Tokyo, Take Two

Three weeks ago, I got to go to Tokyo with my dad. I didn’t think I’d be back in Japan for years, but the opportunity presented itself, and how could I say no?

This time around, I wanted to do a few of the things I didn’t get to last year, starting with the Studio Ghibli Museum. While volunteering one day in New York, I met a guy who had just been to Tokyo and gave me a heads up, saying you can only buy tickets to the museum in advance. Good to know. So, about three weeks before my trip, I went to the Japanese travel agency in Midtown to buy tickets, but I was three months too late. According to the travel agent, if you want to score tickets, you have to purchase them at the beginning of each season, no matter when you’re traveling.

travel agency

Japanese travel agency off of 34th.

So, I didn’t get to the Ghibli Museum, but here’s what we did do:

(Aside, I didn’t bring my camera, so these are all phone pics.)

Day One:

One of my best friends just happened to be visiting Tokyo with her family at the same time as my dad and me, so after we landed, we met up with them at our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, then walked to Ippudo for dinner. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. The hotel was really nice given its location in Roppongi Hills. It had a great view of Tokyo Tower, but honestly, for the price, I’d say the Tokyu Stay around the corner that I stayed at my first time in Tokyo was just as nice.

Day Two:

On Monday, it was a bit rainy. We went over to Shibuya and walked around the shops. My dad was very impressed by the famous crossing and the general cleanliness of the city. Before heading back to the hotel, of course I had to pick up a Pablo cheese tart. *fire emojis*

Day Three:

The next day was pretty full. We spent some time walking around the famous Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest fish market. We tagged along with a group of Aussies who quickly befriended us, and together wove through the aisles looking at the varieties of catch as well as jumping out of the path of speeding trollies. We opted not to show up at 2:30am in order to get tickets for the tuna auction, but even in the latter morning when we arrived, the market was still pretty cool. It’s relocating soon, so it was nice to get to see the original space.

After the market, we subwayed over to the Meji Shrine. Very majestic. It was refreshing to be surrounded by green and hear the wind through the leaves. In the main clearing of the shrine, there was a giant tree where visitors could hang prayers.

From there, we strolled through some of the shops around the Omotesando subway stop and then over to Harajuku, which felt very touristy but was enjoyable nonetheless.

One shop I really liked was called Muy Mucho. Something like a Flying Tiger or Fishs Eddy. Love my homegoods.

Day Four:

On Wednesday, we took a tour of the Imperial Palace Gardens. Fun history stuff. The palace itself no longer exists, but it was still cool to see the gardens around it.

We then toured Rikugian Gardens. The Rikugien Gardens felt more vast and also more wild than the Imperial Palace Gardens. There was a big lake in the center, beside which was a tea house where we had matcha.

That night, I took my dad to see Asakusa. We had some barbecue, then went over to the SkyTree. In the base of the SkyTree is a mall with tons of shops and restaurants. Who knew? Hidden outside is a small Studio Ghibli store.

Day Five:

On our last full day, I had the morning to myself, so I visited a stationary store, something I wouldn’t make my dad suffer through.

When we met up in the afternoon, we walked around Roppongi Hills. A chill end to the trip.

I love Tokyo. The next time I visit — who knows when that’ll be — I’d love to get to the Ghibli Museum, trek down to Mount Fuji, and up to Nikko, but even if that never happens, I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to experience this beautiful city twice.


First Quarter Report

This year is flying by. My friends from college were here in the city for New Year’s, which was great, but once they left things slowed down quite a bit. I spent a lot of time by myself, something I’m used to, but isn’t necessarily ideal on all occasions. Anyway, here’s the first quarter:

1. January — Saw Sam Smith at the Garden. He was everything, but the venue was too big for his intimate music, despite the fact his voice had no problem filling it. Plus, I went alone, which I’ll probably never due again. The seat next to mine ended up being the only one in sight that wasn’t filled, so I could have brought a friend…

2. Was thinking about Korea.

3. Noticed a guy with a Gongcha cup on the subway = learned my favorite bubble tea place was in Manhattan = victory

4. Visited the Museum of the Moving Image. Cool place. It’s free on Friday nights. Got to see original “Taxi Driver” shooting scripts…

5. … And research for “The Wiz!”

6. For Lent, instead of “giving something up,”I took on the writing practice of morning pages, #focus, meaningfully investing in the vision. But, sometimes morning pages ended up being night pages.

7. Attended a MLK Jr Day event at BAM to hear Dr. West speak.

8. Dressed in many layers: coat, jeans, fleece leggings, undershirt, long sleeved shirt, knit sweater, heattech socks, heavy socks, heattech mittens, gloves… Working outside’s not always that great. #StreetPhotographerStruggz

9. February — Made the shoe bench in Burlington Coat Factory my OOTD (office of the day) for a minute in order to escape the cold and avoid having to purchase a coffee in order to rent a seat in Starbucks.

10. March — First basketball game at Barclays. Golden State Warriors vs. the Brooklyn Nets. So much fun. Stephen Curry (*clap* *clap *clap clap* *clap)

11. Trudged through the snow. Cold feet. (cue Tracy Chapman)

12. Started painting again. Not very regularly though.

14. Thought I’d run on a relatively warm day, assuming the snow would be melted. Nope.

15. Filled my lens compartments with books and burritos. Korilla was my first “Korean” meal since getting back.

16. But then I realized I could make something similar myself for much less $$$.

17. Warmed by the stained glass at church. So soothing.

18. Appreciated Palm Sunday.

19. Surprised when I pulled out Google Maps in Midtown to find it transformed into Pac-man. Fun. Google must not know what else to do with all their money…

So, that’s that. The second quarter will be wrapping up in a blink or two, and so far it’s been much more interesting, so stay tuned…

Potato Latkes

After making the breakfast bread, I had a bunch of applesauce left over. I also had a few potatoes I needed to get rid of, and after visiting the Russ and Daughters Cafe* a few weeks ago, I thought, why not latkes?

Potato Latkes:

Prep: 15 mins, Cook: 10 mins; Yield: 12 latkes

You’ll need:

  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup shallot
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • vegetable oil for frying



1. Grate potatoes.


2. Rinse shredded potatoes. Allow to rest for a three minutes under water line. Remove potatoes from water, squeeze water out, and let dry on paper towel.


3. Pour water from potato bowl, leaving potato starch.


4. Add chopped shallots, dry potatoes, eggs, flour, and salt to potato starch bowl. Mix well.


5. Fry spoonful of potato mixture in skillet over medium heat (each side about three minutes).


Enjoy! Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream as a dipping sauce.


Soooooo delicious!

(*The cafe was sooooo goooood. The type of place to take someone you love. I take all my out of town visitors there now.)