My husband and I got married and went on an incredible six-week honeymoon around the world to England, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, a cruise through Asia, and Japan. I’ve shared our unforgettable journey through a series of 20 blog posts. Today marks post number 21, the final post in the series. It’s been surreal reliving the memories of the most epic trip of our lives and being able to share them with all of you. Thanks for going through the journey with us!
This was our final day in Japan, and although some of our other days included fully jam-packed itineraries, we only had a few items left to tick off of our must-see list. Today, we planned to experience those and then see where the rest of the day took us. We enjoyed yummy foods, Tsukiji Nippon Fish Market, Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple, Tokyo Japan Dome City, souvenir shopping, and traveling back home to America. Read on to complete our six-week around-the-world honeymoon journey ending with day nine of Japan: Tokyo!
Day 9 in Japan
We began our day with the most Instagram-worthy breakfast spot: A Happy Pancake Ginza. I found this breakfast spot online, and when I saw the pictures I just knew that we had to have breakfast here one day. First off, I LOVE pancakes. I admittedly am not a pancake cook though, because they always burn and look misshapen. In our house, the Hubbs is on pancake duty.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, the elevator doors opened to a lobby full of people. So I guess everyone else had the same idea as me for a pancake breakfast that day haha! Actually, I had half expected this; I read reviews online about how the wait is long, but it’s so worth it. We weren’t looking forward to killing one of our last daylight hours sitting in a crowded lobby. Fortunately, the restaurant took our name and allowed us to leave and come back in an hour to be seated. This was perfect!
We did a quick google search of what was in the area and came across a Kit Kat Chocolatory and Café that was just a six-minute walk away. My husband explained to me that Kit Kat is the most popular chocolate brand in Japan. The name sounds very similar to “Kitto Katsu,” a Japanese phrase meaning “You will surely win.” Therefore, Kit Kat chocolate bars are often given as gifts particularly among students ahead of exams, or to someone who needs a boost of luck. Who knew?! I had been seeing Kit Kats all over Japan but hadn’t pieced together until this point that they were special.
Since we already had breakfast booked, we knew we didn’t want to dine in their café and spoil our appetites (although the pictures online looked heavenly and were nearly convincing). We figured this could be a fun souvenir opportunity, and we were right. The shop itself is on the small side, but they had all the essentials: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and a new glorious pink chocolate that they refer to as ruby. This was the first time both of us had ever even heard of ruby chocolate. How unique! The picture below explains some facts about this new species of cocoa. It’s a bit sweet and sour flavor characterized by its acidity. Super special. Since this was something we’d never seen before, we purchased several individually boxed sticks as souvenirs for friends and family back home. The shop was a bit pricey, but the packaging makes them more special than if you purchase at a grocery store. There are actually over 300 flavor combinations of Kit Kat in Japan. With its wide availability and flavor options, Kit Kats are a fantastic and affordable treat to bring home for family, friends, and coworkers.
After spending some time and money at Kit Kat, we headed back over to A Happy Pancake Ginza. We’d worked up an appetite! The restaurant was still very full with a wait in the lobby. Shortly after we arrived, we were escorted in, past the kitchen which was visible to the diners through windows in the center of the restaurant. It’s so cool that the kitchen is open and you can see the chefs at work. Each pancake is super fluffy at an inch thick and nearly perfectly round (without using a mold)! It’s a pancake dream come true. We were seated at a little two-top half booth table. Everything on the menu looked so great. We ended up picking the tiramisu pancakes for my Hubby which were ¥1,390 (JPY), or $13.28 (USD), and the berries and cream pancakes for me which were ¥1,300 (JPY), or $12.42 (USD).
Each plate arrives with three fluffy pancakes and loads of cream and toppings. The tiramisu dish even included a mini creamer pitcher filled with hot espresso that you pour over your pancakes as extra dipping sauce. Just wow. It was so filling, I couldn’t even finish my plate. If you love breakfast or pancakes, this place is for you. We’ve actually tried to replicate these pancakes back in the states and have not mastered anything quite so thick. I’ve even gifted the Hubbs a Christmas stocking-stuffer of Japanese tall silicone pancake molds. They honestly help your pancakes get thicker, but the batter is just off, so they aren’t the same. We’ll just have to visit Tokyo again to get our fill of fluffy tasty pancakes.
