24 Hours in Tokyo

I found Tokyo to be v. clean, organized, and efficient. The metro system was super well-maintained and easy to navigate. There was zero litter on the streets and no garbage cans to be seen; I guess everyone just bring their garbage home with them. The people were cordial, the weather was so agreeable, and the food was so enjoyable.
I won't lie; all of these Asia posts are going to be v. photo-heavy. I did my best to pare down the photos but all told, I have over 1,500 photos from the trip. That being said, I have done my best to edit down these posts to the most interesting, prettiest, useful photos.

The flight to Tokyo was a little less than 13 hours and honestly, it wasn't terrible. I popped a sleeping pill a few hours into the flight and managed to get about 5 hours of sleep on the plane. I watched Bad Times at the El Royale and the HBO series Big Little Lies when I wasn't asleep.
Narita Airport is not the main Tokyo Airport, which means it's a bit farther away and transportation options into the city are somewhat limited. Don't get me wrong, the public transportation in Japan is amazing and there's no where you can't get via train. I'm just saying that if you want a quick ride with no transfers, the options will be limited. Luckily, M had found us a hotel in a cool area adjacent to one of the Keisei Skyliner routes so that's what we took to get into the city. When you book tickets, you pick a train and you're assigned a seat and it'll set you back ¥2,470 (about $23 USD) each.
Unless you're willing to fork over a fortune, hotel rooms in Tokyo are all rather modest and tiny. I loved this hotel, despite how teeny it was. The onsen was really nice; it had a large bubbling spa tub, a cool plunge tub, and sauna that were all v. well-maintained. The room itself was comfortable and the staff were so kind. We paid about ¥11,700 ($108 USD) for the night here, which I would say was well worth it for the onsen alone.
We didn't want to let our bodies succumb to jet lag and we were too excited to be abroad anyway so immediately after dropping our bags off and freshening up a bit we decided to explore the neighborhood surrounding our hotel. Luckily for us, we were right in the middle of an outdoor market of sorts so we just walked around admiring all of the various goods for sale.
We ended up stopping at one of the shops for a little snack of fatty tuna, unagi, and grilled squid. The tuna was disappointing but the eel was pretty awesome.
For diner, we didn't want to go anywhere too far so we went to the nearby Ichiran for ramen. We got there at the perfect time because there was no queue. I think it was right around 5PM. If you're unfamiliar with this particular ramen chain, it's known for its dining experience which caters to the individual diner. You basically eat at stalls. The walls of the stall fold back so that if you are dining friends and you want to be social, you have that option.

