Much like the first half of our trip, the second half went by extremely fast. By the end of the trip, I couldn’t believe it was time to head home. As I mentioned in the previous entry, we had a ton of fun on this trip. The experiences we had on this trip were once in a lifetime. I am so grateful we got to spend the time we did in Tokyo. If we ever get the opportunity to go back, I’d love to take it. If we did, we’d probably venture outside the city, given that there is so much to see in Japan. I took a ton of photos on this trip, which resulted in what felt like a long processing time. As always, I’d rather take 5000 photos on a trip versus 50. Like the first entry, I’ll briefly go over the stops we made during the second half of our trip. More photos after the jump!
We started off the second half of the trip where we left off, in Ginza. We spent the morning doing some shopping. Specifically, we were looking for anything that we could not get in the states, or that at least was not easy to get in the states. Tokyo is a great city to just walk around. I think I mention this in every journal entry of mine, but my favorite part of visiting a city I’ve never been to is being able to walk around the city and take it in. Tokyo was no exception to that. After spending most of the morning and afternoon taking it easy, we made our way out to Koto City to teamLab Borderless. teamLab was one of the highlights of the trip. It considers itself a “digital art museum”, showcasing a number of amazing installations from different artists. The whole thing is basically an Instagrammer’s dream. If you plan on going, definitely purchase your tickets in advance. Even with an advance ticket purchase expect to wait, especially if you go in the afternoon. I can’t say what the wait is like if you show up in the morning before it opens, but I’m going to assume that it isn’t as bad as if you waited until late afternoon. All that being said, the line did move fairly quickly, especially considering how long it was (all the way around the building). Also expect to wait in line for a couple of the more popular exhibits, but again, they move fairly quickly.
The following day was all about Shinjuku. Well, mostly. We started the morning off in Shibuya to get a shot of the crossing from up above and to stop off at a couple of shops for gifts. Once we finished up there we made our way to Shinjuku. We stopped off for crepes at Breizh Cafe, a crepes cafe that we fell in love with in Paris. We remembered that they had a Tokyo location, so of course we had to stop by. After lunch we headed to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens. This is a massive garden located in the heart of Shinjuku. Like the other parks that we visited on this trip, I was surprised at how peaceful the park was given that a bustling city was just a short walk away. After spending some time at the national gardens we decided we needed a coffee break, so we hit up 4/4 Seasons Coffee. This was a little coffee shop nestled just a short walk away from the Nation Gardens. We opted for the matcha green tea lattes. We weren’t settled on where we were going to have dinner that night and I’m glad we didn’t. We stumbled across Omoide Yokocho, a group of tiny streets that house food stands and tiny bars. It was very similar to the drinking alleys that I mentioned in my previous entry. We literally walked by a restaurant front and were kindly told to sit and eat. Turned out to be a good decision because the food was amazing. Sake and street skewers of all kinds. It was amazing…and cheap. After dinner, we walked around Kabukicho before we stumbled on another drinking alley, Golden Gai. I can’t confirm that there is video of me singing along to Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” with some friendly fellow patrons, but I can say that video may exist.
The following day was more laid back for sure. We started out our day in Bunkyo-Ku, to stop off at the Nezu Shrine. It was another peaceful environment. I was constantly surprised at areas full with tourists could still be so calming. We also ran into a corgi at Nezu, and of course we had to get a picture. His owner was very friendly and even tried to get him to pose, but much like our beloved corgo, he wasn’t too cooperative. After the failed attempt at a picture with the corgi we headed to Asakusa, which is considered Old Tokyo. Our first stop was at Otaco, an amazing gluten free bakery that specializes in pound cakes. I couldn’t believe how light these things were. If it hadn’t been so out of the way I would have requested a second trip there before we left. After inhaling our treats we headed to Sensoji Temple and market. This place was bustling. We made our way through the market to see what we could find, and of course we found some amazing treats. The highlight was strawberry mochi. After exploring the neighborhood and the temple grounds we stopped off for dinner at Namiki Yabusoba, which specializes in soba noodles. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Tokyo. The design and decor was minimal, and the menu was simple. The simple menus are always appreciated by me, it makes for an easy decision for a meal.
Our last full day was spent in the Roppongi and Minato neighborhoods. I didn’t even realized this until i started working on this entry, but we ended up saving the closest neighborhoods to our hotel for the last full day. Which worked out really well for us, especially since at this point in the trip we began to appreciate the short distance from destination to destination. We hit up the Mori Art Museum, a modern and contemporary art museum. For an extra ten bucks you can gain access to the skydeck viewing area, which is an open air viewing platform on top of the tower. I recommend this, especially if you are trying to snag some great skyline views of Tokyo. After spending some time at the museum we headed over to the Meguro River area. This is the iconic river where cherry blossoms hang over the river. Unfortuantely our visit was not at peak spring time, so we didn’t get to experience the beauty of the cherry blossoms, but it was still nice to stroll along the river. We finished up with visits to the Zozoji Temple and Tokyo Tower. Both are next door to each other, so if you visit one, you should plan on stopping by the other. As always, it was bittersweet to go home. You always are ready to get home and get into your own bed, but at the same time you’re a little sad that this wonderful trip is coming to an end. Like I said, this trip provided us with some great memories and I really do hope to go back one day. Until next time, Tokyo.