One Day (and Gluten Free) in Tokyo, Japan!
We had the pleasure of being able to hop over to Japan, after our visit to South Korea through the Korean Strait. I fell in love with Kyoto, and honestly expected to be overwhelmed by Tokyo. Well, not only did Tokyo not overwhelm me, but the quaint neighborhoods stole my heart with their intricate personalities. I love that you see a true mixture of new and old architecture, along with spiritual elements. Although it would probably take living there extensively to see and truly experience the city’s highlights and underrated spots, I came up with this easy one-day must-do list. I hope you enjoy the city as much as we did (minus ending up in the ER for anaphylaxis - long story #MCAS), and I look forward to returning back soon.
Where to Stay
WIRED Hotel Asakusa - We found this hotel by mistake, and we are so happy we did. It’s funky, it's hip, and reminiscent of an Ace Hotel (same branding, I think?). They are reasonably priced and have both hotel rooms and hostel options. The hotel rooms are trendy and comfortable and the hostel section seems very inviting and cleanl. If you are staying here, or stopping by, I recommend their soy matcha. I also recommend their homemade tofu (can I have the recipe?). Thanks to the super helpful and international, we discovered the awesome neighborhood of Asakusa, and we can’t wait to return back, and attend another kimono party!
Japan Rail Pass - A cheap and easy way to travel around Japan, and the city in general. Also, riding a bullet train should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Gorilla Coffee - Great coffee, with alternative milk options.
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House - Upon arrival, we realized that you needed a reservation, unless you wanted to wait a long while in line. It looked really cute inside, and it was highly recommended by a friend.
REVIVE KITCHEN - There aren’t too many places in Tokyo with ‘gluten free’ menus, but this restaurant surprised us with a gluten free menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything we ate, including GF pasta and sandwich bread was pretty good. They also have cold pressed juice and gluten free desserts. I found my food safe haven here.
Gluten Free Café Littlebird - Another gem! This place is Celiac friendly and delish. The chefs are celiac/gluten-free themselves, so you know you are safe. And they have everything from gluten free fried chicken, gyoza, to ramen. Fried chicken, guys! Don’t worry, there are plenty of veg options to enjoy too.
Tansouan Soba Noodle Restaurant (3-35-3 Taito, Tokyo 111-0032) - Pure soba = Pure Buckwheat = Gluten free!!! This was recommended to us by the front desk at our hotel, and they confirmed that they use 100% Soba (buckwheat) in their noodles, and do not use or mix in any wheat. But for those who don’t have that privilege of a translator, bring your allergy restaurant card to make sure your allergies are properly accommodated! This was truly one of the best meals we had in Tokyo, and I think it will be my first meal upon my next arrival.
TOFUTEI (Hotel Gajoen Tokyo) - This is on the VERY high-end side. But if you have the budget, you will be treated to one of the most decadent meals of your life. I believe it was a total of nine courses, and the restaurant was very mindful of my allergies. The hotel itself is worth visiting, as it’s like a museum inside, featuring precious artwork, stunning architecture, and some of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever flushed a toilet in. Did I mention it also has a huge manmade waterfall in the inner garden? Built in 1928, it’s both historic and elegant. Side note, I fell in love with toilets in Korea/Japan. So much so, all of my toilets now have a Tushy installed. Highly recommend.
We didn’t have time for drinks, but our friends recommend the following bars…
Bar Martha - “A shockingly huge bar for Tokyo filled with old records and a hi-fi system. You can sort of sit there and drink fancy liquor while the bartender DJs. It's really amazing.”
New York Bar – “Top of the Park Hyatt and stupidly expensive and somewhat inconvenient and you have literally no choice but to go for a drink.”
Things to Do
Seso-ji Temple - We were very fortunate to be staying in the Asakusa neighborhood when there was a Buddhist festival taking place. This temple is just gorgeous and full of history. I would love to visit without the crowds and really soak it all in next time.
Mori Art Museum - This museum was highly recommended to us by many friends, and it was definitely a highlight on our trip. We were floored by how truly magnificent this museum is. We were lucky enough to be there for the N.S. Harsha: Charming Journey Exhibit. In addition, it has one of the best views of Tokyo, with an observation deck, and floor to ceiling windows. Afterwards, be sure to stop by for coffee at Elle Café, which is right outside, with a some GF options to boot.
Check out the Dancing Rockabillies in Harajuku/Yoyogi Park - Although we didn’t have time to stop by, we had multiple friends recommended visiting the park to people watch. However, we enjoyed people watching in most of the neighborhoods in Tokyo.
Tokyo Disneyland - Although technically a little ways outside of the city center, this was definitely worth making the venture out to. It kind of reminded me of what Disneyland was like in the late 90’s here in Southern California, except with funny flavored popcorn and attractions that were all slightly off and familiar at the same time.
GOOD DESIGN SHOP - Beautiful home goods galore. We randomly met some new friends on the street, and they recommended this store to us. Honestly, if we had more room in our suitcases, we would’ve made some heavy purchases. On top of that, they have a Comme des Garcons pop-up when you first walk into the plaza, that sells what they have on a first come, first serve basis.
KAPITAL- High-fashion denim heaven. You’ll know what we are talking about when you see it.
RAGTAG- High-fashion vintage clothing and accessories, RAGTAG puts a lot of our vintage stores to shame in the USA.
Enjoy Japan, and always, Buen Camino!