After we had full bellies, we headed over to the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market, just an eight-minute walk away. If you love seafood and fish, I’d recommend you pass through here a little later for lunch so you can fully experience the dining aspect. Each kiosk had something a little more special than the next. They literally sold every type of seafood imaginable. Everything looked so fresh, like it was caught just the night before. There are proper indoor sit-down restaurants mixed between outdoor grill kiosks where you can grab seafood and eat while you walk, plus raw fish kiosks where you buy the fish and take it home to cook/prepare. We took so many cool pictures in this area and bought a few souvenirs of cute cartoony fish cookies for our coworkers. My favorites are below: flying fish, shark, humongous crabs, lobster, scallops, grilled squid, giant tuna head, and thick sliced nigiri. The streets are narrow, crowded, and smell of fish—it’s an awesome time!
One of the final attractions on our list was the Tokyo Tower, so we headed in that direction and stopped at the 600-year-old Zojoji Temple along the way, about a 36-minute walk. The temple is actually right next to Tokyo Tower, so from multiple vantage points on the property you can see both structures. Breathtaking mix of modern and ancient. We went indoors for a little prayer and then outside to walk through the gardens. A standout feature of this site is the garden for unborn children. The rows and rows of jizo statues represent the souls of children who died before birth (pregnancy loss, stillborn, or perinatal loss). The statues are believed to be protectors of children and unborn babies in traditional Japanese Buddhist teachings. Once a month, there is a ceremony for parents to use the statues as a way to say farewell and ease the child’s passage into the afterlife. Red garments are created and donated to dress the statues, and then gifts such as incense, flowers, and wind spinners are placed in remembrance. These babies never had the opportunity to experience this world, but their place of remembrance is colorful just as their life should have been. And though a somber place of prayer and loss, I found the garden to be beautiful and serene. As a newlywed, I said a little prayer for these babies to look over us in our future fertility.
Side note: In doing some additional post-trip research on Tokyo, I learned of the 200-year-old Suitengu Shrine, just an 11-minute drive from the Zojoji Temple. This shrine is also for babies and specifically devoted to conception and safe childbirth. This is a place for pregnant couples to visit after doctor’s appointments, new parents to bring their infants, and non-pregnant people to provide fertility well wishes. The statue of a dog and its pup on the grounds is a popular photo spot. Had we known this temple existed, we probably would have stopped here for a little prayer too.
Following the Zojoji Temple, we walked next door to the Tokyo Tower. One could call it the Eiffel Towel of Japan. There are two different levels you can gain access to with tickets: The Main Deck is ¥1,200 (JPY), or $11.47 (USD) per person and the Top Deck is ¥3,000 (JPY), or $28.67 (USD) per person. Advance sales are available at a discounted rate, and I do indeed recommend you purchase advance tickets. Unfortunately, at the time of our arrival, all tickets for that window of time were sold. We’d have had to wait around in the area for hours before the next available tickets would open. Since this was the last attraction on our list, and we’d already seen the rest of this area of town, we just took a selfie from below and didn’t actually go into the tower.
That was a huge bummer. After such an absolutely unforgettable six-week honeymoon around the world, we should have planned a more climactic ending for our final day. I know, tall order to fill to find something that would have felt like a proper ending of the trip… maybe we were always setting ourselves up for disappointment? How could it be that we would end our day not actually seeing our final attraction all because of poor planning and not booking the tickets in advance? I was really sad. We took out our phones to see if there was anything else to do in the area (just look at how serious my face is below while I’m searching haha). I had started to think that we’d just end up at our hotel room early for a good night’s sleep before the flight. When nearly all my hope was lost for a fun ending to the day, the Hubbs delivered and found something super fun for us to do!
Next stop was the Tokyo Japan Dome City. We took the train over, since this wasn’t exactly in close walking proximity. We’d passed the dome at other times on the trip but never got close enough to see all the attractions it had to offer. By the time we arrived, we were hungry for dinner. We found two of my American favorites: Shake Shack and Taco Bell! Just look at my face and how happy I was haha! What a 180 from the failed attempt of Tokyo Tower. We ended up grabbing a bite from Shake Shack, because it had literally been weeks since we’d had a proper burger. Shake Shack actually originated in Madison Square Park, New York City, so this was a taste of home that ended up turning into a sentimental dinner as we watched the digital picture wall show Shake Shack stores from around the world. When it finally displayed the New York location, I nearly cried. After our once-in-a-lifetime trip, it was time to return to reality. We were headed home—and, honestly, we were a little homesick.
