines. They have vending machines for literally everything. We took the metro from the airport to our hotel in Shibuya, near the Shibuya Crossing. Getting along with the metro was way easier than I thought it would be. After we checked in and dropped off our bags, we decided to explore Shibuya. Walking over the Shibuya Crossing with all those people was kind of unreal. It was fun for the first time, but since we had to take the metro station behind the Shibuya Crossing every day it got pretty stressful, especially when you’re tired and just want to get to bed after a long day.

We then went to a few shops and decided we don’t want to eat any dinner after our 11 hour flight. But we wanted to get some drinks, so we went to the Alcatraz E.R cafe which we saw in some YouTube videos at home. To keep it as short as possible, the reviews to all the unique cafes and restaurants will be in another post.

The first night was pretty tough. I couldn’t sleep and I was really tired that day. Our days were always packed with things to do. On our way getting to the metro we stopped by at the Hachiko Statue and took a few photos. We then headed to the Senso-ji temple. I’m not into shrines or temples but I had to see this one. We had a clear blue sky, which made the temple look even more beautiful. You can see the Sky Tree from almost everywhere in town, but from the Senso-ji temple it seemed pretty near so we decided to walk. Please note: Buildings appear nearer than they actually are. After half an hour of walking and without getting any nearer we then took the metro.

We had some trouble finding breakfast, but we had some good food at some cafe located in the Sky Tree. Sky Tree has some nice shops you can enter for free including a Pokemon store. Since we didn’t wanted to go to the observatory we left pretty fast and went to the Ueno Zoo. After entering  they gave us an appointment for meeting their baby and mother panda, which we didn’t know they even had. If you have the time and are interested in exploring animals you didn’t even know they existed I can only recommend visiting the zoo. It is cheap with 600Yen (which is about $5) and you can see and do a lot. We spend almost the entire day there. After exiting the park we took a stroll through the Ueno Park itself and went over to the Ameyoko Street. We noticed some guy holding an owl and invite us inside his owl and hedgehog cafe. Before our journey started I read you should not follow some guys into their shops or cafes so I googled first, which I also recommend. You never know what you’re about to enter. After only reading good things about the Owl Nest Cafe we decided to enter it and give it a try.

What is more cliché than having some sushi in Tokyo? You will be overwhelmed when its about to choose where to eat. I prepare my vacations with studying some insider tips and local habits. (Don’t forget: Never ever, under no circumstances: Blow your nose). I heard about that super cheap but really good sushi in Yodobashi-Akiba center in Akihabara. Every seat has a own tablet and you order on it. If you’re into sushi: give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. Located in this big center on the 8th floor, you can take a stroll through it. It is huge and has a lot of stuff and has nearly anything.

The next day started with rain (watch out for your eye. No one does, with their umbrella). I’m really into rollercoasters and I heard about this shopping center with attractions called “La Qua”. You can pay for each attraction or you can get a day or combo pass. I unfortunately can’t remember the prices, but it was expensive (we only did the Thunder Dolphin rollercoaster). La Qua has a Moomin Bakery & Cafe and we had our breakfast there. After breakfast  I wanted to try some clothes on. Don’t forget to take your shoes off before entering a fitting room and place some kind of bag above your head to prevent getting make-up on their clothes.

If you visit Tokyo while there are sumo wrestler fights and you want to attend one, make sure to get your tickets in advance. We went to the famous Sumo Wrestling Arena Ryogkoku-Kokugikan and we wouldn’t get any tickets but we found a small but beautiful park next to the arena and spent some time off the city and all the noises. With the rain getting heavier we then decided to visit the Sumida Aquarium at the Sky Tree. I really enjoyed it but I think the price with almost $20 could be cheaper but Sumida Aquarium is really beautiful, with a huge aquarium full of penguins in the center of it.

What I’ve noticed in Tokyo: The shops and cafes are opening really late. While convenience stores are open 24/7 most of the shops and cafes won’t open until 10 to 11 a.m.

On our next day we visited the Takeshita Street. It has some really good shops and I can really recommend going to Daiso. At Daiso everything costs 100Yen (  about $0.90) unless the price tag says something different. It’s great to get some cheap souvenirs for family and friends. Since we had a beautiful blue sky we decided, that it’s time to get an overview over the city. If you don’t want to pay anything for an observatory visit go to the government building. It doesn’t cost a thing and you can even see the Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower from above there.

When you’re in Tokyo you have to eat some Ramen. I read you shouldn’t eat at a franchise store and even though I knew it I couldn’t resist and ate only at Ichiban. Only for one time because I didn’t like it at all. You order and pay on some kind of vending machine and then you’ll get your coupons. The soup and noodles are basic, you can only change if you want pork in it or to come with some rice and how spicy. We ate at the restaurant in Kabukicho in the red light district. Watch out for Godzilla! Ever heard of the Robot Restaurant? Well, it’s located there and I really wanted to see this show. So we did. Kabukicho at night took my breath! All these lights. They were so bright and beautiful.

Back at Shibuya we decided to do some karaoke at “big echo” you can find all around Tokyo.

The next day we headed back to Takeshita Street to ate cotton candy twice as big as my head with all the colors of a rainbow. When passing by a McDonalds in Roppongi we wanted to give it a try and ate some – I’d say – Japanese only – Burgers. What can I say? I really didn’t like it except for the green Fanta melon. I just tasted awful. I don’t like McDonalds in general but this was not even worth waiting in line for. We then walked to Tokyo Tower. As I already said: Building appear way nearer than they actually are. It took us a hour to get there.

We waited until dawn to continue our trip to Odaiba. You can get a beautiful view of the skyline and the rainbow bridge, which I discovered is only rainbow colored in winter. Also there stand the rip off of the Status of liberty and this huge statue of Gundam. I think it’s a great opportunity to just relax and let anything you’ve explored sink in.

Before we continued our journey to Tokyo Disney, we wanted to have one other unique experience and visited a Maid Cafe.