JAPAN: food, sightseeing and the in-between

I’ve been wanting to travel to Japan again after my trip to Kyoto and Osaka in 2016. My family and I were all set to go again this March however some unfortunate things happened which postponed our trip to September. I was excited to try out seasonal drinks in Japan and see the colours of leaves change but we went there between late Summer and early Autumn, when days were warm and the nights were cold.

FOOD 
Fuel for the body in order to travel further
¥1,000 for one plate at Stand By Farm, Ginza, Tokyo
In Japan, a good, filling meal can cost somewhere between ¥700 to ¥1,500 (USD6.30 to USD14.50) if you want to eat out. You can go to chain restaurants like Yoshinoya where the food is on the cheaper end or you can go to more fancier restaurants. However, you can definitely find cheaper options by going underground! Bigger train stations usually have grocery stores and pre-packed food that you can take away. With a microwave (or none at all), you can eat it immediately or save it for the next morning!
 
All these can be bought from subway stations underground. A filling breakfast for two.
Although we stayed in Nagoya for the first three nights before taking a shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo, we had a one-day trip to Takayama and Shirakawa-go. 


TAKAYAMA
The most expensive part of the country, surpassing Tokyo, Takayama is believed to be the most spiritual place in Japan. Takayama is known for Kamisannomachi Street (street full of pottery, restaurants and alcohol), Hida beef sushi as well as fruits in rice cakes.

Kamisannomachi Street
Not a famous dish in Takayama but it didn’t stop me from enjoying Takoyaki and the view of the Miyagawa River
Beef at the Miyagawa Morning Market
SHIRAKAWA-GO
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is most ideal to visit in the winter where the thatched roofs are covered by snow. Made without nails and surrounded by mother nature, the gassho style houses are preserved since around 1800. 

View of Shirakawa-go through the Tenshukaku Observatory deck
TOKYO
Tokyo was my most favourite place to visit on this trip. There’s something about it that makes me feel comforted. 
I’ve heard a lot about the area I was staying – Hibiya. It’s where my dad usually go whenever his company sends him to Japan on a business trip. Hibiya is a food haven filled with rows and rows of stores in the alleyway in the evening. Although I didn’t get to try any of them, I did try something else that was absolutely delicious!

Hibiya Park near where we stayed. On weekend mornings, there will be tons of food stalls like these all around the park. During the time we visited, there was a beef festival going on. All the food there was beef, beef and more beef! They had beer there too.

Tsukushiya, behind Tokyo Midtown Hibiya
One of the best places I’ve went this trip for food. It was behind Tokyo Midtown Hibiya and you had to make a choice of what you wanted to eat before you get in.
 You have the option of choosing seafood, beef or chicken. After making your choice, you will be led to a certain floor and over there you can make your order. My family and I settled for beef instead of chicken and beef (we could only choose one!) and it was the best choice we’ve ever made. 
I didn’t take a picture of what we ate or what the menu looked like, but we ordered ox tongue, grilled scallop and a spaghetti carbonara. Although it was on the pricey side (¥6,000 including 3 cups of tea), it was absolutely worth it. I’ve always wanted to try an izakaya style dining and this would probably be the closest!

 
PLACES TO GO 
Aside from eating, we spent a lot of time walking from place to place. Here are some of my favourites.
I knew I wanted to visit an art museum in Japan. There were tons of it, especially in Nagoya, but I’ve sent my heart on Mori Art Museum knowing it’d be the best. The exhibition changes every few months. This time it was architecture in Japan. The entrance fee was originally ¥1,800 (USD 15.99) however we got it for ¥1,600 per person, all thanks to a travel brochure we picked up in the hotel! 

Although there were only some places where we are allowed to take pictures when we were inside, it was very limited. We were allowed to film a designated spots too. 
If you’re a stationery lover, you will definitely spend hours in Itoya, Ginza. Imagine a building, 10 floors of stationery, from postcards, fountain pens, notebooks and so much more. Once you’re tired, you can ride the lift to the 12th floor and enjoy a drink at Stylo Cafe, overlooking Ginza. 
You can also visit another Itoya building that’s located on the road behind this! That one is more focused on notebooks, journals and calligraphy materials.
You can read more about Itoya here!

Although there were a lot more places that I’ve visited, I spent most of my time in Japan eating delicious food and walking around. I didn’t have the chance to take a picture of most of the places but there’s still next time! 
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I hoped you enjoyed my little travel blog post! It was great to go to Japan again and a different region from the first time I’ve been there. Cheers to more travels in the future!
-J