For our last spring break before graduating, Sara and I decided to go to Japan! After landing at Haneda Airport at 5:30AM and getting a bite to eat at Tokyo station, we went directly to our first location with our carry-on backpacks, and a sense of adventure. This post will feature our 2.5 days spent in Tokyo; keep reading for hot springs in surreal winter scenery (it snowed while we were here!), the cutest hedgehogs, and my personal favorite food finds!
I've written a separate blog post for the Takaragawa Onsen; for photos of hot springs in winter scenery, check it out here!
Sara and I planned to eat a lot of sushi on this trip, and what a better way to start by making our own! Kazuki (our instructor) owns 6 sushi restaurants, his favorite one featuring puffer fish sushi. Using the kotegaeshi and tategaeshi hand methods, along with a bamboo rolling mat, we made 5 different types of sushi: nigiri, tamagoyaki, ikura (fish roe), temaki, and makizushi (the most recognizable)! Gloves and sanitary napkins were provided, and a bowl of water is necessary to keep the rice from sticking to your hands.
The sushi rice recipe consists of a 4 : 2 : 1 ratio of vinegar : sugar : salt.
Afterwards, we got to eat our creation! He also served us matcha tea, tempura with matcha powder, and miso soup (not pictured).
Possibly the busiest intersection in the world, with peak times at over 1000 people crossing in all directions, mayhem hits the streets when the lights turn green. Crossing felt like a mission to not bump into anyone (although I definitely ran into 5+ people - yikes!), and getting to the other side felt like a relief! For a better view, there is a building overlooking the streets on the second level.
Right: Sara and I set up a tripod to capture the motion blur of everyone rushing in all directions.
Despite how overwhleming it all seems, I would recommend experiencing this; you get a rush of adrenaline crossing!
HARAJUKU + HEDGEHOG CAFE
Harajuku is known as being the center for pop culture in Japan, and Sara and I immediately felt a more upbeat vibe once we arrived in this youthful district of Tokyo! Whether you want to find a unique piece at thrift stores (or a multi-level shopping mall), get coffee at an animal cafe, or even just people watch, there is not a shortage of things to do here!
The hedgehog cafe is a couple of floors up and you may have to wait in line for around 20 minutes before getting a ticket inside. The ticket lets you feed the hedgehog and play with the hedgehog for 30 minutes, and you are allowed one free drink from their cafe machine as well.
After playing with these adorable spiky insectivores, we continued exploring the district.
After working at NYX over the summer, I got super excited after seeing a NYX Cosmetics staircase leading into one of the malls!
Beatles socks + undies.
COMME Des GARCONS gallery.
With a small stationary stash, flavoured kit-kat, and a couple of clothing items, Sara and I enjoyed dessert here before heading back to Shinjuku.
SHINJUKU GYOEN PARK
With only half a day left in Tokyo before traveling to Kyoto, we decided to see if any cherry blossoms were blooming at a park near our Airbnb. Although some were in bloom, it was still too early in the season to enjoy the full effect of spring in Japan.
Our continuous quote for the day was "Imagine the sakura." However, I spotted a lovely purple bush that we took the majority of our pictures instead!
After our mini photoshoot, we headed off to the shinkansen for Kyoto!
OTHER FAVORITES in TOKYO
Dorayaki - Red bean pancake (sometimes with mochi in the middle), found at any convenience store.
Unagi-Toku - For their unagi; it’s a 30 minute wait for them to prepare, but as someone who loves eel, it hit the spot after a long day!
Sake kitkat - It’s pretty pricey at $7.50 for 9 pieces, but it was so good that we ended up eating them all in one night!
Natural Kitchen Tokyo Omotesando - For their Sake Ice Cream + mochi, red bean paste, and matcha jelly.
Fuunji Ramen - For their creamy Tsukemen! The line gets long so get there when it opens at 5pm. At 6pm it’s a 30+ minute wait, but it was one of the best ramen I’ve had in my life.
Mochi - Can be found at any train station with different fruits (apple, orange, strawberry, and even chestnut). My favorite are the strawberry ones!
Golden Gai bar - for a bar with no cover charge in Shinjuku.
Senso-Ji Temple - Sara and I went here our last half-day of Japan before flying back!
And that's it for Tokyo! To follow me to Kyoto, click here!