Japan Photo Diary Part II: Hakone & Tokyo

April 15, 2017
Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Hakone Tokyo - Featured Image

If you caught last week’s post of my Japan Photo Diary Part I featuring our travels through Osaka and Kyoto, you might have seen how much we were able to see and do in just over a week- no easy feat given the freezing temperatures. Normally I would plan for the hubby and me to just power through a packed schedule, but I knew that might be risky given the cold weather (exhaustion would inevitably lead to a cold!). Knowing this, I planned a short getaway to Hakone, a town famous for their natural hot springs, to relax for a few days before our final leg in Tokyo.

:: 3 Days in Hakone ::

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:: 6 Days in Tokyo ::

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Takeshita Street, the most famous avenue in the Harajuku area.

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Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 9 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 10 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 11 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 12 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 13 Late night desserts and nightcap at The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo’s Club Level Lounge.

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Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 26 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 27 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 28 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 29 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 31 Afternoon tea service at The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo’s Club Level Lounge.

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The view of the Tokyo Tower from Azure 45.

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Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 47 The grand entrance to the Meiji Shrine

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Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 57 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 58 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 59 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 60 A memorable and length omakase at Sushi Ichiyanagi Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 61 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 62 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 63 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 64 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 65 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 66 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 67 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 68 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 69 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 70 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 71 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 72 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 73 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 74 Quite possibly the most impressive omakase we’ve ever experienced, thanks to Chef Iwa at Sushi Iwa.

Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 75 Tickets for lunch at Tsuta after lining up at 7am. 

Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 76 Spending one of our last mornings at Senso-Ji Temple.

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Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 92 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 93 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 94 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 95 Minimalist interiors at Dear All Cafe. Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 96 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 97 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 98 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 99 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 100 Modern tea tasting at Tokyo Saryo.

Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 101 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 102 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 103 Brown Eyed Toast - Japan Photo Diary Tokyo - 104 The first round of fish auctions at 5:30am at the Tsukiji Fish Market.

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Totoro cream puffs at TOLO Cafe.

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Hotel:

  • Hakone: If you are traveling to a region such as Hakone known for their natural hot springs, staying at a ryokan is a must. This is otherwise known as a traditional Japanese inn, and it is the best way to experience a truly authentic hot springs getaway. The town will usually have public baths, and likewise each ryokan will have their own for guests as well. However these are usually separated by gender and may not be as enjoyable unaccompanied by your significant other. For this reason, I booked Seikansou, which offers a private outdoor bath for every room. If you book any of the rooms on the third floor, there is no roof impeding your view, and you can soak all night underneath the clear night sky. We chose to enjoy an evening of drinking sake, stargazing, and watching Miayzaki’s “Spirited Away” (for those who’ve seen the film, I hope you get the connection!). Not only was the private bath spacious and heavenly, but the service and kaiseki cusines for breakfast and dinner (as is customary for all ryokans) were truly incredible. Finding information on ryokans is difficult in general, and I only stumbled upon this property on a whim. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to discover such a gem, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Hakone.
  • Tokyo: In Tokyo, there is no doubt that the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is the premier choice for accommodations. Not only is the hotel well located with multiple subway lines just outside the hotel, but it is also sets an incredible standard for luxury in every sense of the word. Set high above ground level (45~53 floors to be exact), the views are unparalleled. Many rooms such as our own offer sweeping panoramas of south Tokyo while others boast full views of the Tokyo tower. We stayed in one of the Club Level rooms, which also granted us access to the elegant Club Lounge where we probably lingered far too long enjoying each meal, mid-day (more like all-day, rather) snacks, full tea service, and more. The hotel also offers 6 different dining options such as the renowned Azure 45 as well as full room service. The Bar, located just off the lobby in the 45th floor, also keeps an extensive collection of premier whiskeys, and guests can even store their most prized bottles under lock and key for future visits. If you’re still unsatisfied, the concierge team goes above and beyond to provide the best restaurant recommendations and make reservations for them if requested. In fact, they helped us secure most of our higher-end reservations during our stay, despite making the requests just days before or even on the day of.  This incredible level of service won both me and Matt over, and we highly recommend it to all.

