The first time I visited Tokyo seven years ago I shopped everyday for a week. However three trips in, I would like to say I am a far more well rounded tourist. There is so much to experience in this vibrant city, it’s one of those places that every time you visit  you discover a little bit more.

I venture to say that it’s almost impossible to have a bad meal in Tokyo. It goes without saying the sushi is divine but so is pretty much everything else. From crispy pork cutlet, gyoza, fluffy pancakes, and my fave vending machine ramen. Not literally from a vending machine (although I kind of expected that the first time I saw one!) but you use the machine to choose your soup base, meat, noodles, vegetables and toppings and a little ticket pops out which you take to the counter to pay.

Ramen Vending Machine


Hiyokuno Tori


The best yakitori of my life was discovered rather randomly when the restaurant we originally had reservations at was over booked. Which left us starving in a rather deserted street in Minato, and scrambling to find somewhere else. A quick Yelp search ensued and we were off down a tiny little road until we arrived at Hiyokuno Tori. After convincing the apprehensive host that we were very hungry, and therefore perfectly happy for the four of us to split up and sit at two separate tables for two, we were granted entry. I’m partial to yakitori anyway but this was delicious. Of course they use really fresh ingredients which you watch the chefs preparing in the open kitchen. Each small plate arrived and was tastier than the next.

A Happy Pancake

Ginza 6 Food Hall


Tokyo Sake Department

It’s a well known fact that the lower levels of most department stores in Tokyo are the home to fabulous food halls. The aisles are filled with kiosks and restaurants selling a plethora of edibles. The basement level of the luxe Ginza 6 complex has everything from French pastries, and gourmet cotton candy to Japanese drinking vinegar and other traditional fare all beautifully displayed, and packaged. Don’t miss the wine shop that does a very well priced happy hour around 5pm. After indulging check out the shops on the other levels before heading to the rooftop garden on the 13th floor for a serene escape and a brilliant view on a clear day.

Last year in Tokyo I was on a mission to find a good sake spot. Completely by chance as seems to always be the way, we stumbled upon the Tokyo Sake Department. If you like sake this is the place to go. It’s hidden down a skinny pedestrian only alley in Ginza. A narrow winding staircase leads into a low lit bar that seats only about 8 people. Upon arrival we were handed a card written in English outlining the rules of the establishment. A cover charge per person and that only credit cards were accepted for payment. With that out of the way, the bar man who was of course a sake connoisseur, made sure we tasted all types of sake from different regions of Japan. Definitely a good start to a night out.

Tokyo is a shopping Mecca. It really has it all from luxury designer, cool local brands, vintage and preowned, to numerous multi level department stores. You can literally shop non-stop. Now it’s true this can be said of other metropolitan cities, but what makes the shopping experience in Japan unique is the culture which pays so much attention to detail. From the beautifully wrapped purchases to the two handed gesture when handing back your credit card.

The past few visits my general shopping route begins with Omotesando. You can stroll up and down the little streets and find a good mix of high end and local boutiques including vintage shops. Journal Standard and Studious clothing boutiques are faves of mine. I always have success there. The same goes for Fray I.D which has a location in the Omotesando Hills shopping centre. Slow Omotesando, and Pigsty are two vintage shops in the area worth checking out too. I came across quite a few little vintage shops when walking from Omotesando to Harajuku. The wonderful thing about vintage in Japan is that there’s no musty smell to any of the clothes. In fact you really can’t find anything preowned that’s not in almost immaculate condition.

Walking is always best in cities because you never know what shops and restaurants you’ll encounter along the way. Last time on our way to Shibuya from Omotesando we came across this teeny tiny shop that was floor to ceiling vintage denim. All neatly folded and organized by style and size. Of course I cannot remember the street or name.

In Shibuya Loft life style department store is worth a visit. There are six floors of everything from kitchen utensils, home interiors, cosmetics, stationary and all types of fabulous miscellaneous you never knew you needed. Since I’m a big fan of Hakuhodo Japanese makeup brushes, I make sure to add to my collection when in Tokyo. Tokyu department store in Shibuya carries them so I save on shipping and of course as an added bonus you shop tax free as a tourist.

Jiyugaoka is lovely calm shopping district about 15 minutes by train from Shibuya. There are plenty of unique boutiques, as well as a few of the Japanese chain stores like Uniqlo and Journal Standard. There’s a Today’s Special which also has a few other locations. They carry all types of cute, modern home goods, accessories and gourmet food. We came across lots of cafes, restaurants and even a very mini Venice like canal including a gondola, all in a virtually tourist free atmosphere.

TeamLab Borderless exhibit stretches throughout the Mori Digital Art Museum. A massive collection of interactive installations and rooms that allow you to fully immerse yourself into the experience of kaleidoscopic lights, mirrors, and holographic images. Don’t miss the Forest of Resonating Lamps which transform in colour and intensity to create a range beautiful different versions. Or the Crystal World which features extremely elongated strings of curtain like lights that simultaneously shift colour, and shimmer as you walk through them like a spectacular maze.

Hitachi Seaside Park is about an hour and a half outside of Tokyo by train. The main reason I wanted to visit was to see the Summer Cyprus bushes. We went at the end of October which is perfect timing to see the plants as they’re actually dying. Which sounds crazy but as the plants die they transform from average green, into a fabulous magenta red hue. It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book to see hundreds of these little bright red bushes stretched out across the hills. It really is quite stunning. We biked around the whole park to take in all the views of the various other gardens, the Ferris wheel and amusement park, and of course the Pacific Ocean.

There never seems to be enough time to visit Kyoto, and since I was very eager to see some sort of bamboo forest Hokokuji Bamboo Forest in Kamakura was the answer. Just over an hour away from Tokyo by train it’s a the perfect reprieve from the city. After perusing the forest stop at the little tea house for a matcha, before carrying on to explore the many temples and gardens in the area. Of course the show-stopper of Kamakura is the 13 metre high bronze Buddha, the second largest in Japan. It’s so big you can even walk inside, although far less impressive than looking at it from the outside for free.