I cannot believe the time has come for my last Japan post. It has been five months since we landed back in Newark and it literally feels like we were wandering the streets of Shinjuku yesterday. I WISH!
My how time flies by! It has been great to reminisce and share my favorite parts of our trip. If you are planning a trip to Japan sometime soon and have any questions, of course please send me a message and I will do my best to respond. Hope you have enjoyed walking down memory lane with me. I know I have!
And here we go!
While researching Tokyo, one attraction that kept coming up was the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Everything I read said that the grounds were beautiful and a must see! I also read that unless you made a reservation in advance, there was no way to get tickets inside the Palace. Tickets are free but must be reserved online ahead of time. You need to be able to provide a time, date and your passport number along with some additional personal information. Luckily enough, we were able to secure two tickets!
After some delightful vegan ramen in Tokyo Station at T’s Tan Tan, we wandered over to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. After presenting our pre-printed tickets to the guards, we were escorted into a HUGE hall with ~1,000 other tourists. There were tables, chairs and headphones for everyone. We all watched a video about safety and the history of the Palace and its several buildings. Then we were off to explore! We wandered the grounds for an hour. There were so many things to see! The architecture was beautiful, the flowers and trees were lush. It was such a delightful tour. We even took a picture with one of the guards, though he wasn’t really into it…
Address: Japan, 〒100-8111 Tokyo, Chiyoda, 千代田１−１
**Meet at Kikyo-mon Gate 10 minutes before the start of the tour
Subway Directions: JR – 15 minutes’ walk from Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Central Exit) OR Subway – 10 minutes’ walk from Nijubashi-mae Station (Chiyoda Line Exit 6), 10 minutes’ walk from Otemachi Station (Mita Line Exit D2)
Tokyu Hands and Japanese Department Stores
E wasn’t really into the idea of visiting a Japanese department store. I get it; I drag him to enough department stores and malls in the United States. But unfortunately for him, he lost this battle.
Everyone I spoke with before leaving for Japan said I HAD to go to Tokyu Hands to shop their stationary section. THEY WERE RIGHT. I have never seen so many amazing paper goods. I picked up a selection of pens, day calendars, envelopes, and washi tape.
I also read that depachika, aka gourmet food halls in the basements of department stores, were must sees. There are rows and rows of different kinds of tastefully presented food. Some of the most beautiful and expensive fruit I have ever seen was sold in depachika. Every single strawberry was perfect, the broccoli was packaged in adorable little sleeves, and the mangos were individually wrapped. They also had a wine and sake booth where they were doing a tasting. Everything we sipped was delicious. You must visit if only just to experience it all!
At Tokyu Hands, at the suggestion of a friend, we purchased some chocolate chip gelato. It was as good as the gelato I had in Italy! We also bought two cake donuts, one green tea, one chocolate. Both were delectable!
**As a side note, E may or may not have left our shopping bag from Tokyu Hands on the subway. I was DEVASTATED. Beyond my wildest dreams I never thought that that bag would make its way back to us. We reported it missing and went back to Tokyu Hands to repurchase everything. That evening, our hotel got a call that our shopping bag was turned in to the lost and found. All we had to do was bring our passports to pick it up! This would have NEVER happened in the USA. Thank god for the honesty of the Japanese!
On our last morning in Tokyo, we were wandering around Shibuya and saw a billboard for a Pokémon Cafe. My brother is OBSESSED with Pokémon and we decided that if it was close by we would check it out. We popped the address into our iPhone’s and found that it was only a couple blocks away from our hotel, the Shibuya Granbell Hotel. We walked our way over and found ourselves in the middle of a Pikachu daydream. I have never seen so much yellow in one place at the same time. The restaurant was covered in Pikachu’s image and was selling all sorts of Pokémon memorabilia in the gift shop. The line to eat at the restaurant was 45 minutes long. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to wait, we had a flight to catch, but we did have a few minutes to snap a few photos in some Pikachu ears!