The Must Eat, Drink and Play in Tokyo

January 25, 2017


After all the craziness with the wedding planning, I went straight ahead to plan our Honeymoon vacation. For our trip, we stopped over in Taipei for 4 days and spent just over 3 weeks in Japan with a 9-day cruise in between.

Our itinerary looked like this: Taipei > Tokyo > Hokkaido cruise to Kushiro, Korsakov (Russia), Otaru, Aomori, Sapporo, Hakodate > Osaka > Kinosaki Onsen > Kyoto

Frankly speaking, planning the trip was a lot more enjoyable than planning for the wedding. Ha-ha.

Japan is one of my favourite countries that I've been to. The country is always so welcoming and the locals are very friendly and polite even though you may not know how to speak their language or vice versa. It is a country just full of great food, gorgeous scenery with an unique culture and a lot of cool things to do. Every visit to Japan renewed my love for this country and I could never get tired of it. This time around, I was ecstatic that I was getting to discover more unique and interesting things to do in Japan with my significant half as a newly wed. And I want to share them all with you. Let's start with Tokyo!

Tokyo, being Japan's capital, has 23 major districts and is where all the main hustle and bustle happens. You might also find a historic temple or shrine in the middle of neon-lit skyscrapers as well. We spent 4 fulfilling days there and so our short stay was jammed packed with lots of eating, drinking and fun!

Here are 16 unique and interesting things I recommend doing in Tokyo on your next visit:

1. Drinking in a Medical Prison Themed Restaurant

Alcatraz E.R - a medical themed restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo

Japan is famous for their creativity and unique culture, and dining in a themed restaurant is one way to get a taste (pun intended) of their creativity. We went to Alcatraz E.R, a medical prison themed restaurant on our first night in Shibuya. From the moment you exited the elevator, the atmosphere felt like you just entered in one of those creepy Saw movie settings (Saw was one of my all-time favourite thrillers by the way).

Dining in a prison cell at Alcatraz E.R - a medical themed restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo

Staff members dressed up as surgeons escorted us to our table. The seats of course, were in a prison cell. The items from the menu were also beyond creative and were rated R. There was beer served in urinal bottles, cocktails served in syringes and even inside a decapitated mannequin head. But it was totally playful and lively environment to have a drink or two, especially with a bunch of friends for a great laugh.

Alcatraz E.R - a medical themed restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo

Alcatraz E.R - a medical themed restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo


Stay tuned for my upcoming post on all the details of this theme restaurant.


2. Playing with owls at an Owl Café while drinking coffee

Forest of Owl - Owl cafe in Tokyo

If you think Cat cafes are cool, owl cafes are like the next level up. Owls were literally everywhere when we went to Forest of Owl in Akihabara district. It could be a little bit intimidating when you first walked into the café because you might just walk into an Owl in the dim forest-like surroundings. But owls in different breeds, size and shapes were available for you to hold and make friends with. Just be careful that they might leave you a "little gift behind", if you know what I mean ;)

Forest of Owl - Owl cafe in Tokyo

Forest of Owl - Owl cafe in Tokyo

Check out my short clip with my owl friend.

Stay tuned for my detailed post on this owl cafe!

3. Tokyo drifting in Mario Kart Style like a celebrity 


This was one of the coolest or I should say, wackiest activities we did in our trip. We dressed up, aka cosplayed in Super Mario costumes and drove around the main streets of Akihabara district in go karts. We weren't in an isolated, fenced-off course. We were driving on actual roads through high rise buildings without helmets, with real traffic and pedestrians crossing. It was a bit scary at first but so fun and electrifying to say the least. We had a tour guide with us and we basically just followed behind him one by one on the street like a parade. But it also made us feel like celebrities in our Mario and Luigi costumes, driving the coolest car go kart because almost everyone stopped to take pictures of us. I highly recommend doing this real-life Mario kart. It was fun and unique, an experience so close to the grounds that you could only try in Japan. The only thing you need to prepare though, was an international driving license.






From the left, Super-sized Toad, Warrio, Yoshi, Luigi, Mario



Stay tuned for my detailed post on this real-life Mario Kart experience!

4. Watching crazy robots performed at the Robot Restaurant

Crazy robot performance at Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Like I mentioned, creativity is everywhere in Japan. Besides drinking in a themed restaurant, we also watched the robot show at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku district. The dinner and show was truly entertaining and at the same time crazy and bizarre. We did not try their bento boxes for dinner as I heard their food was only mediocre. What they were really known for was the entertainment and performances that these robots put on! Lasers, extravagant costumes, over the top robotic creatures, pumping musics were all part of keeping the show alive and interesting. There were certainly moments where we felt completely speechless. But it certainly blew our mind in a positive way as it was so full of energy and unlike anything we had seen in the past.

