THREE DAYS IN TOKYO

Ahhhh I'm back from my Eat, Pray, Love journey to Japan! It was seriously the most amazing trip. I was really nervous before I left, but I immediately fell in love with Tokyo and the rest of the country. I made so many great friends, ate some wonderful food, saw some amazing sights, and took over 1900 pictures. Nope, not kidding with that last one. It's been a struggle to narrow down everything I wanted to share... but I finally decided on 7 posts (lol) so we are officially deeming this Japan Week on But Mostly Eating! 🤗

I want to go in order of my trip and talk about my time in Tokyo, then Kyoto, and finally Hiroshima. Then posts on where I stayed, how I got around town, all of the food I tried (this is a food blog, after all!) and finishing up the week with my expectations vs. reality.

Let's get started! 🙌🏻


me: let's make this short and sweet!
also me: here's a novel
DAY ONE

After a slower breakfast (hard when jetlag wakes you up at 5:30am) and lots of coffee, I made my way down the street to the Nishiarai Daishi Temple. It was only a 15-minute walk and it was great to be out and about in the neighborhood.

vending machines on every corner
The temple is famous for being a Yakuyoke Daishi, or a temple that wards off evil. I didn't even think about this, but it was around 10:30 when I was there so there were a lot of families here heading into a Sunday service... aka soooo many babies in kimono!





 

Once I was done wandering the grounds and taking a million pictures, I made my way back toward the train station to head "downtown" toward Asakusa where the famous Sensoji Temple is located.

I probably got to the temple around 11:30, and it was soooo crowded. I would highly recommend coming earlier in the day! To get to the temple you have to walk through all of these little shops, and everyone was packed into these tiny streets and it was just like... a lot, haha. But that means there were a lot of strangers available to take my picture, so y'all are spared the awkward selfies.

Thank you, random stranger, for this awk pic!







I decided to get my fortune told by shaking a metal tube until a stick came out, but I shook it so hard that like 5 flew out all at once. After I picked them up and picked a random one, these Japanese teenagers helped me find the number and get my fortune. I have to say... not bad! "You will become wealthy and have a repeated stroke of good luck." I'll take it.





Next it was off to Ueno Park with lunch on the way. I passed a ton of restaurants in the hopes of ~something better~ and then ended up in kind of a residential, slower area. I immediately regretted passing all of the restaurants and vowed to go into the next place I saw... which ended up being a sushi restaurant!

If you're new here, you might be like, "ok, what's the big deal?" but before this trip I hadn't eaten more than a bite of fish in years, let alone consuming RAW FISH. TBH, sushi was what I was most nervous for before my trip. But I stayed true to my word, went in, ordered salmon (because it's the same word in English and Japanese) and OMG WOW HOLY SMOKES I'M IN. I'm going to dedicate a longer post to the food I ate in Japan, but wowza, salmon sushi is now one of my favorite things ever.

 

There was a food festival (or maybe flea market?) going on in Ueno Park, so I got a beer and walked around for a bit. Most intriguing food that I found: octopus and squid on a skewer that was then cooked over an open grill? I mean, personally..... ew. But whatever floats your boat, man.

I loved walking around this park because it truly felt like an oasis in such a bustling city. There was a replica torii gate shrine there, so of course, I had to take some pics. (AKA... selfies on selfies on selfies.)



Then I walked over to the Nezu Shrine, which was about a 25-minute walk with lots of stops for pictures on the way. (Don't worry, I'll spare ya.)



After the Nezu Shrine I had to decide what to do next. The sun was going to set in about an hour and honestly, I was feeling the weight of jetlag starting to creep up. But I pushed through and decided to head toward the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest tower in the world. Say no more... if there's a tower with a view, ya girl is going up.

 

I actually got there right before dusk, but the line was fairly short and moved quickly. It cost about $35 to go all the way to the top. It would've been about $25 to go to the midlevel, but who wants to do that? #gobigorgohome

#lowqualitypic
I got to see a little bit of the sunset from the observation deck, but really I just enjoyed walking around and looking at just how MASSIVE Tokyo really is. I mean seriously it was city lights as far as the eye could see... and the eye could see pretty far.



Even though it was dark, it was only 6:00. So to kill some more time before heading back out to the hostel, I went back toward the Sensoji Shrine. It's waaaay less crowded at night! Even though you should totally go during the day (in the morning if you can!) it was still cool to see at night.