We decided to ride the rollercoaster which winds through the footprint of the site, even going through the walls of the mall at one point. We absolutely love rollercoasters, so this was the perfect high-adrenaline thing to do to cap off the excitement of our epic trip, and it was honestly so fun.
After the coaster, we strolled through the mall. There was a lot to see inside, being multi-levels, and Hubby geeked out and found a store for Shonen Jump, the magazine brand that popularized the mega-hit animes Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball, Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh, and so many more. If you’re an anime fan or know someone who is, then this is a great spot to stop for a little shopping. There were traditional souvenir shops where you could buy things like Japan-themed passport holders, and also some home goods shops with affordable but cute items for sale. We also found some quirky “Japanglish” souvenirs (we got a kick out of the hat in the pics below).
We didn’t end up buying anything though, so we crossed the street and found a store called Don Quijote which sold a wide assortment of goods at very reasonable prices, which was truly awesome! We bought bags of individually-wrapped bulk Kit Kats in unique flavors for both our offices, and we bought Sake bottles in nice boxes that we could gift our parents and siblings. The Hubbs even bought a cable for his headphones that had broken on the trip. They had everything! If I had one pro tip for souvenir shopping, it would be to shop where the locals shop. No one really wants a useless trinket that says “Tokyo” or “Japan” on it. But if you bring them a unique food or beverage to consume, or a practical houseware item, it’s something they can use and they will appreciate. Check out some of the silly goods we found (and did not buy haha).
After shopping, we made our way (via train) back to the hotel with goodies in tow. We had a long night of packing ahead. Luckily, we had accounted for the space we’d need, and it all fit fine. We got a little sleep, then headed to the airport super early for our flight back to America (get a load of my early morning grumpy airport mug below). We flew from Tokyo Japan to Beijing China to New York City, which took about 20 straight hours of travel. I definitely require a day of recovery after crossing the globe like this. The jet lag is serious.
Packing Pro Tips:
- If you’re going on an extended trip, leave half of your suitcase empty. You’ll need that space to fill with goodies from your travels. It costs a fortune to ship items home or buy an additional luggage and pay for a second luggage on the plane. Especially for our multi flight trip – the latter was definitely not an option for us.
- Wear your bulkiest or heaviest clothing and shoe items at the airport and onto the plane. Why use up that weight in your luggage when you can wear it? This will save you luggage space and weight for more souvenirs.
- Always keep your heaviest items in your carryon so long as your airline isn’t weighing your carry on (which actually happened to us in China on this six-week trip).
- Pockets! The only time your bags are weighed is at the ticket counter. On another trip, we had these crystal candleholders that weighted a ton, and we were already overweight. We ended up putting them in our jacket pocket while our bags were weighed, and then put them in our carryon once we passed through security.
- Paper takes up a lot of space and weight while traveling. Just look at how much paper products we collected over 6 weeks!! Had we been overweight at the airport, this would have been the first stuff I would have dumped. We weren’t overweight, so I could keep it. Most of this was from our cruise (daily itineraries and origami), tickets we purchased, programs/brochures we collected from activities we did, and maps of cities. You don’t really NEED this stuff, and if you have to part with it, just take a picture of the papers (like we did for our rollercoaster tickets above), and then recycle the paper to save weight.
So there you have it! This post completed our eight-part series in Japan and our six-week honeymoon around the world. Tokyo was fantastic. Even on a day like this, where we hardly had activities planned, we ended up having a killer time and stumbling upon unique attractions. Morals of the story are…
- If you’re a type A person like myself, it’s ok to not have your day planned out in 15-minute increments (I’ll do a future blog post on my itineraries one day haha).
- Do SOME research so you can ensure if it’s a timed entry or ticketed, that you can claim your spot. Also, there’s nothing worse than getting home and seeing a BuzzFeed article about the cool things to do in the city you visited, that you missed.
- Go with the flow, and if something planned doesn’t work out, there is always going to be something else that’s fun to do. No need to ever go to bed early out of boredom when you’re in a new city.
- Google Maps can literally save your days open itinerary. On this particular day, we didn’t plan the Kit Kat store, the temple, or the Tokyo Dome. All of that came from Google searching along the way.
Thanks again for joining me on this truly memorable 21-post journey. Now onto blogging about our next adventures! Stay tuned for future posts about our One Year Wedding Anniversary Trip to The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain!