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Ginza & Goodbye

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Our last day in Tokyo, we went window shopping in Ginza, an upscale part of town also known as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. I’m not a big shopper, but we did end up buying these grapes which cost, oh you know, $8.60 USD for a single bunch! On the upside, they were the ripest, sweetest, most perfectly formed grapes I’ve ever eaten in my life, and they still haunt my dreams sometimes.

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At last, we said our goodbyes to Tokyo. To get to the airport, we took the bullet train which was fun for a number of reasons: the train is new and surprisingly spacious, they sold drinks (sake in a can), and the views leaving Tokyo are beautiful. We got to see a different side of Japan – the ocean, countryside, farmland, suburbs. The blur of places we passed through had a quiet, sleepy feel to them, and looking back on these photos now, I think I’d want our next trip to Japan to be somewhere more like this (maybe Kyoto, 2015?).

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Golden Gai

Tokyo at Night: Ramen & Golden Gai

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Starting the night with dinner at Ippudo Ramen.

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This is Golden Gai, a network of narrow alleys that are sometimes only wide enough for a single person to pass through. It is home to dozens of tiny shanty style bars, eateries and clubs, and my single biggest regret from our Tokyo trip is not going into any of them, Especially since this picture was taken from our hotel room! So close and yet so far. Damn jetlag.

The story of Golden Gai is one of survival. In the 1980′s, many buildings in Tokyo were set on fire by the Yakuza so the land could be sold to developers, but Golden Gai avoided this tragic fate through the protection of its supporters, who took turns guarding the area at night. What stands today might be one of Tokyo’s most charming little neighborhoods, and the perfect place to get your drink on.

Some of the bars here can only serve 5-8 people at a time, that’s how tiny they are.

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Asakusa, Tokyo

Asakusa, Tokyo

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We made our way out to Asakusa specifically in search of an amazing little tempura restaurant we’d read rave reviews about: Tempura Daikokuya. We of course got lost trying to find it, but it ended up being great because it allowed us to discover the gem of a neighborhood that is Asakusa. While Asakusa is mostly famous for its buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, it’s also unique in that it has a more traditionally Japanese atmosphere than other neighborhoods in Tokyo. Due to bombing during WWII, most of Tokyo’s buildings are less than 50 years old, but there is a higher concentration of buildings from the 1950′s and 1960′s in Asakusa than in any other part of the city.

This part of Tokyo is a throwback to another era. No futuristic skyscrapers or giant plasma screens blinding you with advertisements. Just small shops, peace and quiet, and the sense that this is a place where you could actually get to know your neighbors.

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Tempura Daikokura
1 Chome-38-10
Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo, Japan
81 3-3844-2222