Arriving in Tokyo
Upon arrival to Tokyo, I really had no idea what to expect. When I thought of Tokyo, I pictured the Japanese version of New York City, where I’m originally born and raised. But actually being there and seeing everything that Tokyo has to offer truly amazed me and excited me. It was like no other city I’ve been to before, and I had one of the most incredible experiences exploring each individual part of it for 10 full days with the Tokyo tourism board.
Each part of Tokyo is unique. Some of the best parts of Tokyo was not knowing what to expect when exploring each individual city! For example, Harajuku to me was defined by it’s vibrance, it’s cafe culture, and it’s younger demographic. Shibuya had a more hustle and bustle, work-driven vibe with it’s busy crosswalks, working people walking briskly to their jobs, and high-end fashion stores. Asakusa was entirely different and unique — it almost felt like we were in a different city! It was super traditional and felt ancient, with it’s beautiful temples and preservation of the true Japanese culture. Shinjuku was one of my favorite parts of Tokyo – as it has such an upbeat, fun vibe with lots of stores, restaurants, sushi shops and bars, and a good mix of people, younger and older. Each place was so unique, but so special, and I loved all of them individually in their own way! Tokyo is made up of so many amazing spots, and each has its own “personality”.
The first two days of our trip was spent adjusting to the time difference (jet lag always gets the best of me, haha) and unwinding in the most beautiful hotel, the Andaz Tokyo. The Andaz Tokyo hotel was sleek, modern, and polished. From our bedroom, you could see the Tokyo Tower, and the rest of the city. The skyline from the rooftop was absolutely breathtaking as well. After enjoying a delicious breakfast at Andaz, we spent most of our day exploring, seeing Team Lab Tokyo, and grabbing delicious cuisine at a 5 star Michelin restaurant! Team Lab was one of the most amazing experiences we had during our first days in Tokyo. It consists of dozens of rooms with 3 dimensional attractions—like sparkling lights, stunning lanterns, trampolines, lily pad gardens, and a tea room with 3D matcha drinks. I was able to experience it early in the morning on a Monday, when the crowd was a bit less than usual! There were so many great attractions, and definitely a must-see activity if you visit Tokyo.
During the afternoons on our first few days in Tokyo, we also got to see some of the best parts of the city such as Harajuku, where everything is bright, vibrant, and colorful! Harajuku was one of my favorite parts due to its colors and its exciting vibe. Tons of rainbow cotton candy, cute shops, gift stores, clothing stores, and food everywhere! We also stopped at the most adorable coffee shop to get 3D latte art.
Another amazing coffee shop we stopped by was the Lexus Cafe in Tokyo! After exploring for a bit we had coffees and I got to see one of the coolest bathrooms ever! The entire wall is lined up with toy cars, and I thought it was such an amazing photo opportunity 😉
During our stay in Tokyo, I was able to have a real kimono experience, which was something totally different and unique to me. I’ve never worn a real kimono before! I was able to choose the color of my choice for the kimono and the belt. I didn’t realize how much time, effort and work goes into wearing a kimono, either! It took nearly an hour for the woman who was dressing me to wrap me in each layer of the kimono, stuff it properly, wrap the belt on, and put on my shoes! Finally, after I was ready, we took a beautiful walk through one of the most magnificent Japanese gardens.
Cuisine and Fine Dining
What I also learned is that Tokyo is known for it’s appreciation of good, nutritious and delicious food. Since I am vegan, I learned so much about the different types of nutritious foods that were offered in Tokyo, and the food was so easily accessible that it made my trip so enjoyable and easy to eat everything that I loved or would eat back home! We visited several different vegan cuisine restaurants such as Lapaz, Tam Tam’s which was more casual, and then more high end 5-star restaurants as well. Foods we ate included veggie curries, cucumber sushi, steamed vegetable dumplings, fried and regular tofu dishes, vegan-friendly miso soup, lots of rice, and fresh fruits daily. We also stopped by many smoothie places and had fresh acai bowls and juices each morning. There were so many options to choose from and we were always well fed, happy and energized! 🙂
Hoshinoya Tokyo Experience
On the last few nights of our stay, we stayed in such a peaceful, quaint hotel called Hoshinoya Tokyo that was much more quiet than the others we had stayed at. The hotel was more of an authentic Japanese experience! Upon arrival at the hotel, we had to remove our shoes and place them in a locker before going to our room. We had our own private suite tucked away in a corner, and a delicious Japanese breakfast was delivered to our room each morning. The hotel also featured an amazing spa and pool on the top floor for guests to enjoy. They offered yoga and meditation as well. I really felt so peaceful and I felt so spiritually connected during my stay there.
Culture in General
Some other amazing perks of being in Tokyo was how respectful, courteous, and polite everyone is. There are so many people living in this big city, yet everyone is so respectful of one another. I was surprised to also see how immaculate every public place is. Every restaurant, shop, and subway we entered was clean and polished! Even the restrooms were so clean. It made me realize how important cleanliness and the value of people’s lives are to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as they invest so much back into their people and make sure everyone is comfortable in their living conditions and satisfied. Their culture is all about respect for others, and that’s what made it so heartwarming!
I will definitely be back soon…
Overall, Tokyo was one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been to. There was just so much to do and so much that this city has to offer. I fell in love with it’s beauty and I cannot wait for my next trip back! I am hopefully going to visit again when the cherry blossoms are blooming, and everything is bright pink and ready for springtime. Stay tuned for my next adventure to Japan!