Food Recommendations

  • I realize when in Japan, one should probably eat mostly local fare, However after two weeks of eating only Japanese food, we welcomed the opportunity to refresh our palates with a new cuisine. Led by Chef Shintaro Miyazaki, Azure 45 is an amazing French dining option located within The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. The plating, ingredients, service- truly everything was exceptional. For this, the restaurant has earned countless accolades, not to mention one Michelin star and recognition in the prestigious Gault et Millau guidebook.
  • One of the trendiest restaurants in Tokyo at the moment, Yoroniku focuses on beef, especially utilizing every part of the cow. The restaurant’s concept is based on Korean BBQ such that you can cook the meat yourself at the table, and the menu also incorporates Korean ingredients such as kimchi. Every cut was amazing, and the shaved iced desserts were the perfect ending to such a delectable meal.
  • Known only among gourmand insiders, Yakumo Saryo was well worth the trek to southern Tokyo. It flies under the radar, and most people can only visit if they have been previous guests or have been recommended by someone who has already been. We were lucky enough to secure a lunch reservation, and the minimalist, modern cuisine left us feeling wholly reinvigorated. Despite the many courses, we always felt comfortably satiated and our palate, feeling amazingly clean. For a modern and minimalist kaiseki (aka a multi-course meal), this is your best bet.
  • One of the most unique dining experiences we had in Tokyo was dinner at Suetomi. When we requested the Ritz-Carlton concierge help us find a restaurant that would offer an authentic yet refined kaiseki meal, they suggested this establishment. One of the most popular restaurants in Tokyo at the moment, we barely snagged a reservation for the latest seating at 9pm. That evening, we walked to a nondescript residential looking building, took a cramped elevator that barely fit us both, and found ourselves greeted by a quiet hostess who ushered us into a small room seating only 12 or so. With no decorations or embellishments besides the pristine counter and the chefs working meticulously behind it, guests can direct all of their attention into appreciating every bite of the creations that Chef Kasumicho Suetomi assembled. Throughout the night, we tried everything from sea cucumbers, fugu, bamboo, lily bulb, turtle, and more. The restaurant also enforces a strict policy of no photography or loud chatter that may distract guests during their meal, but as we were the last in the room, Chef Suteomi quickly warmed up and allowed me to take photos while he and Matt conversed about the different restaurant scenes in Tokyo vs NYC. Overall we were so impressed with every single dish and would recommend this for any serious kaiseki enthusiast. P.S. Gwenyth Paltrow is also a fan, which Chef Suetomi mentioned beaming with a smile 🙂
  • For omakase (chef’s choice menu for sushi), we first tried Sushiya Ichiyanagi, supposedly one of the best sushi choices in the city. Laughing jovially while entertaining guests, Chef Kazuya Ichiyanagi expertly crafted each piece of sashimi and created such a fun but intimate atmosphere in this small restaurant consisting of only 15 counter seats and one table. We did find that he has a heavy hand with portions compared to other sushi restaurants, so make sure to go on an empty stomach.
  • Our best omakase experience throughout the trip was undoubtedly at Sushi Iwa. Chef Iwa has already won much acclaim for his expert knifework and cuisine despite being only in his 30’s, and it’s only a matter of time before he joins the rank of other sushi legends. Seeing him deftly cut each piece was such a special experience, and each sashimi felt like it melted in our mouths. We would have been content returning night after night!
  • The only ramen restaurant to receive a Michelin star, Tsuta did not disappoint. Due to their limited seating and quantity of ingredients, they employ a ticketing system, which requires you to line up starting at 8am for a lunch ticket. Matt and I are the farthest thing from morning people, yet we dragged ourselves out of bed and made our way there one early morning. It was all worth it though when we received our 11am tickets and got to enjoy the amazingly rich broth and ramen later that day. You can immediately taste the difference from your everyday ramen shop, and one bowl is certainly not enough (although you may have no choice on that front, as they limit only one serving per customer). If you are an early riser, take advantage of it and make sure to get your ticket for lunch at Tsuta!

Coffee, Tea and Dessert Shops

  • Dear All is a beautiful, minimalist cafe in the Sasazuka neighbood. Their latte art is on point, and their desserts pair perfectly as well. Although we could only stay for a quick bite, we could have easily spent an entire afternoon there.
  • Omnibus Cafe is another fantastic option, recognized as one of the premier roasting companies in Japan. Their brews were incredibly smooth and were perfect to warm up with on a chilly afternoon. Don’t forget to try their adorable smiley face cookies as well for a sweet dessert!
  • If you’ve been wondering where to find those 3D character latte’s, look no further. Lattest is what you’ve been looking for. This comfy cafe has a hipster, living-room kind of vibe, which will make you want to linger for hours. The staff are also incredibly friendly in assisting you with your latte choice. You can show them a photo, mention a character or shape by name, or even ask the barista to improvise. They’re more than happy to craft a truly Instagram-worthy creation.
  • We didn’t have time to experience a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, so we opted for the next best thing: the modern tea tasting at Tokyo Saryo. The first hand-drip green tea shop in Tokyo, this minimalist tea house offers a posh tasting with leaves brewed before your very eyes. If coffee’s not your thing, this is a fantastic alternative especially for those seeking a more refined experience.
  • Finally, TOLO Cafe is a *must* for any Miyazaki fan. Their bakery is famous for their Totoro-shaped cream puffs, available in four different flavors- classic vanilla, caramel banana, strawberry cream, and chocolate cream. Their handmade pastas are also fantastic and can easily rival any great Italian restaurant. It’s rather out of the way, but it makes up for the journey ten times over.

