Five days in big, bright, busy, cool and geeky Tokyo
The highway bus from Matsumoto was comfortable, with lots of space and wifi. The weather during the trip looked like the end of the world: dark clouds, pouring rain. We got told we would be late because of that. As we approached Tokyo, it got better, and in the end we arrived just 30 minutes later, at 7, to Shinjuku.
Our first impression in that station: there is a street. And another street on top of it! We walked around following the lights and skyscrappers, and even went up to the hotel with the Godzilla head. Then we walked to the Government Building, making a short stop for a burger (shame!) to go to the observatory. After many ooohs and aaahs, really impressed that the city had no visible end, we went to our capsule hotel in Asakusa and checked in.
The capsules were nice, with everything you need, including pyjamas and a hair brush! But I had to ask some girls how to turn on the light xD
Alex and I met downstairs for breakfast, which was ok for the price. After it, we chilled until 10, checked out, replied some emails and went walked our new hostel. We couldn't check in yet, but we were able to leave our small-but-starting-to-get-annoying backpacks there.
Then, we went to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. This beautiful building has a terrace with great views and really helpful personal! After buying a 72h Metro card, we went to Akihabara. We checked a couple geeky shops, Alex almost won a Nintendo Switch with 100yen, and then we went to the Arcade shop he wanted... which was not so cool, but we bought buttons for our arcade machine for 30 euro.
We walked more until we got hungry and ate Katsudon where just japanese where. Nice and cheap. Then it was more nerdy shops, where we bought some souvenirs and got disapointed by peaking inside the Gundam and Square Enix cafés, since they looked pretty ordinary. Then we went back to Asakusa. Just outside the Metro, Alex saw a TV crew, waved at them, and then we had to give them an interview about "funny japanese to english translations", before checking in in our place. We retrieved the backpack we sent to ourselves, sorted our things, and checked our emails. By then, I started feeling bad and cold. We wanted to eat some sushi but it was too soon, so we walked around Asakusa and checked Sensō-ji. By then I was trembling and I had to get a bottle of warm tea to keep going.
We still went to the sushi place, where we ordered warm sake, which helped me. The excitement and delicious of sushi, including otoro and some recommendation kept me going, but after it, Alex had to walk me back to the hostel. At 9! In Tokyo! Sad... I took a couple ibuprofen and hid under the blanket, first trembling then feeling my head getting warmer until I thought it would explode, and taking forever to be able to fall asleep. I even saw Alex coming back a couple hours later :)
I woke feeling still like shit, but at least I wasn't feverish anymore. I went to the hostel's onsen, took a bath, dressed up and went to get our hotdog breakfast and an ibuprofen with Alex. After a while I was feeling better, and off we went to Shibuya. We crossed "the" crossing and sat next to the Hachiko statue for 1 hour, so that Alex tried (unsuccessfully) to get 50% off tickets to the Robot Restaurant. When I ran out of patience, we walked to Harajuku. We walked along cute small streets, got a bubble tea, checked the Omotesando plaza entrance and went to Takeshita street.
When we got hungry we went back to a place we saw while walking, Catch the Cajun Seafood, where we got a fish curry and lobster pasta, both really nice and at a ridiculously cheap price. Then we went to the Samsung store to play aaaall the games, try virtual reality and take a bunch of pictures and videos. I was so hyped I even forgot my sunglasses and had to come back for them when we went out and noticed the sun. Then we got one of the stuffed crepes that you can see everywhere in Takeshita, went to Yoyogi park and took the long and empty way to the shrine. There, I checked the surroundings while Alex bought tickets to the Robot Restaurant. We walked out the park, this time the nice way and walked through Omotesando until a subway entrance. After a short stop in Shibuya, where we checked the crossing views from Starbucks (without drinks), we went to Shinjuku.
We almost bought a Nintendo Switch in a Bookoff, got dinner in a chain where you order with a tablet, and went in the direction of the Robot Restaurant. Half way, Alex needed to use the restroom so went inside a Sega center, and I waited walking around outside. A guy came asking if I spoke japanese and how much I... was? Lol... Red light district!
After getting our voucher turned into tickets, they let us inside the Robot Restaurant. We had to wait in the bar and then they told us to go where the real show was. It was a small place and they tried hard to sell drinks and merchandising (and since I was still not feeling fit we didn't get anything). And I am not sure if the show itself is somewhat disrespectful towards Japan? For sure, the only japanese there were the ones working. But it ended up being funny and weird.
We took the subway back to our place, getting some gyozas on the way to chill a bit in the hostel before taking some ibus and going to sleep.
After waking up and showering, I found out that the Star Michelin Ramen place we wanted to try, Tsuta, had a twitter account to inform when/if it was sold out for the day. That week never sold out, so when we started, even a bit late, and since they hadn't tweet anything yet, we decided to go and check our luck once again. We arrived at almost 11 and could choose spot for 12, 13 or 14. We decided 1, to use our waiting time going 3 subway stops back to the Bunkyo Civic Center. I knew the sky lounge there was free, so we went up and enjoyed the views.