Crazy robot performance at Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Crazy robot performance at Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Crazy robot performance at Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Crazy robot performance at Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan


Stay tuned for my detailed blog and vlog on this crazy robot experience!


5. Partaking in Shibuya Crossing like nobody’s business

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya crossing is undoubtedly on every traveler's list when visiting Tokyo. It is one of the highest traffic intersections in the world! Due to the large advertising displays in surrounded buildings, this landmark was featured in films, television and even at the 2016 Summer Olympic closing ceremony! While some people might prefer to observe all the traffic actions at Starbucks with a cup of coffee, we'd rather be part of it to experience what it is like. We were swept along by a sea of people every time the pedestrian light turned green. So, taking a picture with ourselves in it became very challenging but the result could be amazing if done right. See how others are doing it, here and here.

6. Indulging in “fresh off the boat” seafood in Tsukiji Market for breakfast

Tsukiji Market Sashimi don - fresh off the boat seafood!
Premium Tsukiji-don (on the left) with fatty tuna, medium fatty tuna, white fish, salmon, scallops, sea eel, salmon roe, sea urchin, shrimps and crab flakes for 3780 yen plus tax
Tsukiji market is the largest wholesale market in the world, and is notably famous for its huge tuna auction. It’s the kind of auction that you need to line up as early as 2 am in the morning. The first 120 people will have the privilege to go in and witness the tuna bidding war. There are 7 wholesalers in the market. Business owners try to bid the freshest tuna to sell to the retail shops every morning. If you’re lucky to get in, you'll have to live by the rules and not get in the way of market traffics. Because the bidding could get really intense!

Tsukiji Market - outer market
Outer market


Tsukiji Market Sushi restaurat - fresh off the boat seafood!
People lining up outside of the sushi restaurants. Most sushi restaurants are very small

But for us, we preferred to sleep in to make sure we charge up. So, we skipped the auction. We still arrived early in the morning at around 8 am and saw long line ups already leading to all sushi restaurants closer to the main market area. We waited in line for 30 minutes or so, until we decided to forgo our spots to examine the outer markets.

Indulging in “fresh off the boat” seafood in Tsukiji Market for breakfast
Tsukiji Market Sashimi don - fresh off the boat seafood!
Special Selected Kaisen Don with tuna, medium fatty tuna, sea urchin, salmon roe, shrimps, yellowtail, salmon, squid, octopus, scallops, young punctatus, eel, chopped tuna with green onions and crab cakes for 2780 yen plus tax
We then realized, this market was massive with almost every seafood you could think of. There were also groceries, wholesale and retail shops and many sushi restaurants. Our main goal was to have their fresh sashimi for breakfast! We picked a sushi restaurant and ordered a Kaisen Don (seafood rice bowl). Man, those fishes were fresh! As soon as we were finished, we hurried back out to the market just to enjoy some more street eats since some shops closes early afternoon.

Tsukiji Market - Tuna auction
Look at the size of that tuna head!
Tsukiji Market - Tamagoyaki
Tamagoyaki 100 yen!
Tsukiji Market Ichiba dori

Tsukiji Market - Super size oysters!
We got these super sized oyster for 800 yen! Variety of sizes at different price points
Tsukiji Market - Blow torch scallops
Scallops
Even if you're not into seafood, paying a visit to Tsukiji Market is still worthwhile. It is clean, open and a lot of other food to try. Who knows maybe it will change your mind towards fishes.


Note that the subway system closes at midnight. So, if you do wish to get into the tuna auction, it'll be ideal to book an Airbnb or hotel near the market, so that you could walk there instead of taking a subway.

7. Watching sport matches at Tokyo gymnasiums or at sport centres

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo

We were very lucky that the Yonex Badminton Japan Open was happening in Tokyo during our visit. Will and I have always been badminton fans. As a matter of fact, badminton was the sport that brought us together. So, to watch an international match of the sport we loved during our honeymoon was meaningful to us. But, getting tickets for these games in Japan from overseas were not easy at all. After being unsuccessful in purchasing tickets online, we found out we could actually buy them locally at a convenient store, like Family Mart.

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

We did a lot of sign and body languages to communicate to the Family Mart staff what kind of tickets we wanted to get. And it turned out that the tickets could be purchased from their kiosk machines. But for some reasons, the machine was only in Japanese and we also need a local phone number to get these tickets. Like why on earth do they need a local phone number? Good thing was that I had my Airbnb host phone number with me ;) So, we finally got the tickets to the Quarterfinal match but we didn’t realize how popular the sport was in Japan.

