Tokyo, Japan — Day 1 – Day 5

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Being that me and my boyfriend were in Tokyo for 14 days, I decided it would be best if I divide up the posts instead of making one huge post, discussing our adventures in the land of the rising sun. So in this post, I compiled the first five days since they were very similar.

Most of the first five days were taken up by the summer course at the Kodokan. In case you did not know, we practice judo, and the Kodokan was the first official school of Judo in Japan, founded by Jigoro Kano. Judo also originated in Japan, hence the reason we took the trip there.

From 9:30 to 5 every day, we made our way to the Kodokan to practice in a 8-storey building, on the 7th floor, that also lacked AC. It was gruelingly tough, but we made it somehow, with a lot of sweat rolling down us, that is for sure. Wearing thick gi’s, which is a must in Judo for gripping purposes, did not help, but it was for sure an amazing privilege and an awesome learning experience.

The only thing that was really different is what we did during our lunch breaks from 12:30-2, and of course, after the course ended for the day at five. Our group of people never traveled far for lunch, always picking someplace nearby the Kodokan, and thanks to our Sensei that teaches us at the university we attend back home, we had a tour guide of sorts for the eating session of our trip. The first day on lunch break, he brought us to a small joint to get beef bowls; pretty much rice under sliced beef that also came with a side of miso soup. It was heaven in a bowl.

Not the best picture, but at least a better idea of the first real Japanese-style cuisine we encountered–and loved! Besides actual food, they have tons upon tons of sweets and candy with flavors that seem a bit odd and then some flavors that are safe, like green tea/matcha. I am a matcha fiend and was trying everything matcha I could possibly get my hands on the whole trip. Matcha is Japan’s version of vanilla, if you must know.

Never have I ever seen Haagen-Dazs with a green tea flavor OR green tea Oreo’s. Both were delicious treats. I have in fact had the green tea frappuccino from Starbuck’s in the States, but it tasted so much stronger in Japan. This isn’t even close to the amount of matcha I inhaled on this two-week trip; this is only one day’s worth!

The first night after Judo, the boyfriend and I headed back to our hotel to rest, then walked to Akihabara, which was not far from where we were staying. Prepare to see a bit of our nerdy side, as we are indeed fans of anime and electronics.

 This multitude of machines are called Gacha. You put in the designated amount of Yen in which ever has your favorite anime item or theme, and it surprises you with one of the available choices. You can find these all over Tokyo, but especially in Akihabara.

Dinner the first night was quick, but still delicious, thanks to 7/11, the best convenience store ever. I am not even sure precisely on the flavors of onigiri I grabbed, I just remember that they ended up tasting good. Seriously need to work on my Japanese reading. In the left picture, I have some 7/11 gyoza and in the right picture there is this interesting dish I have know inkling about, just that it tasted decent. I bought onigiri nearly every single day, and it is already sorely missed.

The next day, lunch was spent in the nearby subway station that was also a mall/food court/underground city. We finally got our hands on some authentic sushi! Naturally, I was in heaven, but I also tried some pieces I had never tried before which is always interesting.

Already knowing how much I love tuna, I got a whole box of that, but the assorted box was something I had to do; I had to try new nigiri! Let’s just say that in Japan, there is a whole lot of wasabi between the rice and fish. And yes, that is squid all the way to the bottom left.

 After the second day of training, the boyfriend and I walked from the Kodokan, looking for a Gi shop. We just kept on walking without a definite plan, just wandering and going where we pleased. We end up passing a shrine–our first to see so far on the trip.

Stopping at another 7/11 (they were everywhere), I found this different Starbucks drink. I had never seen any sold at convenience stores besides the ones in the glass bottles, and this one even came with a straw that you punch through the top. It was different, so I had to have it, plus I was in need of some desperate caffeine. We ended up stopping for dinner at a ramen joint closer to our hotel, because clearly we were walking in the direction of it. Ramen was certainly yummy, but there was just so much more food than I was expecting and I could not eat it all.

Lunch on the third day was ebi chahan, shrimp fried rice from the looks of it, and boy was it amazing. The soup was unknown and came with the ebi chahan, but it was absolutely the best soup ever and so strongly flavored thanks to all the greens and onions in it.

 A little glimpse at the convenience store snack section. So many options!

Matcha of the day. Although all of it was “oishi” (delicious in Japanese), I have to say I enjoyed the ice cream most–before it started melting rapidly in the insane heat. Surprisingly enough, it was from a Baskin Robins. I had no idea they were in Japan. Bought another Starbucks convenience store drink–and in green tea! It was delicious and a good change in flavor from all the water we were drinking the whole day.

That third night, we walked down the same route as the night before, this time with the others from our Judo group in the States, and headed to the Mizuno store. The boyfriend bought a new Gi and I invested in a Gi bag at last.

On the fourth day, I went to lunch inside the amusement park next door because they offered several places to eat and shop. Our Sensei had showed our group the day before a sushi conveyor-belt restaurant. Yes, you read that right. Different types of sushi moving along on the conveyor belt in front of your seat, where you could grab which ever appealed most to you. If you knew exactly what you wanted, you could place your order on the touch screen before you and it would zoom out to you above the conveyor belt on a mini train. It was by far the coolest restaurant I have ever been to. I loved it so much, I went there again the next day for lunch. I also tried a frappuccino specific to Japan, the Peach in Peach! It was the most refreshing thing in the Tokyo heat, and it didn’t even taste like a normal frappuccino, more like a slushy with chunks of peach in it. I hate that I can’t get them in the U.S.!

On the fourth night, we journeyed to Ikebukuro, in search of the KitKat store. Which turned out to be a stand, in fact. During our walk through yet another underground shopping center, we passed square watermelon, and other stands selling a pastries, candy, desserts, all types of food. It was pretty much an underground department store that sold strictly food in the section we walked through.

 We finally found the KitKat, oooing and ahhhing at the different flavors it offered. My boyfriend bought Butter, while I settled for Sakura Matcha and Strawberry Maple. They didn’t disappoint. Even the Butter flavor surprisingly tasted good.

 On the fourth night as well, we went with our group to the Pokemon Center in Ikebukuro. You can tell how big of an Eevee fan I am. Now I regret not buying something Pikachu related.

Despite the amazing course we were a part of, the fifth day was a half day and I can’t say I wasn’t excited about it being the last day. That place should be called a sauna. There was a tournament the second half of the day if you wanted to participate, which the boyfriend and I did not. I do regret not participating in the tournament since it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, but I was so ready to be out of my sweaty Gi.
That night, we went out to a traditional Japanese restaurant for a celebratory dinner that we made it through the course. We had sake, roots, noodles, and whole fried shrimp (nothing like you would find in Louisiana).

Ended the fifth night with some new sweets and some onigiri because I wasn’t full from the nights dinner.
Thanks for reading, more posts coming soon covering the 8 remaining days and our adventures. They won’t be as jam-packed as this one though.

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