Visiting Japan during Spring has been a dream of mine for some time now as you can probably imagine why. Oceans of cherry blossoms, beautiful culture and architecture, delicious food and drinks and endless things to do. The first time I visited Japan was eight years ago on a tour with my mum and sister in 2009 but, being back in the country felt so different this time - It honestly felt like the first time again as Wilson and I adventured through three cities on our own. We traveled between the 28th of March and the 6th of April.
s t a y
We arrived at Shibuya Station close to midnight and walked about 8 minutes to The Millennials - a capsule hotel. The hotel itself was brand new so everything was extremely clean with a modern-minimal design and great facilities. We stayed in two adjoining smart pods in a mixed dormitory with shared bathrooms. The pods were 3m² with comfortable single beds and space under the bed for storage - we each had our own pods but, still managed to sleep next to each other (Yep, it was very cosy). Overall it was a good experience and I would highly recommend staying. Accommodation at the time was averaging $200-300 per night in Tokyo so this was the best option - we ended up paying $175 per night for 3 nights. They also had complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning as well as an iPhone to control the smart pods as well as internet access to use while traveling which, was pretty handy when our phones were on low battery and we needed to get home. Although, we did purchase a SIM card for internet access during our trip so we weren't too heavily reliant on the iPhones.
d i n e
The food is absolutely amazing in Japan - everything is so flavoursome, healthy and extremely photogenic! I was a little worried prior to the trip about the availability of Vegetarian food as I've heard from others that the options were quite limited but, to my surprise I didn't find it too hard.. possibly because I snack a lot so it fills me up throughout the day. I am also quite organised when it comes to traveling so I had a few places that I wanted to visit listed down and catergorised in suburbs for convenience.
Our first day was pretty chill, we decided to explore Shibuya on our own and ended up stopping at a cafe called Excelsior Caffé for breakfast which, we soon realised is a Japanese franchise - I ordered the Toast Plate, a Blueberry and Cranberry Scone, Wils got a ham and cheese toasty and we shared an Iced Latte. After a busy morning exploring, we then ended up at a Ramen store for lunch, snacked on bubble tea and these amazing freshly made egg puff balls from a local street vendor just before arriving at the first Meiji Jingu Shrine gate. We had dinner at Coco Curry and for dessert, I had a banana, chocolate and ice cream crepe from Buon dé Crepe and a yummy Green Tea Cremia Soft Serves from the Excelsior Caffé store literally downstairs from our accommodation.
Day two was packed full of amazing food destinations which, I've been wanting to try since I discovered them on Instagram whilst on browsing through the #tokyofood hashtag on Instagram. We were mainly in the suburb Aoyama this day - arriving first at Café Kitsuné for a light snack, coffee and matcha latte - everyone seems to adore this spot for their aesthetics and branding of their lifestyle accessories which, I wholeheartedly agree with - definitely a nice little spot to visit. We were getting hungry as we wandered through this stylish neighborhood and stopped by Pizza Slice 2 - their massive mushroom pizza slice was to die for. After a few hours of browsing through boutiques, we made our way to Alfred Tea Room - a super cute pink tea room that sell cutest, and I would say the most expensive bubble tea I've ever had. We ordered the House Boba Milk Tea ¥580 (AU $7) and the Matcha Latte with Boba ¥750 (AU $9) - good bubble tea as expected! After the tea room, we crossed the road and fate must have brought me to the front of the most beautifully designed Ladureé - we enjoyed afternoon tea and a café macaron in between people watching and adoring two cute dogs behind us, one was tucked in its owners jacket. It was such a beautiful day. Finally, we had a very memorable dinner.. we somehow we ended up at a local Japanese DIY Okonomiyaki Restaurant - thank goodness they had a cartoon method on 'how to' make our dinner because everything was in Japanese! We don't even know the name of this place.
For our third day, we only spent the morning in Tokyo as we took the bullet train to Kyoto that afternoon. I decided that we had to visit the Shirohige Cream Puff Factory where they sell Totoro shaped desserts. We woke up early to take the train towards the suburb Setagaya which, was four stops away and a 7 minute walk to a corner house/shop - we were so lucky to have arrived just as they opened at 10.30am as they had been fully booked from 11am onwards - thankfully they fit us in for a quick breakfast. We ordered a spaghetti to share with a hot drink and a Totoro cream puff each - we had the custard cream and caramel banana - both delicious! I also had to take-away the strawberry one as the Totoro had a cherry blossom on its ear - I would have been crazy not to! After arriving back at Shibuya Station, we have about an hour til our ride so visited Streamer Coffee Company for and iced latte - really good coffee here!
t o - d o
A few ideas come to mind when I think of things to do in Tokyo. Buy drinks from a vending machine. Walk across the Shibuya Crossing. Ride the train frequently. Stay in a capsule hotel. Drink a cup of matcha latte. There are so many things to do but, we were only in Tokyo for a short period of time (two and a half days to be exact) - so, naturally we tried to squeeze in as much as we could. We were there to capture the beautiful cherry blossoms so that was our priority. The main spots we visited on our first day in Tokyo were Yoyogi Park and Meguro River although, cherry blossom trees were spotted throughout the city. We also visited Meiji Jingu Shrine that day and explored the lively Shinjuku at night. The second day we ventured through the street of Aoyama - we went for the food but, stopped to shop a little as all the international luxury designer houses reside in this neighborhood. We walked the entire day, every single day so don't forget to pack, or buy some comfy sneakers.
Acme Furniture. We stopped by here as it was right next to our accommodation. Cute American style furniture and homewares.
Acne Studios. Located in the richest suburb in Tokyo, Aoyama. When 'let's have a look' turns into adding their amazing Jensen Boots to my wardrobe.
Amore Vintage. High end vintage brands. Lots of vintage Chanel here.
Don Quijote. The biggest discount store in Japan. It is also 8% tax-free for tourists. Go here if you want to stock up on anything at all- snacks, alcohol, cosmetics, souvenirs etc. and don't forget to look for the tax-free counters when checking out.
Family Mart. Open 24 hours, this convenience store will be your night in shining armour if you're feeling peckish throughout the day. They are literally everywhere.
Shibuya Loft. We were here for a few hours browsing through all the amazing things they sell. Lots of stylish and high quality souvenirs, homewares, stationery.
I hope you enjoyed viewing and reading about our experiences and all the places we visited in Tokyo!
Stay tuned for my next post on our experiences in Kyoto.