All through this autumn I’ve been talking to my friends about going to Japan in March, and right after Christmas we finally ordered our tickets and booked our hotels. I have never been to Japan before and am of course very excited. Our destination is Tokyo, so I figured I would take a few moments to think about what I actually do know about this popular city, and what I need to explore more of before our plane takes off.
This is what I know about the city so far:
Tokyo has done an extraordinary job combining urban city life and beautiful nature with large parks and beautiful gardens. One of these is the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This huge garden is divided into several different garden styles (French manor, English, Japanese and more). You will have to pay a small amount of yen to enter the garden, which is very much worth the spend according to reviews on Tripadvisor. Seems like the perfect break after an eventful day in the busy city of Tokyo.
Meiju Jingu is a Shinto shrine located in Shibuya. The shrine was completed in 1920 and again repaired after damages during World War II. The two large gates that frames the entrance was dedicated to Emperor and Empress Meiji. Close to the train station, this historic shrine is described as one of the places you must visit while in the city. Namasté!
Cat cafés, dog cafés and even owl and goat cafés. Tokyo has it all! I am of course very determined to visit at least one cat café and an owl café. A goat café on the other hand? Sounds messy… Tokyo is full of theme filled cafés and restaurants, and I also recently read about maid cafés who offers waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants and treat customers as masters (and mistresses). I don’t believe I will be making a visit…
Harajuku is known for it’s eclectic and influential fashion movement. I first learned about Harajuku through Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku girls in her 2004 video for “What are you waiting for”. The Harajuku style is full of colorful manga-inspired baby-doll dresses, pigtails, high platform shoes and gothic makeup, and also kimonos. Sunday is the best day to visit Harajuku if you want to take in the Harajuku style, the area is filled with teenagers dressed in extreme youth fashions, street performers, and loud rock bands.
Tokyo is known for it’s futurism in both technology and robots. One of the places I want to explore this is at The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Located on the man-made island called Odaiba, the museum offers hands-on exhibitions on technology, environmental studies and space exploration. Here you can also witness Asimo – Honda’s robotic humanoid.
I might also head over to the Toshiba Science Museum located in the nearby city of Kawasaki. This museum explains how their technology is changing and shaping the way we live ours lives through interactive exhibits.
As a big foodie myself, one of the things that get’s my attention the most whenever I’m traveling to a new part of the world is, of course, the food.
One of the meals planned in my food calendar is Kobe beef. Kobe refers to beef from the Tajima strain of the Wagyu cattle, raised in Japan’s Hyogo. The meat is known for the tenderness and flavor, and also, it’s well-marbled texture. The beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, teppanyaki, and sashimi. For those who know me, you know I will be going for the steak. The translation for Kobe beef in Japanese is Kobe niku (Kobe meat).
Ramen is a noodle soup imported from China, and has through the last decades become one of the most popular dishes in Japan. The meal is available all over the city, and is very inexpensive (might be a good dish to go for after a day filled with too much shopping). You will find ramen-ya’s, the Japanese name for ramen restaurants on almost every corner of the country and variations of the noodle dish changes from region to region.
Okonomiyaki is a widely popular pan-fried dish that consists of batter and cabbage with toppings and ingredients of either seafood, wasabi or cheese. Popular choices are octopus, shrimp, pork, yam or kimchi. Okonomi means “to one’s liking” and you will find the dish all over Japan at restaurants that specialize in the meal, at some places you will find iron griddles at the dining tables, for you to cook the ingredients of the meal yourself.
Japan is also worldly known for their big fish markets and fresh sushi.
What I want to learn more about before our trip:
- The best places for a night out
- Find more beautiful parks
- If there is going to be trees filled with cherry blossoms while we’re there
- The best sake (酒) bars
- Traditional temples
- and, of course, the best karaoke bars
Have I missed something? If you have any tips for me about what I should check out in Tokyo, please leave a comment in the comment section below!
(free to use images via Over, and also from NDTV, Thousand Wonders and foodphotosite)
(Sources: Skyscanner: 8 Best geek things to do and see in Tokyo, Trip advisor’s Things to do in Tokyo)