This is the first instalment of a mini series all about my latest trip to Japan. My family and I managed to squeeze a lot into 2 weeks, so I decided to break the content up into 3 parts instead of 1 extremely long rambling post. This post focuses on the first stop of our trip: Tokyo.
Where we stayed:
We stayed in an AirBnb in the Ebisu district of Tokyo. It was a really reasonable price for Tokyo, and was clean, modern and had everything we needed. It was also in a good location (near to Shibuya and Harajuku) and the train station is a 5 minute walk away. I'll leave a link for it here if you're interested.
Tsukiji Fish Market:
We arrived in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning, so naturally our first stop was the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. They open at 4am for the famous tuna auctions with limited space for the public to watch. Then they open to the general public at 9am, which is when we arrived. We spent some time wandering the stalls and taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market, before selecting a restaurant for breakfast. We ate ultra fresh sashimi on a bowl of sushi rice accompanied by miso soup. The waitress kept the chilled green tea coming, which was necessary in the August heat!
Nearest station: Tsukiji-shijo station (Oedo line)
On the way to Meiji-Jingu (see below) we had to stop by Shibuya station to walk across the famous crossing. Conveniently, there was a first floor Starbucks with the perfect view for shots of the crossing (and I had to get an iced americano of course).
Nearest Station: Shibuya station (JR Yamanote/Ginza/Hanzomon lines)
Meiji-Jingu (Meiji Shrine):
The next stop was Meiji-Jingu, a vast shrine built in the Meiji era. The shrine is situated within a fairly large piece of woodland with sweeping gravel paths, very different to the modern city that surrounds it. We rinsed our hands using the bamboo scoops to cleanse ourselves before entering the shrine, a tradition I've been taught since I was tiny. The shrine itself is more modern than some I've seen (it was built in the 1920s) but beautiful in a more simplistic way. I loved the huge trees in the main courtyard, and how you could see Tokyo Sky Tree beside the main shrine. A must-see.
Nearest Station: Meiji-Jingumae station (Chiyoda/Fukutoshin lines) or Harajuku station (JR Yamanote line)
The next day, my sisters and I met up with our friends - who are Tokyo natives - to show us around Sensoji Temple and Harajuku. We met them at Kaminarimon Gate, which marks the entrance to the temple. There is a bustling line of shops from the gate to the temple, full of traditional Japanese snacks, souvenirs and ice cream. When we reached the temple, we first found out our fortunes at the "Mikuji". I got "regular fortune" as you can see in the image below. Then we cleansed ourselves with incense before entering the temple to pray.
|My sister in front of the demon|
Entry: Free but ¥100 for mikuji and ¥50 is customary to throw before praying
Nearest Station: Asakusa station (Ginza/Asakusa/Tsukuba Express lines)
Next, our friends took us to Harajuku to get lunch and explore the area. For lunch we went to a Hawaiian restaurant, which are surprisingly very popular in Japan at the moment. I got an omelette and we all shared a huge pancake with berries for dessert.
We then walked up and around Takeshita-dōri (Takeshita Street) which is the main shopping street in Harajuku for kawaii fashion, accessories and beauty. Naturally my sisters and I were loving it. I bought loads of cute bits and generally had fun gaping at all the crazy stuff they had for sale. We also stopped by a Puri-Kura (photo booth) to take some group pictures. The photo booths in Japan are so cool! You choose the music to pose to, experiment with loads of different backgrounds and then customise them after they've been taken. They then print out a sticker sheet of them, in a grid format that you choose and send them to your phone as well. Definitely worth a try!
Entry: Free obvi and prices are very reasonable around Takeshita-dori. The photo booth is about ¥400.
Nearest Station: Harajuku station (JR Yamanote line) or Meiji-Jingumae station (Chiyoda/Fukutoshin lines)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building:
That evening we took a trip to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to take in the view of Tokyo at night. The building is famous for it's twin towers, and we visited the North tower which is open later at night. I'd recommend going once it gets dark (which is around 8pm) because the city looks amazing all lit up.
Nearest Station: Tocho-mae station (Oedo line)
For our final day in Tokyo we decided to go to the Roppongi Hills to see the Art Triangle Roppongi, which as it's name might suggest, is a triangle made up of 3 art galleries (Suntory Museum of Art, The National Art Centre Tokyo, The Mori Art Museum). We walked through Roppongi Hills to each gallery, which is a huge building complex made up of restaurants, shopping and galleries, and is amazingly clean, slick and modern. My sister said "it makes the new Tate look 5 years old". So I'd definitely recommend a visit to the hills just for a wander round the architecture. In the National Art Centre, we stopped to see the Renoir exhibition that was on. It featured such a large collection of his work which I really enjoyed, even though it was very busy.
Nearest Station: Roppongi Station (Hibiya/Oedo lines)
We then hopped on a shinkansen (bullet train) to take us to our next destination, Tahara. Look out for the next instalment of the Japan 2016 series to see what I got up to next!
Thank you so much if you made it to the end of this long post, and let me know where you'd like to go in Tokyo. And if you've been before, what is your favourite place in Tokyo?