 

Then I grabbed some dinner and went back to the hostel because they had an event planned where you could dress up in a kimono! I was so excited about this because how could I go to Japan and not wear a kimono at least once?

DAY TWO



Although I'm perfectly fine doing my own thing when I travel (and sometimes prefer it!) I decided to be social for the day and do things with people from my hostel. We got a later start (or... late for me) and headed over to Yoyogi Park around 11AM. It took about an hour to get there on the train from our hostel.

 

We wandered around the park and explored the inner gardens that used to be the Emporer's private grounds. I had a total Snow White moment too, courtesy of some Japanese grandparents. We also went to the Meiji Shrine in the park. At this point, I felt like a total shrine-expert and knew how to cleanse my hands and mouth and wave the incense smoke over my head.


After the park, we wandered toward the Tokyo Government Building and got lunch around the way. The group wanted curry, but since curry is the one food on this earth that I can't stand... I went to a 7/11 and got soba noodles instead! They were soooo good. The clerk heated them up for me and I ate them in a little booth in the front of the store. (Think like... standardized testing in high school kind of booth.)


The Government Building wasn't that far away, but there was a bit of a line to get in. It moved fairly fast though, and I would say that the wait was worth it! It's free to get up to the observation deck and walk around for the view. What I liked about this tower vs. the Tokyo Skytree is that you're very much up with the buildings as opposed to being higher than them. Once again, all you could see in any direction was city views. Tokyo is truly massive.


 

We stopped at the cafe there too for a caffeine break, as the jetlag was definitely catching up. I had an iced matcha latte and it was soo good! It definitely tasted better there than any matcha latte I've tried/made in the U.S.

As we came down from the tower, the sun was starting to set! So we made our way through Shinjuku toward the Golden Gai district. We passed by a lot of uhhhhhh interesting bars? This is definitely the night club/bar scene area of Tokyo, and you can definitely tell. There are lots of questionable billboards here, hahaha.


We were aiming to get a drink somewhere, but everything was closed even though it was only 5pm! So we found yet another "rooftop" bar in a swanky hotel. (Side note on the swanky hotel bar: I got a Mule with homemade ginger beer. It was delish!! The ginger was so spicy - it was delicious in the drink. 10/10/10/10/10)

On the way, we went to the Shibuya Crossing! It was soooo cool. I had read a couple of tips online (in the minimal research I did about Japan) to 1. go around rush hour and 2. watch the crossing at least once from the Starbucks window. We were there around 5:30 and it was definitely crowded! Lots of people commuting home, and lots of people (hi!) taking pictures in the middle of the street.


The most impressive part? The police getting the intersection clear again so cars can go through without causing a jam! The crossing was definitely a sight to see.

incredible content alert
For dinner, we decided to go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant called Uobei (it's right next to the Taco Bell by Shibuya Crossing - can't miss it!)

 

 This was my favorite meal of the entire trip! I got several plates of sushi (aka tons of salmon nigiri) and it only cost around $9. Amazing!!

DAY THREE

Unfortunately, my third day in Tokyo was rainy and cold! (I mean, it was the only bad weather day my entire trip, so I can't really complain.) I used it as an opportunity to head down to Daiba and go to the Borderless Digital Art Museum.

  


WOW.

I don't really have the words to explain how amazing this museum is. It is seriously so cool, and there's something new to see around every corner! I would highly recommend buying your ticket in advance (I bought mine right before I left the hostel) or else you'll have to stand in a long line! I'd also recommend going somewhat early (I got there around 11AM).




My only complaint about the museum is that they don't have maps because they want you to just wander and experience. I loved it until I got back to my hostel and showed other people my pictures of the rooms and they informed me that I completely missed two of the most famous exhibits in the museum. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Add it to the list of reasons to return!


The Forest of Resonating Lamps my favorite room. You can read more about it here.

After going to the museum, getting lunch, and exchanging my Japan Rail Pass, it was getting late in the afternoon. I thought about going to the Tokyo National Museum, but it would've been closed by the time I got there. So... I got a beer instead.


Then I went back to my hostel and went with a friend next door to get ramen... from a vending machine! (Sort of.) They handed me a map of the buttons with words only semi-translated into English. Then it prints a ticket that you hand to the chef behind the counter. It was obviously so delicious!

 

I was so sad to leave Tokyo. I truly had the best time in a city I honestly wasn't sure I would like. I made amazing friends and memories and ate so much tasty food. I may/may not have cried on my train to my next stop: Kyoto! It certainly had some big shoes to fill... but more on that tomorrow. 😉

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