TOKYO Travel Guide

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!

Food:

  • 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/

Kohmen TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066456-d1688885-Reviews-Komen_Harajuku-Shibuya_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Tiger Gyoza Trip Advisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066456-d8024519-Reviews-Tiger_Gyoza_Hall_Udagawacho-Shibuya_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Tenkaippin websitehttp://www.tenkaippin.co.jp/

Tenkaippin TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066854-d1660242-Reviews-Tenkaippin_Meguroten-Shinagawa_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Aponte TripAdvisorhttps://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066450-d4674051-Reviews-Aponte-Meguro_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Shopping:

  • 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 Hotelhttp://www.princehotels.com/karuizawa-east/

Landmarks:

  • 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.

 

 

Life Through A Lens #14- TOKYO!

A magical Haneda Airport at 7:30am.

 

Beautiful June morning in Meguro, Tokyo.

 

Always travel in style. @KateSpade @ToryBurch

 

May not be the main Shibuya crossing, but just as fun and exciting.

 

Mid-afternoon break from shopping is complete by matcha shaved ice with red bean! #yum

 

Italian food or Japanese-Italian food? You choose…

 

The world-famous Takeshita street in Harajuku.

 

The streets of Takeshita are filled with vibrant, inviting stores.

 

But did you really go to Tokyo if you didn’t eat ramen? This was a delicious bowl of cold tan-tan men (sesame cold noodles).

 

The stores and buildings towering over the chaotic Shibuya crossing.

 

The entrance to the famous Asakusa temple.

 

Beautiful temples surrounding the main attraction in Asakusa.
Cascading little river-gardens around the temples in Asakusa.

 

Small food vendors with a view of the Tokyo Sky Tree.

 

The main and biggest temple in Asakusa.

 

A little comedy show theater in the backstreets of Tokyo.

 

A view of Tokyo from The Westin in Ebisu.

 

5pm skies from Ebisu Garden Place in central Tokyo.

 

Buildings and an indoor picnic sight at Ebisu Garden Place.

 

The cutest little vintage store in the backstreets of Karuizawa.

 

Kate always has words of wisdom. @KateSpade

Life Through A Lens #3- TOKYO SUMMER

Bright and bustling Shibuya
Bright and bustling Shibuya
The backstreets of Ebisu- 7pm
The backstreets of Ebisu- 7pm
The always exciting Takeshita Dori in Harajuku
The always exciting Takeshita Dori in Harajuku
Our view from The Prince Hotel in Karuizawa
Our view from The Prince Hotel in Karuizawa
The Shibuya Crossing!
The Shibuya Crossing!
Tonkotsu ramen from one of our favorite little shops in Shibuya
Tonkotsu ramen from one of our favorite little shops in Shibuya
The view from the Premium Shopping Outlet in Karuizawa, talk about shopping with a view- 6pm
The view from the Premium Shopping Outlet in Karuizawa, talk about shopping with a view- 6pm

Curling: My Experience with the Japanese National Team

This year, my mom’s work retreat took us to Karuizawa, Japan, a beautiful place only 1 hour away from the bustling city of Tokyo. This event had gathered 102 of my mom’s colleagues and their families, for a fun-filled weekend. We got to the Karuizawa station at around 11am on Saturday morning,  and spent the first two and a half hours shopping and getting a quick bite to eat for lunch. The Karuizawa Premium Outlet had rows and rows of stores, ranging from Old Navy, to Nike, to Gucci, and had crazy good deals. For lunch, we found a small Chinese-Japanese restaurant, Yuejihua, with the best Dan Dan Noodles I’ve ever had. After we all wolfed down our bowl of noodles, we were off to Karuizawa Ice Park to learn how to Curl with the Japanese National Team. All 102 of us (ranging from 4 to 65 years old) filed into the 8-laned ice rink with our curling shoes, long pants, sweatshirts, gloves and hats on. 4 of the Japanese National Curlers were introduced, as well as a number of other instructors. We were divided up into groups of 6, and began our ‘lessons’. The first step was learning how to fall, both forwards and backwards. The ice wasn’t as slippery as it had seemed, and the grips on the bottom of our shoes made it easy to walk. After learning how to fall, we took off the grip from one of our shoes, and learned how to push off from the side in a bent-down position. This would be the technique used to glide off the beginning of the lane and slide the stone down the ice. Once we learned how to push-off, we were introduced to the very exciting curling stone. Weighing 20kg, these stones have handles that allow you to grip on well, but also release. We got used to the feeling of the stone against the ice, and were soon pushing off and pushing the stone. Once we were all settled on the ice and ready to go, it was game on! We played 3 full rounds (a normal game is played with 10 rounds) against 3 different teams within the large group. Although my team of 6 people lost 3/3 games, it was one of the most interesting and fun games I’ve ever played. Meeting the Japanese national team was incredibly fun, but overall, curling is a 10/10 would recommend activity!

Outside the Karuizawa Ice Park
Outside the Karuizawa Ice Park
Me with four of the Japanese National Curlers!
Me with four of the Japanese National Curlers!
My sister and i with the 20kg curling stones
My sister and i with the 20kg curling stones