June 09, 2015


Tokyo is Japan's capital, located in the Kanto(関東)Region. Of course, it is not to be missed for a first-timer to Japan. However, for a more comprehensive "Japan experience", I would highly advise stepping out of it.

Indeed, it is convenient as a transportation hub, and has many delicious food and all the big brands for shopping. However, as I like castle towns, natural hot spring towns and nature places with great views and relaxing vibe, I always create a balance by visiting other prefectures in the same trip.

Visited Tokyo quite a few times and did the typical and atypical. I queued for Sushi Dai(寿司大)in Tsukiji(築地)for 6 hours (yes I know it's crazy) because it is the peak season, but didn't regret it because the food was really awesome (not because I was starved). For example, the prawns and clams were still twitching when served (THIS fresh). Even for someone whose sense of taste isn't so good, the difference in standard between here and most other sushi places is obvious. For people who refuse to queue so long, there is Daiwa(大和)and others with shorter queues that are said to be good as well. But to be fair, please do not make comments like "XX is the best sushi I've ever had, and it's impossible to beat this, so don't bother queuing for Dai." without trying Dai. That is totally unfair.

Other than Tsukiji, I have also been to Akihabara, Ginza, Kabukiza (for Kabuki performance), Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa, Ameyoko, Yanaka, Tokyo National Museum, Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Zojoji temple, Tokyo station, Shinagawa, Oimachi, Kamata, Akasaka, Roppongi, Meguro, Ebisu, Shimokitazawa, Shinjuku, National Olympic Stadium and Tokyo Dome (for L'Arc~en~Ciel's concert), Shibuya, Harajuku, Meiji shrine, Ikebukuro, Takadanobaba, Kichijoji, Ghibli museum, Jiyugaoka, Futako-tamagawa etc., most of the places famous for cherry blossom viewing, and the Disney attractions outside of Tokyo city.

Out of all these places, I like the Yanaka(谷中)district, which has the vibe of the Edo period, considered rare in Tokyo. There are quaint shops selling local food, tea and cat themed handicrafts.

I like Odaiba(お台場), because it is big so less suffocating, and there's the Edo period themed onsen facility. But well, it is rather "artificial", not comparable to rustic natural onsen towns.

I like Shimokitazawa(下北沢), enjoyed checking out the quaint shops and cafes and also went for an indies rock live concert in one of the underground pubs.

I like Kichijoji(吉祥寺), with lots of Shotengai(商店街), where I usually do my shopping in Kansai(関西). It feels like home.

I like the districts along Tokyu Oimachi Line, such as Jiyugaoka(自由が丘)and Futako-tamagawa(二子玉川). They have an "oshare" vibe similar to those along Hankyu Takarazuka Line in Kansai.

I don't really like Shibuya(渋谷), Harajuku(原宿)and Shinjuku(新宿), because they give a suffocating vibe with all the people swarming around me in fast paces. And stations like Shinjuku and Tokyo are really too big and confusing.

Though I really like the food in Tokyo. It is heavier in taste (which is what I like) than the Kansai region where I stayed. There are many tsukemen(つけ麺)places, my favorite type of ramen, which is actually not so common in Kansai. So whenever I come to Tokyo, I always get my tsukemen fix. Rokurinsha(六厘舎)in Tokyo station is really awesome~ (The outlet in Haneda airport is not as nice :P) Though my favorite has to be Enji(べジボタ豚骨魚介つけ麺えん寺)just outside Kichijoji station!

And even though I'm not a fan of desserts, find Tokyo's assortment and standard really high. Individual booths in stations and basement of departmental stores sell really delicious fresh confectionery, such as Pastel's pudding!

Stayed in business hotels, capsule hotels, friends' house etc. Lodging is more expensive in Tokyo than in other prefectures. For the usual price of business hotel, I could only stay in capsule hotels in Tokyo.

The next time I go to Japan, I'll probably still drop by Tokyo for my friends, food and some shopping, though 80% of the trip will have to be outside Tokyo for me to truly enjoy myself.


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