Have you read my previous Japan posts? You can find them all here.
Day 8 was the day we were leaving Kyoto to head to Tokyo, where we would spend 10 days. Looking back now, I really wish we had stayed in Kyoto longer. There’s so much to do there and I feel like we did nowhere near as much as we had hoped. I’m definitely going to visit Kyoto again soon.
The house we were staying at in Kyoto had a check out time of 10am, so we woke up early, tidied up and headed out to get breakfast. At the bottom of the street we were staying in, was a small cafe, called Cafe de Whoje, which we visited a few times whilst in Kyoto. As soon as you walk into the place, you are greeted by the owners, a very friendly husband and wife, who made us feel really welcome. The decor is very homely and there were vintage cameras all around, which I loved (I actually collect cameras).
The menu included a range of different set meals for breakfast. The previous morning, I had the smallest set meal; a boiled egg, thick white toast with butter (the eggs and bread in Japan are so tasty!) and an iced tea, but this time the lady who owned the cafe came out to show off the cakes she had made, so I decided to get a big slab of cake and an iced tea for breakfast. My parents and Matt had the large set meal, consisting of eggs, toast, mashed potato, and salad. A bit of a weird combination, but they enjoyed it.
After breakfast, we walked towards Eikando temple, which was a few minutes walk away. Here we paid a donation to the temple and lit a stick of incense.
Once back at the house, we collected our belongings and waited for our taxis to the station.
Our plan was to get the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Tokyo for the next part of our trip. Tickets for the bullet train are usually quite expensive, but as we had our JR passes, we didn’t pay any extra. The people at the ticket counter were incredibly helpful and sorted the tickets out in no time at all.
I would recommend getting food before getting on the train, there’s plenty of shops offering really tasty looking bento boxes, perfect for taking on a long journey. Unfortunately, we didn’t think of this and ended up having to buy food on the Shinkansen, where the selection wasn’t that great.
As we were early, there was a twenty-minute wait on the platform and in true Japanese style, the train arrived bang on time. The trip from Kyoto to Tokyo takes around 2 hours. It’s the equivalent of going from Cardiff to Scotland, so it’s an incredibly quick journey for the distance covered.
As we had first class JR passes, we were able to sit in the first class carriage. The seats are big and comfy with food trays in front of each one and the ability to recline. What I liked about the Shinkansen was that the overhead luggage holders were huge and could fit all our suitcases. A welcome change from trains in the UK.
As I mentioned before, the selection of food and drink on the train was poor. There we just two types of sandwiches to choose from and a couple of different drinks. I had a tonkatsu sandwich, which was pretty tasty.
The rest of the journey was spent playing on my 3DS and sleeping. We eventually arrived at Tokyo station at 3ish. The subway trains in Tokyo were relatively easy to navigate and our Airbnb was just a short journey away in Meguro. The apartment was just 5 minutes walk from Nakameguro station, just on the other side of the river.
We had instructions from the owner on how to find the building and find the key, but we still got a bit lost and walked into the wrong building. Luckily, no one was in the apartment which we tried numerous times to open, phew! We discovered that where we were staying was just the apartment over and eventually managed to get in.
The place was relatively small, but that’s what’s expected of an apartment in the middle of Tokyo. There was just two bedrooms, one of which doubled up as a living room, with a relatively large kitchen and bathroom. It wasn’t very well equipped, only a couple of towels between us all and no tea towels, which was a contrast to the place in Kyoto.
Matt and I decided to go out and explore the area. Meguro was full of restaurants and boutique shops and flowing down one of the main streets was Meguro river. A famous spot to view the Cherry Blossoms in the spring time.
We ended up walking to Shibuya, one of the busiest parts of Tokyo and just a twenty-minute walk from Meguro. We wandered around some of the big shops and got some Takoyaki as a snack. Takoyaki is balls of batter, traditionally filled with Octopus and topped with Japanese Mayo, Takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and bonito flakes, but there are other fillings and toppings available. Osaka is famous for this food, but we didn’t get a chance to have any whilst there. These ones in Tokyo were still tasty, but beware, they’re scolding hot in the middle!
Once back at the apartment, we got changed and headed out to look for somewhere to eat. We didn’t want to venture far and ended up at a restaurant called Kushiwakamaru – a small yakitori bar near Nakameguro station and just 5 minutes walk from where we were staying. It was really busy and had a buzzing atmosphere, which was clearly very popular with the locals, but luckily we managed to get a table. We were given an English menu, which was really helpful and started by ordering a few small dishes each.
