Finally, the long awaited day had arrived.... Mel came to visit us!! Our plan of action: Meet in Tokyo -> hang out in Okinawa -> end the trip in Hong Kong #Ithinkthatqualifiesasagoodasiatrip #melladora (#doratheexplorer) #worldtraveler
Nate and I flew to meet Mel #hellamel in Tokyo so we could explore this crazy, amazing city together. Must have been a popular time to visit since it took Mel almost 2 hours to get through customs! #isshehereyet?? As soon as we were able to give each other quick hugs and scream with excitement - we raced to catch the Narita Express to take us from the airport to the neighborhood of Shinjuku. #reunitedanditfeelssogood The hour train ride gave Mel and I time to catch up on all the latest gossip between her love life, work, school, and our adventures over in Asia. #girltalk
As many of you know, my dad used to travel a lot for work #understatement and often frequented Tokyo. When him and my mom were out here, they were able to meet up with a few of his old work friends for dinner. When they heard my hubby, friend, and I would be in town in a few weeks, they offered to take us out to dinner. So after we quickly checked into our hotel, we hopped on the subway to go meet them for dinner. (Mel was a trooper, hopping right off an 11 hour plane ride, completely different time zone, and was able to make it through a dinner for a few hours)
We met up with Murata-san and Kazuyo-san (FYI "san" in Japanese means "Mr. or Mrs. or Miss") in the Yurakucho district and they took us to a little izakaya (Japanese style pub). Here, we dined on fried chicken, yakatori (grilled meat on sticks), cabbage with some ginger dressing, edamame, quail eggs, and dried manta ray jerky (actually pretty tasty). And we got to try this drink my dad had told me about called Hoppy (ホッピー) which is a beer-flavored almost non-alcoholic drink (0.8% alcohol) that began selling in Japan in 1948. Hoppy is poured over shochu (Japanese/Korean liquor) and ice, which pretty much tastes like a regular beer. #beerme
After a few hours, we could tell Mel was a bit jet lagged and exhausted, so we parted ways with our new friends. Definitely awesome getting to meet up with mutual friends of my dad's in a new city. Perfect way to start our adventure.
After dropping Mel off at our hotel, Nate and I set off to go explore "Golden Gai", which was only about 4 blocks from our hotel. What is Golden Gai you ask? Shinjuku Golden Gai (新宿ゴールデン街) is famous both as an area of architectural interest and for its nightlife. Before Tokyo became the huge developed metropolitan that it is, many of it's streets and areas used to look like the Golden Gai area. Now that area is one of the few still like this that remains. It's made up of six narrow alleys, connected by tiny passages. There are over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries squeezed into this area. Many of the bars only sit 6-10 people. Nate and I were excited to check this little beauty out.
After checking out a few of the bars, we found a tiny 4 seater bar with two Japanese men also in it. Although not much English was spoken, we were able to semi communicate with them and the bartender, and shared many "Kanpai!" (Cheers in Japanese) This bar was so tiny, when I had to use the bathroom (located in the bottom left of the picture below), all of the guys had to get up from their seats and move outside so I could walk past!
Video below walking through Golden Gai
The second little bar we went into sat around 8-10 people. Here we made friends with a Filipino family, two sisters from Switzerland, and this Japanese couple (not pictured). The Japanese couple actually went to Jr. High together until the guy moved to the states. He recently moved back to Japan 15 years later and they've since started dating #cutelovestory #jrhighsweethearts
Fun fact about this little bar - they had some Okinawan Awamori! (their local sake that has a high alcohol percentage). I eagerly asked for some and the bartender seemed confused since he said not many people ever drink it #bringiton I was excited to show off Okinawa's local specialty drink to the patrons of the bar. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have the taste for it either #moreformyself
The next morning, we started our day off right with some pictures with the Godzilla in front of our hotel #ofcourse #bondzilla
Then we headed over to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market for a breakfast of sushi #yum!
Tsukiji Fish Market is the world's biggest seafood market, moving around 2,400 tons of seafood a day #damn All types of fish pass through this market, but the most famous is the maguro (bluefin tuna) and it's auction. This fish market has been in this spot since 1935, but will be moving in November 2016 to a bigger place to accommodate all the traffic.
We walked through the crowded market and were overwhelmed by the volume of fish and how many different types we saw! Any type of seafood you could ever wish for. When passing by some oysters, they looked too good to pass up - so I had to try one. I'm glad I did because it was the BEST. OYSTER. OF. MY. LIFE! (thus far) It was huge and it tasted so fresh. It was perfect. Thank you fish market gods for giving me a delicious yummy oyster
After walking around the market, we found a nice little sushi spot for breakfast. Our sushi chefs definitely knew what they were doing! It's like they've made sushi rolls once or twice before... maybe... #sushipros Never have had sushi for breakfast before but now it's something I'd do again!
Luckily, we were in Tokyo during their cherry blossom season (sakura!) Read my blog post here to read the significance of Japan's cherry blossom season. My dad's friend, Kazuyo-san, recommended Chidori-ga-fuchi for us to go check out the cherry blossoms.
Chidorigafuchi is a moat located in the northwest of the Imperial Palace. The moat is a historic site, and was constructed in the early Edo Period according to the expansion work of the castle, by damming the river. At this area, there are around 260 different types of cherry trees, which makes this place a must-see for the sakura.
After getting our fill of the beautiful cherry blossoms, we headed over to the famous Shibuya Crossing (aka "The scramble"). Shibuya's crossing is rumored to be the world's busiest intersection.
Next to Shibuya Crossing is the Hachiko Statue. The story goes, Hachiko, an Akita dog, belonged toa professor who lived near Shibuya Station. The professor died in 1925, but the dog continue to show up and wait at the station for his master until his own death 10 years later. The story became a legend a small statue was erected at the station plaza in the dog's memory.
After Shibuya crossing, we wanted to get a bird's eye view of the city so we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices. Here we got to go up to the 45th floor and view Tokyo from the observatories 202 meters high. #forfree
After getting our bird's eye view - we headed back to the hotel to relax before our exciting Saturday night - tune in for part 2!
Until next time...
Follow in our Footsteps:
Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
〒160-8466 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 歌舞伎町1丁目19−1 SHINJUKU TOHO BLDG
1 Chome Kabukicho, 新宿区 Tokyo 160-0021
Tsukiji Fish Market
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045
*to see the tuna auction you have to get one of the limited tickets and get there around 3am-4am or book a tour
〒104-0045 Tokyo, 中央区Tsukiji, 4−11−9
Open 24 Hours
〒102-0083 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, 千代田区Kitanomarukōen, 1, 九段南2丁目から三番町先
〒150-0042 Tokyo, 渋谷区Udagawacho, 21−6, ＱＦＲＯＮＴ QFRONT
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 163-8001
Hours: 8am-6:45pm (closed Sat and Sun)
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!