Want to win a tour in Tokyo, Paris, or London? Read on to find out more!
Work and life has been a little busy, but I’m pleased to share my final blog post on my trip to Japan in 2015!
I stayed in two different hotels within Ikebukuro (池袋) during my Tokyo leg; I had not explored this part of Tokyo previously and I was pleasantly surprised. Did you know that Ikebukuro Station is the second busiest station, surpassed only by Shinjuku Station. However, unlike it’s more popular counterpart, Ikebukuro is a cheaper location to stay in without missing out on any of the hustle and bustle.
Between the B Ikebukuro and APA Hotel Ikebukuro-Eki-Kitaguchi hotels, I very much preferred the former.
1-39-4 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo 170-0013
APA Hotel Ikebukuro-Eki-Kitaguchi
2-48-7 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku 171-0014
These two hotels were both great choices for under S$150 a night, but the location for the B was much more convenient and in a better neighbourhood. Basically, APA was too close to drinking bars/clubs and the night entertainment area for my comfort, and a bit further away from the train station.
Everyone must have heard about Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場) closing its operations and relocating in November 2016. It becomes a must-go destination not only to observe the early-morning tuna auction, but also to taste the fresh seafood at the popular stalls there. I had a tiring red-eye flight, so I had to give the auction a miss. Those who want a piece of the action must be prepared to wake up at 3am to queue, as admission is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
I reached Tsukiji around 10am, and the much raved Sushi Dai (寿司大) or Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) were not feasible ideas when I’m carrying a luggage straight from the airport. I settled for chain restaurant Sushi Zanmai (すしざんまい) the King of Tuna, which was in fact very decent.
I ordered what I needed to, tuna – otoro (大とろ) –> chutoro (中とろ) –> akami (赤身) –> Salmon Belly
Moving on, I wandered the narrow streets of Tsukiji and stumbled upon grilled scallops, tamagoyaki (egg potong stick), ramen and many more. I was full and satisfied within 2 hours of stepping foot in Tokyo.
There is also a snaking queue for this clear broth ramen from 中華そば 井上 (Chuka Soba Inoue)
I know it’s rare to hear this, but the ramen chef really prepared the bowls with finesse. They do it 10 bowls per batch, and everything was done so orderly. Slurp.
Another area I love to visit in Tokyo is Harajuku (原宿) and Omotesando (表参道). It is interesting to stroll through Takeshita Dori while snacking on crepes, but one of the main highlight for me is the LINE store at the end of this street. One of only two stores in the whole of Japan (other store is in Sendai), this is the place to stock up on your LINE merchandise.
Look how big Brown is. Some people like to slap his face and leave hand-prints…
One of my favourite Starbucks in Tokyo is at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, at the road junction not far from the LINE store. It is located on the rooftop and has a large garden terrace for relaxing and coffee chats.
Tourists being tourists, I had to make a visit to the Kaminarimon (雷門) Thunder Gate. A short walk from the Asakusa (浅草), you won’t miss this place with hundreds of people thronging the narrow street leading up to the temple. Within the gates lie Tokyo’s oldest and most famous temple – Sensoji (浅草寺). It’s fun to walk around and look at the handicrafts/souvenirs they have for sale, but do note that they (prices) are targeted towards tourists.
I passed by Tokyo Dome City during the last day of my previous trip, and I so badly wanted to check out this amazing place in Tokyo that has a roller coaster! I specially went there this time, just to sit on the Thunder Dolphin. It costs 1,030 yen per ride, and a roller coaster adrenaline junkie like me didn’t regret it at all. Watch the video below for the first person point of view!
Friends who know me well understands that I love ramen. It’s my comfort food, and since I was staying at Ikebukuro, I had to try the Mutekiya Ramen (無敵家). Address: 1-17-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku 東京都豊島区南池袋1-17- (Ikebukuro Station East Exit), Tokyo, Japan. They open until 4a.m. so it’s the perfect place to go for a warm hearty supper after a night of drinking / partying. But really, you don’t need a reason to have good ramen. I went around 11a.m. before the lunch crowd arrived, but I wasn’t early enough. Standing in the hot sun for about 30 mins waiting for my ramen only whet up my appetite. Turns out it was good, but not fantastic-come-back-again-tomorrow kind of good. Only 六厘舎TOKYO Ramen at the Tokyo Station made me do that.
When you ask a Tokyoite about Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き), inevitably Tsukishima Monjya street comes to mind. Monjayaki is a kind of Japanese-style pancake, in which you can cook it on the grill by yourself, and eat off it afterwards. I was recommended to go to Bambi, as it had an English menu and the food was decent. I guess I was there more for the experience, being a first-timer I think my Monjya actually tasted mediocre at best.
I am really happy to have re-visited Japan, and I would take it up again in a heartbeat if an opportunity knocks on my door. It’s truly one of my favourite countries in the world.
Now comes the exciting part – GIVEAWAY CONTEST!
YOU can win a free self-guided tour on the popular app GPSmyCity. Rules are really simple:
- Comment on THIS blog post the city you would like to go next, and tell me why!
- Bonus points will be given for creative entries.
- Share this post on Facebook so your friends can be rewarded too.
Contest dates are from 8 February 2016 – 29 February 2016. 20 lucky winners will be chosen and will receive a special promo code to download the app. Winners will be contacted via email, so please provide a valid email address.
Based on the comment, the winner will get the specific city’s guided tour app. Please refer to this link for the full list of cities.
GPSmyCity app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Good luck and happy travelling!