Yakitori is a Japanese street food, which is basically just grilled meat on skewers. Unlike yakitori you can get in the UK, the yakitori on the menu here was a lot of usual parts of the animal. We chose a range of dishes to share; skewered pork cheek, chicken neck, octopus, chicken cartilage, heart, and giblets. Some may have been put off by some of the things on the menu, but I was keen to try something a bit different.
From reading the Trip Advisor page for this restaurant, I saw that it’s actually the 3rd highest rated restaurant in Meguro and usually has huge lines to get in, so I’m really glad I got to experience this place. With the yakitori, we drank a few (very) large glasses of beer and some sake and even ended up making friends with a group of Japanese people on the table behind us. We stayed there talking to them until quite late.
Day 9 – Akihabara, Maid Cafe, and a gig!
On Day 9, we took a short train ride from Nakameguro station (near our apartment) to Akihabara station. I had heard that here was the best place to buy electronics and anime merchandise.
We walked from the station to the main part of Akihabara and went into Bic Camera, a chain of department stores that are found all over Japan. I headed straight up to the camera floor to look at the Olympus Pen e-PL7. Here I found a great deal that included the camera body and two lenses. A lot of big stores in Japan had a tax free price, which you could take advantage of if you showed your passport. This meant that it was a lot cheaper to buy the camera here, rather than the UK, so of course, I had to buy it!
We somehow spent a couple of hours here, mainly looking at the toys, arcades, and books/magazines. I ended up buying a book on animal crossing, and got a few gachapons from the machines, including a cute Gudetama one and a sailor moon stick!
On the main street were loads of shops selling anime and manga merchandise and also Maidreamin, a quite well-known maid cafe. We were given a leaflet for it, so decided to have our lunch here.
Maid cafes are basically restaurants where the servers are dressed as maids and put on shows for the guests. We were shown to the lift by a cute Japanese girl, who insisted on calling me Ariel because of my red hair and she told us which floor to get off at. The lift opens out into the restaurant, which was incredibly bright and colourful. One of the maids showed us to our table, which was in the centre of the room and gave us menus.
The clientele here were mainly foreign girls and their boyfriends (who looked so confused most of the time), as well as young Japanese guys, sat on their own. I don’t have many photos from inside the restaurant, as taking photos was banned.
We ordered a couple of drinks and also a main meal each. I went for the curry, which was shaped like a bear and looked too cute to eat. It was actually pretty tasty, although you would hope so at the cost it was quite steep compared to everywhere else we had eaten in Japan.
Visitors are given glow sticks to wave around as the girls do their performance. These performances happen every hour and you are able to pay extra to get an Instax photo with some of the maids.
It was definitely an experience, not sure I’d go again, but I’d heard so much about maid cafes that I was glad I went to see what they were all about.
After wandering around more of the shops in Akihabara, we returned to the apartment and after browsing Facebook, we discovered that a couple of bands Matt & I like were playing in Tokyo that night. It said it was sold out, but we decided to risk it anyway and see if there were tickets on the door.
We made our way to a venue called Tsutaya O-West, located in Shibuya, to see the bands Four Get Me A Nots, Dizzy Sunfist, Scotland Girl and Longman, all of which, have female members, which was pretty cool. Luckily, there were tickets at the door and although pretty expensive, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see these bands.
With your tickets, you get one free drink each and with each drink we had, they gave us a pack of snacks, so I ended up with about 10 packs of nuts in my backpack!
The gig was really enjoyable and was much different to gigs back in the UK, as people weren’t holding up their phones in the way of their view. What I thought was really cool, was that at the end, the photographer took a photo from the stage of all the bands and the crowd. If you look really carefully, you can spot me and Matt.
We queued up to buy some merch and then went to McDonalds for some very late dinner. Even the Happy Meal toys in Japan are cooler, I got a little Twin Stars make-up bag. It was pretty late by this time, so we walked back home and went to bed!
Apologies that there aren’t that many photos in this post! My next post will be about our trip to Five Lakes to see Mount Fuji!
Have you ever been to Tokyo? What did you think?
Want to read more of my posts on Japan?
See all my posts
Osaka – Trying new foods and going to a traditional tea ceremony
Mount Koya – Staying in a Buddhist temple
Kyoto Part 1 – Bamboo forest, Golden Pavillion and Gion, the Geisha district
Nara – Feeding the deer and visiting the worlds largest wooden building
Kyoto Part 2 – Temples, torii gates and lots of tradition
Mount Fuji & Lake Kawaguchiko – A stroll around the lake with a great view of Mount Fuji
Tokyo Part 2 – Shinjuku, Sunshine City and the Pokemon Centre