Monday, July 24, 2017

Tokyo day 6

Old city, actually called the low-city, awaited us. We took the train and subway to Asakusa, a district by the Sumida river. Our first impression was that it looked a lot like Kyoto. More of a traditional style architecture, lower buildings and many shops selling traditional Japanese goods and crafts.
We walked along the Nakamise shopping street. A lot of sweets and souvenirs on offer, and a lot of tourists. The street ends up by the Sensō-ji shrine, a beautiful place that send us back many centuries. It is a lovely contrast to the skyscraper skyline behind.

We wanted a snack by the food vendors but there were only sweets on sale. So we walked over to the other side of Sumida river, heading for the Tokyo Sky Tree. The neighborhood was charming with a couple of modern touches such as the Asahi beer tower with its weird golden turd looking statue on top.

Before heading up to the tower, we had our first bowl of Ramen. We went for a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet and this pork bone based noodle soup was delicious.

The Tokyo sky tree is the worlds second highest tower at 634 meters. It has two observation decks at 350 and 450 meters. The tower is situated in the middle of a huge mall, with an amazing amount and variety of shops. Among the weirdest and in our opinion the most ridiculous was the PPAP café. Some guy sings "I have a pen apple pineapple pen" and suddenly there are cafes and department stores filled with merchandise. During our trip we had seen this on TV, on billboards and met people who just loved this, and we still don't get it.

The view from the tower was breathtaking. We waited until after dark so the city was lit up and just went on endlessly into the horizon. We really wished we had our tripod with us.

After a couple of hours at the top, we stocked up on fresh fruits, bread and cheese for a relaxed evening at our appartment.

Tokyo day 5

After days with window shopping and figuring out what to actually buy, we went back to Ura Harajuku for shopping. This is one of our favorite places to shop. It's small enough so you can get a good overview of what's on offer. The selection of shops is unique with several local shops and some international brands within a reasonable budget. There are lots of great places to eat too. We had delicious sandwiches for lunch before heading back to the apartment. We had such a great time out in Shinjuku the night before that we decided to make a rerun, this time everyone was in and we added a show at Robot restaurant. There is no point trying to explain what the show and restaurant is about. It was the most insane, over the top, hilarious, crazy and entertaining show any of us had ever seen. 90 minutes of nonstop flashing lights and colors made the streets of Shinjuku seem almost faded. Almost.

The night flew by with karaoke and small bars around Golden Gai. In the end we rounded it up with the best hot-dogs ever before turning in.

Tokyo day 4

We got up early and left for the Tsuijki fish market. The market is a mixture of shops, eateries and the inner market area where fishermen buy and sell hundreds of tons of fresh fish every day until around noon. We walked in the inner market marveling at hundreds of weird creatures of the sea. You have to watch out though, the workers work at high speed and if you don't pay attention you suddenly get splashed wet by the cleaners and end up smelling fish for the rest of the day. We ate sushi fresh from the sea and bought Santoku knives. Many checks off our bucket list.

We walked to Tokyo tower in the Roppongi district. The walk took about an hour through the skyscraper and financial district of southern Ginza and Tsuijki. Tokyo tower is inspired by the Eiffel tower and was completed in 1958. The tower has two observatories, the main observatory at 150 meters and the special observatory at 250 meters, offering views of Mt. Fuji, Mt. Tsukuba and of the Tokyo metropolis.

We ate delicious noodles on our way back. Some of us headed for a night out in Shinjuku and others rested and slept to gather some energy for the remaining days.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


We wanted to get out of the city and chose to make a day trip to Hakone. Hakone is a popular getaway for tourists who want some fresh air and great mountain views. On clear days you can see Mt. Fuji from here.

The train ride took a little over 2 hours. We were supposed to ride the comfortable "Romancecar" train, but there was something wrong with it so we ended up standing for over an hour on a subway. We took a round-trip as recommended with a zik-zak train up the hills. The trip continued by cable car and then the roapway up and over the hills and volcanic gas field ending up by Ashi lake. We had great views of the mountains around us and fall foliage. The sun was just setting and we caught the last boat to other side of the lake. After a short bus ride we took the train back to Tokyo.

Tokyo day 3

We headed out to Akihabara district after breakfast. We were yet again met by neon lights, huge billboards and thousands of people making their way through the crowded streets into one of the many crazy shops selling manga retail and a lot of other odd stuff. We ate lunch at a maiden cafe, which was just way too cutsie for our taste. A hilarious experience for sure, and something we're gonna remember long after we've gone home. We took the subway to the Imperial palace garden and from there we walked to Ginza district.
After a quick refreshing stop at our apartment we got ready for a night out. The rest is history...

Tokyo day 2

We slept in and headed for Harajuku after breakfast. Harajuku is the center of Japan`s most extreme and different teenage culture and fashion. But amidst it all there`s something for everyone here. Like an owl cafe.
The city is so full of impressions and after walking for a few hours we needed to rest our feet and heads. Some of us checked out a nearby shopping district while others napped. The shopping district Ura-Harajuku has a great variety of shops with more casual clothing than Takeshita street in Harajuku. It also has great vintage second hand shops. We were lucky and found some great deals.
The Ura-Harajuku continues towards Shibuya where we had a real american style dinner with buffalo wings, ribs, sliders and beer. To burn off some of the calories we walked home, continuing the endless window shopping.