ask Jen about
japanese food • breakfast and brunch • theme park • museums • food shopping • parks
What are the Tokyo spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
There are lots and lots of things to see! Better put on your walking shoes and have a bit of patience (for queuing). A few of my favorites are - Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Tsukiji Market, Ginza, Imperial Palace & East Garden, Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Ueno Park for Museums, Teamlab's Borderless (latest addition) and Odaiba, Disney Sea (I have to admit, I do love it!), Shimokitazawa and Daikanyama area.
Do’s and don’ts in Tokyo: (Ex: Tipping: yes/ no, public transport tips, safety tips etc.):
DOs: Get a portable wifi, and download google maps. Buy a JR pass if you are exploring Tokyo and beyond (unlimited Shinkansen rides for 7 days!), have cash all the time (there are still places who won't accept credit card). Do map out your exit for big train stations, you can easily get lost and walk a few blocks as there are exits from A-B or 1-7 (but also don't be afraid to get lost, it's part of Tokyo's charm!). DON'Ts: I love that there's no tipping in Tokyo (for everything!). Courtesy goes a long way in this city, please do not answer calls in the trains. On an escalator, the right side is for passing through.
What do you do and why do you do it?
I'm a part-time marketer and a full time mom who loves volunteering! After years in the corporate world, I found myself in a whole different world after moving to Japan and having a child. I saw Tokyo through a completely different lens and I love it!
Which Tokyo shops do you hit up when you’re itching for something new?
Shibuya Loft (for anything cute, modern, traditional trinkets, home, office and novelty items). Cat Street, not a single shop but rather an alley of small shops in Omotesando.
Which neighborhood is it best to experience during the day / night?
Daytime neighborhoods - Omotesando/Cat street. Asakusa & Ueno (they can get touristy but I love the alley of Asakusa leading up to Sensoji Temple for little Japanese trinkets and snacks and Ueno for the numerous museums surrounding the park). Tsukiji Market is always a daytime food destination, Ginza and the Imperial Gardens. Day/Night finds - Daikanyama, there are tons of restaurants in between streets, Harajuku and Shibuya area.
What’s the area in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
Hard to say... I've never been to the red light district of Kabukicho (Shinjuku)!
Where would you take a date for a romantic night out?
New York Grill in Park Hyatt perched on the 52nd floor - who wouldn't love a good steak dinner and a view of Tokyo at night. My recent favorite, Higashi-Yama in Nakameguro.
Drunk and hungry - where do you go in Tokyo?
Jomon in Roppongi for yummy yakitori and drinks! Ippudo or Afuri ramen.
It's freeeeezing out - what should a visitor do?
I've never had a hard time during winters in Tokyo! It's always manageable unless there's snowfall, which happens rarely. Hit the museums during the day! Love to sing? Hole up in karaoke joint at night after dinner :).
Where do you take your guest when you want to impress?
All around Tokyo!! I take my first-timer friends to the Shibuya Crossing. I am always in awe at the tons of people that cross this intersection. Imperial Garden and Hama Rikyu Gardens for amazing Japanese gardens. Jomon Yakitori is a must for us for cheap but delicious yakitori and drinks. Ichiran, Ippudo or the Ramen Alley in Tokyo station for those craving ramen.
Your go-to brunch spots:
Blu Jam Cafe (there are two locations in the city - Daikanyama and Azabu Juban), Bill's (Omotesando and Odaiba), Bubby's New York, Grand Hyatt's French Kitchen.
Best place for a cheap bite on-the-go:
I wouldn't have thought I would say this, but the Japanese convenience stores offer good bite on-the-go options and everything you need (even a small bottle of soy sauce...)!
Tomorrow’s your last day in Tokyo. How do you spend it?
I would hit up my entire Tokyo restaurant list and spend some quiet time in a Japanese garden.