This past April, I took three weeks off from work to explore Asia on my very first trip abroad EVER! I spent a week in Tokyo, a week in Seoul, and a week in Taipei. These are my adventures.
First stop: TOKYO, JAPAN
For part 1: A Week in Tokyo, Japan – Part 1
Brian woke up extremely early, like 5AM early, and decided, as a wonderful cousin, to go grab tickets for a Michelin Star rated ramen restaurant, the first ramen restaurant to get a Michelin star to be exact. Tsuta.
Because of the high demand for such a tiny restaurant (there are only nine seats), customers must have a ticket with a certain color denoting a time that they may come to eat at the restaurant. Tsuta starts handing out tickets at 7AM. And when Brian got there early in the morning, he wasn’t even the first in line to grab one of these coveted tickets.
The first time that you can sit down to eat is at 11AM, in which case, you would bring your ticket back if your color corresponds to this time and wait in line AGAIN. Like other ramen places in Tokyo, you actually pay at a machine and select what you want. The machine will spit out a ticket with your order that you then give to the staff behind the bar. THANK GOODNESS our cousin, Kenneth, was with us for this excursion because we could NOT read the symbols on the machine to order.
It was delicious and I would recommend going if you don’t mind the system of tickets and the wait.
After stuffing ourselves full of ramen (I think I overate), we headed over to Aqua City Odaiba for some more shopping and snacks.
While we were just trying to waste time before going to our next destination, we stumbled upon the Tokyo Trick Art Museum by chance and decided to go in. It was really fun to view all the optical illusions. The artwork was vibrant and the museum itself was very interactive. Viewer participation was necessary!
After getting our fill of trick art, we headed over to our next destination, Tokyo Odaiba Ooedo Onsen Monogatari.
Onsen = Hot Springs
I literally could have been at this Onsen ALL DAY LONG. It was so relaxing and wonderful after days of walking around and exploring. The baths are separated by gender as these are the full nude kind, but there is a joint section where you put on your yukata and it looked like a festival with food and games. The yukata made me feel like such a lady (the rest of the days I felt like a little boy…dressing for comfort). There was also an outside co-ed area where there were foot baths as well as a fish spa, where little fish will eat the dead skin cells off your feet. It TICKLED SO MUCH.
All in all, an amazing way to end our fourth day in Tokyo.
We had a little bit of a later start than usual, but we met up with Kenneth again near Godzilla in Shinjuku. This time, we were there to eat Beef Katsu. I’m not sure what the name of the restaurant is, but I am sure that this was one of my favorite meals during our stay in Tokyo. It was so good! And I know what you’re thinking, “Beef katsu doesn’t sound that special.” Well, you just have to try it because that’s exactly what I thought as well and then I had that first bite. The whole meal, I kept thinking I should order more, but it actually ended being the perfect portion of food. Even full, I kept wanting to eat more. It was that delicious.
After our meal, we decided to get a much needed foot massage at a place close by. Like the onsen, this foot massage was amazing after days of walking around.
We had a very relaxed day. We played some games, Mario Kart and the Taiko drum game, both of which were very fun. Kenneth left to go partake in a Super Smash Bros. tournament while Brian and I explored another park. Everything is so scenic.
We explored a smaller temple. This park was right next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which houses two observatory decks, North and South, that you can go up to for free to get a great view of the city.
Afterwards, we went to have dinner at a tiny restaurant, slightly reminiscent of the ramen restaurant due to the bar seating, but this time we were getting tsukemen, which was very good. Also, highly recommended. There was a line so I would suggest going a bit early before you get too hungry.
We checked out of our Airbnb and headed over to Kenneth’s place, where he was letting us crash for one night before we headed out of Tokyo.
We went to one of Kenneth’s favorite ramen places which was also bar seating and very satisfying, especially because it started raining. Nothing is better than a bowl of hot soup when it’s raining outside.
I had researched some last minute beauty items that I wanted to get and decided to get EVERYTHING because really, when’s the next time I will be in Japan?! I went a little bit overboard and got a little bit of everything; some health stuff, some skincare, some makeup, etc.
We also played some fun music based games…which I suck at. No hand-eye coordination whatsoever.
We then headed over to a karaoke place which was so fun and SO CHEAP. Before 7pm I believe, it’s a super affordable price! We sang some awesome pop hits and our finale was Style by TayTay Swift. I never get tired of karaoke.
We were feeling a bit lazy so we got dinner at a grocery store and picked up some pastries from a bakery, then called it a night!
Our last day in Tokyo started with rain. I’m pretty sure that Tokyo was crying because we were leaving. We said goodbye to Kenneth and heading to Narita Airport for our flight to Seoul.
We got one last onigiri with our last few yen before hopping on the plane.
Goodbye Tokyo, Hello Seoul!
- We saw one model on everything. Her name is Rola and she was literally EVERYWHERE.
- Another thing we saw everywhere were suits. This is most likely because we were in Tokyo, but everyone wore a suit. Man, woman, old, young. It was crazy! Coming from LA where business attire is almost always business casual which is actually VERY casual, it was quite a shock. We definitely stood out on the crowded trains as tourists.
- Bidets & toilet seat warmers need to be a thing in the States. I DEMAND IT! It was so nice to wake up in the morning and be able to sit down on a warm toilet seat.
- Pretty much everyone is super polite and nice. Even if you’re doing something incorrectly, they will always kindly guide you in the right direction.
- I definitely felt the pressure to finish every single drop of my food, which you should always do anyways, but at some meals I was basically bursting at the seams i.e. at ramen and tsukemen. It was sometimes painful to put another bite down.
- Tokyo’s picnic game is so strong! They didn’t just have picnics, they had picnic banquets. We think they hired people to create cardboard long tables and set up everything, but some picnics even had centerpieces. So fancy! I loved it!
- Not as many people as I thought had colored hair. But on second thought, Japan is still quite conservative so that makes sense.
Check out the other posts in this series: