Hello everyone and happy Thursday! Today’s post is going to be all of my favorite/recommended things to do in Tokyo. I grew up visiting Tokyo at least once a year (sometimes twice), and it has quickly become my home away from home. When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate all the amazing city had to offer, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more and more in love. There’s so much to do, so much to eat and so many places to go, but this is my little guide to spending time in Tokyo!
- Crepes at Takeshita-dori, Harajuku- This first one is pretty basic, but it’s always a must for me when I’m in Tokyo. Walking down the chaotic Takeshita street, there are tons of little creperies selling crepes of all kinds. In the summer when it’s hot and I’m ready for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, I love getting a crepe to share with my family as a sweet treat.
- Kohmen, Shibuya/Harajuku- I don’t think many people have ever visited Tokyo without having an amazing bowl of Ramen, it’s a staple. But with so many options, it can be hard to settle on one place to go. One of my family’s favorites is Kohmen, located in a small alley in the backstreets of Harajuku. My favorite ramen to get there is the ‘tan-tan men’ (ramen in a spicy peanut sauce). During the summers, they have a ‘hiyashi’ (cold) tan-tan men, which is everything I want on a hot summer day. In the winter, the hot tan-tan men is the best way to warm myself up.
- Tiger Gyoza, Shibuya- My parents have been going to Tiger Gyoza for a long time, and we all just love it. While they do have regular sized gyoza, they also have giant gyozas (just like the name). And along with the normal gyozas, they also have funky fillings like lamb served with an amazing coriander sauce.
- Tenkaippin, Meguro- Another one of my new ramen favorites is Tenkaippin in Meguro. It opened just about a year ago, and is SO good. They have loads of condiments and choices for your ramen, but nothing too fancy. Sometimes just a simple, heart bowl of ramen is all you really need.
- Aponte, Ebisu/Meguro- My dad discovered Aponte a few years ago, and it’s quickly become one of our Tokyo favorites. Right by the Ebisu train station, it’s a tiny little place run by just a few young guys (they run the bar, kitchen and front of house). The kitchen is open and creates a really cool space for the chefs to talk with the customers. The place only has a few tables, and the rest are counter seats. They specialize in seasonal pastas, pizzas and mains, and have incredible desserts. HIGHLY recommend checking this place out next time you’re in Tokyo.
- Anmitsu at Azabusado or Tatsutano- I’ve never been one to have much of a sweet tooth, but I love Japanese sweets/desserts because they tend to not be too sweet. Anmitsu is shaved ice with matcha syrup, anko (red bean) and shiratama (small mochi balls), just a whole lot of deliciousness.
Kohmen website: https://www.kohmen.com/
Tenkaippin website: http://www.tenkaippin.co.jp/
- Backstreets of Shibuya- My absolute favorite place to shop in Tokyo is the backstreets of Shibuya. While a lot of people are drawn to the famous crossing (so am I, as you’ll read later), I love exploring the areas behind it. There’s Seibu, a huge Forever 21 and H&M, a Donquijote, and lot’s of little, small boutique stores. You’ll still get the crowds and the chaos, but a little more relaxed.
- Karuizawa- Just a 60 minute bullet train ride from Tokyo Station, Karuizawa is a small town with a huge outlet mall right next to the station. From Kate Spade to Coach to Le Creuset, there are over 100 stores to shop at. Just on the other side of the station, you’ll find a quaint little neighborhood filled with vintage stores and onsens (bath houses). At the end of the day, there’s a whole strip of restaurants to eat at before heading back to Tokyo. If you want to spend the night, there are tons of little ryokans and hotels around the area. We stayed at the Karuizawa Prince Hotel for a few nights, and it was beautiful!
- Takeshita-dori, Harajuku- I know this is pretty much on every list of things to do in Tokyo, but I couldn’t help but put it on here. As touristy as it may be, I just love the chaos and excitement of this street. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been here, but every time I go I find a new store or eatery that I end up falling in love with. If you want to see the peak of the craziness, go on a Sunday afternoon. If you want it to be a little more chill, try to go on Monday-Thursday mornings.
- Roppongi Hills- Roppongi Hills is a huge shopping area/mall filled with tons of eateries and higher end stores. While I prefer the Shibuya-type shopping, I know my family loves spending time here (and I like going for the food:). It’s a really pretty half indoor, half outdoor area that we could easily spend half a day at.
Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza (Outlets): http://www.karuizawa-psp.jp/en
Karuizawa Prince Hotel: http://www.princehotels.com/karuizawa-east/
- Shibuya Crossing- As mentioned above, I love the Shibuya Crossing. No matter how many times I go, I am always so amazed at what I like to call the “organized chaos”. The mix of local businessmen and tourists is always so cool to see, and the giant billboards and loud sounds always takes my breath away. If you are ever in Tokyo, going to the crossing is an absolute MUST DO.
