Tokyo Part One
The fourteen hour flight to Tokyo was the longest Coulton or I had ever ventured to date - we prepared ourselves with face mist, sheet masks, many bottles of water, ginger aromatherapy oil, and a very carefully timed long nap. We escaped the worst of the jet lag and landed in Narita Airport with our good friends Luke and Hayley, beginning our two week long visit to Japan.
From the airport, we navigated our way to our hotel in the bustling and busy neighborhood of Shibuya. The tangled rainbow of lines, names, and inscrutable Japanese characters that comprise the Japanese subway map was, upon first inspection, very intimidating, but despite the fact that none of us could proficiently speak or read Japanese, we were able to get from place to place with little to no trouble. Pristine subway stations, charming musical jingles at each subway stop, and infinitely patient and helpful information booth operators contributed to the most efficient and user friendly subway train experience of our lives.
Exhausted, we dropped our luggage off at the hotel as the Sun started to set, freshened up, and walked to a restaurant hidden behind a 7-11 near, some train tracks. We bowed our heads to pass through an unusually small wooden sliding door, removed our shoes, and sat down to our first delicious meal at the izakaya Shirube. Scorched mackerel and mouthwatering fried chicken were just two of the dishes we enjoyed on our first night in Tokyo
Our first full day in the city was action packed: Coffee at Fuglen and tamago sandwiches at Camelback for a light breakfast in Shibuya The TeamLab: borderless digital art museum, complete with magically colorful and imaginative projections and interactive sculptures, with Wendy’s first kitchen for lunch A hedgehog cafe and shopping complex in Roppongi A crazy, neon lit, loud fever dream robot restaurant. Delicious ramen served in solitary booths at Ichiran to cap off the night
Tiny but delicious tamago sandwiches at Camelback
Coffee at a mid century Nordic cafe/bar, Fuglen
TeamLab: Borderless Digital Art Museum
Cuddling with some cute hedgehogs and a meerkat- Coulton refused to hold them, but did feed them some mealworms
The strange and loud technicolor robot restaurant in Shinjuku. Glad we went, but would never go back
Even after walking around in the summer heat, we happily slurped up our piping hot bowls of Ramen at Ichiran, ordered straight from a vending machine
Day Two, we explored a bit more of the city. Akihabara, the electronics and super geek wonderland where Coulton and Luke pointed out the dream consoles of their childhoods Ueno Park, one of the many lush green spaces integrated into the city as a quiet and calm refuge from the crowds and concrete. Department store shopping on the limitless floors of Tokyu Hands and Loft Street side boba and comforting tonkatsu curry at Coco’s Ichibanya to top off the night
Coulton and Luke relive their childhood fantasies.
7 floor Sega arcades like this one are on seemingly every block of Akihabara. We stop into one and drop our 100 yen coins into the machines for a fun afternoon.
This little boy played the taiko drum game at expert level. I was very jealous, but also inspired.
We head to Ueno park for lunch, where we find a sea of lotus plants, the occasional pink blossom peeking out from the vibrant green leaves
Lunch is at Inshotei, a kaiseki style restaurant tucked away in the park. We enter, remove our shoes, and walk up the wooden steps and into a paper walled room, taking our seats on the floor. We have a view of the park sprawling out in front of us.
Every bite of the meal is beautifully presented carefully, with colors, textures, shapes in mind. Pickled vegetables, gentle folds of tofu, grilled bits of fish. Everything delicately sliced and laid out to with some much care and consideration
After lunch, we hang out in the park, pedal some swan boats, stop by a shrine, and pursue and antiques flea shop
When the sun sets, we head back into the bustle for dinner. The neon lights in Shibuya make you feel like you’re walking around in a giant, endless video arcade
The last day of our first leg in Tokyo, we sneak in a few more moments before we hop on the bullet train to Kyoto. We head a little bit south to the Daikanyama T-Site, an extraordinary book store with award winning architecture. It houses more than books though - it also has records, music, movies, art, and even a sleek cocktail bar.
Ekibento, made especially for eating on the train. We stock up at Tokyo station before boarding our train.
The Shinkansen races past the countryside at breakneck speed, carrying us swiftly to Kyoto as we munch on our ekibento. The train is immaculately clean and spacious, with vending machines and bidet-equipped bathrooms to boot. Next stop, Kyoto!