TOKYO – WHERE I HAVE BEEN TO 2020.08.15
I would love to, but I have to get over the fear of heights first. It got better already, but I am afraid to be in a Ferris wheel, no matter how small it is. On the other side it’s not a problem any more to be in a plane. And that’s something really good. Therefore, it’s on my bucket list for the future.
It is the same with the Mount Fuji. I have been near him, because of an open air concert in summer two years ago, but I never got the chance to take off some days and to explore the surrounding area. There have been lots of photos on pinterest that I have saved in an exploring folder, but closer than that I didn’t get.
A plan, made up in my mind of how I would like to visit Mount Fuji is set. With that said, next time I’ll go there and try to take photos of him. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky, since he is known to be shy and won’t show himself to everyone.
While waiting for the train to arrive I was looking to the left side and couldn’t believe what I just captured on camera. It’s Mount Fuji waving at me while he is sunbathing in the sunset. Wasn’t able to get closer, because the lens of my camera wasn’t good enough. But hey, I saw him without any clouds or fog!
#SHIBUYA AND #HACHIKO
Pay some respect to one of the cutest and loveliest dogs in the world. Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog and well-known for their incredible loyalty. Back then after his partner in crime passed away he was waiting at the exact spot where a statue of him is standing now for his return. Almost nine years later he passed away, and they were back together again. For sure a sad story, but one of a wonderful kind.
There is a book of the original story and some movies. The statue is next to the Shibuya crossroad. One of the most popular in the entire world. Plenty of movies were shot here. And, the very strange thing is, except the loudspeakers for the screens which are everywhere, it’s super quiet. Yes, there are people talking and it is a hot spot to meet each other, but still, it is not as loud as other even smaller crossroads in other parts of the world.
An average of 2.5 million passengers are crossing the streets of Shibuya daily. That means 2500 pedestrians every time when the traffic lights switched to green. Now you won’t believe me that it is not crowded and people are actually able to navigate while they are passing one side of the street to another. But since it’s Japan and most of the things are in a specific order, it works pretty good.
#YAMANOTE LINE AND #PASMO CARD
Yamanote is the train which is covering the centre of Tokyo. Therefore, it’s the best to find an accommodation which is near that line. Otherwise, it may be that you have to pay lots of money just to get to one station to the other.
In the beginning when you are standing in front of such a map of Tokyo’s train stations it can be a little overwhelming. And to know exactly where you are and want to go is essential to see through it. The Yamanote Line is the one right in the middle. It is light green and goes from Tokyo in the East-West to Shinagawa in the South, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro in the North and back to the East where you can see Ueno and Tokyo again. There are plenty of smaller stations in between. But from there you can use any other train station to visit towns and cities which are more out of Tokyo. Next to it you can save money and time with purchasing the PASMO Smart Card. You’ll get them in the service centres of the train stations or the train tickets vending machines. It’ll cost you a minimum of ¥500 which is not more than €/$4,50 and it’ll be on your PASMO Card as a deposit.
Here you can find more information.
ROCK n´ROLL AND #HARAJUKU
Many memories actually happen when you just wander around and getting lost in the streets of Tokyo. It’s the same with dancing Rock n´Roll near the Yoyogi Park and Harajuku Station. My friend and I just did some shopping and wanted to go to a small restaurant nearby for dinner. But as we were walking up the stairs of a bridge to cross the street we heard first some fancy music of the 50´s and moved on in the direction where it was coming from.
By our surprise we found a bunch of people, clearly travelled back in time, wearing denim on denim and with a pompadour, dancing in a group to some classic Rock n´Roll. There was a group of fans around it, taking photos and videos as we did. Clapping and whistling, because it was so much fun to only watch them. Beautiful ladies in typical dresses from that time were standing in the outer circle and danced in a choreography.
They are the Rollers. A group of man and women who are dedicated to the 1950´s style and music. And no matter how old they are, they know some crazy moves. Me, dancing wild and carefree from time to time in my flat, is nothing compared to those gems. Around 30 years ago there was a big boom of Rockabilly in and around Harajuku district. Within time, they got less and many people thought the era of Rockabilly were long forgotten. But they were wrong. There are meet ups to dance every week. Lessons can be taken and the history of it is actually passed by the families of those who are still part of the Rollers and other groups that follow their passion. For a more detailed interview just take a look at Live Japan.
There is already a post about it in the previous one and will make it short. Just before I describe what it is about, there will be a link to the website. TICKETS HERE
TeamLab Borderless is basically an art exhibition about light, music and interaction. That means in certain areas the lights or animated sequences you see can be interacted with.
For example, there is a room with a small hill which is changing the seasons. Just standing around has already an effect.