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
Items from the cafeteria at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium are very reasonably priced!

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
I got this bowl of noodles for 550 yen and it was delicious! 

It was a Thursday afternoon and yet the entire Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium was full. The general seating was on a first come, first serve basis. So, even though we got there early, the best seats were already taken. We didn’t have time to have lunch before the game so it was great that there was a cafeteria in the gym. I was so surprised that the food there was so reasonably priced (unlike Toronto, ahem). You could get a bowl of noodles for 500 yen (approx. $6.5 CND) and it was delicious! Watching the game was so satisfying for us because we got to see a lot of the Olympic champions played.

Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Lee Chong Wei at Yonex Badminton Open in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei vs China's Shi Yuqi

We also planned to watch a sumo wrestling match but instead of purchasing the tickets up front at the Family Mart like we did for Japan open. We thought we could get the tickets at the door. We arrived 10 after 7 in the morning to find out that all the tickets were already sold out! We were told that tickets need to be purchased before 7 for guaranteed seating on the day of the match. But it was a lesson learned. Next time, we’d definitely buy the tickets at the kiosk in Family Mart if we could not buy them online. Other than tickets for the Japan Open that happens once a year and sumo wrestling matches that happen 3 times a year, you could also buy tickets to Disneyland, Universal Studios and baseball games at these kiosks. But remember, you’d need some communication skills when purchasing at a local convenient store. 

You can also buy sumo wrestling tickets here.

8. Enjoying a bowl of ramen bought from a vending machine at a restaurant without any human interaction

Ichiran Ramen in Japan

We went to Ichiran Ramen for dinner and were surprised to find out that we had to order our ramen from their vending machine. From the moment we entered the restaurant to finding our seats, there wasn’t anybody to help us. We finally realized that this was a self-service restaurant. The need of limiting human interaction is supposedly to let the customers “focus on their food”. And in fact we did. Because staffs weren't available to greet you nor were we able to have eye contact with other customers. Everyone was "focused on their food" so to speak. 

We actually enjoyed their pork broth based ramen despite the non-existent interaction with the staff. The whole process was completely anonymous yet totally efficient and interesting.

9. Spoiling yourself to a charcoal grill dinner with the best beef in town

Black Hole Yakiniku

Besides eating sushi and ramen, Japanese people also enjoy a good Yakiniku with a few beers. Yakiniku, originally means grilled meats. It is now refer to as grilled meat dishes or barbecue over flaming charcoals. We tried Yakiniku twice during our visit, one at a pricier price point for dinner and a cheaper one for late night.

Black Hole Yakiniku in ShinjukuBlack Hole Yakiniku in Shinjuku Golden Gai area was where we went for dinner. The restaurant offered 2 set menus aside from the a la carte menu. We went for the set menus so we could try different meats and cuts. The 2 set menus were a Wagyu set and an Original set for 1000 yen difference (approx. $13 CDN). You’d get slightly the same amount of meat except you wouldn't get the Wagyu beef from the Original set. So what is Wagyu beef? Wagyu beef is the meat from a Japanese breed cattle, which is known for quality and high marbling, aka fat running through the meat. So, it is also more expensive. We wanted the good stuff so we opted for the Wagyu set, and it included:

  • salad
  • assorted kimchi 
  • 3 pieces of sliced Wagyu ribs
  • 3 pieces of the Wagyu loins
  • 2 slices of the beef bone short ribs
  • 2 slices of thick pork ribs
  • Sausage
  • Mushrooms
  • rice 
  • a drink

There were also dipping sauces for us to mix for each meat. And can I just tell you how tender the Wagyu meat was? It almost melted in my mouth! I think my teeth went soft when I had my first bite. Although Yakiniku was only bite sizes pieces but we still got pretty full at the end. It was a great feast at Black Hole and we enjoyed it a lot.


We tried another Yakiniku around our Airbnb apartment when we just arrived to Tokyo. It was already late, so we didn’t travel too far as the subway closes at midnight. We stopped by a small Yakiniku bar called, Kouei Horumon (辛永炭火燒肉) and had our first meal there. The restaurant was lively and warm. We met up with a friend and ordered a few meat dishes to share. We grilled our meat on a ceramic charcoal stove from the table, so the meat has a charcoal barbecued flavour to them. It was a lovely night chatting, drinking and grilling our meat at the same time.



