Hello my lovelies! I’ve been having the most wonderful time in Japan. There is so much to love. We packed as much as we could into 7 days in Tokyo. And we packed in a lot of snacks. Especially Kitkats. And pastries. We saw shrines. We shopped. We pedalled a swan-shaped boat around a pond. We took the cleanest, most polite subway in the world. It was magical and I thought I’d share some highlights with you. I know this isn’t a travel blog so I’m just sharing some of my observations. With pictures. I’m also terrible at remembering to take pictures of things I’m about to eat so there isn’t a lot of that…
Everything is delicious. Even the cheapest convenience store snacks. There is also a lot of perfectly executed pastry. Our hotel had a bakery on the ground floor and it was amazing. THE BEST cannelés I have ever had. Period. Superbly flaky laminated doughs. The Japanese have mastered smooth creamy fillings like no one else. There are food court floors in the bottom of department stores that are filled with an overwhelming array of traditional sweets and patisserie. The first two times I went into one I was so overwhelmed with the choice I literally couldn’t make a decision and had to leave. I got over this by the end of the trip naturally. I also went to a store that sold nothing but fancy salt. Only spent like $40 on salt…
Kitkats are life. I went to Japan on a Kitkat pilgrimage. I don’t think much of the regular ones you can get here. They’re too sweet, too big and not well flavoured. I cam home with 19 flavours of perfectly sized morsels. That is about half of the available flavours. Half. I went to convenience stores. I went to Kitkat counters in department stores. I went to Don Quijote – the maddest variety store ever – to pick up regional flavours you can’t otherwise get in Tokyo. There are also airport only flavours at Narita and I spent my last few yen on them. My favourites? Ume-sake, Tokyo Banana, and Shinshu Apple. I have one precious soy-sauce Kitkat left. You can only get them in a pack of regular ones which has 3 bonus soy-sauce bars in it.
As an aside I also went searching for elusive Tokyo Banana cakes (and Katkats). Outside of the airport it is maddening trying to find a store that stocks the banana flavoured and shaped sponge cakes filled with custard. Totally worth it though. We tried caramel banana and maple banana ones and they were delicious just like everything else we ate. The packaging is superb too. Yes there are hearts baked into the cakes as well.
There are a lot of parks and trees in Tokyo. More than you’d think. And they are all beautifully serene and well looked after. We went to Meiji, Ueno and the East Imperial Gardens by the Imperial Palace and they were all wonderful. They Imperial Gardens have gorgeous koi in different colours.
The Harvest Festival was on when we went to Meiji and there were boats made of vegetables.
In Ueno there is a pond that you can pedal a swan shaped boat around. Which we did.
Everything is clean. Everything. Even the subway tracks look like they have been vacuumed. The people are polite, respectful and kind. In a city of 25+ million people NO ONE BUMPS INTO EACH OTHER walking in the street. That might seem like a trivial point for all caps. But it isn’t. Everyone makes a small effort to accomodate everyone else and it works. Magical.
Everything just works. From the subway to the food packaging things are user friendly and often gorgeously elegant at the same time. I never once in my snack eating adventures struggled to open a packet or cardboard box and ended up tearing it. Even the utility and man-hole covers are beautiful. Yes I took photos of man-hole covers and failed to take photos of my meals…
Those are just some the impressions I took away Tokyo. We did so much in the time we were there. I really loved it and will definitely be going back to Japan if I can. Never fear – recipes are back later this week. It’ll be a mad mish-mash of Christmas and Japan inspired deliciousness for the next little while. Then roll on the New Year and new challenges.
Be respectful of others. Eat snacks. Look after each other.