Our week in Japan

Japan is a country with the perfect balance of ancient culture and modern technology. Right next to a shrine that is hundreds of years old, you can get a Manhattan cocktail.

Japan imports nearly nothing. They have a sense of pride that says, “We can do it better.” And they do. Everything that exists in Japan is created with an attention to detail and a degree of perfection that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Even our hotel bathroom was something to marvel at. The amazing washlet heated toilet seat (pretty much standard everywhere), fog free mirror, and super intuitive shower controls were incredible.

Even things that weren’t invented in Japan are made better there. It’s as if they sent their chefs to Paris, learned to make croissants from the best chefs in France, and then took it up a notch.

Oh the food. Wow. Sushi, ramen, tempura. And lots of French food. In Tokyo, the city with the most Michelin star restaurants, you will find no shortage of french food and french wine.

Tokyo is a city that rivals New York in my list of the top cities in the world. That’s a rank that I thought New York City held with a distant lead, but no longer.

Armed with a ton of great suggestions from our friends (thank you!), and our Lonely Planet guides, we set off to explore Japan.

Here’s how we did it (at least the major pieces):
Japan Rail
If there’s only one thing you do before leaving for Japan, it’s this: buy a Japan Rail pass. It gives you unlimited access to all Japan Rail trains. We used this to get between Tokyo and Kyoto, Tokyo and the airport, and a ton of local trains in both cities.
Day 1
  • Arrived in the evening
  • Staying at Hotel Marunouchi near Tokyo Station. Very nice and convenient
  • Cocktails at Bar Oak in the Tokyo Station Hotel. Gorgeous spot, killer drinks

Day 2

  • Tsukiji fish market
  • Ghibli museum (HIGHLY recommended)
  • Shibuya – ramen and shopping
  • Dinner and drinks with Sean (Twitter friend)

Day 3

  • Senso-ji temple
  • Asahi building – view and beer
  • Akihabara electronics district
  • Maid cafe (weird but fun)
  • Ginza for shopping
  • Ginza Lion beer hall
  • Four seasons for drinks with Tim, and foie (Apple friend)
  • L’atelier Roubechon for dinner, more foie

Day 4

  • Bullet train to Kyoto
  • Stayed at Hotel Granvia Kyoto. Ok, convenient.
  • Silver Pavilion
  • Lots of snacks along the way
  • Exploring Gion
  • Irish pub
  • Traditional tempura dinner – awesome!

Day 5

  • Hotel buffet
  • Gates of Shinto Shrine! Incredible.
  • Bamboo grove
  • Romantic beer by water 🙂
  • Golden temple
  • Gion for drinks

Day 6

  • Nishiki market
  • Train to Tokyo
  • Shinjinku
  • Drinks at Park Hyatt (nice but touristy)
  • French restaurant (Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonnais)
  • Karaoke for hours!

Day 7

  • Gyoza Ro for lunch
  • Harajuku craziness
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Roppongi: wine bar with 48 wines, self serve machines
  • Roppongi Hills for dinner

One of the best trips ever. I already miss Tokyo and want to go back.

You can see all our photos here.

3 comments

  1. You don’t mention it, but I hope you had tried a breakfast of the freshest and most incredible sushi at one of the tiny sushi bars adjacent to the Tsukiji fish market. It sounds crazy until you try it. Its where the guys who buy and sell fish at the market have their breakfast. You have to get there before 7am or be prepared to wait an hour or more. It’s the best and cheapest sushi you’ll ever have and the experience is unforgettable.

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