5 days in Tokyo

5 Days in Tokyo

In October we spent five days in Tokyo. I already told you about how I fell in love with Japan on the first day; now let me tell you the rest of our love story.

Let me introduce my Tokyo top tourist activities

Tsujiki Fish Market

I have a dual relationship with Tsujiki Fish Market. According to our Lonely Planet guide, Tripadvisor and other tourist reviews this place is a must-see. True. They also suggest visiting the tuna auction. That one appeared to be a big mistake.

The first time we went to Tsujiki Fish Market we got up at 2 A.M. (yes, at two o’clock in the MORNING). We hauled a cab and arrived at the site at approximately 3.30 A.M. With great ambition we walked toward the Fish Information Centre where you need to apply for the auction. Sadly, a guard told us the auction was sold out: ‘Sold out, come back tomorrow, 3 P.M.’

Sooo… the next day we got up at 1 A.M., grabbed a cab and arrived at about 2 A.M. Great news: we were the fourth and fifth to join the queue. After waiting for about another 3 and a half hours we got to see the tuna auction at 5.45 A.M.

So on a beautiful October morning I found myself looking at dead endangered fish and felt kind of sorry (and maybe also a bit guilty). This guilt trip only intensified when the majority of people in our group started taking selfies. With the dead tuna. To this day I still wonder about how many households have framed photographs of family members and dead tuna.

Luckily the sushi breakfast was awesome.


Selfies at tsujiki fish market

Selfies at Tsujiki Fish Market – tuna auction


Sushi Breakfast

Sushi breakfast near Tsujiki Fish Market


Kabuki

Let me be brief about this one: get food and drinks before attending a kabuki performance. Yes, every written guide recommends getting food, every reviewer tells you so… so listen! Don’t be as stupid as we were and grab yourself some food and drinks and bring them into the theatre. All the Japanese do it; only tourists seem to starve themselves to death during a four hour kabuki performance.

We watched kabuki in the Kabuki-za Theatre and rented an English audio guide. This theatre is highly recommended: friendly staff, great performances and a pretty good English translation.

A kabuki play lasts for about three-four hours. You can also opt for just one act, this will keep you entertained for about an hour.


Kabuki-za Theatre

Kabuki-za Theatre


Kabuki Dance featuring Bando Kotji with live music at Japan Society

Nishizaki Sakurako and Bando Kotji in “Yoshino Mountain”. Photo from Tokyo Times


Robot Restaurant

Only tourists here: best guilty pleasure I’ve ever had. We grabbed some food before heading to this joint since their food reviews appeared to be quite horrible. The show however was everything you can expect: weird robots dancing to weird music.

Afterwards you can dive into Shinjuku neighbourhood; nightlife is supposed to be great here. I shouldn’t know though since I was too busy trying to get into some tuna auction.


Robot Restaurant

Robot Restaurant


Meiji-Jingu

This is where I fell in love with Japan: beautiful traditional temple in the heart of one of the world’s biggest cities. We saw several traditional wedding processions and were absolutely in awe.


Traditional wedding at Meiji-Jingu

Traditional wedding at Meiji-Jingu


Senso-ji

Another place of worship and tradition in the big city. We watched a traditional procession of musicians. Or at least we thinks this is what we saw. We only just arrived in Japan and were too pussy to ask. There was also a priest involved if I’m not mistaken. Anyone who can give further detail on what his happening in the pic below: please enlighten me in the comment section of this blog.


Traditional musicians near Senso-ji

Traditional musicians near Senso-ji


Tokyo Sky Tree

The walk towards Tokyo Sky Tree was truly movie-esque. We walked on an empty street, straight to the tower. Before entering the Sky Tree we decided to eat at an icecream parlour. Just a normal activity, made slightly less normal when the personnel started singing a song to us. One song for each icecream ordered. Just a normal day in Japan.


View from Tokyo Sky Tree

View from Tokyo Sky Tree


Shibuya Crossing

Must see. I still wonder why this can work in Japan, but when shopping on Regent Street in London people keep walking into each other. I truly still wonder.


Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing


Ghibli Museum

I love Studio Ghibli movies and visiting the museum was one of my highlights. Walking into the museum is like walking into a Ghibli movie. The museum has a movie theatre playing different short movies. A must if you’re a Ghibli fan. Book in advance. WAAAAY in advance.


Ghibli Museum

Ghibli Museum


Mt Fuji

I opened with a love/hate relation and I end this list with one. Mt Fuji: so beautiful on all those postcards. The icon of a nation. I guess we made the mistake of joining a tourist tour that just wasn’t quite to our taste.

We arrived at Mt Fuji 5th station and looked at the mountain. Let me tell you a basic fact: the iconic mountain doesn’t always have snow on top. This seems logical, this IS logical, but before arriving I seemed to have forgotten about basic scientific principles. So yes, I truly was disappointed when the mountain was as brown as… well, you get the picture. What annoyed me even more were the busloads of tourists. You couldn’t walk 5 feet without running into someone.

Our tour continued to Mt Fuji 5 lakes. Whoa, things got even more out of hand. You couldn’t walk 3 feet without running into someone.

Don’t get me wrong: the lakes were gorgeous and apparently everyone had found out about this. We ended the day taking a look at the truly beautiful Shiraito Falls.


Red bean cakes - Fuji 5 Lakes

Red bean cakes – Fuji 5 Lakes


Mt Fuji

Mt Fuji – wooden prayer plaques

Top places to find street art in London

One of my favourite things to do (and see) in London is its street art. London has amazing street artists and a great artistic vibe. If you’re looking for a great experience and you want to go off the beaten track, make sure to include street art in your London schedule.

We took two great street art tours in London:

  • London Alternative Tour: We took the walking tour (in English) and had a great guide. The tour lasted about two hours and took us to all the highlights.
  • London Street Art Tour: We also opted for the English walking tour. This tour ended after about four hours (including a lunch break). The pace was a bit slower, we saw all the same highlights as in the London Alternative Tour and some other streets we hadn’t visited yet.

Both tours are a great option, depending on how much time you have to spare.

Not into tours? All tours booked up? Want to explore on your own?

Although we had so much fun during our tours, we saw the most amazing things when we went to explore to city on our own. Are you planning a visit to London? Visit Shoreditch / Hackney Wick to make the most of your visit. Make sure these streets are on your list:

  • Brick Lane
  • Redchurch Street
  • Hackney Road
  • Fashion Street
  • Rivington Street

Want to get to know some of the most famous street artists you can spot in London? Here are some of my favs:

  • ROA: Belgium’s first, graffiti artist from Ghent. Can be spotted in Hanbury Street, Chance street,…
  • Mobstr: Always funny or thoughtful. Can be spotted in Hanbury Street, Tabernacle street,…
  • Ben Wilson: Genius who turns chewing gum into little pieces of art. Can be spotted on Millenium Bridge and throughout London.
  • C215: France’s answer to Bansky. Can be spotted in Brick Lane, Blackall Street,…
  • CityZen Kane: 3D pieces which can be spotted in Brick Lane, Redchurch Street,…
  • Eine: His iconic font can be found in Middlesex Street, Old Street,…
  • Jimmy C: Make sure to spot his iconic pieces in Whitby Street.
  • Obey: Nowadays known as a clothing designer but also a great street artist. Can be spotted in Batemans Row.
  • Borondo: True art. Can be found alongside Regent’s Canal.
  • Phlegm: So pretty. Can be found in Rivington Street.
  • Pure Evil: Can be found throughout London and has his own gallery in Leonard Street.
  • Space Invaders: 80s back, in Brick Lane, City Road,…
  • Stik: KISS, Whitecross Street, Redchurch Street,…
  • and lots more

If you want to spot a Banksy, you can track his work on Google Maps. It tells you in which condition his street art is. Some of his work is preserved behind plexi glass, such as two pieces in a beer garden in Rivington Street. Always a save shot.

Interested in free (street) art galleries?