We couldn’t wait more to share the pictures and diary of travel (plus our tips!) from our honeymoon in Japan, so without further ado here we go with the first post which is centered in Tokyo.
Being our first time in the country we wanted to visit Tokyo and Kyoto, and from there have getaways to other popular locations as Nikko and Nara, being able to avoid many hotel switches which is time-consuming. Our first headquarters was in Tokyo, in a little, very modern, clean and comfortable hotel in Shibuya called Unizo. The Unizo hotel has excellent reviews in Tripadvisor, especially the ones regarding the situation and the quality-price relationship. To be fair it was quite difficult to find when we arrived the first time, so if you stay there make sure to visit it before hand with Google street view (bonus tip, the entrance door is not in the main street). The location was perfect near the Shibuya station, which is convenient for travelers as it is one of the main stations in the Yamanote line (JR railway with stops in the main areas) which is included in the Japan Rail Pass (more information about how to get around in Tokyo in another post). The area is also a hanging place for Japanese young people, so there are lots of restaurants near the hotel, which we appreciate a lot!
It allowed us to cross every day the famous Shibuya crossing, which was quite a perk of the location, as the light in the morning is so nice. We had a little game every morning which consisted in introducing a small piece of chaos into the crossing perfect order; we turned around as soon as we were in the middle of the crossing. The Japanese are so nice that they did not want to spoil our pictures and immediately went away, but of course that was not what we wanted! :)
In Tokyo we visited traditional Asakusa, Daikanyama, Akihabara, Harajuku and Shimokitazawa. Being the last two neighborhoods our favorites, that’s why they will have a dedicated post for themselves!
Asakusa is famous for its temple which is visited every day by thousands of people. The most recognizable thing about the temple is its structure with massive paper lantern painted in red and black. We were a little afraid that the massive amount of visitors will diminish the beauty of the place (and the pictures!), but that was not the case; in Japan everyone is so aware of not bothering each other that you always had the time to take pictures without people interfering, and the huge lines of pilgrims gave the temple its truly importance.
To get to Asakusa you should go with the Yamanote line to the stop with the same name and then go straight to your right until you find the famous market street that precedes the Sensoji Temple. The streets surrounding the Sensoji temple are also so much fun! True that they are very touristy (if you want to buy traditional souvenirs this is your place, we found lovely cat figurines there) but also the mixture between the food stalls with the souvenirs are worth it. We ate lot of things there, sweet potato ice cream (do not miss the ice creams!), delicious dango skewer covered with soy powder (sweet and surprising texture), fried custard (yummy) and octopus meatballs called takoyakis; the food is so amazingly good in Japan!.
Daikanyama is a place we surely did not explore as long as it deserves. We visited it after the recommendation of the Hello Sandwich Tokyo guide (we can’t praise it enough for insider tips! check more information about it in our next getting around post) and is the type of neighborhoods where you have the feeling that people really live there. To visit Daikanyama you have to leave the Yamanote line and use the Tokyu Toyoko metro line. In fact it is only 20 minutes walking distance from Shibuya, but we visited it in the late afternoon plus had a reservation for Gonpachi restaurant (in Roppongi) that evening, so we skipped the walk for the metro :)
It has some lovely home decoration shops, and also we found the most impressive hat atelier. We peeked the most stylish guy trying some hats, which was lovely. The Japanese are very fond of hats and you can find them in lot of stores, specially the guys, which is a thing that most striked me because here in Spain guys are generally not so fashion forward with complements.
Akihabara is a must in Japan for all the manga and techie lovers out there. We absolutely love video games, but that doesn’t care at all: you must visit Akihabara. Not in other place in the world (maybe this is a small exaggeration, please forgive my enthusiasm :P) you will find the type of shops you can find here (and the people), so for that and for being able to join the carefree-geek fashion approach you should not skip this place. The previous day I had found the most ridiculously cute cat ears in Kiddyland (Harajuku store) and was decided to wear them while in Akihabara. I am usually very shy but a single visit to the girls’ restroom convinced me that I was going to be one of the most modest. The bathroom was full of girls changing to a more dare manga-inspired clothing for their visit to the neighborhood; it was very funny to mingle with them!
One of the main buildings is the Sega center, which is completely dedicated to arcade gaming. In Tokyo there are lots of arcade centers around the city, it is a very common place to have fun after school or work. Here in Spain in the early 90s the arcade centers and arcade games in bars were also very popular, but the true is that they progressively faded and nowadays is hard to find one (just in the malls). It was sooo much fun to be able to explore all the arcades (Mario kart!), watch their incredible skill and of course also playing ourselves (and trying not to make a fool of ourselves for being so clumsy compared to them!). Smoking is allowed inside the game centers, as well as in the restaurants, with the exception of the main floor, which was quite annoying for me! Nevertheless, the main floor was one of the most fun ones with the Purikura photo booths, the claw machines and the Japanese drums musical games.
And for Harajuku and Shimokitazawa, our favorites, you will have to wait until the next post! Fingers crossed you enjoy this one and want to keep reading :)
Finally we also stayed in Tokyo the last two days of our trip. We ended our travel in the Conrad Hotel in Ginza for a few days of calm, relaxation and of “missing-already” Japan. The nice folks at the hotel upgraded our room to an executive suite for our honeymoon, making our last days unforgettable. Thank you so much for that magic stay Conrad!
First drinks vending machine we found in Tokyo, you can find one at every corner which is very convenient! Also the price is great, and they have “hotto” (japanese hot) drinks.
My new Hello Kitty Vans were a success, many girls asked me about them and said “kawaii” I was a happy girl! :)
In Japan it is allowed to smoke inside restaurants and cafes, but completely forbidden in the street. The french-inspired cafes are a trend.
Teenager wearing a cool Batman mask head-dress in Shibuya. Love how every little detail is surprising.
The city is so secure that you can fall sleep inside the subway only worrying to wake up in your stop :) Usually trains and subways are full of people sleeping
You could ask for a wish here, you had to shake the box to obtain a number and then check in that numbered drawer your future luck. If it was bad you must tie it around a tree branch to banish it.
Dani eating Takoyakis. They are meatballs filled with diced octopus with a flour batter. Takoyakis were popularized in Osaka but you may find some stalls in Tokyo too, we couldn’t miss the chance!
Next to Sensoji temple there is an old funfair that we could peek from the outside. It looked so gorgeous!, pity that we didn’t have much time to explore it the time the tickets’ price deserve :P
We made a reservation for the Gonpachi restaurant in Roppongi (there are several in Tokyo). You may already know that is the one that inspired Tarantino for the Kill Bill’s 88 maniacs scene stage.
This Gonpachi’s speciality are the soba noodles
Very yummy grilled tuna skewers, hands down the best plate of the evening
Starbucks in Japan have a delicious variety of tea latte with matcha, we were addicted (#truefacts :P)
Rocking my new cat ears :)
Dani playing the game Final Fight in the upper floor of the Mr.Potato store
Amaaaaazing views from our upgraded room in the Conrad hotel
We had to go through many tunnels all looking the same to arrive to the street. We found many people completely lost ;p
Ginza streets at night.