My family planned their visit to Tokyo around the end of March early April which is generally cherry blossom season. Unfortunately this year temperatures have been unseasonably cold and delayed the blossoms. When my family arrived, this is what they saw.
Luckily the last week of their trip warmed just enough so by the weekend the blossoms were gorgeous! (as per my last 3 posts!) Believe it or not 2 weeks can fly by (even with family). I tried my best to share what I know about Tokyo and venture out to some new sights and sounds!
Here is our week 1 itinerary:
5 PM: Mr. Cakes and I meet Mom & Dad (M&D) at Narita. As soon as we find them, they run into someone they know! A man who worked with my dad at Caterpillar in Peoria, IL, now works in Japan. He was meeting his in-town guests at the airport too, what an amazing coincidence!
Board the Narita Express to Shibuya, stopped by the Hachiko statue and then casually walk through Shibuya on our way home. While visiting, my family took advantage of the well scheduled train and bus systems. We walked a lot more than in the Midwest and I would argue NYC, but everyone managed and was happy to have the exercise.
Mr. Cakes snapped the shot below on our walk home, not for the buildings or lights – but for the moon! Can you spot it? Once we were closer to home we stopped for my parents first meal in Tokyo, ramen! (picture N/A as per mom).
M&D and me head to West Shinjuku to visit the observation deck at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building South Tower. Lunch: Spice Market (not the same as NYC) and then train back to Shibuya for a little shopping!
Under Shibuya Eki (eki means train station) is Tokyu Food Show. The basement level of most Japanese department stores tend to have a large food market. The Food Show is particularly amazing! We picked up all sorts of little treats and headed home to enjoy our finds.
The fruit baskets pictured below start around $100. We are not in the heartland with these prices! However the quality of produce is impeccable, one pays the premium for specialty items like cantaloupe.
My parents were recovering / avoiding jet lag, so we hung around the neighborhood. I took them to my ‘Recycle’ shop, which is a thrift store. Lunch: Freshness Burger, yes the burgers in Japan are delicious, and then a trip to Don Quijote, Japans answer to Wal-Mart (more on this in another entry). After a few more shops I was off to language class and my folks were back at the apartment for some rest.
This morning we headed to the Imperial Palace Grounds. The weather was beautiful and the 3 of us enjoyed the gardens and architecture. By afternoon we decided to walk over to SMBC headquarters to say ‘hi’ to Mr. Cakes. He was surprised to see us! Afterwards we hopped back on the train and headed home. I had to meet my sister at the airport.
5 PM met my sister at Narita and took the express train back to Shibuya, which is about an hour and a half trip. From Shibuya we headed back home to meet Mr. Cakes and my folks who were ready for dinner. First night in town – I had to take my sister for ramen! M&D didn’t mind, in fact they both really enjoyed the ramen here. It is much different from what most people think of in the States. NO microwave or dried noodles involved. The ramen below is the spicy option, only my Dad and I like the heat.
The first day M&D, my sister (ACH) and me have been together in the same city in a while! We spent the day at ‘Times Square’ in Shinjuku. It was my way of introducing ACH to shopping in Tokyo. She had her work cut out – Takashimaya and Tokyu Hands cover a large area and about 14 floors of shopping. We enjoyed a nice lunch at a French Bistro within the complex. Thanks Dad!
PM I had to head to my last language class so I left my family to enjoy dinner at Dragon. A wonderful ‘hot bowl’ soup spot. The bowls are filled with fresh ingredients including tofu and then heated on the stove and served. YUM!
All 4 of us ate breakfast at home and then made our way to Harajuku. I wanted everyone to see Takeshita Dori (dori means street in Japanese). In case you can’t tell, the trail behind my family in the snap below is hundreds of teens, tourists, and anyone else who was shopping at 11am on that day.
It wasn’t hard for my family to find a treat to enjoy! Crepes from Marion provided a nice afternoon splurge and a little break from the crowded street.
After walking the tiny street we headed towards Omote-Sando, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo. There are so many shops here! Large, fancy retailers like Marc Jacobs, Prada, Burberry, to more specialty shops and boutiques like Pass the Baton, MUJI Found, Taste Makers & Co. and United Arrows.
PM Since Mr. Cakes, salaryman, had worked all week my family decided he needed a good meal to celebrate his efforts. It was an easy choice, we took him to his favorite neighborhood spot – Franziskaner Bar & Grill. These 2 guys decided on the ‘medium’ beer. The sausage skillet was shared and we all enjoyed!
Full house! Today was a leisure day. Mr. Cakes wanted to visit Tokyu Hands to get some supplies for a project, so we all headed into Shibuya and shopped a little bit. Early evening the 3 ladies of the house caught up on Downton Abbey Season 2, while the men worked on little projects. Dinner was at Masa, a Japanese steak house. We all shared a platter and then each had our own hot stone to cook the meat to our preferred temperature.
Week 1 was fairly light in comparison to Week 2, so stay tuned! The family trip continues.