New Years is a big holiday in Japan, at least in the sense that many places close on the holiday itself. Still, we enjoyed spending New Years in Tokyo.
We were staying at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, and while the immediate area was pretty slow, we found plenty to do (and mostly eat) a little further afield.
I’ve been to Tokyo a few times, but this was my wife’s first visit, so we did see some of the more typical tourist spots. Regrettably, the Tsukiji market closes for the holiday. Since the fish market is moving later this year, I doubt I’ll have another opportunity to visit the current location.
New Years in Tokyo – Ramen
Working in Los Angeles frequently, I’ve really enjoyed various types of Japanese food that is plentiful there. I love sushi, but that is just one type of cuisine. I wanted to find a ramen shop. We saw a line for a small ramen place near Shinagawa station, so we joined the line. No English menu, but with photos on the menu, it was pretty easy to figure out what we wanted. We waited maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and the food was tasty. Good fuel to get us through a day of touring.
Small Ramen shop near Shinagawa station
The top photo on this post as well as the one below are from the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. We were there as dusk was approaching. The temple itself dates to the year 628, but like many things in Tokyo, it was destroyed in WWII, and rebuilt.
Pagoda at Senso-Ji, Asakusa, Tokyo
New Years in Tokyo – Exploring Shibuya
Another area I enjoy is the bustling Shibuya and the scramble intersection. We visited here during the day, and then returned at night since we knew there would be various restaurant options in this area. Here we went to another fast food style place, where we ordered from a machine. I used the line to choose the place, figuring on the vote of the crowd would speak to the quality.
Menu, ordering and payment taken care of before being seated
No English menu here either, but the basic instructions are on the machine in English. Put in cash/coin, and the items will light up that cost less than the money inserted. One item I wanted to try here was Karaage chicken. This is boneless chicken marinated and coated in flour or potato starch then deep-fried. It is similar to tempura. Yum.
While some areas were slow during the holiday, Shibuya is as busy as ever.
Shibuya at night
Here is the famous Shibuya crossing. Its pretty neat to watch the madness on the ground level, but even better is to go to Tsutaya, a bookstore, and go into the Starbucks which has elevated views of the crossing. Supposedly this was one of the busiest Starbucks outlets in the world. I try not to visit American chains while abroad, but when we were here, we were ready for a drink/snack, plus I find this shop worth it for the view.
New Years in Tokyo – Final Thoughts
These are just a few of the places we visited during our time in Tokyo. We were somewhat limited by the holiday, but we had plenty of keep us occupied, and well fed. Tokyo remains one of my favorite places to visit.
Is anyone else hungry for Japanese food?
For an introduction and index of posts for this series, please click here.