When it’s spring or summer, there will be a waterfall and the water that is running down is dividing itself no matter where you stand. With that said, it floats around you. The same for flying birds all around the walls, Japanese Kanji floating down to the bottom and while you touch them they change the weather.
Sometimes it is advised that you stay in one room for a bit longer, because after some time has passed new things are about to happen.
One of my favourite parts was the cafe. It was always dark, no matter where we went, but some lights on top were following the bowl with tea inside which you just ordered and let flowers grow in and around it. The same with a bowl of Matcha Ice Cream which was just too delicious to deny.
The entire exhibition was built and designed by various people from different fields. Such as mathematicians, programmers, graphic designers, architects, CG animators and many more. The price is not that expensive when you think about to spend all day long in there without feeling bored. Book in advance, get your ticket for €/$25 and you are good to go.
KART RACE THROUGH TOKYO’s STREETS
That’s right. There is the phenomenon of renting some carts in a group, put on a funny costume like Mario, Luigi, Princess, Toad, Bowser or many others and have fun on Tokyo’s streets.
Of course, you have to follow the typical rules like regular car drivers, but that kind of experience is a “must have.” Street Go-Karting is a new trend and already has lots of followers and tendency rising.
When I was younger the Super Nintendo just came out and we were playing Mario Kart until being a pro of the 150cup, Rainbow Route. Therefore, it is impossible not to do it. Usually there is even no problem to add a GoPro in front so that you have everything on camera while you’re having the ride of your life. WHERE TO BOOK AND HOW.
You love shopping? Then you are right being in Tokyo and ready to explore the best streets for fashion. There are plenty of shopping malls with different styles and streets. From random stores such as Zara or H&M you’ll find unique boutiques with grunge, rock, Kpop, sugar lolita or gothic and much more. In the 109 you’ll find from underground floors to the top clothes that you may have searched for through the internet, but weren’t able to find it. And, in case you need a break just visit one of the upper floors to enjoy a cup of tea with a slice of cake, or something proper for lunch. They have a good range of food, so you won't leave hungry.
It’s the same with the 109 men. You heard right, in case you are out with your bro’s you can go there and get crazy for clothes, jewellery, shoes and much more. And did you hear about the #Lavoret? No? It’s just another big shopping mall with tons of clothes and things you really need to have. In case you are a Sailor Moon fan, check out the map inside and visit the #SailorMoon boutique for a nice little present for a friend or yourself. And for all the vintage lovers and second hand shoppers, you are about to find yourself in the narrow streets of Harajuku. Others are near the #Shibuya crossing, #Shinjuku, #Ginza, #Akihabara, #Omotesando and many more.
POKEMON CENTRE DX
The necker for Pokemon fans and for sure a place full of happiness. Young and old people go there. No boundaries of age, ancestry and style exist. Every single POKEMON CENTRE is different. Surely, they have similar merch and seasonal offers, but depending on where you go it has its little own way of things, such as life-size action figures or plushes with a specific pattern of clothes.
Something that I really like about the Pokemon Centres is that there are so many styles to choose from. A while ago they introduced a cupcake theme with super cute illustrations of a group of Pokemon having a tea time session.Another is more boyish dark with a battle theme character. An own series of Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Evee! won’t be missed and I love it. The regular Pokemon style is available as well.
But the idea of having plushes and small figures with Ditto eyes and smile, because that specific Pokemon transforms into others is hilarious and so much fun to look at.
Back then when Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon came out they had the starter Pokemon in the entrance and a Mega Charizard in one of the corners. Rayquaza in another and it felt like in a dream! For me Pokemon became a part of my life. I was playing the first editions in elementary school and got lost in drawing all 151 Pokemon which existed back then, during the breaks in school.
We tried to figure out how to get the legendary and rare #151 Mew by listening to rumours. Internet didn’t exist back then. No Twitter, Google, Facebook, PokeWiki or whatever platform you used to get your information was available, because no one invented it yet.
Ya, I am one of those ancient school girls from the 90´s. Disgusting! I know! I know!
A HAPPY PANCAKE
And with happy, I mean it. The cute little Pancake Restaurant was actually found by accident. The past days I have eaten only healthy and avoided sugar and carbs as much I could. It’s not that I really took care of it, but there was no need to eat something sweet, because the feeling of doing so wasn’t available back then in my body. It all changed that day when I realized that I was craving for fruits. There was only little time to get something to eat before going to a concert. Luckily there was my phone and google maps. Just added the words “restaurant” and I found what I was looking for. A cute little restaurant for pancake lovers. They have a variety of plain, chocolate with ice cream to mixed fruits or the one I ordered was a dream of strawberries, sweet cheese cream and a taste of vanilla. It was heavy, but pure love and a sugar shock is what I needed to survive a three hours long hard rock, metal concert.
