Alex and I made one final trip before we moved out of Hawaii to Tokyo Japan! We went in early October for 10 days. We stayed in Shinjuku which is a special ward of Tokyo. It’s a short train ride into downtown Tokyo. With great accommodation options at a reasonable price, amazing food, nightlife and culture Shinjuku was the best bang for our buck.
Instead of doing a day by day of what we did I’m going to highlight some of our favorite To Do’s, eats and drinks! Alex and I consider ourselves foodies & drinkies when it comes to travel. We’ve found over the years that gathering around food and drinks gives you the best glimpse into a culture, at the end of the day it’s what brings everyone together.
Transportation: We used the Japan Rail Pass. It’s a pass to ride on all JR trains, which includes the bullet trains to Kyoto and Osaka. We purchased our tickets in the Tokyo airport, right before you enter the train area. We knew we wanted to explore Kyoto and Osaka for a day, this pass saved us A LOT of money and time with access to the Bullet Trains (which we used more than once) In all, we only paid extra money to use the subway in Osaka once. TIP: Set your google map filters to only use JR train systems.
Ramen: I had never tried real ramen in my life. Hawaii and the mainland ramen was never appealing to me. I made it my mission to try it in Japan. I fell in love. Our favorite ramen, aka BEST RAMEN OF MY FREAKING LIFE was at a small hole in the wall place in Shinjuku. Rishiri, Shinjuku is THE ramen place to visit. It opens at 6:30 and closes at 5am, so it’s the best place to stop after a night out. It’s small, authentic, and the staff is amazing. You can sense that they take great pride in their cuisine.
Sushi: We knew that the Tokyo Fish Market was a MUST! I had also read a lot about eating at the small fish booths inside the market. We searched through the market until we decided on a little booth down an ally where two other gentleman were all smiles, jokes and sushi! There were enough seats of 8 people. They joked with each other in Japanese, laughed, had fun with their patrons, and made the best sushi ever.
Dumplings: Alex is a dumpling/gyoza connoisseur. He’s sought them out all over Asia. Japan was no different. He found this great hole in the wall place down an alley (All the best food is down an alley, and likely a hole in the wall) Harajuku Gyoza is one of the top rated gyoza places in Tokyo. It did not disappoint. Quick service, and great tasting food!
Drinks: If you’re staying or visiting Shinjuku at night you have to stumble upon the Golden Gai. You’ll find it after walking through a cute park, and come out to a couple allies of small pubs. So small that only a few people at a time can be seated. Most of the time it’s a couple who lives above the bar who hosts you. It was a great experience to get to know locals and other travelers, we even did Karaoke with people from Germany, Tokyo, and Philadelphia .
Sbuya Crossing (Busiest intersection in the world)
Takeshita Street: Home of the Juku girls and all things cats & colorful!
Osaka Street Food Vendors
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Something huge came from this trip for me personally. As a photographer I love capturing our trips and adventures. You won’t find me anywhere on a trip without at least one camera on me. I typically travel with my Nikon d750 and my Nikon FE (film camera). Japan was no exception. After having been to Tokyo in college (doing too much partying), I never thought I’d have the chance to experience it again. So this time around I wasn’t going to miss a thing, that included photographing EVERYTHING!!! So much so it took me out of the moment. Then everything happened, or I should say went wrong. My DSLR stopped working, then my film camera literally fell apart in my hands as I stood at the entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine. I, like any normal photographer, cried….A LOT. My passion was stripped away from me. I was standing at this gorgeous shrine with no way to capture it but with my mind. I was devastated. Insert the greatest husband ever. He scooped me up (after helping me crawl on the ground to locate all the little parts of my film camera) and made me realize that the universe was telling me to LIVE! To truly experience everything around me. I’ve found that in this day and age, we’re so concerned with capturing everything…..what’s the saying? ‘Pictures or it didn’t happen?’ I was living that, as if me being in Japan again didn’t happen unless I documented every little thing.
The last two days of our trip, I lived in the moment. I cried as I watched a formal Japanese wedding professional walk infront of me, I saw the joy my husband was living, and felt each moment/site we encountered. The realization from this amazing trip is: It did happen even if there’s no pictures!
Enjoy the rest of the sights we explored along our Tokyo, Japan trip!
Camera: Nikon d750 & Nikon FE (film: Kodak Ektar)
DeLine Photography is a destination photographer based out of the Outer Banks, North Carolina! DeLine Photography is a travel photographer exploring Japan, Thailand, Australia, and Singapore. DeLine Photography is a domestic travel photographer available across the United States.