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
Tokyoooooooooo! Tokyo was the first stop on our grand Asia adventure. The main reason we planned the trip for April was because we NEEDED to see the cherry blossoms in Japan. And let me tell ya, it did not disappoint!
Since it was my first time abroad, I did not want to try to cram too much into our week in Japan. We stayed in and around Tokyo instead of visiting other awesome cities like Kyoto or Osaka. This just means that I’ll have to go back…what a shame (*SARCASM*). I can’t wait to go back to Japan! (FYI, you’ll see this planning pattern play out similarly in Seoul & Taipei as well).
Day 1 (our first full day in Tokyo)
Right across the street from our Airbnb was a CocoCurry, which is a place a HAD to try from all the glowing review given by Simon & Martina of Eat Your Kimchi. But unfortunately, we were way too excited to go and it actually wasn’t open when we got there so we decided to go around the neighborhood we staying in to explore. We crossed another street and came upon a river lined with cherry blossom trees. It was a fun surprise and so beautiful. One of our first cherry blossom sightings!
After walking down the river a bit and prancing underneath the cherry blossoms, we returned to CocoCurry and finally ate. We were a bit too excited and I wasn’t able to get a picture of the food before we completely devoured it. Safe to say, it was delicious! I got the chicken katsu curry and Brian got a mishmash of breaded shrimp I believe. I’m not exactly sure what it’s called but all of it was good.
Brian planned out our stay in Tokyo so, per his loose itinerary, we headed over to Shibuya to see the Hachiko statue and the famous Shibuya crossing. It was a huge street with tons of pedestrians; really great for people watching.
I wanted a better view of the giant crossing so we headed up to L’Occitane Cafe on one corner and got some dessert while peering out on the crossing from the third floor. While we were up there, we also caught sight of Mario Kart! You can have your own Mario Kart race across the city and while this was not a part of our budget to do, it looked like tons of fun.
We did a bit of shopping around Shibuya because I really needed a jacket. It was a lot colder in Tokyo than I had anticipated and my single jacket just wasn’t cutting it.
We then met up with our other cousin, Kenneth, who currently lives in Japan, and he took us around to Harajuku to get cream filled pastries, which came out fresh and delicious right as it started to rain.
The three of us did a bit more walking around and decided to get gyoza for dinner. Twas absolutely delicious, of course and then decided to turn in for the night because to be honest, I was not completely over my jetlag.
After waking up super early [think 6AM], we headed to the next place on Brian’s itinerary, Tsukiji Fish Market! You can’t come to Tokyo without going to the fish market, although we decided to skip viewing the early morning auction. Although, I think we made a slight miscalculation because we got on the metro during rush hour and it was SO crowded. Crowded enough that my feet weren’t touching the ground anymore, but I was still being held up by the people around me. It was that squished in there; packed in like sardines [get it? Fish market? Sardines? Hehe].
At Tsukiji Fish Market, we explored all the stalls and decided to get breakfast/brunch at Sushi Zanmai [sushi for breakfast? Don’t mind if i do!]. There was a small wait to be seated, but I think we actually got in line at a good time because as we were going in, I turned around the line was long and wrapped around the corner! I can see why, the food was delicious.
After the sushi, I wanted to get dessert, which was easy to come by because there was a stall selling mochi and strawberries right next to the restaurant. Getting the red bean mochi was a mistake though. I am not a fan of red bean, but I was sucked in by the white strawberry. Let me tell you, this strawberry was the best strawberry I’ve ever had in my LIFE. It was sweet and perfect and amazing. I don’t have a picture of it, but it was real! I swear.
Still day dreaming of delicious strawberries, we walked a couple of blocks over to Ginza where we saw a UNIQLO. UNIQLO was everywhere in Asia, but this was good timing because I was still looking for a jacket. I did not find anything suitable sadly.
We then took the metro to Akihabara and shopped around in a HUGE ASS department store. This store literally had everything you could ever need divided by category by floor.
After doing a bit of shopping, we walked around, zooming in and out of arcades and stores. We saw themed cafes, specifically maid cafes. Although we didn’t go in, I am very curious about what it would be like to go to a Maid Cafe. Anybody ever go? What was it like?
We moved on over to Ueno Park, where we met up with Kenneth again. A lot of people were out and about in the park because it was cherry blossom season.
It was like a festival. There were some games and a bunch of food stalls. We even went to the temple to look at charms and do traditional temple things. But soon the sun went down and it became dark, so that meant, it was DINNER TIME.
We went in search of food, but after a full day of walking around, my feet and back were shot. I thought I was in shape, but I was wrong. Everything hurt. While we were deciding where to eat we took a short break in Mister Donut and had a snack while I rested my feet.
Eventually, we came upon a yakitori place and had dinner. Afterwards, we called it a night.
The only thing that was truly on a specific time schedule was the Ghibli Museum, which we had to buy tickets for in advance. We made our way over and took the scenic route from the station.
I love Studio Ghibli films. My personal favorite film is Kiki’s Delivery Service, but there are so many classics like Spirited Away and My Neighbor, Totoro. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but it was such a cool space. There were a bunch of different rooms that held different aspects of the process of making the animated films. We also got to view a fun short movie in their screening room about a water spider and his cute romance with a lovely lady water strider; I believe it is called Water Spider Monmon. We decided to try out the Museum Cafe for lunch which was super cute, although I would say the food was alright.
We headed back towards the city and went to Shinjuku where we went around to even more shops. And also saw Godzilla, NBD.
Do you see Godzilla?
DO YOU SEE IT NOW?
After having a fun touristy moment, we went to go see another super touristy sight, Tokyo Tower. While we didn’t go up Tokyo Tower, it was still wonderful to be at the base and look up at it. It really is a great site to see.
Next on our list of awesome sights to see was Roppongi Hills, a tall building with a great view of Tokyo Tower itself. We actually decided to go up this time because the rooftop was open to visitors. The view was absolutely incredible and I would highly recommend it; it was worth the money.
Stay tuned for more…