Since the famed Tsukiji Market auction has relocated to Toyosu, you probably don’t have to worry about waking up super early to visit Tsukiji but it doesn’t hurt since we have another pretty full day. Breakfast today will be spent feasting on the best this historic market has to offer. My recommendation when visiting any good market is to take a quick lap around first to take inventory of what you are wanting to eat or buy, where it is located, what the line looks like, and most importantly; how much is left. The earlier you get here the less likely you are to miss out on things.
Now fresh seafood is obviously what you come here for- sushi, crab, octopus, the list goes on and on. You can pretty much get anything from the ocean you could ever want. We highly recommend getting sushi and crab legs. But a few non-seafood items that you have to try are the deep fired minced meat patties from Yoshizawa Shoten Egg and the Tamagoyaki, a sweet rolled egg omelet (it’s definitely something you should try, but it is sweet, so it is not for everyone).
Growing up I used to spend hours watching the original Iron Chef. I remember staying up into the early hours of the morning watching these amazing chefs create incredible dishes that at that age I could never even imagine. My favorite and longest lasting was Iron Chef Chen Kenichi. So it was a life-long dream of mine to finally taste some of the dishes I used to be mesmerized by as a kid. Thankfully Akasaka Shisen Hanten, one of Chef Kenichi’s Szechwan restaurants, is a short train ride from Tsukiji Market. We went with the set menu that came with 8 courses including the holy grail of Mapo Tofu dishes. Chunks of tender tofu in an amazing hot oil and fermented bean paste sauce with finely mined beef. It’s one of my all time favorite dishes and this was easily the best I have ever had.
** Protip from an unprofessional – make a reservation online – it makes the langue barrier a little easier. Also, go for lunch. The food is the same but it is much cheaper**
As we have already talked about in Day two vending machines are literally everywhere in Japan, and after all that spicy Szechwan food you are going to need something cold and refreshing to wash it all down. I can’t sing the praises of Pocari Sweat enough. I get it… the name its not great, but the drink itself is incredible. I know that no magic drink exists but this slightly fruity with a hint of salty sports drink really does feel like it makes a huge difference when walking around all day, and is the perfect cure for those humid Japanese summers.
Time to head to the busiest train station in the world, so get ready. Shinjuku Station is the stop we are taking to explore Shibuya. If you are not a fan of crowds, then this is not for you, but it’s not a trip to Tokyo without this stop. Fashion, shopping, nightlife, and of course the famous scramble crossing intersection; Shibuya is home to almost anything you want to spend your night doing. A lot of tours leave from Shibuya so if you want to go kart around the city, learn to make your own soba, or go on a Izakaya (bar) crawl, this is probably the place.
Something that you see a lot in Japan is animal cafes. These range from cats, owls, and even Hedgehogs. We chose the latter – Chiku Chiku Hedgehog Cafe was a cute little spot located on a quieter side street on the second floor of an office building. The cafe was clean, and the staff was friendly. The hedgehogs are all in cute little sets that look like houses or landscapes. You can make a reservation online but I don’t think it’s really needed. This was just a real quick stop for us since we have never experienced anything like this before. If you are in the area and have an interest then. definitely go, but I wouldn’t make this your main destination.
Now when you think Tokyo your mind might not go straight to soft serve ice cream, but after this you will never be able to think of anything else. Cremia – it’s ice cream perfected. Fresh cream from Hokkaido, a decent about of fat, and a light crispy cone that just won’t quit! Get it, get lots of it, but just know it will ruin all other soft serve for you.