We had the best day in Tokyo with Kahoko, our local Japanese guide. We booked her via Triple Lights, the leading Japanese private tour platform with licensed local guides around Japan.
Here’s a recap of our best day in Tokyo and how we organized it…
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Visit Triplelights.com and select the Japan City you would need a local guide to.
We decided to go with Kahoko because of her knowledge of food, especially the Tsukiji Market. Plus she also knows how to handle kids.
(Tip: You can go to her profile directly to check for her availability: https://triplelights.com/profile/1289)
Each tour is unique. You design it with your chosen guide based on your interests and the number of hours.
You’ll get a quote and confirm the private local tour by paying via the Triple Lights website.
ENROUTE TO TSUKIJI
We met with Kahoko at our hotel and then took the train to Tsukiji Station.
There’s an older vibe to the neighborhood. From here, you’ll have to walk towards the outer market.
You can eat street food as you make your way through Tsukiji Market.
There are different produce like fresh wasabi all around.
It’s really hard to go here with kids when it rains, so better check the forecast.
(Note: It’s considered impolite to eat while walking, but tourists get away with it.)
WARNING: These market trucks are always in a hurry and won’t stop for anyone, not even kids.
TSUKIJI OUTER MARKET
Our first stop was the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market, where the shops are organized within an air-conditioned building with clean restrooms.
Kahoko showed the kids the big Sri Lankan crabs in a live aquarium!
Across it is a seafood grill stall, serving one of the biggest scallops we’ve tried…
…and these big grilled Sri Lankan crab legs!
Don’t forget to try these Tamagoyaki Japanese omelettes, famous in the outer market.
I was expecting it to be savory, but it’s actually on the sweet side.
Honestly, the kids didn’t like it, so just order a bit to try.
THE NEW MIXED MARKETS
We walked to these two Salmon-colored buildings connected by the bridgeway, where the new market will be after Tsukiji relocates to Toyosu Waterfront.
The ground floor is the secondary traders fish market, operated by those inner market vendors (and those that don’t want to relocate).
We went to the third floor directly where tourists can eat the food they bought from the market or from a few restaurants.
We had to leave the exhausted boys here with Rache because they aren’t allowed in the inner market.
TSUKIJI INARI SHRINE
We visited the Namiyoke Inari Shrine before entering the inner market.
This Lion’s head with black teeth is the guardian of Tsukiji Market.
This is where I was impressed by the wealth of knowledge of Kahoko, from food and local history, to religion and even handling the kids.
TSUKIJI INNER MARKET
Tsukiji has the best sushi shops with the best fish directly from the market.
The lines could go on for hours, so you have to line up early in the morning. This is definitely not for kids.
The Tsukiji Inner Market opens at 10am to tourists, after the tuna auction and when wholesale business transactions are completed.
This might be your last chance to visit Tsukiji Market this 2018 before it relocates in October!
Remember, you have to do the Tsukiji Market tour from 10am to 12nn. It is closed most Wednesdays, all Sundays, and on some holidays.
Walking through the inner market may be an assault to the senses for some. It’s almost impossible to appreciate without a local guide.
Imagine the amount of fresh & frozen tuna going through Hicho Store, one of the top wholesalers in Tsukiji.
RAMEN STREET @ TOKYO STATION
After Tsukiji, we proceeded to explore the famed Ramen Street inside the busy Tokyo Station and eat at Ikaruga Ramen.
You order from the vending machine and choose from the Tokyo Station Ramen (¥ 1,000) or the All-In Ramen (¥ 1,060).
Ramen is food for the Filipino Soul, especially the heavy tonkotsu broth with tamago and chasiu.
The boys loved the ramen!
The tables were small so we had to sit separately and eat our orders as soon as they arrived.
There is a small Pokémon store at the end of the Ramen Street where the kids can buy a souvenir or play in the arcade.
After a heavy lunch, we walked along the famed Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street), the center of Harajuku’s teenage culture.
It’s the perfect place to buy socks of different designs and crazy themes.
There are a lot of fashion stores along the way selling extreme and teenage fashion.
This is also the place to buy unique shoes or sneakers only available to the Japanese market.
We couldn’t resist trying the Harajuku Rainbow Cotton Candy (¥ 900) from Totti Candy Factory.
It’s so big that even the four boys couldn’t handle it. But we had fun pinching away our own pieces of the cotton candy.
When you are in Harajuku, you must try the Japanese Crepe from the oldest shop that sells them–Marion Crepes, which has been open since 1976.
(The two other famous crepe shops are Angel’s Heart, just across Marion Crepes, and Santa Monica Crepes.)
Japanese Crepe (~ ¥500) is a good dessert to go with your choice of fruits, ice cream, sauce, and whipped cream.
Filipinos won’t mind walking here, especially since there are a lot of interesting shops along Harajuku all the way to Omotesando.
We love the Omotesando neighborhood for its chic fashion stores, unique finds, and tasteful choices.
We checked out the posh mall of Omotesando Hills with big name fashion brands and a Bauhaus-inspired Apartment facade on one end.
It was designed around the shape of the hills with walkways that ramp up and down, giving a leveled illusion.
Hiring a local tour guide like Kahoko to show us around was a good decision. It really helped us know the stories behind the places we visited and learn more about the culture. We also discovered a lot about family and kids in Tokyo thanks to her.
If we were to do it again, we would do Tsukiji Market for breakfast and maybe proceed to a less touristy but still authentic Japanese neighborhood like Kahoko’s home. We highly recommended booking a local tour guide at least for one of your days in Japan.
For more info, please visit https://triplelights.com/.
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our tour was courtesy of Planetyze Hostel. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. You can line up at Tsukiji as early as 3am to secure one of the 120 spots to experience the Tuna Auction.