So during my trip to Taiwan this summer, I took a mini-trip to Tokyo! It was my first time going and I absolutely loved it. And here are some pictures 🙂 and warning: this is a little long, since I decided to only break my trip up into two blog posts.
Let me just start off talking about how hard it was to get there. In Taiwan, the major airport is the Taoyuan International Airport, which is a 38 minute high speed rail ride away from Taipei Main Station. When I booked my flight in April, apparently I was thinking about how it would be easier to leave out of the smaller airport in Taipei… but by the time it came for my actual flight, I totally forgot. Guess who woke up at 4:45AM and went all the way to the Taoyuan airport just to miss her flight? Ya girl right here. I came back, called the Songshan Airport EVA Air counter, and was told to call the EVA office when they opened at 8:30AM. Once they opened, I called, just to be told that though EVA operated the flight I missed, technically the flight was still under ANA (another airline), so I’d have to wait until they opened at 9AM to call. Right as I called at 9, my prepaid phone ran out of minutes, so I had to go back to my hotel (that I had checked out of) to borrow their phone. ANA told me that while technically my flight was under their company, I bought my ticket through Expedia, so I had to call Expedia. Expedia said that I had called the Taiwan office, but needed to call the USA office since I bought my ticket in the States… after an hour on the phone with them, they finally managed to transfer me through all the right chanels and I got my refund (with a cancelation charge of course). I had to buy a new flight, so I just bought it directly from EVA. My original flight was at 7:40AM, my new flight was at 3:30PM. I arrived in the Narita Airport around 8PM (I think), and didn’t get to my hotel until after 10PM. What a trip haha. BUT I MADE IT! And let me tell y’all… Tokyo is so L I T. It was Friday night, midnight, and people were still out and about (granted, I was staying in Shinjuku, one of the most popular areas).
Thankfully, I met some nice people in Taiwan who were on my flight, and they guided me around initially in Tokyo! They gave me an internet sim card, helped me get the right high speed rail ticket (Keisei Skyliner) and then the JR card at the Ueno station. If you’re staying in Shinjuku, there’s a high speed rail that goes directly there, but I opted to travel with them on the Skyliner for companionship.
First stop: Takoyaki right under my hotel. Then I retired for the night, since I had such a long day.
I went to the Ikebukuro area looking for a sushi restaurant, but I couldn’t find it… so I ended up popping into a random noodle restaurant that I saw. The menu was completely in Japanese, but I think the restaurant mainly sold dipping soba noodles? Whatever it was, it was delicious. Three stacks of soba noodles with a bowl of condensed broth. After I finished the noodles, the waitress came over with a small kettle, which I poured into the broth to thin it out and drink. After some googling, I found the restaurant– 美濃屋そば.
My next stop was the Mega Pokemon center, which is SO FUN. It’s on the second floor of a shopping mall, so it’s pretty easy to find. There are so many plushies and toys there… my inner child was running in circles for joy.
From there I went to an owl cafe, called the Ikefukurou Cafe, which was a totally new experience. The owls are so soft and so cute, though I’m not sure how I feel about owls being tied down (the rope had some length so they could still move around, but it was to ensure they wouldn’t randomly fly around/out).
Then I went back to the hotel to rest, and went out to eat at a rotating sushi restaurant, Ganzo Sushi. Their salmon belly was so yummy… I ate three plates hehe. For tea, push your cup against the sprout after adding in some matcha powder! Might be obvious to some, but I had to stare at my neighbor to figure it out. (Actually, I think I looked so clueless that my neighbor purposely refilled his cup so I could see what to do). The wasabi is rotating around.
I went to a Bic Camera (huge multi-floored store that sells electronics and some home goods) to get an adapter for my laptop charger. There are three of these in Shinjuku alone, so I wandered around until I found one! Ended up on the camera floor for an hour because I got so distracted… and forgot my original reason for being in the store. Finally managed to tear myself away, and went to ask a worker where I could find adapters!
On my way home, I happened across a street performer. He was really skilled with his guitar and had a really soothing voice, so I stopped to listen before heading on my way. Just as I left, he started playing a song that I really like, so I turned right around to go back to listen. I ended up spending an hour listening to him (eventually sitting down on the curb beside him) and he would turn to ask me if I knew some of the songs before he performed them! Turns out he’s from Korea, studying abroad in Japan. Best wishes to him! 10/10 would like to listen to him sing again. This was actually probably one of the highlights from my trip, just being able to sit, chill, listen to good live music. And it’s my favorite type– just guitar and voice.
I have a friend from college who is doing research in Tokyo this summer, so we met up! We went to an adorable dog cafe where they had a bunch of fluffy toy poodles and a beagle! The dogs are upstairs in a small room, and we got to play with them for thirty minutes. They are so adorable. Afterwards we went to 2 Cho-me Gatchi Tsukemen, a dipping ramen restaurant, and it was GOOD. When you walk in, you order through the vending machine and hand the slip to a worker. 300g is a LOT of noodles, just a heads up. We overestimated our ability to eat, and both ordered the 300g… and struggled to finish.
We parted ways, and I went back to my hotel to rest (and accidentally took a long nap). Woke up and met up with some high school friends who happened to be in Tokyo as well. We haven’t met up since college started, so it was quite interesting to have a mini-reunion in another country. We met up in Shibuya, then they took me to Harajuku to show me around (they did their share of exploring already). We happened across an ice cream store that sold the cotton candy ice cream, so I got one because, well, it’s cotton candy ice cream. One of my friends got their fancy looking ice cream pop, which he says was worth the money. We headed back to Shibuya and they took me to a club, Gas Panic, which is really popular with foreigners. It was Sunday night, so I wasn’t expecting much, but wow Japan really gets lit. The club was small, but packed. And they played American songs, which I appreciated. It wasn’t as trashy as online reviews had led me to believe either! Had one drink, and we ended up meeting another group of Americans there so we all hung out in our own little circle.
And that’s what I’ll fit on this post! Read about part two of my trip here!