Getting Materialistic in Tokyo
This was my second time in Tokyo, but my first as a full-fledged adult. My friend Doug was kind enough to host me in his Roppongi Hills apartment. When I asked him for the address, he replied that it's easiest for him to drop a pin on Google Maps, which only made me more excited about future potential Lost in Translation scenarios.
My first day I tried to meet my friend Kelly at the Tsukiji Fish Market, but San Francisco Marina girls can be notoriously late (got to look good for the fishies ya know) and I gave up after several precarious strolls between the fish stalls. I opted to head west to visit Meiji Shrine, and followed that with some leisurely strolls through the cosplay mecca of Harajuku and the more traditional storefronts of Omote-Sando.
That evening I met up with Doug and his girlfriend Kate for the least quintessentially Japanese meal possible: pizza. Savoy is a tiny and charming establishment in Minato that seats less than a dozen guests, complete with a laminated menu of two different pizzas and a chalkboard of some select wines, salads, and other appetizers. But the pizzas are top notch, in the prototypical Japanese way of taking a endearing foreign concept and perfecting it through kaizen.
The highlight of this brief visit may have been corralling my friends to the infamous Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. You'll wander down a narrow staircase of neon into a basement that will be soon filled with scantily-clad women and Transformers-like robots battling it out. Skip the food options here and opt for a beer to help you acclimate to the lasers and absurdity. Make sure to follow this up by wandering to the nearby classic karaoke bar, Karaoke Kan.
Besides the typical international brands and the Japanese ones that have expanded abroad, there are a couple of stores that you can find only in Japan worth checking out. Combine your Ginza shopping excursion with Tempura Kondo—a two Michilen starred tempura restaurant—for a truly self-indulgent day. My parents make a stop at Tempura Kondo each time they're in town and I've started to do the same (they have a vegetarian set meal option).
- BEAMS: A department store that focuses on quality Japanese brands, including their own label, at a reasonable price. BEAMS Plus is their more heritage and workwear inspired label.
- SHIPS: Another quality offering at a reasonable price. A Japanese version of the classic and traditional American Ivy League look.
After three days in Tokyo, I was on an morning flight out of Haneda to Hong Kong. As I waited to board, I scrolled through ecstatic text messages filled with #roborage mentions, laser-filled photos, and video recaps of an epic karaoke session.