– The mountains! The mountains! I had no idea we could see the mountains from our room! – I woke up to the surprise. Far at the horizon, I could clearly see the snow capped mountains, for the first time since we arrived at the hotel. It not only got us both very excited but also influenced a change of plans for the day. Because of the better visibility, we decided to have a look at Tokyo from high up.
This post is part of a series:
Tokyo Day 1 – first steps in Japan & discovering Shinjuku
Tokyo Day 2 – the day we walked a lot
Tokyo Day 3 – Tokyo Skytree, kimonos and knives
Tokyo Day 4 – the one with an early start
Tokyo Day 5 – the one when we ran away
It was quite a long ride on a subway from Shinjuku and I was joking on the way that while we were under ground, the clouds came and we won’t see anything. Fortunately, it wasn’t exactly what happened.
The view from 350m (lower observation deck) above the ground was great. At first, it all looked like a concrete jungle, but when you look closely (via zoom lens in my case) you’ll see colours: roofs, some facades, parks and big billboards.
It is impressive how massive Tokyo really is, yet how well organised.
On a map we were given with our tickets, we quickly checked from which side of the tower we’re supposed to see Mt Fuji. Well marked pillars, well-marked map, we’ve got it. And there it was… No, not Mt Fuji. A big, thick cloud. Exactly where we didn’t want it to block the view. – Let’s walk around for a while, see everything else, maybe it will go away – that, plus a coffee break, didn’t work. And we had other plans for the rest of the day.
ticket/adult to the 350m observation deck: JPY2060 (~$22) + JPY1030 (~$11) for the higher deck
opening hours: 8am – 10pm
Kappabashi-dori a.k.a. Kitchen Town
About 30 minutes walk from the Tokyo Skytree is every foodie’s paradise: Kitchen Town. Entire street, a really long one, full of shops with all sorts of kitchen equipment. Bowls, wooden spoons, cake cutters, pots in all shapes and sizes, knives, chopsticks, plastic food – you name it, they have it. I could easily spend there all day, but Hubby didn’t seem too interested, so with heavy heart I had to leave after just over an hour of rushed exploration.
But it’s back on my list of places I want to visit next time I’m in Tokyo (which will be this August!) – simply because of one thing: knives. I managed to buy one knife. Quite a small one, nothing too fancy or expensive. It didn’t have any certificate saying “made by sword-makers” but for me it is everything. I hurt myself with it first thing when I took it out of the box, but I love it. Thanks to it I realised how rubbish my old knives were. Anyway, if you don’t care about pretty bowls and other kitchen stuff, do yourself a favour and go there just to buy a good knife.
Hands down my favourite place in Tokyo. Not only the Senso-ji temple, but also the area of Asakusa – small, charming streets and the oldest amusement park in Japan. Once again an area that I would love to explore more.
Sensō-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo, as well as the most significant. If you’re interested in the history, I recommend reading this article over at TokyoCheapo.
For me, it was not only simply stunning, but also felt quiet, despite thousands of people being around me. It’s also the place where I spotted our first plum blossoms.
The main street leading to the temple is lined up with shops – most sell souvenirs, but there are also restaurants and taiyaki sellers.
Sensō-ji is also a great place for people watching. Some seem to be very spiritual, some deep in thoughts, some quickly pray and go and some… well, let’s just say I don’t think selfie sticks should be allowed in all places.
Tea Ceremony + Kimono Experience
Right next to Senso-ji is a small Panda Cafe, where I took my husband for his birthday surprise. I organised a tea ceremony + kimono experience for us at Nadeshiko.
Very interesting thing to do when you’re in Japan and I think I picked a perfect place to do so. It was very intimate – just the two of us, personal and informative. And of course, it was fun to dress up and pretend to be Japanese for an hour.
We started by picking the kimonos we wanted to wear and 20 minutes later (well, for the men kimono it was more like 5 minutes, but mine was trickier to put on) we were transformed and ready for the ceremony. It involved squeezing through tiny door, eating sweets too cute to be eaten, repeating Japanese phrases and, obviously, enjoying the tea.
The team at Nadeshiko was extremely helpful – they organised a special birthday cake for my husband and even a surprise-someone to bring the cake to him. Hubby was happy, I have photos to prove it, points for me.
kimono and tea ceremony: JPY4400 (~$47)
address: 2-7-24-2F Asakusa Taito-ku Tokyo
Akihabara after dark
After the tea ceremony, we went back to our hotel in Shinjuku, Hubby ate his birthday cake and we were so cold and tired we had to have a nanna nap. When we got up it was already dark and we had one more place to visit – Akihabara, known also as The Electric Town.
We weren’t on a hunt for any electronics, nor we’re big fans of manga. It was more of a curiosity-driven visit, to see ourselves if the place is really that colourful and popular.
We walked around for an hour or so, visited a few shops, and we were very surprised when we were able to recognise some of the anime characters (like the Girls und Panzer).
If you want to experience the famous Maid Cafes, Akihabara is the place to go. Even on a very cold evening, some maids were on the streets promoting cafes and handing out flyers.