Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Chinese Lantern Festival! Traditionally, Chinese Lantern Festival is to celebrate the first full moon of the lunar new year. Children play with their lanterns and solve riddles on lanterns in park. People would eat glutinous rice balls and enjoy the family time together. In modern days, it is considered to be the Chinese Valentine’s Day, but people don’t do much to celebrate. Anyhow, enjoy a sweet day with your loved one. Bryan and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, so we didn’t have any plan. We are more looking forward to the long weekend. 🙂
And yes, I have been back in town for a week. Sadly, Bryan and I are still recovering from our jet lag. We have been feeling sleepy in the morning, afternoon and night-time. Every time when I almost fall asleep on the couch, Bryan would poke my arm with his finger to keep me awake. By now, I think there are many bruises on my arm. Haha! I think we will be back to normal early next week.
Before arriving in Hong Kong, we also stayed in Tokyo for 5 days. The main goal to Hong Kong was to visit family and friends, and check out Chinese New Year. On the other side, going to Japan was all for sightseeing. We had amazing times in both Hong Kong and Tokyo. With two thousand pictures, Bryan can only go through the Japan ones for now. I will update you all about the Hong Kong trip next time.
Let’s talk about Tokyo. This was Bryan’s first time to Japan. I have only been to Japan when I was a kid, so I didn’t remember anything. Japan is a very beautiful place with very nice and polite people. We felt welcomed. Tokyo is crowded, but everyone follows rules and we always feel safe. It is no doubt a great place for tourists. As a foodie, Tokyo is heaven. There are so many different kinds of food, like sushi, tonkatsu, kaiseki, and teppanyaki. There are always something new every meal. No repeat. And for snacks, wow….. They are really everywhere, especially in train/subway stations. You will never go hungry!
I feel like it is impossible to write a 5-day trip in one post, but I will try. First of all, we didn’t get lost. Thanks to our rental wi-fi hotspot, we ran around the city with the help of Google map. I can’t even tell you how helpful that was. Hotspot is a must for tourists. We went to many places and had eaten so much, let me tell you a few of our favorites.
Tsukiji Fish Market was tons of fun. We got to see all those giant tuna, live octopus and other seafood. We enjoyed watching the busy scenes where bikes, motorcycles, and forklift trucks were going through in between people and stalls. In the outer market, it was quite a food scene. People were making and selling steaming hot Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg omelet); people were grilling and selling fresh clams; people were giving out nuts and candies samples. And most importantly, Bryan and I got to have sushi for breakfast. We had two chef’s specials in a tiny little restaurant, Ryu Sushi. The bar chairs were small and tight. We could barely fit in. Even though it wasn’t very comfortable, watching our chef preparing sushi in front of us totally made us forget everything. Only one sushi was placed in our plate each time. We picked it up with our hand, dipped into soy sauce and packed in our mouths. The sushi was perfect. Fish was fresh and sweet, and the rice was warm with a hint of vinegar. That kind of quality would be very hard to find elsewhere. We will miss it dearly. We left satisfied and happy.
Sumo competition is held three times a year in Tokyo. It was happening while we were in Tokyo. We got the tickets online ahead. The game rules are very simple. We didn’t have to understand the language to know what was happening. It was pretty fun and it is one of a kind. Before the game, we were outside the gate and watching the sumo warriors walked to the stadium. Most of the warriors are not only big, but they are tall. It was awesome to see them close. We would recommend the sumo games to everyone.
Harajuku area has a lot of high-end stores, but there are also many boutiques and fun stores, like Kiddyland (any cute cartoon characters stuffs), and Calbee+ (freshly made potato chips). Other than that, we had our favorite meal in Tokyo in a restaurant called “Maisen”. Maisen specialized in Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). The pork was so tender and juicy. Their crust was flakey and light, which is no regular panko crust. Best fried food ever. Very memorable! We already miss it!
Kappabashi-dougugai Dori is another place that can’t be missed for someone who love to cook. It is the area that sells all kind of kitchen tools. You can find awesome Japanese knives and all kind of Japanese cooking tools. You can also find shops that sell plastic display food. They are all finely made and they look real. When you see them, you start to get hungry.
In Ginza area, we had teppanyaki at the restaurant, Ginza Kira. The Saga beef were fat and tender. They melted in our mouths. The appetizer and dessert were elaborated and impressive. We cleaned our plates. That was our second favorite meal in Tokyo.
Akihabara! Bryan is a gamer and a tech guy, and we love toys. Akihabara is a perfect place for us. We were “wow” and “aww” all afternoon in the toy stores, gachapon (capsule toys) machines and claw machines. It was a blast to walk around there.
For one day, we took the train and went to Kamakura. Hase-dera Temple was pretty nice with a few gold buddha statues and a small cave. The little Nagomi Jizo statues were so adorable and made us smile. The giant buddha in Kotokuin Temple was stunning. Very zen and peaceful. There are many great snacks in the area, like sweet potato soft-served ice cream, hato sabure (dove cookies), and peanut crackers. For dinner, we went to Raitei for Kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese meal). Raitei mainly sells soba lunches and only does Kaiseki with reservation. The restaurant has a beautiful setting. They have a huge garden. Unfortunately, it was dark when we were there. We were led to a tatami room with a table and two seats. Our first course was already on the table. They were incredible to look at like a piece of art work. In an environment like this, we were intimated and we really didn’t want to ruin anything. After browsing the room and taking a few pictures, we finally started eating. The food was definitely unique and different. We enjoyed every bite. It was quite a special experience. Kamakura is a quiet smaller city far away from the busy and crowded Tokyo. It is an excellent place to check out if going to Tokyo.
That is pretty much a sum up for Tokyo. By this time, if you still have space in your stomach, you can go and get all kind of cakes, pastries, candies, and crackers in department stores. They are all pretty and delicious. Again, Tokyo is an amazing place to travel to. Japan is a country where the old and new are kept well in their own ways. It is never awkward or weird to wear kimono (traditional Japanese clothing) or Lolita clothing in public. People practice the traditions but not scare to move forward at the same time. This is one thing I truly admire. If we have a chance, we will go visit Tokyo or other cities in Japan without a doubt.