Best Answers for Popular Questions From Our Me-Time Readers!
Konnichiwa Tokyo! It’s time to discover the food, history, culture, as well as all of the other hidden gems of Japanese locals who specifically love Me-Time experiences. This city brims with history and creativity; so we encourage you to explore the street foods, restaurants, onsen, shopping and much more. Each of questions below are from emails we’ve received from our readers.
——I’m looking for the best places to eat delicious food comfortably, as a solo traveler, in Tokyo. Any suggestions?
We definitely got you covered! Japan’s Oldest Izakaya, Mimasuya, is always a consistent Me-Time favorite. Many solo diners flock over to the Kanda area on a regular basis to dine there. When going to Shibuya, a great place to dine is Yamaga which serves tantalizing izakaya food and is open 24 hours a day. The alcohol and food there are very reasonably priced. See HERE for the Me-Time Izakaya Hopping Guide for more restaurants for solo diners.
——I heard Japanese-style curry is delicious. Do you have any suggestions in this category?
In Tokyo, Jinbōchō is an essential place when talking about curry. Among the famous curry shops in the area, Sumatra Curry kyoueido shop is the one with the longest history as it was established in 1924. The Sumatra Curry’s addictive taste is derived from a blend of 26 spices, meat, and vegetable flavors which has a smooth texture and bright taste. Japan’s first Indian curry restaurant named Nair is also a must-visit dinner if you are interested a different type of Japanese-style curry. The legendary menu item is Murgi Lunch. This dish consists of a spicy roux made from chicken thighs simmered for seven hours and comes with yellow rice, hot cabbage, mashed potatoes, and green peas. The aroma of the combined fresh spices, garlic, and ginger is surely enticing. The dish must be thoroughly mixed before eating. No worries, the staff will mix it for you when it’s served!
——I love ramen. Where to find the best ramen in Tokyo?
Ramen is a great Table For One dish for many Japanese people who typically dine alone. Foreigners who visit Japan thoroughly enjoy their ramen experience and certainly do not mind at all to dine alone, as they are keenly focused on their own delicious hot bowl of goodness! We’ve got many must-try ramen restaurants in Tokyo. Kiraku has been in business for over 60 years and continues to be a huge success, selling 400 bowls of ramen a day. If you’re coming Kiraku for the first time, we definitely recommend choosing the delicious and great wonton ramen there. In Ginza, Manpuku serves an iconic soy sauce ramen since 1929. Thin supple textured noodles accompany the gentle but flavorful soup which possesses a clear soy sauce color.
——Where do locals go shopping to feel good?
Sure, we understand everybody needs to go shopping for some retail therapy—it’s a way to relieve some emotional distress in life. Going shopping is always fun thing to do! Kappabashi Kitchen Street is the best place to score some reasonable Japanese souvenirs such as pottery, chopsticks, coffee accessories, professional kitchen knives, realistic plastic food replicas named Food Sample in Japanese, and many more unique items.
Asakusa is perfect area to buy items such as a Kimono, geta (wooden sandals), chopsticks and sake cups. There are so many tiny and cute local stores to buy Japanese traditional items. At Tokyo Hotarudo, you can find antiques and kimonos. At Nakamise Street there is a chopsticks specialty store called Morita. You can obtain many things there, from high quality/special occasion utensils to everyday use items, at reasonable prices. An unique concept souvenir shop, Shin-yoshiwara creates original products such as tenugui (Japanese traditional hand towel), small plates, and candles. All items are inspired by Yoshiwara’s glittering history. Yoshiwara was famous for Yukaku (the red-light district) in 17th to 19th century and is located north of Asakusa.
Harajuku is always crowded with teenagers, because on Takeshita street, there are so many stores for discounted socks, caps, accessories and T-shirts. If you are in Harajuku, don’t forget to try the famous sweet crepes while shopping!
Akihabara is known for its anime & manga character goods shops and electronics stores. Kaiyodo Hobby Lobby Tokyo carries high-quality figurines; toys, and anime-related items. If you are looking for your favorite anime or video game items, check out Akihabara Gamers. At this shop, you can find anime-related comics, DVDs & Blu-Rays, trading cards, and other merchandise. They possess an in-depth anime collection, more than you can ever imagine! Akihabara Gachapon Hall has 500 capsule toy machines called Gacha or Gachapon. Gachapon Hall is a very popular spot among foreign tourists. Many Gacha items are made from Japanese Anime characters such as Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Gundam, Gintama, ONE PIECE, TIGER & BUNNY, and more.
——It’s raining today… what can I do and see?
From mid-May until June, and also in September, there is a considerable amount of rain in Japan. It’s all good, because there is plenty you can do in Tokyo on rainy days!
Hit Up a Food Hall. For the best variety of food in Tokyo, go to the massive underground food halls known as depachika. Many types of food and sweets items are available, from ready-to-eat meals and bento boxes, to packaged gifts. Some of the best ones are : Ginza Six In Ginza, Tokyu Foodshow in Shibuya, Isetan in Shinjuku, and Tobu in Ikebukuro.
Amuse Yourself at a Museum or an Adult Arcade. Ghibli Museum is one of Japan’s most famous animation studios. The museum showcases the animation and artwork of Miyazaki Hayao’s Studio Ghibli. Located in Roppongi, Mori Art Museum carries Japanese and other Asian contemporary art collections, including Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami.
