Japan (1) Tokyo in 4 Days (+ Kamakura and Nikko)
After 12 hours of anxiety, I mean, flying, and another 3 hours trying to get along with the train system at the Narita airport - Hint: Take the bus from the airport to Shiodome! - WE ARRIVED IN TOKYO !!!
I'll tell you right away: much of the beauty of Japan is in eating! In fact, this is a country where you also eat with your eyes!
It was late at night when we arrived so we started with a Ramen, but not a simple Ramen! One of the best in the city, which costs "only" around 12 dollars, located in the basement of a commercial building, where there is no menu and one must choose the bowl on a self-service machine:
# Ichiran - Japão, 〒105-0004 Tokyo, Minato City, Shinbashi, 2 Chome−8−8 からす亭ビルB1F (there are others around the city)
After you have chosen and paid in the machine, each person seats in their own cabin at the counter, a curtain is open and your bowl delivered. No shame of slurping with people watching!
We started a Tokyo Tour by the palace which remains as the Imperial family official residence, therefore visitors are only permitted at the castle gardens - which is quite special too.
# Edo Castle/Palácio Imperial - 1-１ Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111, Japão
From there, we visited the Nezu Shinto Shrine, one of the most important in Tokyo, characterized by its beautiful Torii gates.
# 1-chōme-28-９ Nezu, Bunkyo City, Tōkyō-to 113-0031, Japão
Temples and Shrines (shrines) are sacred places in Japan and although they are similar, they are different. Shrines serve the Shinto religion and the Temples are Buddhist. In Japan, there is a great religious syncretism and it is common for people to practice aspects of both.
Only the Shrines have Torii gates at the entrance and font of purification for each to clean their hands and mouths before entering the site. Most of the time, Shrines are dedicated to a particular God and serve to store sacred objects.
Below, how to clean hands and mouth before entering the Shrine:
For lunch, our gudei took us to one of the best Soba in town
# Kizuryu Soba - 3-chōme-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tōkyō-to 162-0825, Japão
Notice the real natural wasabi above. We are supposed to grate the root as we desire (it is way stronger then you are used too!)
The thick buckwheat noodle is made right there:
Did someone say dessert?
# Yokohama Kurikoan - 1-chōme-15-１ Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tōkyō-to 101-0021, Japão
This waffle in the shape of a fish, called Tayaki is traditionally stuffed with sweet bean paste or yellow English cream, but it is already common to find with Matcha (YES, PLEASE) and chocolate!
At dawn, we went to the Shinjuku area, which has the atmosphere you were waiting for from Tokyo, an explosion of lights, and people. Lots of people!
A curious fact of Japan: as there is no way to grow to the sides, the cities grow upwards, and many of the restaurants and businesses, are on several floors inside buildings. So, sometimes you arrive at the address you want to go to (God bless google maps), but the signs are in Japanese, so you need to look up to figure out on which floor it is!
Shinjuku is a major shopping and entertainment hub, where two of Tokyo's most popular happy hour/nightlife spots are located:
Golden Gai: It is a cluster of 4 narrow pedestrian streets where several little bars are located. I meant, very little!!! Most locations are only 3 to 4 meters long, and usually, two floors, where bartenders and customers squeeze. It is quite popular with tourists, but also for Japanese who work in the area. The cool thing here is to do Bar Hopping = go have one drink at each.
Piss Alley: Another stronghold of happy hour, but in this case better known for the presence of several restaurants serving yakitori (barbecue of all kinds), cheap food stalls, as well as small bars.
This alley has been frequented since the post-war period, the only place where people, living in a failed economy, had access to alcohol (illegally) and meat (at an affordable price).
Oedo Yakitori is a must-see restaurant. Excellent skewers grilled in front of us, great decoration, presentation, besides great (and fun) service!
# 1-chōme-18-9 Kabukichō, Shinjuku City, Tōkyō-to 160-0021 Japão
With a little help from Jetlag, at 7 am we arrived at the Tsujiki Fish Market.
This was where the famous Tuna auction for restaurants took place, however, this part of the market moved to a more spacious and modern place. With it, so many other restaurants in the market have moved, too, but the Outer Market, the stalls outside, are still there, with souvenirs and many delicacies to offer!
