I have lived in Japan for over eighteen months now. I live on the Western edge of Tokyo and have the world’s largest city at my doorstep. But let’s face it — life gets busy. Laundry has to be done. We like to spend time with friends. And even for a world traveler who spends hours upon hours planning her next trip, I don’t always get out and explore my local area as much as I should. But this spring I had company come visit. And so like most people regardless of where you live, this motivates you to get out and see your own backyard. Unlike my visitor earlier in the month, these friends have been to Japan before. Therefore, I chose some quirkier sights in Tokyo for us to explore:
Toyosu Fish Market: Toyosu recently replaced Tsukiji Market which had been around since 1935. Toyosu is a much different experience than Tsukiji – very modern, sterile and industrial. While the market is open from 0500-1700, all of the action is early morning. If you want to see the Tuna auction, you need to be there between 0530-0600. Note the market is closed, Sundays, holidays and other random days. In addition to the Tuna auction, there is the rest of the fish market, fruit and vegetable market and the roof top terrace. There are also dozens of restaurants on sight for fresh sushi. I don’t eat seafood, but my foodie friends thought it was well worth the 2500 Yen for 6 pieces – and declared the fatty tuna the best ever!
teamLab Planets Tokyo is a fun and unique digital and interactive art museum. It is very similar to the teamlab Borderless. I highly recommend you do at least one of these while in Tokyo. If you go to the fish market, then Planets is the easy pick because it is only a short walk away. Planets is more textile. It is also shorter with timed tickets, so if pressed for time, this is probably the better option for the experience. However, if you have more time or young children, I recommend Borderless. Whichever you choose, buy your tickets in advance and prepare for sensory overload!
2 star Michelin ramen at Nakiryu. They are open 1130-1500 for lunch and 1800-2100 for dinner. There are only ten seats — we waited two hours and thought it was worth it. While I normally don’t do spicy, I had their famous tantanmen ramen and loved it! I would also love to know the story of the owner. With two stars, their prices have stayed reasonable (same price as you would pay for ramen anywhere else in the country), they offer umbrellas to those standing in line on a hot / rainy day, and frequently check on the line.
Note, it was a two hour wait from the light pole. There are no vegetarian or vegan options.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery (Nakameguro station) which is now the largest in the world. This also had a wait but once inside it was not packed and had a very relaxed atmosphere. There are 5 floors, two outside areas, and tons of food options. It was a comfortable place to hang out for a while and have dessert. I collect mugs and don’t have one from Japan yet. I was all prepared to buy one here but they have a non-standard and very expensive selection of merchandise.
Shibuya crossing to see the lights and crowds.
Harijuku and the Kit-Kat Chocolatey were also on our list but we ran out of time. Next trip!