I know. I told some of you that my goal was to visit every country in the world. Yet I keep going back to Japan.
The truth is . . . I’m still making an effort to see other countries. 2018 began in Rwanda and Uganda, after all. And 2019 should begin in Turkey. But yes, let’s speak plainly. I’ve fallen for Tokyo. Guilty as charged.
New to this trip were three things:
1. The Polaris Lounge at SFO. (Okay, I know this isn’t in Tokyo, but since we positioned at SFO, it was en route to Tokyo, and it did not disappoint.) Unlike other lounges that provide a buffet, the Polaris Lounge at SFO has a dining room, a menu, and made-to-order entrees and apps. It’s delightful. On our return from Tokyo, in fact, we dropped in to the lounge to have a shower and to use the nap room (where we were provided with pajamas!). Plenty has been written about this lounge. If you’d like to read a thorough review, simply click here. We were fortunate enough to see the lounge within three weeks of its opening, and it was among the best lounges we’ve seen. If you have the means, or if you can finagle a Business Class ticket (Michelle flew on points, and I paid for an Economy fare but exercised two Global Premier Upgrades, which put me next to Michelle in Business), you’ll be happy you did.
2. If you don’t know the Hachiko story, read about it here. Assuming you know about the most loyal dog of all time, then you’ve likely been interested in visiting the Hachiko statue at the Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit. What many don’t know is that a new Hachiko statue is at University of Tokyo. It requires a little bit of a walk, but we found it worthwhile. Further, unlike the throngs of tourists and locals at the Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit, we were among very few admirers on the university campus.
3. The best gyoza shop in Tokyo! Now, I don’t know its name. (My kanji is improving, but some of these compounds are above my pay-grade.) Here’s the address: Tokyo Shinjuku, 33-10, Shinjuku 3 Chome, Japan. Just find this location via Google Maps, and then match the store front with the image below.
Upon doing so, you’ll be presented with a big decision. Should you order a plate of 20, 30, or 40? Those are the options. And if you count the gyoza in the photo below, you’ll notice that one is already missing. That’s because I ate it. And it was good. 🙂
Of note is Tonkatsu Wako, which we’ve enjoyed several times (but I’ve not written about it). When I order tonkatsu in the US, I just want it to be half as good as this place. Unfortunately, it rarely is. Tonkatsu Wako serves good tonkatsu. If you’re in Shibuya, you’re close. Consider stopping by.
Also of note is the matcha donut. What can I say . . . except that it’s good. It’s really good. If you haven’t been to Japan, the Japanese are crazy for everything matcha. Matcha tea. Matcha ice cream. Matcha burgers? Anyway, definitely matcha treats, like donuts. We found this Matcha Monaka Cookie at Dominique Ansel Bakery (it’s like moist matcha in a bagel-shaped fortune-cookie shell!).
And just like that and as a matter of fact . . . it was time to depart. A new friend told me recently that he never considered Japan a weekend destination. To be fair, in order to enjoy these “weekend” getaways, we require four days. In this case, we departed LAX on Saturday and returned to LAX on Tuesday.
Is such a quick trip to Tokyo ideal? Probably not. But life will continue to happen. We have a dog. We have jobs. We have limited vacation days. I suppose it’s consistent with the notion that you can wait for the perfect moment, or you can seize the moment and make it perfect.
United Airlines 737-900, 777-300 LAX-SFO-NRT First Class, Polaris Business Class
United Airlines 777-300, 737-800 NRT-SFO-LAX Polaris Business Class, Economy
Moxy Tokyo Kinshicho