In April, my boyfriend and I visited Tokyo for a week and a half. It was Will’s first time visiting, and my first time back in almost 5 years. We stayed in Tokyo the whole time, didn’t go to any other cities or do any day trips, but despite this we didn’t even make it to every place we had on our list! I wish we’d had more time there, but just taking 10 days off work put me into negative PTO haha.
Tokyo (and Japan in general) is an experience. It’s the most crowded city in the world, which you definitely notice on the trains when it seems like you’re crammed in there with the entire population. Speaking of trains, they are extremely efficient, extensive, clean, and usually on time. Although if you live there long enough you will end up complaining about the public transportation (especially the stinky salarymen who have apparently never heard of deodorant in the hot and humid summer), when compared with public transit in America, it’s miles better.
The Shibuya scramble crossing is another area where you can really get a glimpse of just how many people there are in the city. Thousands of people cross at once in all directions, it’s pretty crazy!
We stayed in Nishi-Shinjuku at a small but clean and well-located Airbnb. Nishi-Shinjuku just means West Shinjuku, and is a business and government district. It was super convenient for us because we could walk to Shinjuku station in around 10 to 15 minutes, and if we didn’t want to walk that far we were also near a subway stop. Shinjuku station is the busiest in all of Japan (maybe the world?) and 12 train lines go through it.
Tokyo is also home to some of the best shopping you can find. In addition to luxury goods and fast fashion, there are many, many thrift stores stocking everything from super trendy Japanese brands to hype streetwear like Supreme and Bape to luxury brands like Celine and Chanel.
Plus, Will was in heaven because of the abundance of menswear! Here in Denver, men’s fashion is basically nonexistent. Cargo shorts and t-shirts or collared button-downs and jeans are the standard, and shops stocking interesting fashion for men are pretty sparse. In Tokyo, though, men tend to have more interest in fashion, and there are plenty of thrift stores that are aimed at men and department stores with large men’s sections (even entirely separate men’s buildings!).
Poor Will got sick, that’s why he’s wearing a mask. It’s a common sight in Japan to see people in these masks; you wear them when you’re sick and when you have allergies. The linen Attachment shirt he’s wearing was a great find; it’s a departure from his normal t-shirts and was perfect for the beautiful weather we had after the first few days of rain.
On our first day, we were pretty tired after the 12 hour flight to Beijing, layover in which we had to go through the most inefficient security checkpoint you can imagine, 4 hour flight to Tokyo, and hour on the train to our Airbnb from the airport. We felt a little better after a shower and change of clothes, then headed out into Shinjuku!
First stop, food. We wanted to go to Ichiran, a famous tonkotsu ramen chain, but the line was out the door and estimated at a 40 minute wait. We didn’t want to wait that long, so we ended up just heading into a nearby okonomiyaki restaurant. It was Will’s first time to eat okonomiyaki, and although he enjoyed it, we ended up having much better okonomiyaki later in our trip with a friend in Asakusa.
Okonomiyaki is basically a savory pancake where you choose what ingredients you want, mix it all together in a batter, then cook it yourself on a hot plate at the table. Sometimes staff will cook it for you, depending on the restaurant.
Please excuse my messy hair and dark circles… Tokyo is pretty humid, and my hair goes crazy at the slightest touch of moisture.
We also stopped into a cute little cafe that we thought would be a casual place to grab some tea or coffee, but ended up being a fancy dessert place haha. No problem, although the tea was overpriced it was a nice chance to sit down and relax and get away from the rain.
The tea and the cheesecake were good, at least! The tea also came in a pot that had about two and half servings, which was nice. We managed to snag a window seat too, so we could watch the rain and all the people going by with clear plastic umbrellas.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more posts about the food, the sightseeing, and everything we ended up buying!