To place an order, you pay up front at a ticket machine that has various options for adding more toppings. Once you sit down, you're given a little slip of paper that lets you further customize your dish, including spice levels.
I loved the self-serve ice cold water tap.
The ramen itself was really delicious. The broth was rich and meaty, the noodles had a great snap and chew, and the chashu (sliced rolled pork) floating on top was incredibly tender and tasty. We paid ¥890 ($8 USD) each, which I find incredibly cheap, considering a decent ramen in the states will set you back at least $12 before tip. And if you didn't know, there is no tipping culture in Japan because everyone is paid a fair wage and the people take such pride in their work, it's insulting to be tipped.
For dessert, we stopped by Nana's Green Tea at a department store near our hotel and got a matcha roll cake to share. The cake was so light and fluffy and this totally hit the spot.
If you're unfamiliar with onsen, it's a term describing Japanese hot springs and bath houses. We ended up going to our hotel onsen prior to bed time and then when we both woke up around 2AM due to jet lag, we went again around 4AM.
After our onsen session, we checked out of the hotel and decided to walk around the nearby park. It was really beautiful, especially because all of the hydrangeas were in bloom.
Though the actual fish market has moved, I wasn't super interested in witnessing tuna auctions at 5AM so it didn't bother me much. I was way more excited for the outer market anyway so we had a great time exploring and eating our way through all of the stalls.
Our first stop was to Marutake for some tamago-yaki. It may just look like a boring omelet but really, it's a custardy preparation of egg that's a really lovely balance of sweet and savory and has the most beautiful creamy texture. These lovely bites of egg only cost ¥100 ($0.90 USD).
We also sampled the ichigo daifuku, which is a filled mochi topped with a strawberry. We tried the strawberry filling and the custard cream. The custard cream won the battle, hands down. The mochi was satisfyingly chewy, the strawberry was so fragrant and sweet, and the custard cream was lusciously sweet. The strawberry filling was a bit too cloying for me, though it was still pretty yummy. Each daifuku was ¥350 ($3.25 USD).
We also got a wagyu skewer for ¥2,000 ($18.50 USD). It was pretty good but maybe not worth the money. Actually, I suppose it was worth it to have a bite of wagyu in Japan but it wasn't quite as delicious as I wanted it to be.
For breakfast, we decided to have sushi. I had read great things about Tunao so we went and enjoyed the 20-piece tuna nigiri platter.
The medium fatty tuna was both of our favorite; the texture of the fish was divine and akin to butter. The rest of the sushi was great too; it was incredibly fresh (the recently butchered tuna heads outside the restaurant were proof of the freshness) and the red vinegar-seasoned rice was fantastic.
We also had an uni temaki, which was so decadent. The uni was so creamy and sweet.
After breakfast, I grabbed a freshly made iced matcha latte; I literally watched her whip up the matcha powder with hot water and simple syrup and swirl it into ice cubes and milk. It was the creamiest matcha I'd ever drank.
Adjacent to the Tsukiji metro stop is a temple built in the style of Indian architecture which is rather beautiful to look at and it's surrounded by gorgeous flowers. We didn't actually go in, but it was fun to walk around the grounds and ogle the fresh blooms.
One of the most fun experiences I had in Japan was browsing the giant stationery store, Itoya. There are two shops located right across the street from each other and each one has several floors worth of fun goods to peruse. From walls of washi to shelves upon shelves of handmade paper to countless containers of different types of pens, this was an extremely colorful and satisfying experience.
There were so many things I wanted to buy but I ended up exercising as much will power as possible and only left with a set of pens and a journal.
I was so inspired by the example journals on display too. I want to get myself some watercolor markers so I can replicate this look in my travel journal.
For lunch, we went to Gekko Mochi, where they still use the old school method of mochi making (with the wooden vessel and mallet) and got the savory donburi mochi and the sweet zenzai mochi.

The donburi mochi included three giant gooey balls of mochi floating in a soy saucy dashi broth with wasabi, sesame seeds, nori, and radish to use as condiments. This dish came with tea as well and even though we were sharing, they brought us two teas. This dish was really special. The mochi itself was so delicate and soft and the textural contrast of the crispy nori and crunchy sesame seeds was lovely.
The zenzai mochi was a sweet matcha preparation with matcha ice cream and red bean. This was one of my favorite desserts we had in Japan. It wasn't overly sweet and even though I usually despise red bean, this preparation was delicious.
We came to fall in love with 7-Eleven while in Japan. They're everywhere and though we didn't end up having to use them for money exchange, we read that this is the best place to do it, whether you're exchanging cash or looking to use an ATM.
It's the perfect place to pick up a cheap bottle of water or grab a snack.
Before we headed to the airport, we grabbed some snacks from a bakery near our hotel. We picked up a couple of cute animal-shaped pastries as well as their v. popular curry puffs. We ended up enjoying the curry puffs as a snack on the airplane and they were so delicious. The pastry was so chewy and had a few crunchy cornflakes stuck on the outside. The curry filling wasn't too strongly flavored but had enough savory oomph to make the pastry taste like an appropriate dinner.
We flew Thai Airways to our next destination and I loved this airline. First off, it was the type of airplane that has two tiers. Secondly, it was basically empty so the flight attendants actually encouraged my sister and I to spread out so we could be completely supine and get a good sleep. The airplane itself seemed really new and it was super clean. The only minus point they get is for the poop-scented blanket they gave my sister.

We bid Tokyo a 'see you later' before we jetted off to Bangkok.
Here's my video diary: