Oh, Japan. And just like that, another country wraps its arms around my heart and tries to pull me back. Each time I travel, a part of me stays there – something I am slightly uncomfortable, although content with. Similar to the dainty vintage shops, so effortlessly juxtaposed against cedarwood and concrete buildings in the streets of Daikan-Yamacho, the feeling of losing a fragment of your heart to a place that is well beyond your everyday reach is a strange one.
Akin to most cities, Tokyo is bustling with excitement and opportunity however tucked behind a few wrong turns of Google maps was a town that politely screamed ‘pack up your fucking things and move here’ really loudly in my ear. Daikan-Yamacho, about a 30-minute train ride from the heart of Tokyo, is a must-see. A big thank you to Tiffany from Nikkou Store for posting 100 stories of this place on Instagram so I could follow in her footsteps
If it is possible to be both quaint and modern at the same time Daikan-Yamacho absolutely nails it. It is a mecca of brilliant food and in my case, mostly unaffordable though incredible, fashion. There were a few stores that had some moderately priced items however I personally struggled to find anything for myself, some great options for men though. We ate at a ramen place called Ramen Kojiro that had been recommended to us from a friend, we kooked it and didn’t order the ramen (possibly because I am the worlds most annoying eater) however we had the gyoza & they were out of this world.
We then came across an architectural sight for sore eyes, a large square cut cedarwood building with various shops and a brewery inside, "yes a brewery" I thought to myself, I’m fucking thirsty. Said brewery most definitely did not disappoint – Spring Valley Brewery was an absolute vision, unified by food and craft beers. We had a ski shot type plank with different beers to taste, IPA, LPA, Lager, Stout, you name it. I was even allowed to make my own lemon infused IPA which was ridiculously fun. I’m unsure what I asked for or what they said as the translation was not 100%, however, I think it was so brilliant that they didn’t speak much English because in turn, it meant we had such a fun time trying to work out what each other were saying, that we didn’t realise we had spent over 2 hours downing beers, safe to say we were a little tipsy when we left.
As I said, if it’s possible to be both quaint and modern at the same time, we found the place. In fact, I thought Marty Mcfly may come around the corner to transport me back to my hotel at any second – which brings me to, The Knot Hotel. Situated pretty much nearly smack bang in the middle of Shinjuku, backing onto the Shinjuku Central Park, The Knot is a wonderfully thought through, contemporary, westernised hotel with a tapas/lounge bar, bakery, and restaurant. The buffet breakfast was unreal, V westernised for the fussy eaters out there, holla. It has all the essentials you need, keeping in mind most accommodation in Tokyo is very (extremely) small, the room is actually quite generous in size. Conveniently located right near a family mart - if you forget anything or have a late-night pang for some fried food (notably the hash browns) it’s about a 20-second walk away.
Some helpful tips I found along the way –
7/11, Family Mart, Lawsons (all servo type stores) have really fucking good food. I know, I was wigged out at first too – but trust me, big vibes. You might as well accept that your waistline will double in size now to stop the depression session when you get home.
Eating and drinking in public are frowned upon, in some places it’s definitely a no go at all. Just be wary and respectful of their views. I mean no one really wants to see you sucking the meat off a chicken bone anyway so keep that shit to yourself.
Ubers/Cabs are pretty expenno after a while, trust me – just checked my statement. Learn the train lines, it’s surprisingly not as hard as I thought (definitely a cluster fuck for a few moments upon arrival at your first station for the first time), there are help centres at the stations if you get lost or confused. Also different train lines are colour coded with the ticket machines, took us a while to figure that out however upon thinking back to it, that might be quite obvious to most people when you’re there. TBC