When someone asks me what are the compulsory places one has to visit in life, Tokyo is on my top 5. I travelled for the first time to Japan last December to visit my Japanese friends from Brillantmont when I was studying in Switzerland. I always like to travel with locals, they are the real deal and I believe that is best way to explore a country.
When one thinks of Japan the first thing that comes to mind – hey at least on mine- is sushi! Yes, you are in sushi paradise! However, forget all you know; this is another level of food. Each restaurant is specialized in something, if you want sushi; you go to a sushi only place. You want ramen; you go to only an only ramen restaurant. There even are Michelin star tempura only restaurants!
The usual flight to Tokyo is about 12 hours long coming from Europe. Almost all airlines have direct flights to Narita Airport. Yes -is quite a long flight, just pop a sleeping pill, take a siesta, and when you wake up, catch up on the latest movies on in-flight entertainment.
Where to stay:
There are so many areas that I like in Tokyo, I think I could even live here- the New York of Asia. In this trip I stayed at a wonderful hotel of a brand until then unknown to me, but that has now become one of my favorite hotel chains: Andaz Tokyo. The Andaz Tokyo is a top luxury hotel, by far one of the best services I ever had in my life, with outstanding personalized treatment. Located in the Toranomon Hills building, one of the highest in Tokyo, you can enjoy amazing views to the city and the Tokyo Tower. The breakfast buffet in Andaz is something worth waking up for, from hummus to salmon with toasts and the most amazing green tea.
What to do:
Getting lost is part of the trip. I recommend you to watch to movie ‘Lost in Translation’ to get an idea. It took me some time to learn how to get around the city – metro is the best way. You will ALWAYS need help to get to your destination, be sure to ask the Japanese people, they are the most friendly and even if they don’t speak English they will get out of their ways to show you yours. I will forever be thankful to each one of them: Arigato!
Talking about traditional places to visit, go to the Sensoji Temple and make a wish for good fortune!
Akihabara: The manga area, wander across the streets and visit the gaming centres, whole buildings with different floors for each theme of games. You will be amazed at the curious games they play and how much time the Japanese people spend here, take some coins and try playing yourself!
Ginza: The luxury area for shopping and top restaurants very close to Andaz Hotel.
Shinjuku: I would say this is one of the most modern Tokyo areas, amazing shops and you have the Mori Art Museum, compulsory stop, I was lucky to see an exposition by Takashi Murakami, the artist who designed a collection for Louis Vuitton with little faces, remember? The view from the top of the museum is also very instagramy, go with the phones fully charged! 😉
Karaoke: Grab your friends and go singing at one of the small karaoke rooms you can rent all for yourself. Equipped with microphones, disco lights and drinks service this will be one of the most fun nights you will remember!
Where to eat:
Kyubei Sushi, Ginza: The best Japanese restaurant I ever tried. Enjoy the sushi chef master in front of you as you learn the real sushi do’s and don’t,s. You will be surprised to find out most sushi does not require soy sauce, instead, a light sparkle of salt and lemon juice.
Sukiyabashi Jiro: The number 1 sushi restaurant in the world. Plan ahead if you are willing to eat here, you may want to reserve months in advance! The sushi master Jiro is considered a national treasure in Japan. He became world famous in the documentary about his life’ Jiro dreams of Sushi’. Sitting up to 10 customers at a time, this restaurant consists of a selection of only sushi prepared by Jiro himself in front of you. Totally worth it.
Hama Steakhouse, Ginza: Teppanyaki show with the house specialty being the beef from Matsuzaka, simply melts in your mouth. In my opinion much better than Kobe beef.
Gonpachi: For all the Kill Bill fans, do you remember the fight scene in the restaurant in Japan? It was filmed here; Gonpachi is more of a tourist attraction than anything else! Fun to see it though!
Take a look at the cars! They are mostly squared shape; I just think it’s funny how it reminds me of tv cartoons.
There is no money tipping in Japan. So anytime you take a taxi, pay a bill at a restaurant or receive a service, you are not allowed to tip anything!
10000 Yens = 80 euros
Arigato and welcome to Japan!