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Tokyo Long Weekend

Tokyo Long Weekend

Mat Hollingsworth
Mat Hollingsworth

6 min read

2017 had been a stressful year for us, and we needed to rediscover how to have fun. So we took the Labour Day long weekend and made a spontaneous trip to Tokyo!

Tsukiji Fish Market

We took the overnight flight from Sydney and arrived at 5 am. Our AirBnB wasn't available until the afternoon, so we jumped a train to the only attraction that was open that early, Tsukiji Fish Market. We checked our backpacks into a locker and the station and searched for breakfast.

Asakusa

After the market, we still had time to kill, so we headed up to Asakusa to check out Sensō-ji.

After the shrine we found my favourite Japanese dessert, black sesame ice cream.

Shimokitazawa

We stayed in the trendy inner suburb of Shimokitzawa, known for its vintage stores, hidden bars and restaurants, and quiet streets.  

'Shimo', as locals call it, was a great base exploring Tokyo. It was only a few stops from Shibuya, but felt like it was miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

One day we stumbled across Toshihisaakagi the Toshihisaakagi Art Gallery, which we love. It has brilliant illustrations of Japanese food and buildings.

image by Toshihisaakagi

Shimo also has lots of fantastic Izakaya, bars with live music and cute cafes.

There are too many great places to mention individually, so take a look at our trip research google map.

Dashin Sō-an

One of the absolute highlights of Shimo and our visit to Tokyo, was an early lunch Dashin Sō-an, a traditional Soba restaurant hidden in the residential back streets.

We arrived early, so we waited in the garden for the restaurant to open, it felt like we were in rural Japan, not the centre of Tokyo.

I had a cold Soba with limes, which was unusual but delicious and refreshing. Prue had the traditional hot Soba, and we shared tempura. The tempura was light and crispy; the mushroom was the best.

Shibuya, Akihabara

We spent one day exploring Shibuya & Akihabara.

After the mandatory Shibuya station crossing we explored the shops and worked up an appetite. So we checked out a hi-tech sushi train. 

The Akihabara electronics district is a wonderland for geeks. We only skimmed the surface.

A trip to Tokyo wouldn't be complete without visiting Don Quixote; the most amazing department store I've ever seen. Don Quixote offers everything from cheap Cosplay costumes to snacks and hygiene products.

And of course we had to visit a gaming arcade.

After lunch we wandered around some more. We checked out Tower Records, probably the first time that I'd been to a CD shop in ten years.

We also stumbled across a really neat sake bar that was up a ladder next to a cafe, in a shipping container.

A night out in Shinjuku

High on our 'must do' list for our trip to Tokyo was a visit to a chain Izakaya restaurant, baseball batting cages and of course Karaoke.

Prue also wanted to check out the bar from Lost in Translation, so we decided to have a night out in Shinjuku for the full Japanese nightlife experience.

After a peach sour and a few beers we were feeling limber and were ready to hit the batting cages. So we headed to Shinjuku Batting Centre.

After a fun hit at the batting cages we headed out for some Karaoke. We hired a private room and proceeded to belt out some heartfelt renditions. There is video, but neither of us has been brave enough to watch it.

After Karaoke it was very late, and we were hungry again. So we closed out the night in Japanese style, with a big bowl of ramen.

I didn't capture any great images of these activities. But we also visited Harajuku which was super crowded. We attempted to go to the Kawaii Monster Cafe, but the queue was too long so we grabbed some Gyoza from Harajuku Gyoza-ro. The food was delicious, and it was fun watching the staff cook the dumplings.

Next we went to Baird Brewing and had a beer. We also had a chat with a nice British couple that was on the last day of their holiday. We discussed Brexit and the general election which was unfolding.

On our last day we visited the outdoor store's precinct and bought some ski gear, since it was the end of their season and everything was heavily discounted.

After shopping we had another fantastic Soba noodles meal at Kanada Matsuya.

Finally we had a quick beer at Hitachino Nest before heading to the airport for our overnight flight.

It was a whirlwind trip, but we had a blast. I still love Japan so much. I can't wait to go back. Hopefully for a ski trip next time.