Tokyo. To me, it will always be New York’s Asian cool cousin. And those that know – I love NYC.
Same busy vibe. Great food. Architecture, design and fashion. Now, on the cusp of the 2020 Olympics – I’m finding less of a language barrier than I did 5 years ago and even less than 10 years ago.
This time, the journey surrounded a climb of Mt. Fuji, which engulfed my focus two months prior. I had no idea what I was getting into. And there were really no expectations – I even forgot there was a possibility that I wasn’t going to see the sunrise. (Note: For the record, I saw it).
The arrival day was spent getting organized at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (Roppongi Hills) and checking out the touristy spot Gonpachi (known best for the Crazy 88 fight scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill) for some izakaya.
The next day was a ‘lazy day’ having a tour of the beautiful Grand Hyatt Tokyo, eating a traditional bento box lunch and indulging in some beautiful nail art at the house spa. That night we attended the amazing artist collaborative, teamLab. The sensory art installation was nothing short than amazing. It was a true feast for the eyes with so much interaction. Music, lights and a huge disco ball were just a few of the highlights.
Bright and early we travelled to Mt. Fuji (which was a long 3 hour bus ride). I bought my walking stick and we were on our way starting the actual climb at noon until 5pm where we rested in a mountain hut for 5.5 hours. We had a hamburger and rice dinner and rested. In all honesty, the rest area was so cramped that my friend and I had to go out in the open common area and reorganize our bag and eat some cup of noodles before we ascended at 10:30pm. We got to the summit at 4:45am by taking a detour – the mountain was so busy! By 5:12am we caught the sunrise and I got my last logo on the walking stick. And then we were on the descend and 3 hours later were waiting for the bus to take to drive us back into the city.
The day after the climb was a hard one. I had no idea the effects of a downhill climb would be on my thighs. They burned. So much so that I wanted to avoid anything that involved walking; which is hard because that’s what exploring a city like Tokyo is all about it.
That same day, I checked into the stylish and pretty Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills for the remainder of my stay. After indulging in some pastries from the Pastry Shop, we had another informative hotel tour. After we checked out an Owl café in Harajuku (yes – I felt bad after). We had dinner at a secret shabu shabu restaurant with the best beef I have ever tasted in my entire life. The beef was melt in your mouth great!
The last full day, exploring the city meant checking out the 4 level Gucci store in Ginza, having lunch at Aoyama Flower Market cafe and indulging in a sake tasting at a hidden spot in Kappabashi called Sanwa 720. I learned that sake from the north is quite dry and sake from the west is sweet. After, we headed to the store that sells everything under the rising sun – Don Quijote. It was the perfect spot to grab souvenirs and packs of milk tea (my favourite!).
Before heading to the airport to leave we made a stop to the Nikon museum. It was cool to see the vast history of the world famous camera company.
It was great to be back and this trip made me realize that Tokyo still remains my favourite bustling big asian city.