We arrived at Narita airport exhausted from lack of sleep in our dorm the night before, but quickly caught a second wind and got super excited for our four nights in Tokyo! We caught the train into the city and exited at Shibuya Station. Shibuya was a highly recommended part of the city to stay in and it also is one of the largest metro stations we’ve ever seen. Shibuya is also home to Shibuya Crossing, which is said to be the busiest intersection in the world! It was so crazy to see everyone walking in every single direction when the traffic lights ALL went red, and the walking lights lit up!
We walked about 10 minutes from the station to our adorable Airbnb apartment.
After settling in, we got changed and ready to explore the city a bit, and also ready to get started enjoying the amazing Japanese food. Our first night ended in ramen noodles at a place where you order and pay in a vending machine! Then you are seated at a bar and your food is delivered to you quickly….it was delicious!! The noodles were clearly homemade and fresh, and the broth was so tasty! Beers went down easily too.
We had all of these grand plans to get going the next morning however we were both wiped from the lack of sleep, that we snoozed in a bit and also learned that it was going to be a very rainy day. We rearranged our thoughts and decided to head for a sushi lunch then to a museum to escape the rain. We had heard that the place to get the best priced sushi in Tokyo was in the train station… and this advice was spot on. We went to a place called Foodshow below Shibuya Station and hit the food jackpot!! We shared several pieces of sushi and some dumpings and a tuna and avocado roll, and were stuffed before it was all gone.
Then we made our way to the National Museum of Nature and Science. The museum is done really well and someone could honestly spend all day there and never make it though even half of the exhibits!
After spending a couple of hours looking at dinosaur bones and the history of sea life, we’d had about as much culture as we can handle for one day. We Googled best happy hours in Tokyo and found a good spot with beers on special and made our way there for some cold ones. But not before Jenny made a really exciting and touristy purchase… her first selfie stick ever! We also did some shopping at H&M so Jenny could start preparing her European wardrobe. Once we got settled at the bar, we assembled Jenny’s new selfie stick and put it to use immediately.
For dinner, we ended up at another vending machine ordering ramen and sat down at a counter inside where the chef delivered us huge bowls of ramen, which once again we dominated. What can we say, ramen has a hold on us!!
Add a few more beers and our night out was complete! The rain even decided to stop and let us snap a pic in the streets of Tokyo.
We had bought some bottles of wine at Shibuya Station prior day, so made the wise decision of busting open a bottle of red when we got back to the apartment, which made for a rough morning the next day. Once again we didn’t get going as early as we had planned, but hey… we were having fun!
Our next day started with breakfast from the delicious bakery at Foodshow, then we headed for a stroll through Shinjuku Gyoen, a large city park that is well manicured and popular for locals to go and hang out for a nap in the grass. Which is how we ended up laying on the ground… still working through those hangovers!
Up next, we walked over to the Tokyo Government Metropolitan Building. We read a tip online that this building had amazing views of the entire city and it’s free to the public, with a free local guide to explain the different views and areas of the city and answer any questions you have about the buildings below. We scored with that piece of knowledge… because Tokyo is expensive y’all! Coming from Southeast Asia it was a shock on the wallet even though we were very well prepared for it. The city is absolutely huge! We spotted out all parts of the city we had already been to and ones we planned on visiting on our final day in Tokyo.
After taking in the views, we decided to head back to nap because we wanted to be able to enjoy a nice dinner out and didn’t want to be too tired for it. We woke up feeling refreshed and headed to a spot that was recommended to us by our friend Molly, who we met in Vietnam. It was fantastic! You enter the restaurant and immediately take your shoes off, then we were escorted to our table, where we would dine sitting on the floor. This restaurant had a cooking station at the table and we ordered a couple of items that had been suggested and got a lot of help from our server when it came to cooking the food (read: she really cooked it for us except for when Kerry impressively flipped the Japanese savory pancake). The food was scrumptious and we left stuffed and exhausted!
On our final full day, we finally got moving early enough to make it to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market! As we arrived, we were asked to participate in the filming some sort of Japanese TV show where they had us guess what certain Japanese symbols could mean, attempt to draw them from memory, and in general, just completely embarrass ourselves for all the tv viewers to see! Let’s hope it was a comedy show!
Tsujiki Fish Market is incredible. We entered and got lost in the maze of fresh fish and all sorts of seafood as far as the eye can see!
There are also tons of sushi restaurants set up inside the market, so we decided on one to have “brunch” in, and it came complete with sushi delivered on a track that ran around the entire bar. You just pulled off plates of what you wanted, then pay for each plate at the end. It was super delicious and fresh!
Up next we headed to Meiji Jingu Shrine, where we viewed the shrine, saw lots of people praying and observed their traditions in doing so. It was really interesting and such a peaceful place. There are also some beautiful gardens on the grounds that we made our way through!
After we left the shrine, we decided to head back and get packed up, since we had a really early morning the next day and a REALLY special dinner planned! We felt that we could not come to Tokyo and not have some Kobe beef. We found a restaurant with good reviews and set out for dinner, but got derailed with a 3 hour wait. It was early so we agreed to the late reservation and found a bar nearby to enjoy an appetizer and a couple of beers at while we waited for our much anticipated final dinner!
Once seated for our reservation, we ordered some vino and the tasting menu and it was an incredible amount of food. Course after course was brought out to us, where we were told how to eat each one. Don’t cook this meat – it’s best raw… cook this one with a quick sear… use this sauce for this one… and so on. The kobe beef was the tastiest beef we’ve ever had hands down. It was so marbled with fat that you literally didn’t need teeth to eat ANY of the pieces of meat we enjoyed. We had no knives, just chopsticks! This meal was one of the best meals we have ever had and we are so glad we splurged on our last night together in Tokyo!
The next morning was a super early wake-up call and we were flying out of separate airports bound for different destinations. Kerry was bound for a visit back in Dallas, while Jenny was heading on to Europe, specifically Paris. We took the metro together one last time, hugged goodbye at the stop where we were to split and made our own ways to the airports.
Tokyo was an incredible last city to explore together in Asia! We kept saying how it was our “Asian NYC”, and since we won’t be doing our annual NYC girls trip this year, this more than made up for it. We also thoroughly enjoyed learning the metro system here, that happens to be the nicest subway that could ever possibly exist. The city is so clean… we couldn’t get over it. Tokyo won us over and we both want to go back and spend more time in the city and others in Japan!
From here on out, you’ll be hearing from us separately as we travel the world experiencing solo travel and moving at different paces and to different places!
~ Jenny & Kerry