To get to A Happy Pancake you have to take the elevator which is a bit hidden between two café’s. But once you are there you only have to sign in a list, and they will call you when a table is ready. The other problem was the language barrier. We sort of managed it to communicate with each other, but be patient and show them in the menu what you like. Otherwise use Google.Translator or another app to talk to the waiter/waitress.
There is more than one A Happy Pancake, but I just only have beenin the one near Shibuya Station. Take a look at their website and decide whether I love or love it. Everything is in Japanese, but when you type in A Happy Pancake Shibuya you get the correct address.
Three floors of love for all kinds of Disney Movies. Sure, other countries have them, too. But the one in Tokyo has a castle as an entrance, cute little figurines on the walls as decoration and getting up to the first floor you have to walk through an Alice in Wonderland gate. Tinkerbell is just waiting for you on top, dancing around and in small corners you’ll find Pinoccio and Peter Pan.
It feels like every month they have something new, and yes it’s the truth, there is. Be it a new collection of a Hawaiian, good night – sleep tight, or pirate topic. Everything can be found. It is quite similar with the Pokemon Stores, just for Disney. Don’t tell me your heart is not bumping loud out of your chest and saving every penny now, just to get your favourite plush toy or tea set?
FOR MUSIC LOVERS
Now you'll get to now the creme de la creme of where to find your all time favourite music.
Of course there are even more stores, but these have a very good variety of all kinds of musicians from all over the world.
You are looking for some music? You probably will find it there. Next to Japanese music there are categories of international musicians and genres as well. Just get in there and begin the search of your life for a specific CD or DVD that you have been looking for ages. Be aware, they have a lot of floors!
Just in case you didn’t find what you were looking for in TOWER RECORDS…There is the option of BOOK OFF. As you may think that they only sell 2nd hand books, magazines or manga, you are wrong.. They have a good range of second hand CD’s and DVD’s as well. Games, consoles, art books and toys included. Sometimes I even found limited editions of CD’s that are valuable and were sold out in other countries. And with valuable I meant you get a CD for a few euros and the actual prize could be 3 times higher.
You are a big fan of alternative music? Specially such as Visual Kei, Hard Rock, Metal, Grunge or whatever they are all called?
Check out CLOSET CHILD and dive into the world of music that you love. From limited editions, to multiple copies, magazines and merchandise you may be the lucky one and get a DVD that you wanted to have for over a century. But take care that you search for the correct CLOSET CHILD, because there are some that are only selling clothes as well. The one you are looking for is CLOSET CHILD SHINJUKU 2nd. My friend and I made the mistake that we didn’t do research well in the beginning, and wondered why there have been only Lolita clothes and no dark vibes around. That’s why I just added the link to their website in here. Just click the name of the Closet Child above and you know how to get there.
STUDIO GHIBLI MUESEUM AND STORES
For all of those who are interested in cartoon series or are artists themselves, you know about #StudioGhibli, Hayao Miyazaki, Joe Hisaishi and the well-known classics such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away.
Luckily you are in Japan now and you get the chance to go to a lot of Ghibli stores. Each of them is unique, but similar. They are having often flowers and plants everywhere, the soundtracks or movies turned on and you hear them through the loudspeakers. Every single time when I go to one of the stores it really feels like walking to a hidden door which leads me directly into the world that Mr. Miyazaki and his co-workers created.
Most of the things are not that cheap, but still a must have when you are a fan and want to support them, so that they can make as many movies they want. Specially due to the age of Hayao there is not too much time left to create these hidden places that makes your heart feel so beautifully heavy.
The Ghibli stores and the museum which you really should check out, are always having something new depending on the season. In case you want to go to the Ghibli museum you have to book in advance. Since it’s a bit complicated and annoying to get the tickets, you have to make sure that everything is set up one month in advance before you go to Japan.
Give me a shout, in case you need some more advice and leave a comment below to let me know! I am always happy to help out. :)
Besides, I have a YouTube Channel which is currently all about me living in Japan. Weekly Vlogs and "How does it work? Living in Japan"
Would love it to see you there as well. ;)
My YouTube Channel Right here!
Mata Ne! ♥
I am Sina Sofie and love writing.
A while ago I built my own website which is all about travelling to different countries, how to do it, where to go, tips and tricks, what's important of planing your next trip and in general a lot about Japan.
Next to it, I enjoy writing and taking videos of my life as foreigner in the land of the rising sun to inspire others to come to visit this beautiful country.
I am originally coming from Germany, but lived for a couple of years in Ireland, before I decided to hop on the next plane to begin a new adventure.
Speaking and writing in English feels just as natural as German and I can't wait to know enough Japanese to talk to you.