GEMS OF TOKYO!

Hello here again!

I am on fire today and that means I for once kept a promise and wrote this post (with intention to actually finish it) about cool places to visit in Tokyo!

Obviously this is not an explicit list and I’d love to hear your suggestions, since I am planning another trip to Japan (I can see surprised face of my boyfriend right now o_O). But I’ll spare your time and go straight to places to experience while in Tokyo:

EST

My all time favorite! In short EST is a 9 floor building in Shibuya (very close to train station) that has ping-pong hall, bowling, karaoke, gaming, most delicious chicken wings and much more! It is always so much fun with diverse Japanese crowd – from students and couples on a date to office folks and even semi-professionals.

They accept cards and food can be ordered straight to your ping-pong table (sounds amazing, right?)

1 hour of ping-pong is ¥1000.

Portion of most delicious fried chicken that melts in your mouth is ¥550.

Bairin

I already told you where to find sushi in Tokyo. But Japanese cuisine is so much more than just sushi. One dish you must try is tonkatsu – a deep-fried pork cutlet served with rice and miso soup. Usually served in a small restaurants with a window stands outside showing exact copy of the dish in plastic and its price.

Best place to try such delicacy is Ginza-located restaurant called Bairin. Just few meters off the shopping avenue. You won’t miss it because there will be most likely a line of approximately 20 people outside. Don’t let it scare you: it goes fast and it is in a way a very Japanese experience – to wait for your seat.

They rarely speak English and most likely will not accept cards, so prepare some cash and practice your body language…for the latter you practically just need to confidently point at the menu item and smile.

If you are not in Ginza and instead exploring hip Shibuya area, you can have tonkatsu lunch at Wako.

Price per meal ranges ¥1100 – ¥3200.

Hama-rikyu Gardens

Probably one of the most beautiful parks in Tokyo. It isn’t big and easily walkable. Something is always blooming here and what I find the prettiest here is the contrast: park is surrounded by skyscrapers and corporate headquarters. It really looks like a small oasis in the middle of the concrete jungles.

If you’d like to extend your experience, they have a tea house just by the lake where you can take off your shoes, sit on tatami mat until your  whole body numbs out and drink delicious ocha tea in a strictly regulated way. No joke – there is a set of rules you have to follow with your tea and pastry. Speaking of the latter…it didn’t grow on me. I found traditional sweats of a VERY strange taste – like flour mixed together with tasteless marzipan. But at least their tea is delicious 🙂

Entrance to park is ¥300 and it includes free map in English.

Tea ceremony is ¥720 per person 1 year ago.

Zakuzaku

If you are following this blog for some time (Kudos to you!), then you know I am continuously working on my sugar addiction. And since it is a rather challenging process – I allow myself from time to time to indulge with exceptionally good deserts…such as zakuzaku. It is a chain that is not yet well-spread around Japan, so it might require an extra train stop or a bit of a detour. But just look at my face below (don’t let it freak you out by the way) and notice a tears of joy while I am enjoying every bit of the croquant filled with custard cream (nomnomnom)!

One croquant is ¥250.

Ghibli Museum

You might not know who Hayao Miyazaki is, but you surely saw at least one of his animation films (like all time favorite Spirited Away). And if you didn’t, I insist you watch one right now! Yeah! Go watch it!… I’ll wait here.

So now, when we are on the same page and you are dying to know more about greatest animation studio – go online and get your tickets to the museum. As simple as that! there are four admissions a day and tickets sold out very fast, so it’s good to plan your visit ahead. After entering you will get a map that is partially in English and you are ready to go to explore a wonderful world of Japanese anime films. And don’t forget to stop by small souvenir shop inside to buy your very first pin with Totoro on it.

Tickets can be bought online here for ¥1000 per person (cheaper for children).

Tocho (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building)

No doubt the view from 634m Tokyo SkyTree is one of a kind. And you can get to observation deck on floor 450 for only ¥3000 or so. We didn’t go there and apart of the very generic information I

Alternative way to see a bird view of Tokyo is to visit Tocho in Shinjuku ward. It has decks at 202m hight on 45th floor with absolutely free access. The view is spectacular and the top of the building is moving a little bit when it is windy outside, so portion of adrenalin comes as a bonus to your visit 🙂

Free access and line is no longer than 20 min.

Karaoke-kan

You know my voice is far from being even tolerable. It has this thick Russian accent that appears out of nowhere when I sing, so every song in a way sounds like “Kalinka-Kalinka“. I avoid public singing at any cost and try to compensate it with over the top expressive dancing.

And I wanted to try karaoke for such long time, but never dared to even hum into microphone (I’d probably lose all my friends at the same time). So if you are just like me, Japan has a solution for us – private karaoke booths. They can fit any amount of people starting from one (it looks more like a shower with screen and mic) to unlimited. Sometimes whole company departments come for team buildings. I guess there are many corporate teams that built around mutual secret of collective incapability in squeezing one single note in right tone. I bet they sign NDA agreements before signing up for every single Adele song!

Anyway, just try it! It’s really fun! Especially when both of you rather remind a very sad sea-lion when pretending to be Mariah Carey. Simply head to one of the karaoke-kans located all over Tokyo and Japan and order private room for two. You can order drinks to your room from menu in the room (most of them weird combinations beer and juices and neon colored cocktails). Get yourself at least two hours to properly get drunk warm up!

Price very much depends on room and time of the day (we usually paid around ¥6000 for two hours around midnight).

Drinks ¥500 – ¥1000.

Experience is priceless!

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