For Koen’s birthday, we decided to try Les Saveurs de Yamada, a Japanese restaurant specializing in Kaiseki Ryori. We had the pleasure of discovering kaiseki when we were in Kyoto in 2016 and were excited to discover we could experience it in Antwerp, as well!
One of my favorite dishes while in Japan was tonkotsu ramen. “Tonkotsu” means “pork bones” in Japanese. The dish is aptly named, because the broth is made by boiling pork bones for almost an entire day. When Koen decided to make the dish, it took an entire weekend to prepare!
One big recommendation from friends of ours was a visit to the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku for breakfast or tea. The restaurants are located high up and offer a beautiful view of Tokyo. We were too late for breakfast, so we enjoyed tea and a sweet chestnut cake in The Peak Lounge, which features a skylit bamboo garden as its centerpiece.
For our second to last day, Koen and I explored Odaiba, an artificial island in southern Tokyo. We had beautiful weather and enjoyed walking along the water. Turns out there was a dance competition while we were there, so we bought some street food and watched the show!
The Meiji Shrine in Shibuya is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The Meiji Shrine is located just beside the busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park making up a large forested area – an oasis in busy, urban Tokyo!
Harajuku is a neighborhood of the Shibuya ward, so of course we wanted to explore more of Shibuya. Shibuya is most famous for the busy intersection at the Shibuya Station – the Shibuya Scramble. All of the lights at the crossing turn red and green at the same time. I think in most top 10 lists for Tokyo you’ll find the Shibuya Crossing. You can also spot it in a lot of TV shows or films that feature Tokyo. Like in Girls (40 second mark):
We were in Japan for 3 weeks, the first week in Tokyo, a week of travel, then the last week again in Tokyo. The first week we stayed in east Tokyo in the neighborhood of Ginza, so we wanted to have a different experience for our last week – Harajuku in west Tokyo!
Visiting the Ghibli Museum was one of our tops things we wanted to do while in Tokyo! We didn’t realize how difficult it is to secure tickets (you should purchase them many months ahead of time and you can’t buy them on site). Luckily, after some online searching, we were able to secure two tickets – even though we paid 5x the normal price. But worth it!
Ueno is a neighborhood in northern Tokyo, part of the Taito Ward, and home to many of Tokyo’s museums. Compared to other neighborhoods, Ueno is part of the Shitamachi, or literally the “low city”, a working class area. Koen and I really enjoyed coming to Ueno one evening to walk around and have a drink and sample Japanese bar food.
For a small getaway before heading back to Tokyo, Koen and I spent the night at Hoshi, the world’s second oldest hotel, founded in 718 and operated by the same family for 46 generations.