Waking Up in a New City
Jan 3. Waking up in Tokyo for the first time was such a shock. I half expected it to be a dream. It couldn’t be real, that I was in Tokyo. A feeling of excitement rushed over me as I pulled my curtains and looked out at an unrecognizable view. There was an entirely new city in front of me, calling to me to explore all that it had to offer.
The Subway in Tokyo
Luckily for me, I lived a 8-minute walk away from one of the biggest subway stations in Tokyo, Shinagawa Station. I didn’t know it then, but it was a station with which I was going to get very familiar. At the station, there was a large assortment of vending machines which sold train tickets, but we didn’t know which one to use. Eventually, with the help of Google Maps, we figured out that we need to buy JR tickets.
We had bought the right tickets, but we weren’t exactly sure how to use them. But I’ve always liked to act big in front of Andy, so I told him not to worry and just to watch me. I put the ticket into the front, and just walked right through. I was actually supposed to grab the ticket from the other end. Andy was yelling for me to grab it, but I was too self-confident to hear his cries. How embarrassing. He had to take me to a train station to get another ticket. I guess I should’ve observed the locals first.
After getting through the gates, it was pretty easy to find our train, the Yamanote Line to Shibuya.
Shibuya in the Morning
We got to Shibuya pretty early in the morning at 10 AM. It doesn’t sound early, but at that time, nothing was open in Shibuya. Stores and restaurants tend to open around 11 AM in that area. We didn’t know that, so we spent quite a while walking around some empty streets, trying to find a place to eat breakfast. Eventually, we gave up and decided to visit a cat cafe, as I had suggested.
A cat cafe is exactly what it sounds like, a cafe with cats. We went to Cat Cafe Mocha, which is a chain cat cafe I believe. Before coming to Tokyo, I had researched cat cafes and I read in the reviews that they weren’t actually that fun since cats are the most friendly and playful of animals. But both Andy and I loved cats so much, so we had to see for ourselves.
After putting away our stuff in lockers, getting some clean slippers, and sanitizing our hands, we entered the cat cafe. The cafe itself was really cute. It had two floors. On the first floor, there was a cozy sitting area next to bookshelves full of popular manga. We kind of expected some food and drink, since it was a “cafe”. There was no food, but there were some self-serve vending machines with a huge variety of delicious cold and hot drinks.
On the second floor, you could find most of the cats since that’s where the cat toys and structures were. When we arrived, the cats were finishing their meals. Honestly,they just did their own thing and didn’t really pay us any mind. We tried to get their attention with cat toys, but none of the cats were interested. The only thing that worked was when we offered them some food. All in all, it was an interesting experience. The cats did somewhat play with us, and we got to enjoy some nice drinks in a comfy cafe.
By the time we were finished playing with the cats, the restaurants in Shibuya started opening. It was perfect since we were starving at that point. We were just walking around when we spotted a cute Sutadon restaurant, Sutadonya Shibuya. Learning from the ramen restaurant experience from last night, we avoided looking like dumb tourists as we used the vending machine to order.
The food here was amazing. Not only did it come out within a few minutes, it was delicious, filling, and cheap! We couldn’t have been more satisfied.
Shibuya was a super fun district to explore. There are tons of interesting stores to just go in and browse a while, including a huge record store, claw machine store, photo booth store, and anime and manga store.
Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine
Eventually, we walked to Yoyogi Park, a huge park with tons of greenery. Inside Yoyogi Park lied Meiji Shrine, a very popular attraction. And by popular, I mean, really popular. There was a sea of people outside the shrine waiting for their chance to enter and throw a coin. I guess since we went on a holiday, a lot of the locals decided to pay their respect to the shrine.
Eventually, we made it to the shrine and I thought there would be a lot to look at since we waited for so long, but nope, you spend two minutes at the front to throw your coin and then you leave. A bit of background, Meiji Shrine is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and his wife.
After visiting Yoyogi Park, we visited Harajuku. Harajuku was a cute street, super duper crowded, and full of interesting small stores that sold cosmetics, clothes, accessories, costumes, snacks, and plushies! We continued walking along the strip of stores until we reached Roppongi.
At Roppongi Hills, it was around dinnertime, so we were super hungry. However, Roppongi Hills is a huge mall made up of several subsections and many floors. Using the mall directory, we found several restaurants that we wanted to eat at, but getting there was such a challenge. Eventually we found Arata, a cute restaurant that sold typical Japanese food.
The food was really good and perfect for our hungry stomaches. I learned that I do not like yakisoba with raw egg mixed in. It was just too slimy for me. I really enjoyed everything else.
After eating at Arata, we were both really tired from our long day. The fastest way back to Shinagawa was by bus, so we took the bus for the first time in Japan. It was quite difficult since we couldn’t figure out where the bus stop was. By luck, we watched another bus pass us and stop somewhere down the road, so we walked there and it happened to be where our bus also stopped.
After we actually got on the bus, we faced another problem, how do we pay? Do we pay when we get on or when we get off? To this day, we still don’t know. We saw people pay when they got on, but the bus driver asked us which stop we wanted to get off at and collected our fare when we got off. When we consulted Google, the sites told us that every bus is different, so we’re still unsure.
Back at Shinagawa
We got off at Shinagawa Station, but something felt empty. We were missing dessert. For me, dessert is a must at the end every meal. So we looked around for some sweets and found Anna Miller, a restaurant that sold American breakfast food. We ordered a slice of cherry pie and a slice of blueberry cheesecake. Finally, I felt complete.
After ordering, the waiter brought us the receipt and placed it on our table. When it was time to leave, we were so confused as to how to pay. From observation, it was clear that people didn’t give their money or card to their waiters like what I was used to. For some reason, we thought that we should just leave enough money on the table and leave.
Thankfully, as we were leaving the restaurant, we passed the cashier and I pieced it together in my head that we were supposed to bring that receipt there to pay. So we went back and corrected our mistake. And now we know. That concluded our first full day in Tokyo.