Martial Arts

Visiting the Famous Kodokan Judo Dojo

Japan is synonymous with martial arts, especially with the likes of Karate, Jujitsu, Judo and Sumo being practiced and respected worldwide. Nat has practiced Tae Kwon Do and Karate from childhood through to adulthood, so it would be a travesty for us to be in Tokyo and not visit a dojo, observing martial artists training in the birthplace of the art. Kodokan is the headquarters of the worldwide Judo community, and was founded by Kanō Jigorō Shihan (the founder of Judo) in 1882. Fun fact: Judo was the first Japanese martial art to become an official Olympic sport!

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Kawaii Culture

Exploring Harajuku with a Fun Lunch at Kawaii Monster Cafe

What an explosion of the senses! From high-pitched conversations to colourful Kawaii (cute) outfits, hair and make-up - walking around the Harajuku neighbourhood offers a youthful, more playful experience than other parts of Tokyo. From Harajuku Station, take a walk down Takeshita Street, past teenagers eating rainbow-coloured cheese and waiters enticing you to come into their hedgehog and owl cafés. At the end of this street and 100 metres to your right is the YM Square building, where the crazy and colourful Kawaii Monster Cafe is located. Sweet and sticky desserts, creative cocktails and bouncy dance performances... this noisy, fun café is truly unique!

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Nightlife & Dining

Eating Amongst the Smoke-Filled Air on Memory Lane

After strolling past the entrance to this cosy (and smoky) alleyway one evening, we had to stop in our tracks and walk back to see if this tiny pedestrianised street was actually real or a movie set! Omoide Yokocho literally translates to “Memory Lane” in Japanese, and you’ll understand why the alleyway has been given this name when you walk down it. The feeling of being transported back in time by 150 years is a stark contrast to rest of this ultra-modern city! This ramshackle of tiny bars, yakitori grills and restaurants is the perfect place to come for an alternative night out. Please Note: only a small handful of eateries will allow you entry if you have a small child with you.

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Traditional Culture

Getting Kitted Out! Buying Our Very First Japanese Jinbei

During our time in Tokyo, it wasn’t in our plans to buy a Japanese outfit for ourselves or our daughter, Layla. However, when a market vendor held up a kids Jinbei outfit in front of us as we walked towards Senso-ji Temple, we instantly stopped in our tracks - we could definitely see our daughter wearing it. We chose a pretty red one and we were sold! The spontaneous decision to dress Layla in her new Jinbei just before we entered the temple made our experience even more surreal. Along with the many visitors dressed in Kimonos, Layla blended in perfectly! (Okay, she stood out a little, haha)

Family Fun

Disneyland & DisneySea: You’re Never Too Old!

Whenever we visit a Disney theme park, we convince ourselves that it’s a treat for our daughter, but us parents end up having more fun than she does! Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea is our third Disney resort experience (after Paris and Hong Kong), and we were especially excited to visit DisneySea, as it’s the only Disney resort of its kind in the World. This unique theme park focuses on sea-based Disney favourites such as the Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo, and even goes as far as recreating the water-based Italian City of Venice! So, How does the Tokyo Disney resort compare to its counterparts in Paris and Hong Kong? In our opinion, Tokyo shares 1st place with Paris!

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Discovering the Best of Shinjuku City

Before setting foot in Japan, we spoke to friends and colleagues who had been to Tokyo before us. We told them that we were considering staying in either Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza. We were consistently advised that Shinjuku would be the best neighbourhood for us as first-time visitors, and we’re so thankful for that advice! We loved Shinjuku - from the Godzilla which roars hourly, to the vast shopping options, electronics stores, unique cafés and astronomically wide selection of Japanese and International restaurants!

Health & Nutrition

Sourcing the Finest Matcha Green Tea

For as long as we can remember, Nat has had an obsession with Japanese Matcha tea. She has regularly bought Matcha powder over the internet and had it shipped to our London home. The disappointment would have been unimaginable if we visited Tokyo and failed to hunt down authentic Matcha tea in the country of its inception. One day in Central Shinjuku, we visited the Tokyo tourist information office and asked them where to drink the best “authentic” Matcha tea in Shinjuku. They directed us to the Kino Chaya café, where Nat devoured a rich, velvety matcha tea and Mase slurped on a refreshing iced matcha latte with tapioca pearls. Wow, just wow.

Out and About

Street Vending Machines: Rehydrating on the Go

For residents of Japan, vending machines on the street are probably far from being a novelty - it’s something they’ve become accustomed to seeing every day. For folks like us who come from the Western World, being able to quickly and conveniently buy a cold drink (using spare change) at any stage of your day, is a dream come true. These easy-to-grab ice cold drinks are especially valuable when walking around Tokyo as temperatures reach highs of 34°C (93°F). Fun Fact: if you’re looking for more than just iced tea and cola, you can also find vending machines in Tokyo that dispense ice cream, hot food, umbrellas and jewellery!