Kicking off our first day in Japan with a traditional Japanese breakfast at the Girandale Park Hyatt.
Girandale’s traditional Japanese breakfast: Appetizers, grilled fish, simmered vegetables, egg, tofu, miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, fresh fruit, rice and green tea.
It may look like a light meal at first glance but it was surprisingly filling. The egg was my favorite dish, every bite was like a buttery explosion in my mouth.
Breakfast at Girandale’s was the most expensive meal we had all day but I would recommend it if you’re looking to indulge on your trip. It was definitely a “treat yo-self” meal (¥4,200) but it was worth every sen.
After breakfast, we took a walk to Takashimaya Shinjuku as we had a couple of hours to kill and wanted to explore the department stores/shopping district nearby. Nothing too crazy, the usual luxury brands such as LV, Hermes, SK-II, etc had stores here. The only store we checked out was Books Kinokuniya Toyko, which had a wide selection of English books. I was surprised that there was only one floor, way smaller than the one in New York.
As we were making our way to Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho, we stumbled upon a bright cafe called Alfred Tearoom. Tempted by the pastel pink and Wes Anderson vibes, we couldn’t resist but to get iced milk tea.
Iced milk tea from Alfred Tearoom
Too sweet for my taste but it was refreshing as we sipped on it until we arrived at Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho (literal meaning ‘Memory Lane’ but also known as ‘Piss Alley’).
Interesting tidbit – It started out as an illegal drinking quarter in the late 1940s and became a prime spot for cheap drinks, yakitori and due to a lack of restrooms, patrons were known to wander off and relieve themselves on the train tracks nearby.
Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho
We arrived at Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho around noon, and it was pretty empty probably because it was still early. There was one spot where we saw a long line of locals waiting for lunch. Kameya Soba Noodles
Unfortunately due to still being stuffed from breakfast and our schedule, we are saving this spot for second half of our trip when we are back in Tokyo.
First thing we noticed when we got off the Akihabara station was that we were surrounded by anime, manga and electronic stores. There were all sort of cafes too – Gundam, Maid Cafes, Square Enix.
Right when we got off the metro.
We decided to save Akihabara for another day and went straight to Abika Fukurou for a reservation we made to play with owls!Sweet Potato giving me a weird look and Yoshinori not giving a fuck.
Okra, Snowman and Peanut taking a nap while our instructors were teaching us how to handle owls.
Spring Onion grilling at me for taking his picture.
Jacqueline with Snowman on her arm.
I have been waiting for my whole life to to play with owls and it was an unique experience that you probably won’t be able to do anywhere else. Turns out you can only pet an owl once by placing your finger on its head which shattered my dream of petting an owl the same way you would pet a dog. After a hour at the Owl Cafe, we decided to get some snacks from Lawson (convenience stores similar to 7/11, all over Tokyo) and from some food stands near the Akihabara station.
Cheese flavored popcorn chicken from Lawson Matcha donut from Jack in the DonutsTakoyaki from Gindaco
After stuffing ourselves we headed across the city to Harajuku aka hypebeast central (internationally known as the center of youth culture and fashion). Supreme, Kicks Lab, Bape, Nike, Undefeated and vintage stores like Chicago INC were all within the same radius.
Kicks Lab, very similar to Flight Club
Fool’s Judge, store that resells Supreme
We were overwhelmed with the amount of stores in Harajuku. It’s like walking around an outlet without expecting any deals.
We ended up taking a relaxing break at the Roastery by Nozy Coffee Cafe and finally experiencing a Japanese coffee shop. We ordered two iced hand brews and got to pick the beans we wanted after smelling and learning about the taste of each selection.
We chose the two on the right, beans from Mexico and Kenya.
Watched our barista prepare our ice coffee, she was out of the frame.
We lounged around the front of the cafe for well deserved break before making a trek down to Shibuya.
I knew we were in Shibuya when the crowd around us was gradually getting bigger and then there were foot traffic. Our surroundings started to resemble Times Square and we found ourselves right in the middle of the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Crossing. When the lights turned green, people were waking from every side, it was the definition of organized chaos.
We missed the Hachiko Memorial Statue (loyal dog from the movie, which was based on a true story?) nearby since it started to pour and we didn’t have an umbrella since I thought it would be sunny all day. The rain didn’t stop us from ending our night with the best beef cutlet EVER. We got to Gyukatsu Moromura drenched, but lucky since we were the 3rd party in line. We waited around ~40min before we got seated, not surprised since there were only ~10 seats or so. Gyukatsu Moromura was one of the most anticipated meals for me because everyone who went to Japan has recommended it and spoke highly of it. It did not disappoint at all.Beef cutlet at Gyukatsu Moromura
Each bite was like having multiple orgasms in your mouth as the beef melts in your mouth like butter. Definitely the BEST katsu I ever had. The only con was having the smell of meat stuck on my clothes afterwards. Gyukatsu Moromura was a great end to Day 1 in Tokyo.