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.
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.)
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.
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*
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.
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.
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.