On this day: Discovering Tokyo, Japan

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On November 14, 2018, I was beginning my exploration of Tokyo, Japan.

Following a few days in Kyoto and Osaka, we moved onto the last portion of our trip to Japan, which would be spent in the world-class city of Tokyo.

We had arrived the previous afternoon and settled into Hotel Monterey La Soeur in the upscale Ginza district, an area we would explore further throughout the week. We spent our first evening in Tokyo in Edogawa, where we met up with some friends of friends for an izakaya dinner and about a dozen too many drinks.

The next morning, we awoke early to begin our exploration of the city in earnest. We first ventured over to Shibuya district, where we braved the famous Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian scramble crossing that has as many as 2,500 people traversing the intersection at a time. We also spotted the Hachiko memorial statue erected in honour of the Japanese Akita dog remembered for steadfast loyalty to his owner Hidesaburō Ueno, for whom he continued to wait outside Shibuya station for nine years following Ueno’s death. That story was retold in the saddest dog movie of all time, by the way.

We then headed over near Harajuku district for a sugary breakfast at Dominique Ansel Bakery. This is the place that produced the famed cronut which attracted hordes of foodies to its flagship location in New York City. We had the opportunity to try the Japanese inspired hojicha cronut along with a kouign-amann. My verdict? It was okay. As of this writing, the Dominique Ansel location in Tokyo has closed.

Next, we decided to check out one of the ubiquitous animal cafés that we spotted lining the streets. Various iterations can be found throughout Tokyo, featuring furry and not-so-furry creatures, ranging from cats and bunnies to hedgehogs. We opted for an owl café, where we hung out with a few winged friends while sipping on tea. I don’t think I would recommend this activity for genuine animal lovers, but it sure appears to be a popular thing to do in Japan.

Our evening was spent on an amazing food tour with our guide Ryan from Arigato Japan, who took us through the districts of Yurakucho, Shinbashi, and finally back to Ginza, while eating a whole lot of food.

The highlight for me was the restaurant in Shinbashi, where we had the chance to try several special dishes that I had never heard of and probably wouldn’t have any idea how to order.

At the end of the day, I finally made my coveted find, a massive selection of Kit Kat bars at the Don Quijote discount chain store. Did you know that Japan is home to over 300 unique flavours of Kit Kat? Time for a break!

11 responses to “On this day: Discovering Tokyo, Japan”

  1. Oh, this brought back some memories from my own Tokyo trip. I really enjoyed both Hachiko movie versions. Though I have visited several animal cafes due to curiosity, I agree with you that it’s not a place for true animal lovers. The whole animal cafe industry needs to be better regulated. Cat cafes seem like the best option to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We did end up going to a cat cafe later in the trip and I agree that the cafe concept is much more appropriate for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have an extraordinary memory of your trip on this day two years ago! I only vaguely remember mine, although I could pull up my travel journal to confirm what I did…I’ve heard of animal cafés in Tokyo before, but I’ve only ever gone to a cat café (and in France). A coworker had given me a matcha-flavored Kit Kat before, and I can vouch that the Japanese make awesome, unique flavors for their sweets! Thanks for taking us on a tour of Tokyo; you brought back the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can thank the memories function on the iOS photos app for my precise recall of this trip!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Is there an English language version of that loyal dog story? I bet I would love it. Fun to know about those Kit Kats. Any unusual flavors one wouldn’t expect in a chocolate bar?

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    1. Yes! There’s a remake starring Richard Gere called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. It’s set in America of course. Not sure if there is a dubbed or subtitled version of the original Japanese movie.

      All the Kit Kat flavours I came across were good and edible, nothing really out there. However a google search revealed to me a few more interesting ones: grilled potato, soy sauce, and soybean. 😯

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Kit Kat. 😀 🍫

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not as fond of food as you are, but I remember my pleasant experiences in Tokyo, ordering a bit randomly, often weird but generally good, just different from my regular habits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose Japanese food is quite exotic for many people. I often forget this since it’s a cuisine that I partake in so often even at home.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. tokyo is like several cities in one. a great capital! but as for all those kit kats… dont mess with the original i say!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] we decided to get our feline fix at a cat café. Unlike our experience at the owl café in Harajuku, the set up here was much more amenable to the cat […]

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