I am crazy about Japan. Head over heels! I’m having both the best skiing of my life, and the best travel experience of my life. Tokyo was a whirlwind entrance to this beautiful, foreign culture. What better way to kick off a ski trip in Japan than spend a few days in the world’s largest city? Here are some of the simple things that wow’ed me in Tokyo while experiencing Japanese culture for the first time!
Ginza Fish Market
The fish market in Ginza was the first outing I made upon waking up in Tokyo. It was perfect for an early lunch! The market bustles through little avenues with walking crowds and LOTS of tasty samples at nearly every vendor. You can buy little items to eat while you walk and sample an abundance of the local cuisine. Part of the fun is tasting foods you’ve never seen or tried before! My favorite snack was the amazing raw oysters you could eat out of the shell. The sea food was outstanding and a great culinary introduction to the Japanese culture!
There are so many different parts of Tokyo that I felt a bit overwhelmed when deciding where to wander. But I heard from several friends that walking around Shibuya is really entertaining. Indeed, it was! When I exited the subway (which is very easy to use, by-the-way!) I was blown away by the Shibuya crosswalk intersection packed with crowds. The short walk to Harajuku featured stores and restaurants and street attractions that blast you with the style and essence of Japanese urban culture. I loved witnessing the fashions, live-interaction video games, and pop music girl-group promotions on every corner.
THE SWEETS! Where do I start? The Japanese know their sweets. From mochi to ice cream to custards to candies…everything here is alluring. I can’t tell if it’s the appeal of the “unknown” or just the extremely high quality of deserts here…but I’m on a constant sugar rush. And it’s not just me! Every American I’m with has become a Curious-George in all things desert. It’s a good thing that most of our meals are pretty healthy!
Hot Drinks in Vending Machines
It’s real. There are vending machines with hot drinks here. WHY has this not hit the US? You can order green tea, milk tea, coffees…and they all come out hot! I love it. (the simple things, right?!).
The 7-11’s Are One of the Best Parts of the Day
I know! Your vision of a 7-11 is probably borderline revolting. But in Japan…the 7-11’s are little treasure troves of wonder. The prepared food section has all sorts of fresh rice balls wrapped in seaweed and filled with fish. There are also plates of fresh sushi, salads, and fruit. The snack isles are packed with unfamiliar options that all look amazing. There are healthier options than the US 7-11s! And then there is the candy isle filled with things you need to try…. : P
Beautiful sushi dinners and ramen await you! The Japanese also love their beer (pronounced like “beedu” in Japanese)! I loved the streets filled with restaurants around Ginza. If you’re looking for a fun bar scene, head to Roppongi and you will have a great time!
I think this might be Tokyo’s best kept little secret. Most people traveling to Japan fly into Narita airport, which is an hour’s drive from Tokyo. But it seems like very few people have caught on to the fact that Haneda is a NEW airport IN Tokyo. You can hop on the subway and be downtown in minutes. I travel a lot and I love exploring airports. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the nicest airport I’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful and modern and fun to hang out in! The entire 2nd floor is designed to make you feel as if you’re strolling through the streets of an ancient Japanese village. There is a mall on the 3rd floor that’s almost as exciting as Disneyland (ok maybe I’m easily amused). And the Wifi flows powerfully.
Have you ever been to Tokyo or Japan? Share your suggestions and stories in the comments below!