As soon as you land in Tokyo, you already know, here everything is familiar but very different. The cars look similar, but the taxi doors open automatically, the drivers sit on the right and wear white gloves. The streets are crowded, but all people walk neatly in a queue to the left or right, the food looks like we know it from Japanese restaurants in Europe, but tastes much more intense.
The best late-night snack location
My first stop is Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho, just off one of the main shopping streets in this very narrow street are the best late-night snack locations in the city. Each store only has room for 4 – 6 guests, you just sit down and order the house specialty. Our nose led us to the famous charcoal skewers also called “Yakitori”.
Everything goes very fast here, you hardly sit and already have a glass of sake in your hand and the food is made just a quick. This street is very busy and there are always people waiting for a seat.
My tip: just order something small and continue to look. There is so much to discover here.
During the cherry blossom, the whole city is festive, SAKURA is a folk festival and celebrates the beginning of spring.
Although you can experience the great flowers in the whole city, my tip is the Maguro River, here the cherry blossoms are illuminated in the evening and blossom along the
the canal, many small bars offer sake and rose prosecco with strawberries.
Hotspot: Tsukiji fish market
My second culinary hotspot in the city is the old, famous fish market Tsukiji Market, which has been the center of the fish trade for 80 years.
Unfortunately, the market has been moved to a location outside of town
so if you want to be part of the trade early in the morning don’t come here as the old location has been transformed into a street food heaven.
The advantage: You don’t have to get up at 5 in the morning to get the best goods, because the market is open almost all day long. I would recommend coming during the week in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Side note: In Japan, everyone has lunch at exactly the same time so come a bit before or after the general lunch break.
When it comes to choosing what to eat there is no right or wrong, every stall specializes in something, be it Tamago (the perfect Japanese omelet) or Mochi (Japanese rice cakes). Everything is handmade and the recipes are probably as old as the market itself.
Foodie Tip: Subway Stations
My last foodie tip is the subway stations:
Have you heard of Jiro dreams of sushi? A documentary about the best sushi master in the world. He is still in business every day at nearly 90 years, making the best sushi in the city for his guests.
Here you have to wait up to 6 months for a place. There are only 8 seats and if you haven’t guessed yet, yes his restaurant can be found in a subway station.
We chose an alternative, a food almost as popular as sushi in Japan, namely ramen a soup stew at the highest level.
Although there is a ramen shop in every corner, we were told that the new Ramen Street is in Tokyo Station and that’s where we’re going.
There are 4 Classical Ramen varieties:
Shoyu ramen: in clear broth, with soy sauce. Actually the classic in Tokyo.
Miso-Ramen: flavored with miso and fermented soybeans.
Shio Ramen: rather salty, with a light broth, mostly made
Fish and seafood are cooked.
Tonkotsu Ramen: very light and cooked from pork bones.
Final insider tip: Japanese fruits
I hope I have given you some tips and hotspots of the city,
But let me give you one last tip: Try fruit in Japan.
Sounds funny, but it’s a phenomenon. Fruits are often given as a gift for special occasions and have a very special place in Japan.
Of course, you do not have to buy the perfectly round melon for 200 euros, but a small package of strawberries for 10 euros you get to taste an experience that can only be explained after the first bite.
The reason Japanese Fruits are so amazing is that once the trade was opening into Japan everyone wanted produce from outside as it was something new.
So Japanese Farmers could only compete by becoming better than anyone that would deliver goods from outside of Japan.
Over the years farmers matched the perfect flavor pallet of Japanese consumers and perfected each fruit to match all senses and expectations of the Japanese consumers meaning perfect shape, vibrant colors and rich and sweet flavors.
Hope you enjoyed this insight to Japan, until next time
Life is Beautiful