Japan Trip Recap: Day 1- Tokyo

We’re about half way through our trip to Japan and it’s time to start sharing some of what we’ve been up to.
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Feeling refreshed after an excellent flight on American Airlines (more on that another time), we got out relatively early to explore Tokyo on our first day.
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We made a bunch of stops, some being food-related. We also visited a beautiful temple and took in views from high above the city.
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Here is what we did:
  • Kappabashi- “Kitchen Town”
  • Senso-ji Temple
  • Daikokuya restaurant for tempura
  • Impressive views from the Sky Tree
  • Doughnut Plant, a favorite of ours back home

Fake Pizza

Kim had read about an area nicknamed “Kitchen Town” that sounded like a great place for a visit. Throughout Japan, restaurants display fake foods in windows to show a sampling of what’s on the menu. We started the day by visiting Kappabashi, the area where most restaurants buy their fake food. These stores had replicas of just about every food available in Japan- from sushi to ice cream. I was planning on buying a couple of fake foods to take home as souvenirs but changed my mind when I saw the price. I was told that these fakes were all hand made which accounts for the cost.

Just as an example- the pizza shown on the above left costs about $79 US.

Senso-ji Temple

We then walked to Tokyo’s oldest temple- Senso-ji. The temple is made up of a few buildings and an impressive, main gate (shown above). The temple was very nice but the best part about the visit was people watching. The grounds were pretty busy and from what we could tell, most visitors were from Japan. Lucas enjoyed having a chance to run around and explore the grounds too! Just outside the temple are lots of small shops selling souvenirs, clothes and snacks.

Tendon Tempura

We took a break nearby for lunch at Daikokuya, a tempura restaurant. The restaurant was busy with locals and tourists. After a 15 minute wait, we got seated at a Japanese style table. This was kind of fun but not so great for your back and with a very mobile toddler (no high chair and sitting on the floor meant Lucas wanted to run around the whole place and talk to everyone). The restaurant specializes in “tendon” which are large prawns battered, fried and served over rice. We ordered a couple of prawns with a mixed seafood tempura. The food was really great and well worth the wait. The prawns were big and tasty and the mixed seafood was more like a patty of small shrimps which was also delicious. I’d definitely recommend having a tempura meal at Daikokuya if you plan on visiting Tokyo in the future.

After lunch we headed over to the Tokyo SkyTree to get a view of the city from way up high. The SkyTree is Japan’s tallest structure and second tallest structure in the world.
When we arrived at the ticket area it was mobbed with people on line but we couldn’t give up and leave. The line actually moved very fast and we were at the observation deck within a half hour or so. The views were pretty impressive but a problem we had was not knowing what we were looking at! Usually these kind of observation decks have signs which label the buildings within view. I was happy to spot one familiar structure- Senso-ji Temple. My favorite part of the visit was not the view far away. I really loved looking down from the glass bottom floor. Some people were afraid to step onto the floor and hesitated at first but I found it to be a really fun part of the visit.

One of our favorite doughnut shops in NYC is Doughnut Plant. When we found out that they had a bunch of locations in Tokyo, we had to give it a try. We weren’t planning to stop by the first day and didn’t even know where to find them in Tokyo. However, when we got off the train by our hotel, Kim spotted one in the train station as we were heading out. They didn’t have as many flavors as in NYC but they did have one of my favorites- Blackout. The doughnut was decent but nothing to go out of your way for. While it was nice to see a familiar shop so far away from home (other then McDonald’s), I’m glad that we came across the Doughnut Plant when we did and didn’t have to go out of our way for it.

This is just a recap of our first day in Japan. Keep checking back for more about our travels around Japan in upcoming posts.

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