Because of last week’s long days and hard work, we were rewarded with some time off in between the arrival of the next artist group.
What better place to spend it than Tokyo?
A living, breathing city that is so wonderful, clean, and fascinating. But the first thing that you should know about Tokyo is that it’s impossible to see it all.
I know this notion can be sad for some… “But, I want to be able to check off ALL of the exciting things on my travel itinerary!!”
So do I.
But you see, the fact that you can’t conquer everything on your Tokyo bucket list is just an invitation to visit again – something I definitely intend on doing.
Anyways, here is a summary of how I spent 5 amazing days in Tokyo…
First things first, a must buy is the Suica train card, NOT passmo. Suica can be used on any JR lines AND the underground subway lines. Passmo cannot work on JR lines so you are restricted in how you can travel to each district of Tokyo. So this was a life saver for getting around. Without it, you have to figure out the exact fare to the destination you’re going and figure out how to use the ticket machines each time, which isn’t as efficient.
Second thing, google maps is the most helpful, amazing app on the planet!! You can find different train lines, times and the platform number to go to the place you need and while you are on the train there is a feature that let’s you track all of the stops, assuring you that you’ll get to the right place. Traveling around the city never seemed to easy!
DAY 1- Taito, Akihabara and Shinjuku
After we arrived in Tokyo we took the Hibia line to Iriya Station, a 7 minute walk away from THE BEST Hostel Bedgasm. Now I don’t know about you, but I learned the best way to travel alone is to stay at a hostel. There, you can make friends, potentially intrude on each other’s plans and sight see together. I met some wonderful people this way and created some great memories. My stay in Tokyo would not have been nearly as amazing if I didn’t choose to stay at bedgasm. Not to mention the staff was soooooo helpful, kind and knowledgeable. It was just perfect, the atmosphere, everything.
After check in, we hung out at Iriya Plus Cafe where I had the cutest and tastiest latte (Thank you Naomi). This cafe in the area was owned by our dear friend and colleague Yoji’s wife.
Looking for a cool and relaxing hipster cafe? This is the place.
Next stop? Akihabara or “Electric City”
This area is notorious for video gaming and some odd cafe’s so we chose to walk around a 5 story SEGA then go to MaidDreamin, a maid cafe. (A maid cafe is when the waitresses dress up in maid costumes and make you chant cute little phrases with them when they serve your food. You can choose a set that includes a polaroid picture with a some animal ears with your server and a dessert as your meal. It was quite an experience…lol)
Last stop to end day 1?
Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant – an incredible show that never seemed to end and get better and better. Worth. Every. Penny.
DAY 2- Tsukiji, Ginza and Asakusa
The fish market is a MUST in Tokyo and you’ll eat the best sushi of your life. Unforgettable.
Best time to get there? Morning for breakfast. We took the 8am subway where we were literally packed like sardines…no exaggeration.
Thankfully Yoji was an excellent tour guide. What would we have done without him???
We walked the outer streets of the market, ate some sushi breakfast then at 10am they allowed tourists to enter the tuna auction area (the real fish market).
After that we saw a traditional Kabuki theater and walked around the famous Ginza area (The Michigan avenue of Tokyo).
To to top the day off? What’s a better way to end the evening than to see the famous Senso-Ji Temple all lit up and beautiful.
DAY 3- Chayuda and Shibuya
This day I did some independent sight seeing, meeting up with Chase after my list was checked off.
I started off with the famous Tokyo SkyTree going up to the 350th floor, taking selfies, taking pictures of my feet on the glass floor and finally consenting to the photo purchase of the professional shot I got done while up there. Mega touristy but also an incredible view.
After that I visited the Times Square of Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing. It was crazy during rush hour but it was so cool to see an indication of how crowded Tokyo is. The best view of it was from the Starbucks on the second floor. Not to mention, it’s pretty nice to watch while sipping on a matcha frappuchino.
After exploring the craziness of Shibuya and all the fun things it has to offer, I settled done for a bit at the moCHA cat cafe. It was purrrfect.
DAY 4- Chayuda and Harajuku
To learn more about the history of this city I was starting to fall in love with, I joined a free tour of the imperial palace with some friends from the hostel. All in all, it was great learning and also 3 hours of my day gone. Would I do it again? No, but I’m glad I did it.
To finish off the day, I went to the heart of all fashion and modern art, Harajuku. There, we walked the famous Takashita street, and ate at the Kawaii Monster Cafe and found the alice on Wednesday store for some alice in wonderland goods.
Can’t forget about the famous harajuku street crepes. The selection is overwhelming and basically anything you can imagine can be put into a crepe. Soooo good.
DAY 5- Taito, Akiba and Ikebukuro
The last and final day was spent seeing any unseen things on the bucket list (among the top ten, because like I said, you can’t check off everything on the list.)
The day began with sushi for breakfast, this time at a really good local restaurant near our hostel where you shout your order at the chef.
After that we took the subway line to Akiba where we saw the famous real life Mario Kart driving (sans banana peels on the road, but costumes? Yes.) and later went to yet another animal cafe.
This one was an owl cafe where I got to pet some really cute owls and drink my iced coffee that came out of a vending machine.
The last stop before home was Ikebukuro where we visited the famous Kit Kat Chocolatory and I purchased some matcha, green tea and pomegranite flavored kit kats.
*Disclaimer* The Chocolatory isn’t as impressive as you expect it to be compared to most things in Tokyo. It’s basically just a fancy chocolate counter. That being said, I did get to purchase those interesting flavors so it was still worth it to go.
Now that you’ve read my brief outline (or as condensed as I could make it…SORRY) of my 5 day stay in Tokyo, I think you may have got a feel for all of the crazy, wonderful things it has to offer and why I must visit again.
For now, I leave to go back to the art residency to greet the new group of artists.
See you later Tokyo 🙂