There are many arcades in Japan. Not only do kids play video games at the arcades but typically many adults love to go as well. Arcade halls Taito Station has multiple locations including Shinjuku, Shibuya, and the Akihabara store is known as the largest arcade game center in the world. Karaoke private room (commonly Karaoke bar is not available in Japan) is everywhere in Tokyo, singing a song is always a fun activity for all!
——I just need some quality Me-Time with a delicious cup of coffee!
Japanese coffee shops have become the perfect place for spending some quality Me-Time or meeting with your friends. It’s certainly more than a cup to joe to wake you up in the morning. A special cafe is a destination that’s definitely worth traveling to. A famous classical post-war cafe; L’Ambre in Shinjuku. is open every day, 9:30 AM – 11 PM. One of our most precious cafes, Lion in Shibuya, is open everyday; 11:00 AM – 10:30 PM. See HERE, for the Me-Time classic Tokyo cafe guide.
——I’m hungry! What is there to eat at night in Tokyo?
Tokyo is very much alive at night and safe. Izakaya, a type of Japanese-style pub, is perfect for late-night grub and drink. Dishes at Izakaya, basically a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks. See HERE, for the Me-Time izakaya guide.
——What is a good reason to rent a car and to get out of town for a day?
It’s great idea to rent a car and visit an onsen near Tokyo, and you don’t need to drive too far! People love traditional hot springs, while searching for a great location with wonderful service at a very reasonable price. In Shizuoka, a 400-year-old ryokan named Tofuya opened its doors in 2011 after renovating. From the open-air bath in the room, the views are picturesque. In Gunma, Watanoyu is popular for solo guests who enjoy a quiet & peaceful retreat. A few feet away from the ryokan, is Sainokawara Park, a nice hiking area. There is a footbath area in the park, and the largest open-air bath in the area is called the Sainokawara Open-Air Bath.
——I would like to learn some Japanese. Where can I take a Japanese-language course?
Studying Japanese enhances your experience in Japan as you discover a new culture. EF, located in the famous Shibuya has warm, friendly, and experienced teachers. Compared with big classes, a small language school is typically cheaper while being more intimate. The Academy of Language Arts is a small academy with approximately 12 students per class. The benefit of a small school is that the teachers are always attentive to their students and have a sense of connection with their students and friends.
——I’m flying into one of the Tokyo airports at night; or I’m stuck at the airport overnight. Where do I find late-night restaurants for a good bite to eat at any hour?
Whether you sleep in an airport overnight by choice or you just get stuck in the airport due to a layover or weather delay, Tokyo’s two airports, Haneda and Narita, have good services to make your travel experience more tolerable.
If you travel to Tokyo, you’ll arrive at one of two Haneda Airport or Narita Airport. These two airports are widely considered “sleep-friendly” and have capsule hotels with 24/7 showers and rentable rooms. It is a great option if you are looking to get some rest in a private, comfortable space. For food, some restaurants are open 24 hours! You would not starve.*
Moreover, you can recharge your devices and have complimentary Wi-Fi access in both airports!
*Restaurant hours are subject to change due to COVID-19 restrictions. Facility and shop hours, and menus have been temporarily changed.
At Haneda Airport
Haneda Airport offers convenient seating options across all terminals, including couches, benches, and furnished areas, all of which are great for resting when you have a layover in the airport.
Dining options at Haneda Airport
From delicious hamburgers to sushi or noodles, there are many dining options at iHaneda airport that are open 24 hours. Here is the Restaurant list. In Terminal 3, 3F Departure lobby 2, there is Tailwind restaurant which operates until 11:00 PM. At night, they serve a la carte with a variety of drinks.
There are private Shower Rooms open 24/7. These shower facilities are in Terminal 1 and 3.
The First Cabin capsule hotel is in Terminal 1 of Haneda Airport on the first floor.
Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu is directly connected to Haneda Airport Terminal 2 The terminal also has its own shopping and dining sections. It’s only 5 minutes away by shuttle from Terminal 1.
At Narita Airport
Narita also has designated areas for sleeping. They are all across Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 as they are is outfitted with numerous lie-flat couches. Moreover, if you need more privacy; there are a capsule hotels and rentable rooms. These are the perfect option for tired travelers looking to get some rest in a private, comfortable space.
Dining options at Narita Airport are numerous. You can have ramen, sushi, Thai, Chinese, Italian and American foods. Also, many cafes include STARBUCKS. Here is the Restaurant list.
Nine Hours is a capsule hotel chain with 24-hour reception and check-in. This accommodation has a unique concept for time… 1 hour to shower + 7 hours to sleep + 1 hour to rest = 9 hours—if it is not enough time for you, you can stay up to 17 hours! Nine Hours is in Terminal 2 on B1 floor.
If you want to take a quick shower and nap, Showers or Nap Rooms are perfect. Price at Showers, first 30 minutes: 1,050 JPY(USD9), Nap Room (Single/Twin), First 60 minutes:1,560 JPY(USD12)/2,520 JPY(USD20). Showers & Nap Rooms are in Terminal 1 on the second floor and in Terminal 2 on the third floor.