Hakone Travel Tips

When in Hakone, there isn’t much to do besides relaxing at your ryokan and perhaps strolling through this small town. You can also take a short day trip to the Hakone Ropeways (approximately 45 min by bus to the first cable car station), where you can enjoy a scenic cable car ride with Mount Fuji in sight. You can also get off at Owakudani Station, an area where volcanic activity is particularly active and thick sulfurous fumes can be seen emanating from the mountainsides. If you stop by this station, make sure to enjoy the black hard-boiled eggs sold by vendors. The color is simply a result of being boiled in sulfurous water, and these eggs symbolize health and longevity. Lore has it that they add 7 years to your life 🙂

Tokyo Travel Tips

As Tokyo is a more urban city than Osaka or Kyoto, we spent the majority of our time simply walking around, taking in the culture, and most importantly, dining (Tokyo is the most- Michelin-star decorated city in the world). We did however make time for certain sites such as the Sensō-ji Temple and the Meiji Shrine, where we were lucky enough to witness two traditional Japanese weddings. As for view of the Tokyo skyline and the famous Tokyo Tower, we were lucky enough to enjoy them from the comfort of the Ritz Carlton hotel. However, one can also visit the Space Needle for the best views of the city.

Beyond these tourist sites, we ended up spending the majority of our time wandering the Harajuku and Aoyama neighborhoods, the latter of which resembled NYC’s SoHo albeit slightly more claustrophobic. Finally we would be remiss without having visited the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest. All the warnings of getting there in the wee hours of the night are accurate – we arrived around 2:15pm and were already  59-60th in line, the last to join for the first of only two auctions every morning. The live auctions were incredible to watch, and I would highly recommend this experience for any first-time visitor to Tokyo.

For additional tips on traveling in Japan in general, head over to my previous post here.

As mentioned in Part I of my Japan Photo Diary, the mister and I began our adventure in the western Kansai region and made our way east through Japan over the course of our trip. Just as the different regions of the USA have their own cultures and flair, so did each city we visited. Ultimately we ended up in Tokyo though, which most resembled the city nearest and dearest our hearts (or at least mine)-  NYC. Despite spending nearly a week there, we still felt like there was so much left to do. Part of this can be attributed to the sheer size of the city as it took forever to get around, but we also felt this because of the incredible number of things to see, eat, do, etc. It’s clear that six days were simply not enough to fully experience Tokyo, nor was nearly 3 weeks enough to savor a taste of Japan’s rich culture and sites. Long flights or not, we certainly look forward to returning and spending even more time there if possible.

If you have any other questions or tips, make sure to share them in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!

A big thank you for The Ritz-Carlton property in Tokyo for such incredible accommodations during our stay. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Learn more here: The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.

Signature xo Soo

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29 Comments

  • Reply Open Kloset April 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Hey Beautiful,
    I am always Obsessed with Travel, Food, Hotel Reviews and Photos:)
    As you know I travel a lot too and I do Reviews about Hotels, Restaurants:)
    I was Amazed about your last Osaka and Kyoto Review so I was just Super Excited to Read this one too about Hakone & Tokyo:)
    I love Baths and To have your own private Bath sounds Incredible:) I can imagine myself:) Its Like A Dream:) Really….
    I will definitely check out Ryokan:)
    Ohh Ritz-Carlton Hotels, I had a chance 2 times to Stay At Ritz Lisbon and Budapest as well and just Amazing Hotels and Services:)
    Top Services, Food, Rooms:)
    The Club Level Lounge Looked Amazing and Loved the View 🙂
    The Azure 45 Restaurant is very My Style, Love Fine Dining and especially if you have a View like that:) Breathtaking!
    I never Tried Turtle, Did you Liked? How was the Taste?
    The Suetomi Restaurant will be one of my Destination too, What a Fantastic Place and such a Uniqe One:)
    Ramen is one of my Favorite thing and totally agree with you that Quality makes Such a Big Difference and you Feel this immediately:)
    Tsuta is on my List as well:) Ohhh Good Ramen, I would eat now for sure:)
    Your Recommendation for Coffee, Tea and Dessert Shops made me crazy too, I am a big Tea and Dessert Fan:)
    TOLO cafe and their Tortoro-shaped cream puffs just waiting for me:) the Caramel Banana sounds just Delicious:) Yummm
    I will save your Travel Reviews and Tips because I will need for sure:)
    Since I love Markets, totally would visit the Tsukiji Fish Market too:)
    Love Kisses
    Open Kloset By Karina
    Happy Easter

