Tokyo | Japan Itinerary
We hit up Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, and Osaka on the Japan leg of our honeymoon. Rather than stuffing our extensive itinerary into one post, I will be breaking it up into more digestible, bite-sized posts, beginning today with Tokyo!
A few notes: Anything on our itinerary that I thought was overrated/not worth your time I omitted. This is a curated list of sights, eats, and things to do that I would actually recommend. Also, in the interests of getting these posts up as soon as possible, I kept the commentary to a minimum, so please excuse my terseness! I more or less copy and pasted the bulleted notes I made in my itinerary before and after visiting each spot.
Open 24 hours every day. Cash only. A restaurant built for misanthropic introverts and/or solo diners who want privacy while enjoying their meal. This was by far the least human interaction I’ve ever had at a restaurant. You order at a vending machine by the entrance, receive your food through a small shutter, and enjoy your meal in a small booth flanked by high wooden partitions. At some Ichiran locations (we went to three total), the partitions are collapsible for couples or groups.
Ichiran Ramen. Photo taken with my wide angle clip-on phone lens.
There are a number of Beams outposts throughout Tokyo, but we were lucky enough to spend the morning at the flagship store in Shinjuku. The store offers a meticulously curated selection of Japanese brands and retail displays that are refreshingly quirky and creative.
Tokyo specialty coffee roaster and cafe. We went to the small outpost inside the Beams store, but if you can make the trek, check out their huge flagship in Chofu!
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku—
Not your average shopping mall (and Tokyo has many of them) because this one is designed by Hiroshi Nakamura. We came here to check out the rooftop garden on the 6th floor and trippy kaleidoscopic mirror entrance.
A quiet alley with limited car and foot traffic (a welcome relief from the crowds of Takeshita Street), lined with boutique shops and stylish cafes.
A cute 2D and 3D latte art cafe. Choose from their menu of designs or request your own custom design! Custom designs are 2D only. We requested self portraits (just had to show the waitress a photo) and were very impressed with the finished works of art! The artist even got my RBF down pat. The lattes themselves were yummy too.
The yummiest udon I ever did eat. It’s a tiny shop with a long wait (all noodles are freshly handmade to order), so if possible plan to go at an off-peak hour.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building (Observation Deck)—
Stunning panoramic views of Tokyo but more importantly, $FREE.99 admission. Go during sunset to maximize your chance of getting a clear view of Mount Fuji
Omoide Yokocho —
Famous alleyway of small bars, yakitori grills and food stalls. Go at night!
Streamer Coffee Company—
Owned by Hiroshi Sawada who was not only the first Asian barista to win the Free Pour Latte Art World Championship (in 2008). Lattes are delicious. You have to try their military latte.
Clear umbrella from Japan but you can get a similar one from Totes. We purchased our amphibious Chaco Odysseys mostly for muddy/rainy hikes in Hawaii, but we ended up getting a ton of mileage out of them in Korea and Japan too since we were traveling during monsoon season.
Nakajima (aka Menhan Shokudo Nakajima)—
The spicy tantanmen topped my husband’s list of favorite ramen spots!
The ice cream served at Silkream is Cremia, a delicious soft serve made of dairy from Hokkaido. The texture is so creamy, and the cone is thin and crispy like a Milano wafer.
Believed to be the busiest in the world and definitely the busiest intersection in Japan. We went in the afternoon (off peak) and it was still pretty busy. For the full chaotic scrambling experience, go during rush hour.
Hands down the best coffee experience Luke and I have ever had. Koffee Mameya is located in a small, unmarked building in a quiet residential area in Shibuya. When you enter you are greeted a baristas/coffee someliers in lab coats who help you narrow down your palette and tailor your tasting accordingly. They only serve pour overs or cold brew, and at the end of the tasting, you can purchase any of the beans on their menu.
Sunny Hills Minami Aoyama—
Cake, pineapple, apple, cake. A Taiwanese pineapple cake shop in a gorgeous wooden lattice building designed by Kengo Kuma. Even the bathroom was a feat of architecture! Check out that drainage detail on the sink.
Another architectural stunner.
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo—
Contemporary art gallery on the top floor of the Louis Vuitton store. Admission is $free.99, and the displays change regularly, courtesy of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. We were lucky enough to enjoy a stunning exhibit featuring the work of Christian Boltanski.
Sushi Bar Yasuda—
We of course could not leave Tokyo without getting some omakase. Chef Yasuda served up the best sushi we’ve ever had.
These “adults” very much appreciated the rare opportunity to play and let our imagination run wild at this digital art museum/playground.
Café de L’ambre—
A traditional kissaten (coffee shop) that’s been around since 1948. Coffee is weighed out on a Roman scale and brewed using the nel drip method. Coffee beans are aged over 30 years and roasted on premises.
Itoya is Japan’s oldest stationery store, so of course I had to check it out. They had an entire floor dedicated to paper guys…!!
Delicious Tsukemen (dipping ramen)