Tokyo was such a whirlwind for us especially since it took us 3 days to recover from jet lag. We were both culture shocked when we got to Japan, everyone lined up in an orderly fashion going up escalators, everyone was so incredibly polite and helpful and everyone obeyed the rules and laws. We went to 711 many times every day to pick up snacks and food, my favourite was the beef onigiris and pork with egg on rice which they would microwave for you. Nicholas fell in love with the pork katsu sandwich which he bought every time we went in to a 711. Our biggest complaint about leaving Japan was probably why 711 wasn’t like this back at home. We walked around Shinjuku and Shibuya at nights and we were always in awe of how many people were on the streets. The Shibuya crossing really is something to be experienced. We found piss alley and made friends with an older Japanese gentleman who told me in broken English how much he loved Hong Kong while we drank sake and ate skewers. I made Nicholas take sticker pictures with me in an arcade where there were signs saying how males must be accompanied by a female if they want to be in the sticker booth area. We played a drumming game in one of the many arcades. We mostly people watched and observed the habits and social norms of the Japanese.
Tokyuhands is a must, it has multiple floors all dedicated to DIY, party supplies, lifestyle and home improvement. As usual I was sucked into the party supplies, anything paper and I found the copic markers I haven’t been able to find in Toronto! I was very overwhelmed in there by the sheer size of the department store and how many things there were to look at. Allot yourself more time than you think you’ll need if you’re in to these hobby knickknacks.
Don Quijote is a discount store selling anything from groceries to electronics to beauty to clothes. I again was overwhelmed by the range of products they offered. I had fun getting lost in the multi level store for hours.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
After seeing this on youtube, I had to venture to Kawaii Monster Cafe. We waited in yet another line for roughly 20 minutes before being led into candyland on steroids. You are greeted with a carousel as you walk in, everything was rainbow coloured and we sat in a mushroom. We also had to order the most outrageous food, rainbow pasta which came in five different coloured sauces and chocolate mole chicken. The rainbow pasta was surprisingly good but the chicken was chocolate sauce poured over fried chicken with a bar of chocolate on the side. It was really gross. On some days the harajuku girls will get up on the carousel to dance, I managed track them down for a photo.
I absolutely love Taiyaki, when I was living in Koreatown, I frequented Pat’s for Kevin’s Taiyaki at least once a week. I was very excited to sample all Taiyakis I saw in Japan. This particular one, Nabeyaandore which just so happened to be right outside of our Airbnb was hands down my favourite. They aren’t opened every day though, they have a calendar on their store telling you when. I believe it was from Thursday to Sunday from 1pm-8pm. For the 6 days we were staying at the Airbnb, we only caught them open once and so I made sure I ate 2. They had a wide range of flavours to choose from including apple and curry.
As Nick found out in the two weeks we were in Japan, if something taste delicious, it’ll surely have a line up and it’ll consist mostly of girls. He was huffy and puffy in the beginning but by the end of the trip I was able to coax him into any line ups because he knows the food will be worth it. Afuri was the first restaurant we had to line up for. We waited close to an hour but it didn’t disappoint. I ordered the dipping noodles from the vending machine and sat at the bar. I usually don’t like ramen because the broth is too fatty so the dipping noodles was perfect. The noodles came separately from the broth, so I was able to have just a bit of the broth. The chasu pork was to die for.
Shinjuku Gyeon National Garden
I always like to visit a garden if I’m in a city. It helps to slow down the pace and have a moment of peace away from the hustle and bustle of it all. The Shinjuku Gyeon National Garden was perfect for this, also especially since we were there at the beginning of cherry blossom season. This park is perfect of a jog and a picnic.