And this is what happened!
After a long and stressful journey which included delayed flights turning into changed flights, unable to transfer special ordered meals resulting in meal vouchers in airport, and the stress of possibly not being able to sit together or get our luggage on time...we made it to Japan safe sound, stuffed, with luggage, earlier than planned...through immigrations, baggage claim, and customs in 15 minutes and to the hotel with relative ease (minus walking 5 blocks up hill with 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons).
Ahhhh, Tokyo...I love you! And now I could show my sister how awesome Tokyo is. Sightseeing was on the agenda, but even more so, we planned a low key 3 days packed with seeing the city neighborhoods, checking out the charm of certain areas, and lots of shopping and eating.
But night one was definitely just for resting. We had been up for hours and needed sleep. We got in some time between 7 and 8 pm so sleep was to be expected. First up though, I needed to get us some dinner. Hard to find places with take away so with limited choices I went with tempura shrimp and veggies served over rice. I am pretty sure my sister passed out just as she finished eating. She is not as accustomed to hoping the International Dateline as I am.
The next morning I awoke to discover this amazing view outside our hotel window. We were staying in the Akasaka neighborhood and this is the park in Akasaka. Glad the hotel gave me a room with a view! Only 3-4 rooms (per floor) faced this direction so I definitely lucked out. Waking up to this view each morning was amazing, even if it was 4:30 am every day! Beyond the park you can see more city skyline. Not sure which neighborhood that is, but definitely a lot more building beyond the green.
Breakfast was at Starbucks. Easy to find and opened early. We definitely woke up earlier than we expected even with blackout curtains. They don't call it the land of the rising sun for nothing!
How cute is it that they put a soy milk sticker on my sisters cup to show she had a soy latte? Too cute! I love Japan!
First up was a trip to Tsukiji Market for breakfast sushi...or not! Definitely a holiday and definitely not open. Thankfully I am pretty good at getting around Tokyo, so we hopped on the metro and went to check out Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Here I am at the main gate.
Here is my sister. Love her!
Lunch was in order before heading to a cat cafe. Yes, I said cat cafe. This was the one thing my sister really wanted to do and quite honestly, I was exceptionally curious. I did my research and found one. But first up, we stopped for lunch at a mall on the way from the metro to the cat cafe.
We decided to try out some Thai food.
I had crab fried rice. Yum!
Rach had Tom Yom soup. Nice and spicy. She thoroughly enjoyed this.
And I had, had, had to order this. Although not called kueh, I knew it was (cause I guess in Thailand it is called something else) and I was correct. It was delicious. The only difference was that this was served hot. I still liked it.
After some intense searching, involving multiple maps and the use of Google Maps on my phone, we finally located Cat Cafe Nekorobi. No, not a cafe where they serve cat. In fact, not even a cafe where they serve food. Just a cafe for lounging around with cats.
Cats, cats, cats! Everywhere! So there were lots of people when we got there and the cats were asleep, not surprisingly of course.
Hello winner of the fluffiest cat of the year award.
But as the sun started to set something amazing happened. These nocturnal animals sprung to life (yeah, yeah, not surprising at all). They dimmed the lights inside and the cats, one by one, slowly but surely, got up and started to interact with the remaining guests, which thankfully included us.
Out came the toys to entice the cats to play.
It seems there was a need to line up at this door. No idea what was behind it.
Hiding out up high.
Playing in the tunnel.
Nope, still sleeping. By the way this was the largest cat I have ever seen. Hard to tell here, but this cat has one paw in front of the chair back and one behind.
After we played for a bit we were ready to head back to the hotel for bed, but not without trying some dinner. We picked up two pieces of cake and nibbled a little on both before passing out.
The next day we decided to check out something we kept seeing as we passed a nearby road. We really want them to be llamas, but know that they are camels. From afar we just couldn't tell and decided we liked the idea of llamas better. I have no idea what this building is and why there are llamas, I mean camels, in hats here.
Instead of Starbucks for breakfast we tried out Honolulu Coffee. Every time we walked by it smelled like amazing donuts. And every time we went inside I couldn't find them. But we thought we would get coffee there anyway.
This place was beyond adorable. Right in the middle of busy Tokyo was a Hawaiian hideaway. Relaxing music, great coffee, perfect ambiance.
We both ordered egg salad sandwiches. Yum!