10. Strolling down Harajuku with a crepe in your hand

Harajuku is a central hub for leading edge fashion and teenage pop culture. One of the more popular spots is Takeshita-Dori, where you'll find elaborate accessories, fashion boutiques, drugs and cosmetics stores, dessert shops and crepe stands. It was raining when we visited Harajuku but that didn't prevent tourists and locals to stroll around Takeshita-Dori. The street was a bit overwhelming and jam-packed with people, so we had to be cautious with our umbrellas (and other people's) when we were there.

Experiencing Japanese's transparent umbrella culture ;)
We went to a drug and beauty store and were completely shocked when we saw how many different types of products there were. I was like a kid in a candy store. We also spent quite some time shopping at this multi-levelled 100 yen shop, Daiso. The shop offers a wide selection of food, clothing, kitchenware, household items, cosmetics and stationeries. And everything there costs 100 yen! Besides shopping, there are so many appetizing fast food and snacks around too. Shopping gets so much better when food is involved.

Here are my favourites:

Sweet Box Crepes - Their crepes are made to order and they offer a huge selection of choices. It was very tough for me to decide which one to get from their pretty window display.



Calbee Plus - I grew up eating Calbee chips. So, this shop was a must-try place for me. It offers soft serve ice cream with freshly fried potato chips. Or you could add other toppings to the chips.



Zakuzaku Softcream - This is absolutely the best cream puff I've tried! Super crunchy shell and delicious and creamy custard inside! No wonder there's a line up. I should have gotten more!!!


11. Wishing for good fortunes at Meiji Shrine


Meiji Shrine is also located near Harajuku station. After strolling around the busy Takeshita-Dori, we wanted to wind down and take a peaceful walk at one of the major srhine, Meiji Jingu. We found it a bit enchanting to see such a beautiful and historic architecture located inside a highly dense city. We followed along the path into a large forested park. The park was covered by trees so tall that it felt like you're in a rural area instead. It was a great place to unplug and escape from the loud and fast paced environment of the city.

It is ideal to follow the traditional etiquette when visiting temples and shrines in Japan. Before you get into the shrine, you must first rinse your hands and mouth at the water basin, Temizuya and bow just before you enter the archway. It is also important to not take any videos or photographs while you're at the main building. While we were there, we also saw a couple getting married. The couple were dressed in traditional Japanese wedding attire while the bridal party were in a suit and a dress. It was nice to see a fusion style wedding here in Japan.


Learn more about the proper etiquette when visiting Meiji Shrine here



12. Playing games in a multi-leveled arcade game building


There are over thousands of arcade games and entertainments you could play in Round One Entertainment Inc and they are opened 24 hours! Round One is a multi-level sports and game centre, offering billiards, bowling, darts, batting cage, arcade games and ping pong, and much more! You could purchase an unlimited game card and easily spend a good hour there. A great place to de-stress and kill time indoor during a rainy day. We actually went a few times during the trip, and found out different locations offer slightly different games. Some even offer karaoke and arena for roller skates! Go check it out when you see one. Some games are so creative and hilarious, for example, there's a game that measures how powerful you are when you became angry enough to flip a table. You'll for sure have a good time there.


13. Taking sticky pictures at a Purikura machine

The Must Eat, Drink and Play in Tokyo | Purikura Photo Sticker Machine

Purikura machine is a type of photo booth or kiosk in Japan that produces photo stickers. We actually did this while we were at Round One arcade centre (see above) but there were also specialty shops that we saw in Harajuku. With these Purikura machines, you could get doll-like eyes, apply fake eye lashes, change hair and eye colours, apply blushes on your cheeks and make yourself taller and slimmer. Japanese people love prominent features and these photo booth machines satisfy them all.

The Must Eat, Drink and Play in Tokyo | Purikura Photo Sticker Machine

When we got into the booth, we first had to select the frames we liked. Then, the machine prompted us to pose in various angles (from the top, straight and below). After we were done snapping, we went to the next booth to personalize our pictures. The pictures turned out extremely hilarious. Our skins were airbrushed, eyes were exaggerated, and lips brightened with a rosy colour. We almost looked like characters from the Sailor Moon! We finished it off with some doodling, stamps and graphics and watched the machine print out the pictures. It was a true Japanese way of creating a fun piece of souvenir to bring home!


