Unfortunately we let the late-ish night get the better of us, and didn’t surface until mid day, whoops! Realising we had wasted so much precious vacation time we pried ourselves up and rushed out to find our way to Asakusa. We eventually figured out the metro system (it took us a little while due to the confusing multiple networks) and got there in no time, after all, we’d long missed the rush hour!
This part of town bought back memories of Beijing to me, especially the more traditional areas. We strolled down Nakimese-dori, full of shops selling trinkets and various street foods. A small stall smelled amazing and seemed to be selling some kind of deep fried buns with a variety of fillings, we bought one to share which I think was filled with a kind of custard – it was very tasty. We headed off to explore the temple area, but it seemed we’d chosen one of the most overcast days, so the photos didn’t look the best against a flat grey sky.
Afterward we walked aimlessly around the streets with no real plan, stumbling across more food stalls, a Google Earth man and then another Don Quijote which was enormous and had a fish tank outside with Nemo, Dory and friends having a swim. I couldn’t help but have a peek inside and picked up some more foodie bits.
Next stop on our plan was Ginza, and due to the time it was completely pedestrianized which gave it a totally different feel. There were a lot more neon signs etc than I expected, but I guess this was still a very built up part of Tokyo. I really wanted to find the layered tonkatsu restaurant called “Genkatsu”, but a theme was starting to manifest and we could not find it, again making no sense of the Japanese address system. I wish I had made more of an effort to get a basic understanding of this in advance! We did almost give up, but knew we were so close right by the Gucci flagship so we found a helpful tourist man wearing snazzy white gloves who pointed the way – two minutes behind us, and of course, we had walked by it about six times already!
I am so glad we did find it though, because it was one of the best meals of the trip, and we had the friendliest waiter of the holiday. He was half Spanish, half Japanese and grew up in Brazil. He was working here whilst studying to improve both his English and Japanese, both of which were already excellent. We did have visions of us making a few pot luck guesses but the menu had English translations and he was very good at explaining all the different options to us.
While Katsukura was good, we felt Genkatsu completely won the battle, no contest. There was more meat, more flavour and everything was so much more juicy. We ordered a mixed set with different fillings in the middle, one each of cheese, black pepper and garlic. All three were amazing but I’d give the edge to the black pepper. Everything was so tasty, even the plain boiled rice which seems to taste so much more amazing everywhere in Japan.
After our feed, we took another stroll around Ginza as it was lighting up and coming back to life with cars and taxi’s rolling through again. I headed inside Mitsukoshi in search of the Laduree, as I had somehow convinced Chris to buy me a box of macarons. Getting briefly distracted by the basement food floors I found it and picked a mix of flavours for my bedtime snack.
Next up was Shibuya, with a small detour to drop of our shopping from the day back at the hotel. Again it was insanely neon, for some reason I didn’t expect it to be just as mentally bright as Shinjuku. We explored for a while, passing by our first Loft store, which was unfortunately closed so we made a mental note to come back another time. We enjoyed walking the crossing a few times, which wasn’t terribly busy at 10pm, but still a fair bit busier than central London would have been.
I wanted to check out Shibuya 109, but to Chris’ delight it was about to close so we headed off towards Love Hotel Hill, and I managed to buy some funky socks somewhere along the way. It was a bit of a nightmare to find, and I’m not sure we really found it all as it felt like we’d trekked out to a residential area. A few hotels were brightly lit and advertising “rest” prices, although others just looked like regular motels. We seemed to stumble through the alternative music scene and a bunch of shops that wouldn’t be out of place in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, so I assume we were in love-hotel-ville.
After walking around for a while and not finding anything more wacky, we headed back down to the hustle and bustle, stopping off at the Starbucks overlooking the crossing to get a good view and share a frapuccino. There was a nice bonus of some on-location wifi so we had a quick catch up and headed back home on the metro. In bed I tucked into my macarons, but did feel a little disappointed. They weren’t as earth moving as I had expected, and I would controversially say I think Whole Foods macarons are far superior.