- Asakusa, Senso-ji temple- The huge red temple in the middle of Asakusa is stunning and beautiful, but the areas ans streets around it are just as amazing. A perfect morning is walking through the temple, and them strolling around the back streets before heading back into the city for the day.
- Meiji-Jingu, Harajuku- If you aren’t able to make it out to Asakusa to see the Senso-ji temple, just hop over to Meiji-Jingu in Harajuku and walk around the area. The rock-lined walkway to the temple is a peaceful and beautiful walk, and is the perfect weekend afternoon activity.
To start off the week, I thought I’d do a post that I’ve been wanting to do for a while (but also DREADING!). I’m sure most of you already know that I love to travel and explore the beautiful world we live in. I’ve been blessed with a life that has allowed me to experience so many new cultures and wander through the beautiful landscapes of so many places. So, as you can probably already tell, today’s post is going to be my 4 favorite places in the world. I’m just going to preface this by saying that it was nearly impossible to come up with a list of only 5 places (also this is in no particular order); every place I’ve ever visited could have a place on this list, but I did it, so here it is!
I’m just going to start out with an obvious one, my beautiful little tropical city/state/island/country of a home (I think I got everything, haha!). To be 100% honest, growing up in SG I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have. I went through so many stages where I was so bored and just couldn’t wait to get out of there. But as I got older and reality began to set in that my time was running out, I began to realize how much beauty there was all around. I’m not going to ramble on for too long (trust me, I could write pages), but I will link some of my past SG blog posts below. All I’m going to say is that SG is one of my most special, unique, and colorful countries in the world, and I have been beyond blessed to be raised and shaped by this place that will always be in my heart.
2. Lake Nojiri, Japan
Every summer, my family and I travel to Lake Nojiri in Northern Japan where we own a lake cabin/house. The cabin has been in my family for over 50 years (my dad also grew up going there in the summers), and is a very special place for us. There’s nothing fancy about it at all (we just got running water and a flushing toilet 2 years ago), but it’s the most magical place in the world. It’s one of those places where reality just takes a back seat and you spend your days swimming, boating, cooking and eating. On a typical day, we usually wake up fairly early, eat breakfast together, spend time by the lake either swimming, lifeguarding or tanning, and then spend our afternoons shopping and getting everything ready for dinner. Our cabin is on a hill looking down on the lake, so the sunrises and sunsets are absolutely stunning. One of my favorite days of the year is はなびたいかい (hanabi taikai- the firework festival); we drive down to sit on the docks, bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets while we watch the beautiful hour-long fireworks that reflect alluring fireworks on the calm waters of the lake. Just being able to sit there with my family with nothing else to worry about is such a special thing, making this place so near and dear to my heart.
3. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket has appeared a lot in my photos, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained why we go to Phuket so often or why I love it. The flight between Singapore and Phuket is only about an hour and 40 minutes (and super affordable!), making it the perfect destination for a quick beach getaway. Phuket is filled with gorgeous beaches, shimmery turquoise water and amazing food (most importantly, haha). We typically wake at around 8 (that’s late for us!) and have a leisurely breakfast before we head down to the beach for the day. Then in the late afternoon, we head back to the room to shower and get ready for happy hour and dinner. We almost never eat dinners at the hotel (since the prices are usually marked up), so we catch a tuk-tuk (a motorcycle-driven taxi) and head to some of our favorite local places for some really good Thai food. All we need is 3-4 days in Phuket to feel re-energized and ready to go. Once my family leaves South East Asia, quick little Phuket trips is one of the things I’ll miss the most!
Favorite restaurant: http://www.eatbargrill.com/welcome/
Favorite hotel: http://www.lemeridienphuketbeachresort.com/
4. Paris, France
When I was a freshman in high school, I had an amazing opportunity to go on a week-long trip of a lifetime to Paris for a language immersion program. We paired up and home-stayed with families who opened up their homes for this purpose. We were expected to get from the house to the school (or wherever else we were meeting) by ourselves on the metro (and again on the way home). The mornings were spent at a language school working on our French, and the afternoons were spent walking around the city and doing everything you would do in Paris. Some of my favorite things we did were going up the Eiffel Tower, taking a boat ride down the Seine, walking through Montmartre up to the Sacre Coeur, attending a Macaroon baking class, and shopping on the Champs Elysees (and of course the incredible amounts of cheese, pastries and bread that was consumed). What stuck with me the most about this trip was that the further away I got from being in Paris (afterwards), the more I appreciated it. While I did absolutely LOVE it while I was there, I was amazed with how much stuck with me. It’s been four years to the day since I was there, and cannot wait to get the chance to go back! (Disclaimer: this was before I took infinite amounts of photos everywhere I go, so enjoy this one of me by the Eiffel Tower eating some cotton candy:)
Singapore Blog Posts:
Top 10 Travel Tips post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/03/18/top-10-travel-tips/