The Must Eat, Drink and Play in Tokyo | Purikura Photo Sticker Machine
Our beautified sticky pictures from Purikura machine!
Read How to use Purikura : Japan’s favourite Photo Booth

14. Shopping 'til you drop at Don Quijote 

Don Quijote in Akihabara with AKB48 Theatre
We were in awe when we went to Don Quijote in Akihabara. This discount chain store is 8 stories high and can be found all over Japan. Each floor is dedicated to different products including, cosmetics, food, electronics, household items and clothing. Just the cosmetics section alone is good enough for me.  Since the store offers a wide range of brands and selections as well as tax-free service, it's very hard to leave without spending any money. We ended up buying things from each floor! And on the 8th floor of this chain store is actually AKB48 theatre, where the famous Japanese girl's group, AKB48 was originally founded. That explained why we saw long line ups (mainly men) outside of the theatre waiting to get in.

15. Trying out all the functions on a smart Japanese toilet


Yup, you didn't read it wrong. Even their public toilets are cooler than my own! Toilets in Japan are smart, usually with a control panel on the side with a set of dazzling features. You could warm the seat first and listen to music while you're doing your business. You could also spray your behind and control the water pressure, all with a touch of a button. So, be sure to try one of these when you're there.

Read A guide to Japanese toilets.

These are only some of the things we did during our short four days stay in Tokyo. There are of course so much more that Tokyo has to offer that we did not cover during this trip. I'm so proud of us to be able to check off a lot from our jam-packed yet super fun itinerary! Stay tuned for more of my travelogue of Japan. I'll be posting about Osaka, Kyoto and Hakkaido!

Other things to do in Tokyo:

  • Make your own cup noodles in Yokohama
  • Pamper yourself in a hot spring in front of Mt. Fuiji in Hakone
  • Re-live your childhood in Disneyland
  • Watch a sumo wrestling match
  • Indulge in a sumo wrestler hot pot


Hope you find this story helpful!

Have you tried any of these? What do you think of Tokyo? Comment below and share with me!



 

All You Can Eat in New York City

You Might Also Like

16 comments

  1. Wow, Tokyo really offers some crazy things! I would love to visit the Owl Cafe - I adore owls so much!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh then you'll LOVE owl cafe for sure! They are so friendly! I've never touched or came so close to one before

      Delete
  2. Awesome post! Will you be blogging about the Japan cruise as well? Been a fan of Caribbean cruises and Europe cruises.. wondering how the Asian one be different, any Asia specific menus on the ship?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes for sure! I still have to blog about the rest of my Japan trip HA-HA but it's coming. There's ramen, miso soup etc and you can make your own sushi on the ship. It's a mix of asian and western food for the buffet. :)

      Delete
  3. Hi Lorita! I wanted to thank you for sharing with my No Rules Weekend Blog Party! This is a wonderful post and the pictures are amazing! You know how to have fun :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, amazing stuff here that one can do, see and eat in Tokya, some of which are bizarre too haha! Great post, Lorita :-) #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha ya very bizarre like you could even rent a girlfriend/boyfriend for a day in Japan apparently!

      Delete
  5. Wow, 3 weeks in Japan. I would love to have done that for my honeymoon. But that's long over so let's not talk about life regrets. But I regret that after visiting Japan more than 10 times, I've never actually tried those buttons on the toilets. LOL... The Mario Kart adventure looks so fun. Can't wait for my boys to be old enough to try it out! #CityTripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya we went all out this trip ha-ha and those toilets are the best! Try them out next time, it's like a super gadget but for your...butt lol! I'm sure your boys would have a fabulous time Mario Karting :)

      Delete
  6. I loved our trip to Japan, but we only had a couple of days each in Tokyo and Kyoto so mostly focused on the big attractions and seeing a bit of the cities, I wish we'd had chance to do some of the quirkier things. The owl cafe looks amazing - do they owls seem happy though? Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The owls are super friendly and look like they are enjoying there. I'd totally recommend visiting Japan again, there are always so much cool things to do and see!

      Delete
  7. Fab post! I love how you embraced the spirit of Japan: it's quirkiness and love of theme restaurants etc. Great insight into self-service restaurants, robot shows and the owl care - wow. I loved Tokyo , you've made me think back fondly. #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Wander Mum! I'm glad you enjoyed the post :)

      Delete
  8. Japan is my favorite country to travel to as well. Looks like you had a great journey! Thanks for sharing Tokyo tips with us - I didn't know about some of them like prison themed restaurant.
    Planning trips is very enjoyable all the time!
    Can't wait to read more reports!

    Lyosha
    Inside and Outside Blog
    P.S. following you now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The prison themed restaurant is only one of the many concepts for their themed restaurants. They have other themes like Gothic themed and Ninja themed too! I'm glad you had a great time in Japan. Thanks for the follow!

      Delete

Thank you for visiting {every little thing}. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments! Come back soon :)

About Me


About [span]me[/span]
Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.


Instagram