So I am realizing that blogging about a trip can be very overwhelming. Especially when it is about Japan. There are so many places that we went to and so many things I want to tell you about! It might take five or six posts but I will get it all reduced to writing eventually. Hope you enjoy the next part in the series.
200 hundred tiny bars arranged on top of one another in six alleys. Of course we HAD to go. Golden Gai was conveniently located behind the Best Western Astina Shinjuku in Kabuchiko. The bars are open all hours of the night but they only fit three or four patrons at a time. Many of them don’t even allow foreigners. I had done a little research before we arrived and found that there were several bars that were foreigner friendly and didn’t charge a cover. The one we landed on was Turan Rock Bar. It was a small rock n’ roll bar upstairs with about six or seven seats at the bar. We sat at the left end of the bar and started ordering away. They make their own plum wine. I HIGHLY recommend trying it. It is sweet and delicious. Especially when it is on the rocks. Next I tried some earl grey sake. HOLY COW. So tasty. We loved it so much we spent the entire rest of the trip stopping in every liquor store to find a bottle to bring back to NJ. Unfortunately we didn’t find any… I started challenging the bartender to games of Crocodile Dentist. It was a lot of fun. I kept winning. After each game he would comp me another drink. E couldn’t believe it! I love making friends in new places. The next day we bought ourselves the same Crocodile Dentist as a reminder of our time in Golden Gai. Now it sits on our coffee table and has resulted in hours of amusement.
In Front Of The Kaminarimon Gate
How To Eat A Custard Filled Pastry
Our Tokyo volunteer tour guide took us to Asakusa so we could visit Sensoji Temple. We walked through Kaminarimon Gate, wandered around Nakamise Shopping Street, and of course we had to eat a custard filled pastry (SO. FREAKING. GOOD.) You know, all of the really important things. The area was packed with locals and tourists. The locals were there for blessings and good fortune as our visit was right after New Years. We were there to just take it all in. We weren’t able to stay long as we were on a tight schedule. Thankfully we were able to go back.
SO MANY KIMONOS. We Were Such Tourists.
Coming of Age Day
Unbeknownst to us we were in Tokyo for Coming of Age Day. Coming of Age Day is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. The purpose of the holiday is to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority, 20 years of age, over the past year, and to help them realize that they have finally become adults. All around Tokyo, young girls and boys were running around in traditional kimonos. It was so fun to see them running around on their special day. We saw them at Sensoji and then in the afternoon for tea at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Everyone was in a celebratory mood. The kimonos were so colorful. It was such a lovely day!
The Shibuya Crossing aka “The Scramble”
The Shibuya Crossing is the busiest intersection in Tokyo. There are so many people crossing the street in different directions all day long. Night or day; it is overwhelming and really is a sight to see. On our first night in Japan, we crossed right before the last JR train was leaving the station before closing for the night. I don’t think I have ever seen Times Square that busy! It is a rush!
Excited for SUSHI!!!
Chef Kanesaka Slicing Some Tuna
The Chef Himself
ALL OF THE TUNA
Before leaving for Japan, E and I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a lovely little documentary – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. After researching a bit I learned that while Jiro’s is excellent, it is very hard to get a reservation as a foreigner, is insanely expensive (~$350 a person, even for lunch), and the whole experience only lasts about 30 minutes. We didn’t feel that Jiro was for us. After researching a bit more I found Sushi Kanesaka. It is Michelin rated and was well worth the hype. It was also, even on the high end, significantly less expensive.
We were lucky to get a reservation for lunch and were even luckier to be served by Chef Kanesaka. Upon arriving at the restaurant we were seated at one of the two sushi “bars.” There were two seats reserved for us right in front of the Chef. We had the sushi and sashimi Omakase set, which was a bit over the top. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you.” Chef Kanesaka carefully chose and sliced each and every piece of fish that was then carefully handled and brushed with a soy sauce glaze and placed on our individual plates. There were 17 courses that included some of the best fish we have EVER eaten in our entire lives. We even sprung for the very special tuna cheek. It was seared on the outside and literally melted in our mouths. Our total for the two of us, including several beers was ~ $320 US Dollars. We ate for two of us what it would have cost for one of us to eat at Jiro. It was one of our special anniversary treats!
Address: 銀座8丁目10-3三鈴ビルB1F Chūō, 東京都 〒104-0061, Subway Directions: Take the Yurikamome, Ginza or Asakusa Line to Shinbashi Station
On Our Way Up To The 41st Floor
Tea With A View
Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Tokyo
A friend recommended that we get tea at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in the Peak Lounge. It is located in Shinjuku and wasn’t a far walk from our hotel. Per my friends instructions, I made a reservation in advance. What is so special about the Peak Lounge – Park Hyatt Tokyo you ask? Well, the Peak Lounge is located on the 41st floor of one of the tallest buildings in the area. It has SPECTACULAR VIEWS. They were equal to, if not better than, the views at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Also, this hotel was made famous by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. The movie was filmed there.
I made a reservation in advance and asked if we could be seated by the windows. While they were unable to guarantee this in advance, they were happy to accommodate us upon arrival. We shared an Afternoon Tea set. We selected our first tea and shortly thereafter they came out with a teapot and two teacups as well as mini sandwiches and petit fours. The tea was delicious and the snacks were delectable. The waitresses also came around with additional treats, sweet and savory, for us to taste. After our first pot was finished we were able to try a different kind. We lounged and enjoyed for a couple hours, all the while trying three different kinds of tea. It was delicious. They even surprised us with an anniversary candle to blow out.
Address: Japan, 〒163-1055 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 西新宿3−7−1−2