We came back to Tsuta, and after spending 15 minutes to find an ATM where our cards would work, went there. They took back our tickets and gave our caution back, and we waited a bit to be able to order in the machine. I ordered some truffle thing that was topping only, and when they pointed my mistake and I saw it was more expensive than ramen, I asked if I could change it. I felt a bit lame, but who cares. Then we had to go back out to wait again for a spot to sit. We then came back and saw the chefs making our food. Mine, the soy sauce one, was AMAAAAZEBALLS, but the one from Alex, salmon, was really just ok. We finished until the last drop (not like the Americans next to us) and went back to the hostel to change my tshirt that got dirty from all the slurping (and to the bathroom, eating so fast never makes me any good).
Then we went to check if what we understood correctly 2 days ago, that today a new Mameshiba café was opening in Asakusa. And, yes, it was! At 14:55 they gave us a slot for 15:15. Mameshibas are... small shibas, for what I saw. We made time buying some shoes for Alex and then came back. The drink included was from a machine, but not like we were there to drink. We had to remove our shoes to get into the tatami area, which was full of playfull dogs and puppies with some great girls to which the dogs where obviously attached to, and they were so lovely and careful to them. When we got out I read reviews from the other place in Tokyo and they were horrific, nothing like what we experienced.
After that, we went to Don Quijote to buy some souvenirs and once out we tried to find a place Alex saw for dinner. When we got tired of walking and starting raining, came back to the hostel to drop the shoppings, I bought some beers and waited for the rain to stop to go out to have dinner. A rice bowl with meat and a soup for each and both together less than 8€! We walked some more around, and I definetly was not in the mood for partyiing, so we bought some beers and chilled at our hostel again.
We both woke up really soon because our tiny neighbour in the hostel was noisy as fuck. So after breakfast and buying a new Metro pass, we started our way to Odaiba Island. The monorail train was nice, you can see the island from everywhere before you arrive! There was already a bit of queue to go inside Teamlab Borderless, and we where inside at about 10:50. We started in the Butterfly area, and found the crystal world. There were still not so many people so we spent a lot of time taking pictures. When we went out, we read that with the app you could actually interact with it, so we went inside and played a bit longer changing the lights.
Then we checked the rest. Had to wait 40 minutes for each for the womb thing (which wasn't so cool) and the resonant lamps.Then we went to the second floor, the Athletic Forest, and played until we got tired of how extremely full it was by then. Since we were starting to get hungry too, we skipped the Tea house and went out for lunch. Closest thing around: the mall. We ended up there in an Okonomiyaki place. After it, we went to see the Unicorn Gundam, strolled a bit through that mall and then went out to see the Statue of Liberty and walk along the promenade and chill at the beach with the Tokyo views.
We wanted to go shopping so we decided to go back to "mainland". Charching our ICOCAs we heard the monorail coming and, idiot me, for rushing, dropped my phone and cracked it a bit more. We stopped in Akihabara, where there were both a Bookoff and an Onitsuka Tiger, but the first didn't have Nintendo Switches and the sencond didn't have the shoes I wanted, so we went to Shinjuku. First we went to Onitsuka, where I got myself some Japan edition shoes called Sakura, and then we spent 30 min in Bookoff checking the Switches to ending up not buying any!
We went to Goldan Gai and inside the first bar, where we ordered a beer and a shochu. They dropped half of it, and filled it with another ice. So... we drank it and went away. On google, the Ninja bar next to our place sounded cool, but ended up being a hole in the subway station. So we walked for a while, even followed some young guys, but didn't find anywhere that looked appealing to us. In the end we got a very basic dinner in a diner and went home after waling a bit more...
On our way to the Metro station we stumbled with the line of people we saw everyday in a sweet shop, so we stopped. Before deciding to stay, they gave us all some sweets, and when we thought about scaping, the guy came to chitchat with us. So we waited until they opened the shop. And then some more to order. Almost at the end, Alex searched for the guy for a recommendation and he didn't even recognize him, so we could have happily scaped! In total, 45 min to buy something we didn't know what it was, and they packed it so nicely we saved it for our plane next day.
Then, we went to Tsukiji Market. It was raining and super full, so it didn't look so nice, but we found a place to try Kobe beef. Expeeensive, but greeeeat! Then we went to Harajuku and had a crepe and bubble tea, walked a bit, and ended up again in Catch the Cajun to have 2 fish curries.
Then we went shoping to Uniqlo for some basics, and then we went to Flippers, where we had to wait for about 40 min to get inside to have some thick, fluffy pancakes. We took the subway home, bought some more Kitkats and sweets as souvenir in Don Quijote and some snacks in the Family Market, and went back to the hostel. We chatted with the neighbours, took a last Onsen bath, and went to pack and sleep.
All in all, an eat and rest last day!
Luckily, the metro stop next to us had a direct connection to the airport. So even if we had to start super soon, it was less painful than expected. To pay for it, we could use a combination of the Metro pass, what was left in our ICOCAs and cash.
Checking in was super fast, so we had some time to spend our last yens in some more sweets and coffee before boarding and thinking... see you again hopefully, Japan!