If there’s one destination that I simply can’t get enough of, it’s Tokyo. Most ‘first world’ cities like London, New York and Sydney have pretty much gone in the same direction. Tokyo has gone off in its own completely different, wonderful, crazy, bizarre, fascinating and eccentric direction of it’s own. It’s what makes the place so addictive.
Last time I did a Tokyo trip, I ended up exploring the maze of pathways and alleys around Tokyo station. Searching for some hidden ramen restaurants, I found some tasty little places so this time I thought I’d head to the fashion centre of town, Harajuku. Situated just north of the famous Scramble Crossing at Shibuya, Harajuku brings together all your world famous international designers with the eclectic vibrant Japanese youth fashion that this area is famous for.
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Sushi – Tokyo must-eat
As a result of the massive 9 hour time change, you may not find yourself out and about till mid morning. Worry not. Hop on the metro and head to Omote-sando (station code Z-02/G-02/C-04) and after exiting the station, head down the main street. Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton line the street before you arrive at Heiroku Sushi for your classic sushi train experience. Whilst the selection doing the rounds isn’t massive, it’s definitely a case of quality over quantity. The fish is fresh and tasty so as a result, just a few plates of nigiri and a matcha tea will be the perfect warm up for your taste buds.
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Harajuku – eclectic fashion central
Continue down and over the main crossroads and take a right which will bring you down to the picture-postard which is Harajuku Station. Whilst most transport interchanges in Tokyo tend to be underground this station retains most of it’s original outdoors 1906 charm. Concequently, it makes a great subject for a photo, especially when the lighting is just right.
This conveniently brings you to the start of Takeshita Street where you’ll find an array of shops from the cheap and cheerful 100Yen store to the mind bending fashion designs in Takenoko. No matter what your interests, there’s plenty to catch your eye including one place definitely not to miss, Totti Candy Factory. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you simply can’t help but marvel at the array of sugary creations they come up with. Hard sweets, swirly lollipos and the most incredible candyfloss I’ve ever seen. If you do have a sweet tooth, you’ll be in heaven. I’d recommend the cake-pops – great to look at, even better to eat… just be sure to stock up on toothpaste at the Family Mart on the way out!
Along here, you’ll also find the quirky owl and hedgehog cafes. Settle down with a coffee and a snack whilst petting the residents. Defintely not something you’ll anywhere else in the world!
Crossing the road at the bottom of Takeshita Street, you leave behind the loud, in your face budget shopping and trade them for interconnecting streets of super-trendy, unique boutiques along with a few famous designer names. My best advice here is to take your time to just wander and see what you can find. My personal favourite was Bookmarc, a specialty Marc Jacobs store which stocks a beautiful collection of books on art, culture and music but also rare vintage books, bags and other accessories. There’s also a number of fab little watch stores selling some quality and unique pieces for sensible prices. Also, if shoes are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. You just have to look at the feet of the Harajuku kids to realise that ‘unique’ couldn’t be more appropriate.
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By now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hungry again, and if you like avocados, you’ll be in love with this gem of a cafe I stumbled across. Madosh Café, “Tokyo style avocado cuisine”, serves only dishes with avocado in them Deep fried avocado, avocado with shrimp, avocado smoothie – if you can think of a way of eating avocado, they probably serve it here. I settled on combining two of my favourite foods and went for an avocado and salmon rice bowl. Fresh, simple and oh so super tasty.
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By the time I peeled myself away from this avocado heaven, the sun was starting to set. It doesn’t matter how short your time in a city, there’s always something new and exciting you can discover! What are your favourite city discoveries? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy and safe travels!