Just going to start with the teeniest of tiniest disclaimers: we didn’t actually go trekking in Tokyo. However, this was my second time back in the city, and it’s safe to say we did a LOT more walking this time around (16,265 average daily steps aka 12.5k a day, to be precise!). Despite this, I have to say this trip has been one of my best so far in Asia. Why? Read on to find out.
Cherry blossom in full bloom
Firstly, we visited during cherry blossom season and this wasn’t intentionally planned. We happened to book our flights around Easter time which coincided with the season. Last time I was in Tokyo was a few years back in September, so I experienced similar vibes with trees dropping leaves, but autumn is nothing compared to spring in Tokyo.
There were many memorable moments where I stopped in the street and watched cherry blossom dance in the wind among commuters. It was absolutely beautiful and those little moments will stay with me for a long time. It was a small reminder to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, cherry blossom), something we don’t do enough of when we’re at home, wrapped up in routines. Above was taken in Yoyogi Park.
Location, location, location
Many know that if you’re taking a city break, location is everything. Our Air BnB was pretty pricey, but damn worth it as we were based at the southern end of Shibuya. This meant we were a 20-30 minute walk away from Harajuku and pretty early on into our trip, walks up to Harajuku became a favourite past time. This meant we discovered more quirky boutiques and bakeries, including Bon Vivant near the Shibuya Scramble. If there’s anywhere in Asia that does authentic European-style bakeries, it’s Tokyo!
The back alleys of Harajuku make for a fun afternoon of wandering and browsing. But, be warned… if you don’t have a big holiday budget, you may want to stick to Takeshita street which has more affordable shopping.
One gem that we came across in Harajuku was Good Town Doughnuts, an authentic American coffee shop. The queue was pretty long, but well worth the wait as my maple bacon doughnut was sweet, salty, chewy, and quite frankly, the best damn doughnut I’ve had a long time!
The puurfect little shrine
Last, but not least is the Gotokuji Temple aka Tokyo’s cat shrine. This place wasn’t the easiest to get to as it’s based in a residential area, but was definitely worth the visit because it’s pretty unusual compared to other shrines and temples in Japan. Coming from Shibuya, we got out at Kamimachi station which gave us a chance to check out the local area. That meant we came across Iron Coffee – a lovely local coffee shop with chatty owners who wanted to know where we were from.
The part of the shrine where you’ll find all the lucky cats is actually quite small – don’t let tourist photos fool you! Despite this, it was nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of Shibuya and spend some quiet time among the cherry blossom. We even made wishes and you can also buy your own lucky cat in the shrine shop nearby.
I love you, Tokyo. I’ll be back.