Japan! One of my all-time favorite places to visit. Especially with the recent radiation scare, I was all the more excited to return to Japan after 5 years!
Tokyo was on the agenda this time, with only 4 days, extensive planning was in order.
What would you recommend in 4 days you ask?
Tsukiji Market is a must, even if you don’t have time for anything else. You could wake up at 1am and go to the tourist office and try your luck at getting a ticket for the ‘exclusive’ tuna auction; but then again watching a youtube video gives you the same, if not more extensive view of the process.
So if you’re not a fan of binging on coffee just to stay up for that ticket, I would recommend you try and visit during the tourist hours from 10am.
Meanwhile, arriving at 7am for sushi is highly recommended. YES, 7AM! Otherwise you will be hit with a massive queue up to 1 hr for the most popular sushi joints!
Sushi and Japanese Knives are also one of the main reasons people visit Tsukiji. Masamoto being one of the most famous out of the many you can find within the Outer Market. Make sure you ask their staff for the different materials and maintenance techniques!
Tsukiji Sushi Say – Main Shop 築地寿司清築地本店
〒104-0045 , 東京都中央区築地4-13-9
- Located near the end of the outer market, Tsukiji Sushi Say has some of the freshest sushi and sashimi you can find in Tokyo. Right next to the market to ensure freshness, this sushi joint is one of the originals and has been around since 1889.
- Review Linked here.
4-11-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045
- Coffee is an essential commodity when waiting for your auction ticket or simply staying awake for that 7am sushi!
- Yonemoto coffee is right in the middle of the outer market and serves traditional iced coffee and hot coffees, as well as the popular pour overs.
- You can also buy coffee beans, which they will happily ground for you to bring back!
Myosenji 妙泉寺 – 〒104-0045 Tokyo, Chuo, 築地4−14−18 (right pic)
- Myosenji, a buddhist temple treasured by fishermen and those working with seafood, to ensure safe passage on the sea.
Senso-ji is one of the popular tourist destinations, and a must for a quick visit. Combination of both temple visit and souvenir shopping in an hour or so!
Restaurants though are plentiful in the area, especially Tempura!
If you’re looking for something a bit unusual why not try Tempura made with Sesame Oil!? Yes, fried only in sesame oil to give more fragrant Tempura!
Tempura Daikokuya 大黑家天麩羅 – www.tempura.co.jp/english/index.html
1-38-10 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Kappabashi Street- かっぱ橋道具街
Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya 元祖食品サンプル屋について
Nearby Senso-ji is Kappabashi Street, a place for professionals and home cooks to get their hands on some gear!
Cake molds, pans, Carbon Steel pans, knives, plastic containers…etc..
It is quite difficult to find, so I would highly recommend taking a taxi rather than walking from the station!
At the end of Kappabashi Street is Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya, a shop that sells amazingly life-like fake food!
Go check it out, even if you’re not into cooking or chef-y things, you are sure to be amazed at the quality! You could also buy do-it-yourself kits to give to friends and family as souvenirs!
Known to be filled with high-rise buildings, offices and hotels, Shinjuku is a popular shopping district for tourists. You have the famous Kabukichō, with all the bars, clubs and ahem* hostess clubs, as well as Omoide Yokocho for skewers and drinks till late hours. 新宿ゴールデン街 （花園一番街 三番街 五番街) was also a great find while wandering around the area. Filled with local people, pop-up bars and speakeasies, this is definitely a great watering-hole where you can experience the local culture!
Otherwise there is also the private-run Samurai Museum in the middle of Kabukichō that can offer something different for those more adventurous.
Ovoid Yokocho – Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku – Skewer street.
Samurai Museum 〒160-0021 Tokyo, 新宿区Kabukicho, 2−25−6 永和第6ビル
samuraimuseum.jp/en/ – Left
新宿ゴールデン街 （花園一番街 三番街 五番街) – right
Coffee was also on our minds, where we decided to try out a highly regarded ‘Blue Bottle Coffee’ – bluebottlecoffee.com
- With locations around major cities in the US (NYC, San Fran…), we were ecstatic to try them out in Tokyo.
- Again, pour overs were the more popular item. They also offer coffee beans from different regions to choose from, showing their knowledge and professionalism in coffee making.
Last but not least, though not necessarily a tourist site is Mister Donut.
1 Chome-2-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021
- Their donuts are not like any you’ve tried, but are slightly chewy (think gummy bear). Taking inspiration from the infamous Japanese Mochi, these donuts are sometimes called ‘mochi donuts’
- Yes, they might not be for everyone, but their signature “rice-flour” donuts is an exclusive item and a definite must-try!
Tokyo Station Ramen Street
〒100-0005 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Marunouchi, 1−9−1, Tokyo Station
東京駅一番街 B1 東京ラーメンストリート内
Tokyo Station is one of the main transit points, whether it be the Airport or connection to other regions of Japan. Souvenir shops and restaurants are plentiful here, from traditional Japanese cuisine to Western and American delicacies.
If you are looking for a Ramen place, I recommend Rokurinsha 六厘舍. In Japan, Ramen soup base is specific to the area you are in, this case Rokurinsha specialists in Tsukemen or dipped noodles in a rich broth of pork & chicken bones, dried baby sardines, smoked mackerel flakes and bonito flakes. They offer 3 main choices, the Tsukemen , Ajitaman Tsukemen with flavoured boiled egg and special full toppings Tokusei Tsukemen.
Above left is the Tsukemen, right is the special full toppings Tokusei Tsukemen.
- Both are of the same rich broth that was very creamy and smokey. Noodles were also very fresh, bouncy but not too chewy.
- If you prefer a clearer tasting broth that is not so rich and salty, you may want to try a different Ramen house.
Maisen Pork Cutlet – Aoyama, Shibuya
Considered to be ‘the’ Tonkatsu or Fried Pork Cutlet places in Tokyo, this establishment pays extra attention to rearing the highest quality pig.
Highlights include the TokyoX, Amai-Yuwaku (only limited portions per day) & Chamiton.
Review is linked here.