# 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045, Japão
Was there sashimi at 8 am? Yes, of course!!!
# Sushitomi - 6 Chome-24-8 Tsukiji, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045, Japão
One hour drive south of Tokyo, the little town of Kamakura is one of the most popular day trips from the capital. It is famous for its temples, mountains, sea, and a shopping street.
# 8 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-8525, Japão
# 409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-0062, Japão
# 〒247-0062 神奈川県鎌倉市山ノ内１８９
Ps: a very cute temple with a small bamboo forest all for yourself
Great Budha of Kamakura:
# 4 Chome-2-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0016, Japão
In Kamakura, you must visit the Komachi Street, know for its specialty great place stores, which are a greatplace to shop for gifts and delicacies.
Back in Tokyo, we had Shabu Shabu for dinner, a very sociable meal, where very thin slices of meat are selfly grilled or cooked with vegetables in a copper pot which is put in the middle of the table.
# Shabuzen - Japão, 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 3 Chome−16−33 青葉六本木ビルB1
Afterward, we walked by the Roppongi neighborhood, where we visited the 21-21 gallery and watched the Midtown Garden Tokyo lights show. It is worth checking their schedule, as it changes continuously.
We started with Team Planets Tokyo, a virtual and sensory museum, with very cool experiences, which are difficult to explain, but it was one of my favorite attractions in Tokyo! (You will get your feet wet and walk barefoot so try to wear pants that can go up to your knee that day and buy the ticket in advance).
# 6 Chome-1-16 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japão - there is also the Team Lab Borderless, bigger and more popular, so even harder to get tickets at the door.
Check out this room with million strings of small led lights:
From there, at 11 am, we got in the waiting line for a restaurant in the newly open Toyoso Fish Market. There are approximately 12 restaurants but lines were already very big on most of them, so arrive, before 11! One hour later we were delighted with the freshest of the fresh sushi!
# Japão, 〒135-0061 Tokyo, Koto City, Toyosu, 6 Chome−3−１ 市場 5街区青果棟
Then we wandered the Ebisu and Sarugakushu neighborhoods, admiring the architecture and interesting shops, such as the giant Tsutaya bookstore in the Daikanyama complex.
# Japan, 〒150-0033 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya City, Sarugakuchō, 17−５ １ 号 館 、 ３ 号 館 、 ２ 号 館 １ 階 ＤＡＩＫＡＮＹＡＭＡ Ｔ － ＳＩＴＥ 蔦 屋 書店
Continuing, we arrived at Shibuya, one of the most popular (and populous) districts of Tokyo and one of the main commercial and financial centers. This is where Shibuya Crossing is located, one of the most active crossroads in the world! (So much so, that tourists flock to the windows of the surrounding buildings, waiting for the signal to close during rush hour!) Also, at the exit of this station is located the statue of the world know dog Hachiko.
For dinner, we went to an old couples' garage. Yes, these cuties do teppanyaki, another must-have meal in Japan, practically in their garage/open kitchen.
# Hakushu Teppanyaki - 17-17−10 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0031, Japão
Another common day-trip from Tokyo, NIKKO is a little further in the mountains and a 2 hours drive. Besides beautiful temples and shrines, it has an exuberant nature:
(PS: We weren't aware that this day was a holiday and unfortunately we lost a lot of time in traffic and weren't able to see even half of Nikko's attractions.)
# Nikko Tosho-Gu 2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1431, Japão
Kanmangafuchi Abyss was the highlight of the day, and a delight to photograph. Despite the fact that the town was super crowded that day, it was empty! (the advantages of having a tour guide that knows the place well)
Along a river initially formed by lava from a volcano, there are simply 70 Jizo statues and at the end of the route, we arrive at a waterfall with no less than 4 falls: # Nikko, Tochigi 321-1415, Japão
Returning to Tokyo, the "last supper" was "blessed sushi from the Gods", in the best Japanese style: minimalist and with quality exceeded!
It is not cheap and it is recommended to make the reservation well in advance, but it is also an unmissable experience! # Sushi Yuu 1 Chome-4-15 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0031, Japão
Last, we wondered by beautiful Omotesando Avenue, where luxury brands shops have unique architecture and decor.
And that's all for Tokyo, folks!
The next day the adventure continued south to Hakone.