One of my best friends was traveling to Indonesia for work and since we hadn’t seen each other for a year, we decided to meet up in Tokyo for a girls weekend! I never thought that I would be living the kind of life where I would meet my friend in Japan for a quick weekend trip, but life gives you all kinds of unexpected surprises so it’s best to enjoy it! I flew in on Saturday and hopped on the train to meet Kim at the hotel. It was so great to see her – after a big hug we both realized it was already just like old times…we were ready to hang out and have a weekend full of laughs. We had already made reservations at a sushi restaurant that was highly recommended by our friends, called Kubei. We got there a little early and grabbed a cup of tea in this really cute Japanese courtyard.
Once we found the restaurant, we knew immediately that we were going to love this! It was a small restaurant and there were several sushi chefs behind the sushi bar ready to make our night awesome! We ordered the Chef Selection of Sushi and they started bringing out various different kinds of sushi. It was TO.DIE.FOR. Our absolute favorites were the tuna ones – they were incredible…the flavors were amazing and the fish just melted in your mouth. It was quite possibly the best meal of my life.
Afterwards, we decided to find some dessert around Roppongi. We found a spot on the map that had some of the desserts with black sesame paste which we both love. It was a bit out of the way in this cute area of the city so we walked around looking for it for a little while. One of the funniest moments was when we walked up to two girls to ask for help finding it and they didn’t speak English, so we tried communicating for some time and then she shouted, “Oh! Google Maps!” and used her phone app to try and help us find our way. In the end, we couldn’t find this little spot so we popped into a small grocery store and grabbed some ice cream. It turned out to be a great end to the evening.
The next day was the first full day that we had in Tokyo so we took full advantage of it. We headed over to the Meiji Shrine, which was really neat. It was a very peaceful area – it’s in Tokyo but it doesn’t feel like it’s in a city because there are a lot of trees around which is nice to feel relaxed in a hustling, bustling city. Before we went in, we followed the traditional custom of cleansing with the water fountain that is just outside the entrance.
What made it even more special was the fact that there was a wedding going on…I don’t know what it is about weddings but I absolutely love them – particularly in different countries; Japan was no exception – they sure know how to look elegant. It was even complete with a built in wardrobe change – she had a beautiful red dress covering her white wedding outfit below.
On the way back, we walked around Harajuku Street. I had heard of “Harajuku girls” but I never really knew what it was until I walked down this street – the fashionistas (and male version of that) were out in full force! Lots of color and crazy outfits – definitely an experience worth having if you’re in the area.
Then we headed to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa – the walkway up to the temple was my favorite part. We tried lots of different goodies from the stalls lining the walk to the temple. We also got our fortunes by shaking a stick out of the box and then finding which fortune it corresponded with. I got a bad fortune so I tied it to the wires in the temple with the other bad fortunes in hopes that it would not come true.
There are some aspects to Japanese culture that are hard to put into words – here is a good example: there was a guy on the street who was walking a goggle wearing dog that was being ridden by a monkey – totally random…the picture is proof that we actually saw this…so crazy. We also spent some time wandering around the area shopping and then found a great tea shop to hang out in for a bit (we had been walking all day and our feet needed a little rest). Then, we wandered around to find a nice place for dinner. We happened upon a yakitori place where we grabbed some food and ended another great day in Japan.
The next morning, we were up at 3:30 AM and in a cab heading to the Tsukiji Fish Market to go to the tuna auction early in the morning. They only let in 120 people each morning to see the tuna auction which starts at 5:45 AM, so to secure a spot, you have to get there super early. We got there about 4 AM and made it into the first tour group. They lead you into the auction area and you see all of the tuna – they are giant! There are no frills about this endeavor – it is just huge frozen tuna on wooden crates. Each fish munger goes around and checks out each fish to determine what he wants to bid on and how much he would be willing to pay. They have flashlights to see the color, and they also use tools to take pieces off the tail to feel how good it is. Then, the bell rings and they start the bidding. They start with a high bid and slowly go down until someone bids on it (opposite of all auction houses I have been to in the US) so it goes really quickly. It was really fun to watch and we couldn’t get over how ridiculously large these fish were! We also loved being at the market during this time of the day because there is so much activity with everyone getting set up to start the day. It was a really great experience that you won’t get anywhere else so it was worth the early morning wake up call.
Afterwards, we went to a 24 hour sushi diner and had some sushi for breakfast. I never thought I would eat sushi for breakfast but I couldn’t get enough of the incredible sushi – it was all so good! It was the perfect way to end our fantastic girls weekend in Tokyo!