Exploring Tokyo: Food, Friends, Fun and Food

Tokyo is amazing. It’s public transportation is incredibly efficient, almost everything is clean, the parks are beautiful and the food is amazing. Even the quick meals we got from places like 7/11 were good! I’m in love already.

We checked in to Century Southern Tower in Shinjuku, a 5-minute walk from 6 different metro entrances (and counting). It you want accessible, this is the place to be. I heard from a few different people that Shinjuku is the biggest station in Tokyo, but you can check out this Tokyo Metro map or this JR-EAST map to decide for yourself. Little tip, you can get free WiFi at some of the stations. That Internet access and Google maps has saved me from getting lost multiple times (yet not panicking, because everything is so efficient I knew I could make it back eventually).

The first full day I was there a few friends from college, Bryan and Taka, came and found me. I’m not a huge fan of doing the touristy stuff when I travel, but it’s good to experience once in a while. We went to a famous temple whose name I forgot and saw a cool radio tower from a distance. Supposedly the view of the radio tower (see image above) was supposed to have three cool touristy things to see, but I wasn’t sure what else I was supposed to be looking at. The bridge was cool.

If you visit the temple, beware of the crowds. There’s a fairly narrow entryway lined with shops of interesting but overpriced trinkets. Once you get past them, you reach this incense/fire pit (?) with smoke coming out and you’re supposed to kind of whiff it around your head. It helps with intelligence.

We visited a park! More my kind of thing. Bryan played football and made some new friends while Taka and I relaxed in the shade as he tried on his new Oakley glasses that we got from Harajuku. After the park we hung out at a hookah bar, where there was surprisingly fast WiFi. I love the Internet speeds in Tokyo, good job, Internet providers.

Okay, the food. Let me just tell you about the food. Food in Japan is great. It’s incomparable. If you walk into a random restaurant and the food isn’t amazing, you’ve somehow found the single mediocre restaurant in all of Japan. I kid you not. Needless to say, I ate a lot.

Did I mention I love ikura? I could never get enough of those orange fish eggs that ooze with deliciousness, but by the end of the trip I was (for the first time ever) tired of ikura. Fun fact, there are rice bowls that serve salmon sashimi alongside ikura (salmon eggs). They’re called “family bowls” because they contain both the parents and the babies in a salmon family. Que remorse (but not enough to turn it down).

The word “nomihoudai” translates to “drink as much as you want” and serves unlimited drinks and food. I took a picture of the top right corner of the menu hoping the name of the restaurant would be in there, just in case you want to visit one. They’re fairly popular in Japan and allow you to drink and eat as much as you want for a set period of time (ie. 2 or 3 hours). Pardon the quality of the sushi/sashimi plate, I was hungry and just wanted to take the picture and eat.

There was an earthquake while Bryan, Taka and I were at the nomihoudai. It went from completely raucous to dead silent in the matter of seconds. I remember watching the lanterns move back and forth, waiting for people to start the evacuation, but the tremors stopped and things went back to normal. Apparently, there was a larger earthquake earlier in the week and those were just the aftershocks (it didn’t feel like an aftershock to me!).

Fun facts: If the earthquake is moving you left and right, it’s “alright.” Once the buildings start moving up and down it’s bad. Also, old Japanese architecture always put a beam in the middle of temples and buildings, so their buildings are made with the same kind of infrastructure, making them pretty stable in the face of earthquakes. You have to admire the ingenuity.

 

Oh, Disneyland. I love Disneyland. If you go to Tokyo, go to Disneyland (on a weekday).

Everyone, go visit Japan. It’s awesome.

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