About Ayako E
Lives in Hamburg, Germany
Since Nov. 2008
Germany became my new (second? third?) home in 2012. I'm enjoying getting to know this part of the world in the great "window to the world" harbor city of Hamburg. At home and abroad, I like to explore local places on foot (the fact that I can't drive may have something to do with it), and I especially enjoy explore local cafes and markets, and discovering and experiencing local colors and flavors - e.g. locally owned businesses, street art, and just people watching.
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
In many busy areas of Tokyo, like Harajuku, you'll find that relaxing spaces with available seating are hard to come by. You will be pleasantly surprised that the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando building, a prime location in Harajuku, has a Starbucks with a rooftop garden where you will likely find a chair, staircase, bench or swing to sit on. The view is also great, and it will feel like being in a little green oasis in the middle of Tokyo's craziness.
Meiji Jingu is a beautiful spot in the busy Harajuku area where you can find some peace and quiet - although depending on the time of the day and year, you may see many other visitors. If you're lucky, you may also witness a traditional Japanese Shinto-style wedding.
Right next to Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi Park has lots of green space and is great for a stroll, picnic, working out, or even bird-watching (there's a little bird sanctuary area in the northeast part of the park). Here you will often also see local student clubs and various hobby groups and it's a nice way to get a glimpse of the local life.
The Shibuya location of the famous Gonpachi izakaya restaurant group is on the 14th floor of a skyscraper in the Maruyamacho area, which feels a bit unexpected, given the cozy and bustling atmosphere of the restaurant itself. As with most izakaya-style dining experiences in Tokyo, you'll enjoy tasting many small plates of different dishes, including the freshly grilled 'yakitori' (grilled chicken) and other skewered items.
A short walk from the center of Shinjuku, which is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful green oasis set against the backdrop of Shinjuku's skyscrapers. Explore its well-maintained gardens or relax in the large grass area where you'll see many people picnicking or cherry blossom viewing, a favorite springtime activity in Japan.
Beyond the very famous Sensoji Temple, which of course is worth a visit, Asakusa's must-see places are the streets that have maintained the charming Shitamachi ('low city') atmosphere. You will find many small streets with lots of local shops and izakayas (casual food and drink establishments) that feel like they came straight out of a Japanese TV drama from the 80s.
From Korean street food to authentic Bulgogi (Korean beef dish) to K-pop goods, you'll find a variety of Korean flavors and colors in Shin Okubo Korean Town. You can also find many Thai and other Asian restaurants that make this part of Tokyo an interesting mix of Japanese and other Asian styles. K-pop idol groups and TV series are big among Japanese fans, and even if you're not interested in Asian boy bands and movie stars, it's a fun experience to see K-pop shops in Korean Town.
Golden Gai is a fascinating little district filled with very small bars, izakayas, and pubs. Walking into Golden Gai, just a few minutes' walk from Shinjuku JR station, feels like traveling back in time and finding yourself in a scene from an Japanese movie from the good old 70s or 80s. With the narrow alleys and tiny buildings squeezed together in this little area, the almost surreal atmosphere is really unlike anything else in the huge and hyper-modern city ward of Shinjuku.
Ginza is one of the more upscale shopping districts in Tokyo, with many luxury shops. Here you'll also find a taste of 'old school' modern Tokyo, with the influence of Western-style design and lifestyle that was enthusiastically adopted in the late 1800s. Many of Ginza's famous department stores like Mitsukoshi and Matsuya - though today they're very modern and international - have a 200-year plus history. Often crowded with lots of shoppers and diners, Ginza is a fun area to walk around in, even if you're not into shopping.
Jindai-ji is a quiet and beautiful temple with a relaxing atmosphere. In addition to visiting the temple, which can be accessed via a short bus ride from the JR Kichijoji station, you will enjoy exploring the charming Edo (old Tokyo) style local shops and cafes nearby. This area is also famous for soba: the quality of the natural well water and the tradition of water-powered grinding mills have made it the coveted soba capital in the Tokyo region.
A beautiful park in the Jindaiji Temple area, Jindai Botanical Park features an impressive rose garden and a dahlia garden, as well as various seasonal exhibits. In the spring, it's also a great spot for cherry blossom viewing.
Yurakucho is another area where you can find Tokyo's 'old neighborhood' charm, especially around the Ga-do Shita district, with its many small izakayas and restaurants built under the elevated train tracks of the JR Yamanote Line.