Our founder and designer, Nora Leisk, finds her fuel and inspiration for the brand through traveling and immersing herself in cultures around the world. This past April, Leisk took herself to Japan - where the fashion booms and flowers bloom. Spending time in Tokyo and a few days in Kyoto, she believes Japan to be one of her favorite countries to travel to. Specifically Tokyo, which definitely measures up to the other great cities of the world such as London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.
It is truly unbelievable, the amount of structure this city holds. Exploring the fish market, vintage stores, markets, gardens, shrines, and tea ceremonies is a spectacular experience. There is something so peaceful about their culture.
OUR 48 HOUR GUIDE TO TOKYO (taking into account travel time in between places):
2:30AM : The Fish Auction at Tsukiji Market
This fish market is a must-see in order to understand the fish industry in Japan. Shipping out thousands of fish per day, the doors close at 2:30AM, long before the bidding starts. A second late? You can still sneak into the wholesale section; but beware, security will eventually tell you to leave, as the market isn’t open to the public until 9:00AM. This legendary market will be coming to a close by the end of the year for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make space for the upcoming Olympics. Visit while you can!
6:00AM : Sushi Restaurants at Tsukiji Market
Head to the famous sushi restaurants which open at 6:00AM. The lines will get long, which is why we recommend showing up by that time. Get ready to experience some of the best sushi in your life! Don’t eat too much before the market officially opens and you head back over!
9:00AM Tsukiji Market
When the market opens, you can find fun trinkets like beautiful origami paper, chopsticks, and even dried seaweed. Here you can also try many small samples of seafood and fantastic small dishes throughout the market.
10:15AM : Tea House in Hamarikyu Gardens
After a morning at the Fish Market, there isn’t anything quite more relaxing than strolling through the Hamarikyu gardens and enjoying matcha tea on the lake.
12PM : Ginza / Kagari
Ginza is an upscale shopping area, but the secret treat? The best ramen in the city. Don’t be turned off by the seemingly ominous back alley. Around lunchtime, people will begin to line up against the black wall next to a sign that reads SOBA (another false deterrent for ramen lovers). The restaurant only serves 8, but the line moves surprisingly quick! The decor inside is quintessential Japan.
1:15PM : Ginza / Uniqlo
It would be crazy to miss out on seeing the flagship (and largest) Uniqlo in the world. Be prepared to walk into a store swarming with both locals and tourists. Make your way to 11th floor to check out the Tokyo only t-shirt selection. If you’re into hello kitty and other graphics, it’s a selection like you’ve never seen before.
3PM : Shibuya / Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya109
Shibuya is home to the busiest crosswalk in the world. Find some of the most trendy Japanese fashion trends here in Shibuya109.
5PM : Meiji Shrine
Walk through the beautiful sculpted Japanese trees into the Meiji shrine; breath in deep and take it all in. Something about this place is extremely spiritual.
6PM : Takeshita Street
Classic Japanese fashion meets gimmicky. Even on a Saturday you will notice the girls rocking school girl attire and platform shoes.
7:30PM : Meat Man
Into yakitori/kushiyaki? Check out Meat Man for all sorts of delicious meats on a skewer. Remember for most restaurants, you should book in advance if at all possible.
9PM : Robot Restaurant
If you have to do one thing that is extremely touristy, its Robot Restaurant (Note, it’s not quite an actual restaurant). Be prepared for an over the top performance and crystals on every inch of the wall. The whole thing seemed to me what I imagine an underground circus would be like. Book in advance.
SLEEP: The Park Hyatt
The jet lag has probably set in by now, and you’ve been up since 2. Rest your eyes at the Park Hyatt Tokyo - you have a big day tomorrow.
6:00AM : the Imperial Palace
Feeling eager and love a good workout? Run around the Imperial Palace, home of the emperor. The mixture of architecture, lush greenery, and japanese trees is enough inspiration to keep you running in the loop around the mote. This is a popular place for the Japanese to get their morning exercise.
8:00AM - Sumo Wrestling
Depending on the time of year, be sure to arrange to see sumo wrestling. There are tournaments in May, but we thoroughly enjoyed watching the sumo wrestlers train. It helps to have a connection in Japan to organize this ahead of time, as it can be tough to get into some of the more prestigious ‘stables.’
10:00AM - Chankonabe “Chanko” with the Wrestlers
If you’re lucky you can dine with the wrestlers after their training. They make an incredible chanko and were so nice by grabbing us a few cold beers to have alongside it.
12:00PM - Shimokitzawa / Vintage Shops
Into shopping? We thought so! We’ve been to our fair share of vintage stores, and while Austin TX still may, in my mind, have some of the best (we know our vintage, girls!)
Tokyo has an INCREDIBLE selection of both men’s and women’s vintage stores. Here you can find beautiful silk scarves, vintage Chanel, and old school Ralph Lauren. Get ready to fall in love.
3:00PM Sensoji, Daikokuya
After all that shopping, check out Sensoji, the red temple. It can get a little crowded, so if that’s the case we recommend heading over soon after to Daikokuya, a local favorite known for its tendon. ‘Tendon’ is a popular Japanese dish, basically tempura with rice underneath. Upstairs there are no seats and you sit on the tatami mat, which is traditional Japanese floor covering.
5:00PM Mori Art Museum, Sky Deck
If you are into contemporary art, the Mori Art Museum has an incredible selection. Many of the pieces were interactive and almost wacky. Not to mention the Sky Deck boasts the best view of the entire city. Head up and walk around the helipad to see the incredible sight for yourself!
Eating sushi or sashimi is must, and Kyubey is the place to do it. With a couple of locations around the city, the one at Hotel Okuru is an intimate scene. It’s mostly Japanese businessmen in tailored three piece suits with a few foreigners (seemingly staying at the hotel) scattered in between. We sat at the bar for Omakase. Besides that bar, there are only a few other tables in the restaurant. The food was so fresh, my shrimp was still moving! Note to self: They prefer when you don’t use soy sauce.
9:30PM Piss Alley
Time to experience some Tokyo night life. Head to ‘Piss Alley,’ a small alleyway filled with tiny izakayas (bars) and restaurants with seating for only a few people at each spot. Sizzling and steaming from the commotion of cooking as well as lots of beer and sake floating around this passage. They alley is pretty short, so if you see a place you like, stay for a bit before exploring the next joint.
11:15PM Golden Gai
Golden Gai is not too far away -- only about a 10 minute walk from Piss Alley. Here, you can experience the much talked-about themed bars. Again, max seating is around 6-8 people at most places.
1:30AM Trump Room
Feeling courageous? Check out the nightlife at Trump Room, a club where the main attraction is Japanese fashion taken to another level.
When in Japan you can do no wrong. Just about anywhere you find yourself you will enjoy, and your trip will be one to remember.
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