This is the second time I have visited Tokyo and also the best trip for year 2015. For three reasons, firstly because this is the last trip in 2015. Secondly, Japan is my favorite destination of traveling currently. Thirdly, this is my yearly anniversary getaway trip with Kless, just the two of us.
And on every trip, one of the most important thing both Kless and I enjoy is the photography portion. Initially I was planning to bring my film camera (Nikon FM2n) on this trip, but the night before we depart, I realized my shutter was stuck and I was not able to do anything. Important lesson learnt, never leave your equipment check till the very last minute, especially if the camera is very well used. So I have to rely back on my trusted Nikon D90 (DSLR). Hence, I upped the challenge by only bringing the 50mm lens for this trip. I have to qualify myself on this decision. If you are visiting Tokyo for the first time, then please bring all your lenses if possible, you do not want to be restricted by the 50mm. Since I have done all the “traveling” shooting I wanted in 2012, this trip I can afford to try something new.
So please don’t expect a pictorial guide on Tokyo in this post. If you really know what to do and where to find the interesting places frequent by tourists or locals, then refer to the posts I have done before. I referred to all the posts in 2012 to get my directions too. Very useful.
Shibuya | Harajuku | Tsukishima | Shimokitazawa | Tsukiji Market | Asakusa | Ichigaya | Roppongi | Akihabara | Nakameguro
Isaiah Kuan’s 50mm Tokyo
Wearing my new pair of NB sneakers to Tokyo. Lots of walking in Japan wherever you go, so a good pair of comfortable shoes is very important. Don’t sacrifice fashion for comfort.
The small apartment we booked through AirBnb. Cosy queen-sized bed with a very nice bathroom. Around S$450 for four nights. Our host is a very nice Japanese lady, Mackey who has a “Superhost” status.
Keep your shoes outside, treat the house like your own.
Traveling in Tokyo is a special experience. People rushing from station to station, squeezing into trains practically everyday, yet no one is angry. No one loses their temper. Everyone just seems to co-exist in peace, so different compared to Singapore or some other countries I have traveled to.
Times when the station is just empty.
Among the shopping districts in Tokyo, Harajuku is my favorite. Shinjuku is the place for the boutique and mall shopping. Shibuya has more people interested in the crossing than the shopping. Harajuku is slightly less crowded and the fashion is more affordable. And personally I like the “street” shopping than malls.
The woman who waits patiently for me when I am off in some shops browsing through. Yes, I shop more than my wife.
Only in Japan can you see such cute Hello Kitty road blocks.
Taking the Shibuya Crossing is no east feat. But with the 50mm, somehow the photo brought the people and road came much closer to life than just an overview of the entire crossing.
Shibuya newspaper auntie. The stall is open even after 10pm. Amazing.
When we got back from our first trip in 2012, so many of our friends cannot understand why we did not try the Ichiran Ramen in Tokyo. Honestly, I don’t understand too. So on this trip, the first Ramen treat was to the famous Tonkotsu Ichiran Ramen at Harajuku.
(The photo below is taken with iPhone6, just to show you how the noodles looked like.)
I didn’t take the before but I remembered to take the after.
The small alley hidden from the customers where the hardworking staff takes your orders and delivers your ramen. Just poked my camera through the bamboo curtains and snapped.
Kless commented that whenever I travel to Japan, I will fulfill my quota for fish intake. I cannot say it is untrue, but just because the fish are so fresh and without any fishy smell at all. I can stay in Japan and eat fish all day long.
If you are looking for an awesome night view of Tokyo, I would recommend the FOC Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. There is the North Observatory (opens from 0930 to 2300) and the South Observatory (opens from 0930 to 1730). You can plan to see the daytime view at the South Observatory, then the nighttime view at the North Observatory. Remember to walk the entire round on 202 meters, the views are different.
If you are looking for some temple scene, then Asakusa is a must. Not only the shopping is great, but what the place can offer for photography is not something you get to see everyday.
There are some shops that allow you rent a set of kimono for the experience. Pretty cool.
You get to see the Tokyo Skytree from here too. This tower is another place that offers amazing night view of the city for a fee around 2000 to 3000 Yen.
The sincere & the believers.
One of the main reason for visiting Tokyo is to visit Tsukiji Market. I dare say, the sashimi here is one of the best in the world.
(The two photos below is taken with iPhone6, I was too engrossed in the meal, I didn’t have time to whip out my DSLR.)
There are only two lanes of restaurants for you to choose from. Make your choice wisely, not because you cannot afford all, or not because you cannot eat too much, purely because all the queues are quite long. I waited an hour to get my fix.
One of the many old bookstores we passed by in Tokyo.
In Tokyo I would highly recommend you to visit some of the other places that are not so popular or well-known. Actually Shimokitazawa was mentioned on some websites as the upcoming hip venue for the younger generation Japanese. Not too many tourists have explored this district, but this was our second visit so far.
There are so many cyclists in Tokyo, I believe their cycling equipment must be pretty impressive too. If I can, I would love to buy a fixed-gear bike and sent it home from here.
There are a lot of interesting shops around in Shimo, you can definitely spend the entire day walking and exploring through the neighborhood, both the North and South part.
If you ever visit Shimo, then you have to spend some time at the numerous cafes in this district.
I would personally recommend the following café to those who truly enjoys a good cup of coffee. Bear Pond Espresso. Just take note that no photography is allowed in the small shop that sits up to about 6-7 people. Take secretly.
From outside Bear Pond Espresso, a cool customer is waiting to be served.
If you can spend and willing to part with your money, you will be able to find some unique jewelry shop. All their works are handmade and you will be able to see the master at work. Take your photo but don’t disturb their work. Always remember to be conscious of the Japanese’ space.
Last but not least, we were glad we made a day trip to a nearby district out of Tokyo city.
Yokohama City. This place is surely slower and quieter than Tokyo. There is a huge Ferris Wheel which probably presents a view of the whole harbor.
A walk along the sea is such a bliss. Weather was perfect and the scene was beautiful. Especially so with my wife.
A nice place for picnic.
One place to visit in Yokohama is the Red Brick Warehouse. This is a building with more than 100 years history. Now, the warehouse is packed with different cafes.
We rested our legs in this Flower Café.
After the rest, take the ferry which is just 5 mins away, travel to the opposite of the sea and explore the other parts of the city. You will find the Yamashita Park, the largest Chinatown streets in Japan, the Motomachi Shopping Street.
The famous “Girl with Red Shoes” aka Akai Kutsu which is located in the middle of the Yamashita Park.
Streets leading to the Chinatown.
More cafes. Or simply people watching.
All good things come to an end. Every trip has to have a departure date. Thanks for reading.