While eating our sandwiches I had an "a-ha" moment. I spotted the sign on the menu for malasadas. How did I not notice this before? They were made to order, which is why I never saw them when we went inside. These are basically donuts and traditional in Hawaii. But even stranger is that when I researched these it turns out they are Portuguese in origin and came from Madeira and the Azores. I never even realized when I ate these in the Azores they were called Malasadas. I never asked...so I just called them donuts!
After spending the morning walking around Ginza and shopping, we found a place for sushi. I was able to give my sister the Tokyo experience of finding a place to eat. We spotted a picture with sushi, saw it was on the fourth floor, and then took the elevator up. Voila, sushi!
And a very nice looking sushi place at that. Very busy at lunch time.
We ordered the same for each of us. One piece at a time.
Medium fatty tuna, which was amazing
Out came some miso soup with seafood.
Then to end the meal, a piece of the fatty tuna, the fattiest and "best" (AKA most expensive) tuna on the menu. Yes, this definitely worked as dessert. It melted like butter. Amazing! Definitely worth the $5 a piece.
The sushi lunch was amazing. And so was the price. For having been in Ginza, we were both shocked to find out the whole meal only cost us $35 total, which included $5 each for the last piece of fatty tuna. This was an amazing lunch.
Before heading off to another area, we stopped in at the Nissan show room. They had a vintage car, I think it was a Datsun from the early 60's.
Our next neighborhood to visit was Shibuya. I wanted to take my sister for a walk through Shibuya Crossing. This is one of the craziest things ever. All traffic comes to a standstill and everyone walking gets a chance to cross at the same time...in all directions! It looks like a flashmob waiting to happen.
In the station we came across Mr. Bean, a soy milk place.
This was an awesome find because my sister doesn't do dairy. But she definitely does soy ice cream. This was amazing. Unflavored. Or rather just soy milk flavored. Plain. It was delicious.
Dinner that night was another must-have Tokyo experience. As we walked the streets of Aksaka looking for a restaurant, a server approached us and asked us what we wanted. We told him we didn't eat meat and he said to follow him, they have an English menu. So we did. This took us down a little alley way and into a basement. In the US that would have terrified me, especially when a woman got behind my sister and we were boxed in...but in Japan, this didn't seem to be a problem at all. In fact, it led us in to a festive bar/restaurant with many middle-aged Japanese businessmen enjoying food and drinking, and a few couples quietly dining.
Here is the front bar area. It was cute. And it was like something out of an old movie. Definitely felt like we stepped back in time.
We started with the edamame.
They brought us some dish with bean sprouts.
We had some miso soup.
This was the grilled squid platter.
And we had some yakisoba, minus the meat (on the second try, of course) topped with a fried egg.
Great experience! You never know what you will find in Tokyo.
The next morning we went to Honolulu coffee again. I had a tomato and mozzarella sandwich for breakfast.
And yes, we tried the other flavor malasada. Couldn't resist. And we were walking around 8-10 miles each day in crazy heat...so I think we earned it!
This picture didn't come out the best, but it was of some art work on a building by out hotel.
Our last stop was at the Farmer'sMarket held at the United Nations University in Omotesando. It has grown a lot since I was last there about a year and a half ago. It only happens on weekends so I was glad we were able to make a stop here.
Nice big figs
Great looking veggies
Ginger syrup, which we bought because it tasted so good. You can make homemade gingerale with this.
More gingerale and ginger products. They love ginger in Japan.
Peaches from a nearby farm that is not organic entirely, just less pesticides, from what I understood. We bought some amazing jam from here.
Vegan food truck for lunch.
A few different kinds of sandwiches.
Rachel had one with mushrooms.
Mine was curry and avocado.
Rachel also tried a soy chai latte.
Delicious! And we were sitting next to this- Pizza Van. Um yeah, this would never happen in the US. There was a wood burning oven inside this old VW van. Not kidding! Crazy! And super cute.
Well, that does it for our 2 and a half days in Tokyo. It was hot and we did a lot of walking, but we had a great time and saw a lot of fun things. After the farmer's market we boarded the Shinkansen (bullet train) and headed for Misawa. My sister is staying with me for 2 weeks before we headed off to see more of Japan and then another fun location (details to come).
QUESTIONS: Did you go to a farmer's market over the weekend? What is your favorite food truck? Have you ever had soy soft serve?