On day 4, I met up with a friend from grad school who had returned to Japan. He was actually in my year but had to leave because he could no longer afford the tuition. So he is currently in a tiny town about 2 hours ago from Tokyo, working two jobs to make money to come back to California and finish his degree. I met up with him in Ueno where he took me to eat authentic Japanese food. Besides from yakitori (skewers of different meats) and beer, we also went to a famous food stall that sold Takoyaki (octopus balls). Taiwanese street food vendors also have these, but man, nothing beats the real thing. There are real bits of chopped octopus in these balls, which are probably twice the size of those in Taiwan. And the Americans who read my blog are now probably disgusted by the mention of octopus and balls and yummy in the same sentence.
After lunch, my friend asked me if there was anywhere in Tokyo that I haven’t been to yet. I proposed we go to Ginza, a ritzy shopping area. Streets are blocked off at busy areas to allow for all the shoppers to walk. You can find just about any high-end store/department store in this neighborhood. I wish I could say I made purchases, but I really didn’t. We mostly just walked around and caught up.
The next day, I slept in and wandered around Yoyogi park for a bit. Travel guides speak of an Elvis impersonator who wanders the park only on Sundays. But the park was too big for us to cover and we got there pretty late. Maybe Elvis had already gone for the day. Then we took the JR to Harajuku, which is the #1 shopping destination for teenagers. Since it was the weekend, the sidewalks were CRAMMED. We eventually made it out alive but it was interesting to see some examples of Japanese style. Close to Harajuku is the Meiji Shrine. Arguably one of the most visited shrines in Tokyo, it was still bustling with people bearing prayers and seeking blessings.
For a small fee, you can write your requests on these little wooden plaques and then hang them up in these racks located all around the shrine.
For dinner, my friend and I headed back to Shibuya. I really wanted to have a dorayaki in Japan. It is a Japanese pastry that has red bean paste filling. This is actually very common in Taiwan, but I just wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth in Tokyo.
I needed to go to a sushi bar again for my last dinner in Tokyo. Nom nom nom. I think, after this trip, I am 100% confident when I say that sushi is my favorite food EVAH.
After filling our bellies, I decided to give the Japanese arcade a try. I wasn’t able to do anything too hardcore, so we just went with a drum version of Guitar Hero. The next day, I hopped on a flight back to Taipei.
Some things I forgot to mention!
This was my first meal in Tokyo. And OHMIGOD IT IS AMAZING RAMEN. It was just a hole in the wall restaurant, one of the few places that was open late on January 1st. But, oh man, my mind was so blown after that meal. And it was only 850 yen!
My friend and I had this tofu and kimchi shabu shabu with some yakitori when we were in Akihabara. DELISH!
This is my hotel room. I stayed in the Hotel Unizo in Shibuya. The room was tiny, but came with everything. The bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom came with a tub. After so much walking around, it was nice to soak in the tub at the end of the day. It is conveniently located 5 minutes away from the JR station by foot. If I recall correctly, it was only around 9000 yen per night, but it did not have complimentary breakfast.
That’s all for my trip to Tokyo! Til next time ❤
Photos: All taken with my Nikon D90 or HTC One X