I’ve wanted to see the cherry blossom in Japan for as long as I can remember… and so when the end of our NZ & Australia travels happened to coincide with cherry blossom season – it was too good an opportunity to miss!! By the time it came around, there was a significant part of both Adam and I that was a bit worried that Tokyo would be an assault on the senses after the chilled out, sparsely populated areas we had been staying in. I am however delighted to say that we LOVED Tokyo & found it a remarkably easy city to visit.
It was 22 hours after we’d got out of bed in Adelaide that we climbed in to our Tokyo beds… I fell asleep feeding F… woke up at 1.30am fully dressed in a panic looking for Adam 😂 Can’t remember the last time was was THAT tired!
We took it very easy that first day… staying pretty close to our apartment in Shinjuku (having Burger King for lunch as we didn’t want to have to think about where to eat, what to eat and how to eat it!!) That night however we made amends and went to a fab Ramen Noodle place… 30+ minute wait outside…. but well worth it. They were fabulous with the kids (G got her noodles on a Mickey Mouse plate & F had a highchair attached to the bar so he could nosey at the chaps cooking & drum with his chop sticks 🍜)
Shinjuku Gyoen – one of the best places to see or ‘experience’ the cherry blossom – was a 10 minute walk from our apartment. Keiko (our lovely Airbnb host) invited us for a picnic along with her friend the following day. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as we wandered around – the trees were just beautiful! It was busy – but in a nice way – a real celebratory atmosphere. It seemed like people took time off work to see the cherry blossom. We spent hours there – had our picnic – and then headed home – safe in the knowledge that it was 10 minutes away & we could revisit in another week & there would be even more blossom…. (it was late this year…. perfect timing for us!)
The next day we had our first experience of the Tokyo Metro… wow…. that tube map is like a tapestry!! Luckily I’d heard about the Rome2Rio website – absolutely brilliant – made getting about a breeze! We selected an area to ‘do’ each day & off we went.
On day three we visited Asakusa… saw Senso-Ji Temple…. . but the Asakusa Temple that we were aiming for was nowhere to be found… ‘I don’t understand it – it should be right there’ said Adam turning in a circle & looking at the map…. then he looked up & spotted a building covered in scaffolding & netting & laughed “found it!” We then went for lunch at Asakusa Okonomiyaki Sometaro (as of course recommended by TripAdvisor!). It was fabulous. It was a traditional Japanese restaurant – all wood and raised floors – you could imagine a tea ceremony happening there. We sat on cushions at a low table (shoes off!) We then had to choose from about 8 options…. then they bring you the ingredients in a bowl…. you mix them up then pour them in to the hot plate on the table…. after 5 minutes you flip it over… another 5 minutes & then cover your tasty pancake in sauce, mayo, seaweed and bonito flakes! Delicious 😋
Another day we went to Roppongi… we saw the immensity of Tokyo from the top of Tokyo Observation Tower . . We had a brief look around Mori Art Museum . . .
. . & then went for Sushi at Pintokona Sushi, which had been recommended in a couple of blogs & we wanted to do the conveyor belt sushi thing! We ended up ordering our food from the menu … as they put us in a booth at the end of the line… so we only got what everybody else passed up… but once we ordered what we wanted it was great…. though our favourite was tempura soft shelled crab, rather than the sushi! (G: ‘not a walking crab from the beach … a food crab?!’ Me: ‘err . . yes – a food crab’). Playgrounds were a little harder to come by in Tokyo than in NZ & Australia… but I’d heard of one called ‘Robot Park’ – officially ‘Sakurazaka Park’ in Roppongi – so we trotted off & G had fun on the multiple slides!
Another day we went to Shibuya to experience the craziest street crossing in the world! With our coffees & cakes we watched the madness from the second floor of Starbucks…. amazed to get a window seat as it was recommended by everywhere as the place to go to watch the madness.
In between these excursion days… we had days close to home so that it wasn’t overwhelming for G & F. The Tokyo Toy Museum was opposite our house – 80% of the stuff you could play with which was BRILLIANT!! There was also a mini playground outside which was free… and you could see it from our balcony… could not have planned it better for the odd hour of energy to burn off!
We visited the nearby (free) Fire Museum… which was ok… G like sitting in a helicopter!
We (of course) revisited Shinjuku Gyoen the day before we left which was if anything even more beautiful than our first visit . . . . then went to find a hotpot place (again recommended on TripAdvisor- but I had such good memories of hotpots in China I really wanted to have one with Adam!). It was bloody hard to find… (big fail for google maps – but a security guard saved the day!) weirdly it was on the 8th Floor of a building – just above Tiffany’s! Really yummy…. G ate tonnes of noodles but not one scrap of veg or meat – hey ho – you can’t have everything!
We loved Tokyo & this trip has firmly put Japan on our list of places we’d like to visit properly after just seeing the tip of the iceberg!
Leaving Tokyo… we got to see the roads that we missed due to tiredness & the dark on the way in …. quite surreal driving past buildings at the 7th floor level rather than the ground floor! We then had a 11.5hr flight to Dubai & we arrived at 5am to stay with the fabulous Craghills! We managed a better sleep on this flight than any other- then a couple of hours sleep when we arrived in Dubai & got up at their 7am…. and so felt we’d moved the 5hr time zone difference pretty effectively! After a lovely relaxing few days with friends & gin…. it is now time to head back to England. Our 3 month adventure is over… and we feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to spend this time exploring the world together… and although we are all looking forward to seeing our ‘real house’ and sleeping in our own beds… catching up with friends & family…. we both suspect this isn’t the last blog post 😂😂😂