Japan. I have dreamed about it for years and I’ve postponed the planned trips several times for various reasons. Until last year. I agreed with myself that whatever happens, 2015 is the year that you’re going to Japan! And suddenly it happened. Off to Japan. First stop: fabulous Tokyo.
Off we go!
Slightly stressed – thanks my 2 hours before take off packing #woeps – my babe and I got in the plane. We fly with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong to Tokyo. Japan is on the other side of the world, so stretching your legs and eating sushi at Hong Kong Airport is a nice treat. Planning a longer stopover is also fun to do. Then you can turn it into a Hong Kong flash trip. I did that when I flew home from Manila.
Our seats are spacious and what a joy they are designed that you don’t suddenly end up with a tv screen in your face when the person in front of you decides to put his seat in the relax position. When we take-off I switch the touch screen to the outside camera to peek along with the pilot. Another cool thing; I can use my own headphones, as there is no special connection. The little gadget nerd in me is very happy:)
I expected chaos as in most other Asian cities, but Tokyo is nothing but this. Walking around the city didn’t give me any stress. Very interesting for the largest city in the world. It’s an interesting mix of ultra modern and traditions. Everything is neatly organized and clean. It gave me a ‘Welcome to The Future’ feeling. The Japanese are proud people who respect each other and nature. It’s feels so good to be surrounded by such people. You’ll take that over automatically, what made me feel a better version of myself :)
On the advice of Japanese friends we settle in the district of Shibuya. This district is known for its many shops, restaurants and nightlife. From the international airport at Narita, take the Narita Express train and get off an hour in down town Tokyo. Good to know; you get 1500 yen discount on presentation of your passport.
Food & drinks spots in Shibuya
The sushi at Gonpachi has a quite expensive price tag, but do you get the fantastic view of the city at. The glass elevator to the 14th floor is an adventure itself.
The Japanese like to eat fish for breakfast. If that’s a bit too much for you can eat a Western breakfast at the Café de Crie. Nothing complicated, just a toast with scrambled eggs. They made me very happy with their fresh green smoothies #LIKE
#Coffee & Tea
This was our favorite spot, also thanks to the super-fast Wifi. The Hawaiian style coffee at Sunday Coffee Stand is delicious (according to my babe) and my favorite is the tea with coconut milk. We have been working here for hours (the life of a travel blogger :)) with the chill beats of Reggae music playing on the background.
#Japanese Style BBQ
When you walk down the stairs you might think ‘what a doggy place is this?’ But in fact it’s a cozy restaurant with corner seats. The BBQ is so much fun! It’s a wood block filled with coals. For night owls; Wataminchi is open until 03:00!
Budget tips & tricks
Unfortunately Japan is expensive. But if you think smart, you can easily save some money here and there.
For basic hotels with a tiny room where only a double bed fits you easily pay € 100 per night. It’s impossible to find something cheaper online. The trick? Book only your first night in advance. Tokyo is packed with hotels that are a lot cheaper, but you can’t find those online. So book one night ahead and take care of the rest when you’re there.
Eat where the locals go. Yes you’ll be eating under lights where you almost have to wear sunnies, but the food is delicious and it will only cost you around € 10 incl beer. Forget the rule that menu cards with pictures are a no go. Here it says nothing about the quality. The Japanese just love pictures. You also find great and affordable food in Ebisu, a neighborhood in Shibuya-ku. It’s packed with tiny restaurants who serve the best grilled meat, vegetables and sashimi.
Strangely everything is expensive in Tokyo, except for clothes. I’m not complaining:) Big chains like H&M and Mango have a way cooler collection. The Tokyo-ers (how do you spell that?) Have a sense of fashion. I’ve seen the most extreme styles passing by. I have to say the men weren’t very sexy to me. Way to tight pants and super skinny legs. But I can’t deny that their style was super cool. You also don’t wanna miss the Harajuku district. Be amazed by the white powdered faces and pink cheeks of the cute Japanese girls. They even have a Barbie store in Harajuku. Not to buy dolls, but with everything to look just like Barbie :)
Other cool stuff to do
A wonderful park to stroll around. During weekends there are often little food markets where you can eat the best grilled meet. Unfortunately, it was just too early to see the blossom. Then the park seems to be stunning.
Starting at 03:00 in the morning the ships unload their catch at the world’s largest fish market. The auction begins and there are only a limited number of tourist allowed. After 07:00 everyone is welcome. I loved it and have massive tuna’s and all kinds of fish that I had never seen in my life. And fresh fish doesn’t smell :)
Het drukste kruispunt van Tokyo is een bezienswaardigheid an sich. Alle verkeerslichten springen tegelijkertijd op rood. Het verkeer stopt en van alle kanten van komt er een gigantische stroom voetganger op gang die de kruising tegelijkertijd oversteken. Indrukwekkend om te zien.
The most famous crossing in Tokyo is an attraction in itself. When the traffic lights turn red, they all turn red at the same time. All traffic stops and pedestrians from all sides cross the intersection at the same time. Super impressive to see!
To get an idea of how immense Tokyo, you should see the city from a great height. It can in many places, but the Tokyo Tower is really cool. The communications tower is 333 meters high and has two observation decks.
Of course there are still 1,001 other things to do. You can easily spent 2 weeks in this amazing city. We only had 3 days and we regret it a bit that we couldn’t stay longer. On the other hand, we now have the perfect excuse to go back:)
And…is Tokyo already on your wish list?