Japan in Pictures: TOKYO (part 1)

Since we had heard horror stories of Japan’s astronomical prices, with some travelers claiming to spend 1,000 USD in one week, we limited ourselves to just 13 days in the country. We flew into Tokyo where we spent about 5 days, exploring and walking around the city. We then took a very long train ride to Kyoto where we based ourselves for a week to do some geisha-hunting, temple-visiting and sushi-eating. We also took a day trip to Nara, which we were so lucky coincided with the lantern festival put on for Obon. Obon is a Buddhist festival which commemorates dead ancestors which takes place every August. The last night, we headed over to Kobe, rounding off our Japan trip with one of my favorite experiences, which was sleeping in a capsule hotel.

We took so many photos throughout our whirlwind time in Japan, that we thought the best way to share our experiences with you is just through our eyes. Here is our first installment of Japan in Pictures: Tokyo.


The famous Shibuya crossing. One of the busiest crosswalks in the world.



Got lost on way to search for Harajuku but found cute little artsy boutiques and hair salons. Found a block in Harajuku where all of the main shops are in Tokyo. They recently added a Forever 21. It was the busiest one ever, with security guards making girls form a queue in the street just to get in. And it opened over two months ago!

Forever 21 window display

Forever 21 window display

Takeshita Street, in Harajuku

Takeshita Street, in Harajuku

This is the busiest street in Harajuku. It’s filled with all kinds of funky stores, selling faux-vintage clothes and bo-peep style costumes, to adorable boutiques with their interior decor as cute as the clothes they have on display. We kept a look out for the famously well-dressed Harajuku girls and crazy cos-play (Costume-play) kids, but came up empty handed. Maybe when school is back in session, the kids will start to show off their funky unique looks again.

The 100 Yen store = Dollar Store

The 100 Yen store = Dollar Store





Just your average botique in Tokyo

Just your average boutique in Tokyo

The architecture was also amazing. In Tokyo, they definitely don’t shy away from modern or cutting edge.




Design Festa: one of our favorite spots in Tokyo

Design Festa: one of our favorite spots in Tokyo

Design Festa is an art space that has several galleries, a snack bar, coffee shop, free wi-fi, and even has a really cute restaurant. We went back a few times to use the internet and get out of the heat and relax.



Our favorite part was the delicious introduction we got to an amazing Japanese specialty, Okonomiaki. It’s a type of pancake made on a tepanyaki grill.



Next we checked out Yoyogi Park and its Meiji Shrine.




One morning, we woke up while it was still dark, around 5:30, and headed towards Tsukiji Fish Market. It is the most famous fish market in Japan, the largest in the world, where all the sushi and most of the world’s fish is first bought and sold. It is also the largest fish market in the world handling more than 2000 tons of 450 types of seafood daily. The fishermen get in around 4am and start their morning and it’s all cleared out before 11am.

DSC_0941 While many tourists come to see the market at work, we aren’t necessarily a welcome sight. Tsukiji is a wholesale market and there is a lot of business to be done in a few short hours. You have to stay clear of hundreds of these motorized trolleys and men wielding big knives and dragging bloody fish.





The biggest tuna we could find, worth over $2,000,000!

The biggest tuna we could find, worth over $2,000,000!

After seeing where the sushi comes from, we had to have a requisite sushi breakfast just after 7am. It was our first sushi meal in Japan. We decided on a conveyor belt sushi restaurant right outside of the market. At this type of restaurant, you sit at the sushi bar and have freshly made sushi move past you on a conveyor belt. Each color plate has a different price. It seemed like the best way to see exactly what we were ordering before we ate it.



More exploring:

I don't know, it's Japan...

I don't know, it's Japan...


Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills


While exploring the Roppongi area, we came across a club we heard was supposed to be pretty hip. We apparently got there right before they opened, but they let us order a drink and hang out anyway. It turns out we were there on a one night only art exhibit all the way from the UK! We ended up getting free champagne and checking out some unexpected, but awesome pieces of art.






On the subway to our next stop for the evening, we caught this guy passed out asleep. It’s actually a good representation of the Tokyo subway. People work and go to school for such long hours that they are always so tired. They only have time to sleep during the commute.


And then there was this artistic creation…

notice the gemstone eyes...

notice those gemstone eyes...

We got to go out with Melanie and her boyfriend, Arlton, for a night of absinthe and pizza.



Our Absinthe Sampler

They took us to some of their favorite night spots around Tokyo. One was a old-time looking bar that had over 70 types of absinthe and a bartender who had a passion for it. We tried 4 of the best he had to offer. The second one on the left was my favorite and happened to be a product of Marilyn Manson’s creating, “Mansinthe”.




Our view from Melanie's Tokyo apartment

Our view from Melanie's Tokyo apartment

Tokyo was just as expensive as everyone promised, but we survived and were able to have a few good times along the way. Thanks to Melanie Knezich for letting us stay with her and making our time in Tokyo even better! Next stop Kyoto (via 9 hours of 7 different local slow trains). We’ve got lots more adventures to come in Japan.

3 Responses to “Japan in Pictures: TOKYO (part 1)”

  1. 1 flo (from CS) October 8, 2009 at 8:37 am

    .. I MISS TOKYO. Your pictures are actually really painful to look at. I don’t know if you remember but in Kyoto I was complaining about how busy the city was, and you scared me off a bit about Tokyo, but I felt different there, like it was supposed to be busy maybe, but also, I think, the crazyness of it all made the crowd… usual? (not too easy to explain oneself in english)

    Thanks for the tip about Design Festa by the way, we went there a first time to look at the exhibits, and went back again to have okonomiyaki with friends as you recommended it to us, it was great! Actually Justin and I met a guy doing an exhibit there that we’ll meet again this week-end as he’s coming to Paris.

    Your blog is awesome, I really enjoyed the whole part about S.Korea as I didn’t knew too much about the country. The only drawback is that everytime you post something I feel like “Oh. I should go there!”. Thanks for expanding my already insane thurst of travelling and therefore bumming all the kind of saving I could possibly do in my 20’s. 🙂 (well 500 dollars for 3 weeks in S.Korea is actually CHEAP)

    Sorry this comment is so long. Take care!

  1. 1 Japan in Pictures: TOKYO (part 1) | Hotel Confirm Trackback on October 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm
  2. 2 Japan in Pictures: TOKYO (part 1) « Catch Us whether You Can | Hotel Confirm Trackback on October 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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