John and I went to Tokyo in June 2013 for a long weekend.
Delta was offering a killer price from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) and we just couldn’t turn it down. The last time we were in Tokyo was in November 2011, and I fell in love with the people and the food.
You can read all about our time there in the Fall HERE.
We arrived late on a Friday night just in time to catch the last train from the international terminal to Hamamatsucho Station on the Haneda Express Monorail.
We checked-in to The Prince Park Tower Tokyo and immediately went to their Sky Lounge on the 33rd floor for a beer and snacks.
The hotel was a steal thanks to Luxury Link’s 3-night auction.
Prince Park Tower is located in Minato with gorgeous views of Tokyo Tower.
It is also located in beautiful Shiba Park.
After a quick 3 hour nap, we hopped in a cab and went to Tsukiji Fish Market.
One of my goals for this trip was to watch the famous Tuna Auction. Back in January 2013, a 489-pound bluefin sold for $1.76 million. Crazy, right?!
How cool would it be to see something like that in person! When we were at the fish market in November 2011, the tuna auction was closed so I was really excited that we were getting a second chance.
We arrived at 4:30 AM hoping to be one of the first people to register when the window opened at 5:00 AM.
By 4:30 AM, they had already chosen 120 people to view the auction. B u m m e r !
So, if you want to watch the Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, you need to go about it like it’s 1988 and you want to see George Michael in concert.
Show up the night before with a sleeping bag and camp-out in front of the ticket booth.
**Mom and Dad: if you are reading this, it was all Shelly’s fault.**
Next time, we will go straight from the airport and claim our spot in line at midnight.
Tsukiji Fish Market is very busy at 4:30 AM.
Not just with staff, but the place is swarming with locals having breakfast before work.
Another one of my goals for this trip to Tokyo was to eat breakfast at Daiwa-zushi again.
The restaurant is located in Building 6 and opens at 5:30 AM. You will be able to find it by the line of people waiting outside.
There will also be a line at Sushi Dai next door, but Daiwa-zushi is the place to be.
They only accept cash, so please plan ahead.
Once seated, order the Chef’s recommendation of assorted sushi.
It costs about 3,500 Japanese yen, roughly 36.00 USD.
That doesn’t include the beer, but sushi breakfast at Tsukiji wouldn’t be complete with out an Asahi.
It will be the freshest and best sushi you’ve ever eaten.
Thank you, Daiwa-zushi.
See you next time!
After a long nap, we looked out our hotel room window and saw a bunch of people gathered in the park.
It was an Ecology Fair with food, entertainment, and families planting flowers in Shiba Park.
We then jumped on the train and headed to Ameya Yokocho Market for lunch.
Ameyoko (short for Ameya Yokocho) was one of Tokyo’s black markets during post World War II. Today, you can find just about anything from clothes to dried fish.
This sushi-go-round restaurant was one of our favorites during our last trip.
Even though the restaurant is located in a touristy area, the place was packed with locals.
Of course they all laughed at me for taking pictures, but I am used to that by now.
In a sushi-go-round restaurant, you grab whatever looks good as it passes by your seat.
The price of each plate depends on the color/style of the plate.
After lunch we walked to Ueno Park. This is where you’ll find the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum.
But we love watching the locals.
This guy hit a home run — that was fun to see, too!
The park is also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden.
Later that night we took the train to Roppongi for dinner.
Roppongi is a district of Minato and is a popular restaurant and nightlife area.
Jomon is a lively yakitori restaurant located at Roppongi 5-9-17 and open from 6 PM to 5 AM everyday.
The place was packed but we were lucky to get seated at the bar where all the action happens.
We ordered beer but there is a wide variety of saké and shōchū to choose from.
I don’t remember how many dishes we ended up ordering, but we were there for several hours eating grilled beef, pork, avocado, and cheese.
One of the best things we ate all night was the AAAAA (level 12 of 12 Kobe Beef) Beef Sirloin Steak:
It literally melted in our mouths.
What a deliciously fun night!
The next day we took the automated Yurikamome to Odaiba, Tokyo’s large artificial island.
Yurikamome is an automated transit system controlled entirely by computers with no drivers on board.
You can get to Odaiba by bus, boat, or foot but I think the Yurikamome is the best way.
Especially if you sit upfront!
The view of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay are excellent!
The Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Shibaura Pier and Odaiba.
The bridge got its name from the solar lamps on the bridge that light up every night in three different colors: red, white and green.
There are several things to do and see in Odaiba including the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Aqua City, Palette Town, Fuji Television, and Decks Tokyo Beach.
We walked around Odaiba Beach and found a peaceful park where several locals were enjoying their day away from the city.
There is a stunning view of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo from the park.
Instead of eating lunch in Odaiba, we hopped back on the Yurikamome and headed towards Shinjuku.
This is where you will find Funebashiya Honten, a 100-year old tempura restaurant.
The restaurant is located at 3-28-14, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku just a short 3 minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station.
Don’t worry if you see a line, it moves quickly and it’s definitely worth the wait.
Once inside, I recommend you order the Special Tempura Zen from the chef’s recommendation menu.
And don’t worry about not knowing what to do, they have a picture with everything you need to know to enjoy your tempura lunch.
Just sit back, relax, and watch the chefs do their magic.
From my experience, most tempura batters are heavy and greasy — but not at Funebashiya Honten.
The pieces come out one at a time so they are always hot, crisp, and airy.
This was our second visit to Funebashiya Honten, but certainly not our last.
Our final meal in Tokyo was at Izuei Honten, a 263-year old Unagi Restaurant.
The restaurant is located at 110-0005 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo 2-12-22 just a short 5 minute walk from JR Ueno Station.
It is a little hard to find but with Google Maps and this photo of the outside, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
We both ordered the 190g Eel Box.
Just looking at these pictures brings back the memory of how amazing the eel was . . .
I am so glad we chose to go back there for unagi.
Although, we did try to go to a different eel restaurant, but they are closed on Sundays.
You are probably thinking, with all of the restaurants in Tokyo why in the world did they go to all of the same places?!
I guess the best way to answer that is, when you research the best of the best and then eat at the best of the best, it’s difficult to eat at second best.
With that said, I know there are so many wonderful places out there I need to know about, so PLEASE send me your restaurant recommendations.
We will be returning to Tokyo one day — I have a Tuna Auction to catch, you know.
Ja mata, Tokyo!