The moment we landed in Japan, we felt a vibe. An energetic feel mixed in with some unique freshness, swirled in with our own exhaustion & excitement. After traveling for 24 hours (2 hour car ride, 2 layovers, 1.5 hour train ride) we finally arrived in Tokyo. Despite our delirium from lack of sleep, we were filled with excitement & couldn’t wait to start exploring! (Tip: From Narita International Airport, we reserved a discounted roundtrip Narita Express train to Shibuya)
DAY 1 – Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Jingu Shrine, Shinjuku National Garden, Samurai Museum & Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho
Of course we passed out as soon as we checked into our hotel. And of course we woke up at an odd hour, thanks to jet lag. That time? 4AM. Well, the best part about staying in Shibuya is that you’ll find tons of 24-hour restaurants, including sushi spots! What is a vacation to Japan, if you don’t try the freshest & the most authentic sushi in the world?
After breakfast, we snagged a seat on the 2nd floor of Starbucks to view the crazy Shibuya Crossing at rush hour.. except Friday mornings weren’t as busy! It was not as spectacular as I expected. But! We decided we will try again in the evening. On to our next stop!
Meiji Jingu Shrine was a short train ride away from Shibuya station. The Shrine itself was located in a large, green, lush, beautiful park, and it felt as if we stepped into another dimension, away from the bustling city.
The Shrine was serene and filled with hopeful individuals, sending their prayers & wishes.
We couldn’t get enough of the greenery and set out to Shinjuku National Garden for more natural beauties.
If there is only 1 thing you have time for in Shinjuku, I highly recommend visiting the Samurai Museum. The English-speaking guides are informative & hilaaaaarious! It was interesting learning about the Samurai & Japan’s history, & viewing all of the artifacts on display. We also watched a real live Samurai act- which was very cool. At the end, we got to wear Samurai and Japanese Princess outfits!
In Shinjuku, you’ll find tons of places to eat- but if you’re looking for awesome Izakaya spots, Omoide Yokocho is the place to be! Long narrow alleyways are filled with delicious Izakaya stands, grilling up oishi yakitori and endless sake & cold glasses of Kirin.
DAY 2: Hie Shrine, Tokyo National Museum, Souvenir Shopping
These Torii gates (red gates) are found in Kyoto at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It symbolizes the transition from mundane to sacred. It’s one of the most photographed sceneries you’ll find on Instagram when you search ‘Kyoto’. But did you know you’ll find these Torii gates right in the center of Tokyo? Hie Shrine is a beautiful sacred sight for people to visit & send prayers. These Torii gates lead you right up to the sacred shrine from the busy streets of Tokyo.
Lucky for us, it began to rain on our way to the Tokyo National Museum. What else is the best time to visit a museum?! Perfect! We can spend few hours walking around & learning about the history. Just be ready to WALK! And wear comfortable shoes! The museum(s) are divided into 3 buildings and they are filled with various artifacts from different parts of the world.
After several hours of walking & learning about the history of Japan, we scrapped the idea of visiting Tokyo Skytree (rain + clouds = not the best view) and we head back to Shibuya for souvenir shopping. There is a ginormous Don Quixote where you can buy ALL the flavors of Kit Kat, including sake, strawberry cheesecake, Okinawa sweet potato, matcha, and so much more.
DAY 3: Fluffy Pancakes & Team Lab
With a friend’s recommendation, we visited Micasadeco & Cafe for those insta-famous fluffy pancakes that jiggle when you poke it!
And I have to say— it is the best thing ever. I typically don’t like sweets, but this was delightful! And I don’t ever say ‘delightful’! The pancake batter is mixed with ricotta cheese, but it’s surprisingly light and not overpoweringly sweet. YUM. Highly recommend.
After brunch, we walked around, explored the city a bit, and took the train towards The Imperial Palace.
The moat surrounding the grounds of Imperial Palace was astonishing. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances, we were unable to view the palace. But- next on our agenda was Ichiran Ramen! The ideal restaurant for introverts! *yay*
After ordering from the vending machine, you’re directed to a singular booth. Water nozzle on the left, window in front of you, & nothing else on the right. They hand you your ramen & whatever else you ordered, say thank you, & close the window. You get to enjoy your ramen without uttering 2 words to anyone! Annnnd yes, the ramen is amazing. *drool*
We decided to visit Team Lab Museum – Borderless few hours before closing, since it gets reeeaally crowded during the day. We couldn’t wake up early to visit as soon as it opened, so this was our next option. Although it’s a bit far from Shibuya, I thought Team Lab was absolutely worth the long trek! Also, there are tons of other things to do around there! We got on a ferris wheel, & we toured the Toyota Car Show.
There were all kinds of cool exhibits inside Team Lab. There’s a trampoline in the midst of a laser show, there’s a slide for adults behind the large video of a waterfall, there was a rain/frog/leaf room where it felt like you were stuck in a rainforest, and a gigantic inflatable space, filled with inflatable orbs of all sizes. It’s the place to go when you want to heighten ALL FIVE of your senses at ONCE. My favorite room ( & everyone’s too, probably) was the infinity lamp room.
The truth is, the room is actually SMALL. But the mirrors on all sides make it look endless!
Well, that’s it. That’s 3 days in Tokyo! With a million things to do & a million amazing foods to try, this city will never bore you, and you’ll never go hungry! Tokyo, you’re truly unique & exciting, and we’ll be back.