Welcome to the third (yes, third!) Tricky Guide to Tokyo. Here are the first and second, posted back in September 2015 and February 2016, respectively.
This stay in Tokyo was a little different than the previous ones. First of all, we were based out of a tiny Airbnb in Tsukiji for two weeks, and only moved to a hotel room for the last two nights of the trip.
Staying in an Airbnb meant we saved a lot of money and settled in pretty quickly. Another plus was in comparison to that apartment, our hotel room at the Millennium Mitsui felt like the most luxurious suite ever.
We really enjoyed staying in Tsukiji. It’s a cute, local neighborhood and a convenient base for transport options. Also it’s pretty amazing you can simply stroll over to the Tsukiji outer markets for sushi brunch any day of the week.
Of course, there are endless options when it comes to finding a place to eat near Tsukiji market. But since it’s my general rule not to enter restaurants where someone is standing outside yelling and waving a menu, we turned into a quiet alley where we saw a lone, Jiro-ish chef was working behind the sushi counter.
Sushi Itadori Bekkan has lots of locations in Tokyo. This is the one we went to in Tsukiji. Delicious.
Wandering through the produce stands at Tsukiji market, I came across these fresh edamame beans still on the stalks. I honestly had no idea this is how they grew. Rather than buying a bunch like a normal person, I took this photo instead…what’s wrong with me?
Another place we loved in the area was Tsukiji Sandai, or Tsukiji Oyster Bar. They serve oysters from all around Japan priced between 300JPY to 1,400JPY. Yep, that’s $14USD for a single oyster!
It’s a super casual place in the basement floor of an office building, but it’s perfect for an after-dinner glass of wine and oysters to share. Above were the two types of oysters we tried, both 700JPY each and shucked to order.
Walking from Ginza to Marunouchi one day, we came across this tiny, hole-in-the-wall bar that looked like a GQ magazine spread. Tokyo, you kill me.
Parla serves crepes next door, and at this bar, a small menu of drinks. The two stools you see there are the only seats in the bar, but why would you sit when you can look way cooler standing in your perfectly-cut suit and loafers?
The original Parla shop is in Shibuya, but the Ginza shop is where you’ll want to have your photo taken. Also note its cool web address: par.la
I heard good things about the tonkatsu at Butagumi, so we stopped in before noon at the Roppongi shop before the line formed for lunch. The food was amazing, the price was right and they had a menu in English. That’s my version of a three-star restaurant.
After lunch at Butagumi, there was a failed attempt to visit the Snoopy Museum in Roppongi (worst lines I’ve ever seen). So we went to see the Issey Miyake exhibit at The National Art Center, Tokyo.
The museum experience was exactly like going to an elaborately curated Issey Miyake store, but instead of being tempted to buy stuff, I paid an entrance fee so I couldn’t buy stuff. That is, until I reached the gift shop where I couldn’t resist a pack of postcards. Issey Miyake postcards, guys.
Another thing different about this stay in Tokyo was our families joined us for part of the trip. My dad is obsessed with watching a vintage Japanese samurai drama, so I booked him a batto class where he could dress up like the character and wave a sword around.
His class was a one-on-one experience at HiSui in Ginza and he loved every damn second of it.
See their website for schedules and price info. They have tea ceremony classes, calligraphy classes, flower arranging classes and kimono experiences too.
We made it over to Shinjuku a couple of times. Once was specifically to visit the flagship Beams concept store that just opened in April 2016. The ground floor features a lot of Beams branded merchandise and also promotes regional arts and crafts from around Japan.
I was seriously tempted by this lucky cat. But that price.
The entire store covers seven floors. The higher floors are mostly men’s fashion, but interspersed throughout are also homewares, furniture, art, music and even vintage stereo systems.
Everything is totally eclectic but at the same time thoughtfully presented. It’s easy to kill an hour or two here.
One of my favorite things to do in Japan is eat at Freshness Burger. There was an Avocado Fair happening which meant I enjoyed an avocado burger with my coffee for breakfast.
Tokyo and avocados. It doesn’t get better than that.