“The journey itself is my home”. These wonderful lines from Oku no Hosomichi (1689), by Matsuo Bashō, the famous 17th century Japanese poet and haiku master, is reminding me that home is not the destination of our journey; it is the journey itself. Bashō understood that life can only be lived when you are fully awake, fully aware, and fully invested in the mystery and glory of the here and now. The Japanese are famous for their ancient wisdom and practices. Its all about deep observations about life, love, and people, which results in the most incredible sayings and haiku’s that inspire me with their simplicity and truth.
So far I have not met anyone on my journeys who has not fallen in love with Japan. Whether it is with the food, culture, aesthetics or their ability to turn something we see as normal into a fine piece of art. So no trip to Japan is complete without a stop in Tokyo where we dive deep into the 'fine art of shopping and eating’.
The shopping experience in Tokyo is really about finding unique items you cannot find anywhere else outside of Japan. For the first day, we have two missions; 1) get our fix in the Japan Traditional Crafts shop and 2) eat the best Gyoza in town. The Traditional Crafts shop is a must if you are looking for a unique gift or something to treat yourself with; delicate wind chimes, sake sets, incense holders, wooden puzzles - you name it - and everything is still hand-made as per the tradition.
Around the corner – a hole in the wall – is the best Gyoza restaurant in town. Sorry we cannot spill the name as I don’t think anyone really knows the name – we just know how to get there! It is run by this old lady and locals line up to eat here so you need some patience and not too hungry!
After a slight ‘comatose’ lunch we walked to Midtown and Roppongi where our other ‘fix finds are located. For great clothing, unique jewelry and gifts, we recommend to check out Beams and Estnation (locations in Ginza and Roppongi), and Muse by Deuxieme Classe (locations in Maranouchi and Roppongi – sorry girls only for this one).
After a full filled day and even fuller bags of amazing goodies, we headed to Jomon Izakaya. Their menu consists mostly of meat skewers (yum!) and they have the best of collection of Japanese whiskey.
The second day we walked to Ginza, as we had another mission; to get personalised chopsticks and a Japanese kitchen knife with 11 layers of total sharpness! Mitsukoshi is the place to go.
When in Ginza you have to check out Itoya; the largest stationary shop I have ever seen - 11 floors of goodies. You lose track of time when you browse all the great stuff on each floor. I bet you will not leave empty handed. So as we are getting our 'last fixes' out of the way; we are heading to Imafuku to get our 'meat' on (again). For me this is one of the best, or maybe THE best Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki restaurant in town. Make sure you get your reservation confirmed way ahead of time as it is hard to get a table - and have some monies saved!
So as our trip comes to an end, we use the last day to soak up the sun and the crisp cold air to walk around the royal palace and enjoy the sites that Tokyo has to offer. We always wish we had more time, but as Matsuo Bashō wrote '旅そのものが私の家' so I just say 'till next time!