    openklosetfashion.blogspot.pt
  • Reply Christine Kong April 15, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Reading this post really brought back my recent trip memories to Tokyo. It’s interesting seeing it from your eyes and then comparing it to my trip with my family (meaning, kids). I definitely think I would have had a much different experience and similar to yours if I didn’t have my kids with me. I am drooling over all your sushi picture as can you believe I didn’t have one piece of sushi while I was in Japan?! I didn’t go to Hakone either but it sounds and looks lovely! I definitely want to make a trip out there for the springs when I return to Japan. The Ritz Carlton was a possible hotel choice for us and I definitely need to check it out next time. I am a huge fan of their properties and their club level service looks amazing. I could lounge and eat in the club all day long! I was able to visit many of the tourist spots you mentioned, but I love all the amazing chefs and high end restaurants you wrote about as I will need to go and taste for myself. Thank you for the in depth travel journal as I will most certainly revisit these trips and advice when I plan my next trip to Japan. xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

    dailykongfidence.com
  • Reply aurela April 16, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Omg looking at the pictures and reading your post brought back memories of my travels to Japan We stayed at Park Hayat and loved. Tokyo was an amazing experience for both of us, me and my fiancé. We could swap pictures and share our experiences from our visit to Tokyo and Hakone. I wish we booked a private Seikansou room. I remember a lady wasn’t allowed to go in because she has a tattoo on her arm. However, I did enjoy the experience even without my hubby. Also, I loved visiting the temple, we also experience seeing the traditional wedding and it was just like the movies I’ve seen. We visited the ramen place also and remembered that my fiancé was grumpy because the waiter couldn’t understand much English and he was worried if the broth had gluten. He is celiac and that was the only thing that it was bit challenging for us. I loved the fact that Japanese people are so nice and did everything to help us with the limited English. We also went to the fish market and still today, I can taste the sashimi in my mouth. It was one of the best sushi I have ever eaten in my entire life. One night we had went to Ritz for drinks we loved the view and the service was impeccable. I have traveled the world and I always felt that nothing beats Europe, visiting Japan changed my mind totally. It’s like NYC but 100 times bigger, nicer and the infrastructure blew me away. You are right we were there for 10 days and I don’t think we had enough time to explore everything Japan has to offer. A must visit city for sure. I would totally go back and definitely I would chose Ritz this time for the location and the atmosphere.
    Hope you had a wonderful Easter, so jealous you live in NCY 🙂
    Aurela xoxox
    http://www.aurelafashionista.com

    aurelafashionista.com
  • Reply aurela April 16, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Omg looking at the pictures and reading your post brought back memories of my travels to Japan. We stayed at Park Hayat and loved every min of it. Tokyo was an amazing experience for both of us, me and my fiancé. We could swap pictures and share our experiences from our visit to Tokyo and Hakone. I wish we booked a private Seikansou room. I remember a lady wasn’t allowed to go in because she had a tattoo on her arm. However, I did enjoy the experience even without my hubby. Also, I loved visiting the temple, we also experience seeing the traditional wedding and it was just like the movies I’ve seen. We visited the ramen place and remembered that my fiancé was grumpy because the waiter couldn’t understand much off English and he was worried if the broth had gluten in it. He is celiac and that was the only thing that it was a bit challenging for us. I loved the fact that Japanese people are so nice and did everything to help us with the limited knowledge of English. We also went to the fish market and still today, I can taste the sashimi in my mouth. It was one of the best sushi I have ever eaten in my entire life. One night we went to Ritz for drinks and loved the view and the service was impeccable. I have traveled the world and I always felt that nothing beats Europe, visiting Japan changed my mind totally. It’s like NYC but 100 times bigger, nicer and the infrastructure blew me away. You are right, we were there for 10 days and I don’t think we had enough time to explore everything Japan has to offer. A must visit city for sure. I would totally go back and definitely I would choose to stay at the Ritz for the location and the atmosphere.
    Hope you had a wonderful Easter, so jealous you live in NCY
    Aurela xoxox
    http://www.aurelafashionista.com

    aurelafashionista.com

    aurelafashionista.com
  • Reply Michelle April 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Soo I feel like I was there with you! Your travel diary is so beautifully detailed and well written. I loved all the pictures of the food and the street fashion – it sounds like you really made the most of your time in Hakone and Tokyo. Too bad you weren’t able to go to a traditional tea service thou. I can’t believe you woke up early to wait on line for Tsuta – it reminds me of that Seinfeld with the soup Nazi LOL. And OMG those hotels sound out of this world!

    I’m going to have to bookmark this page just in case I ever make it to Japan – so many great tips!
    XO
    http://www.lehoarder.com/

    lehoarder.com
  • Reply sunny April 17, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I love Japan after seeing this i was feeling that i was with you there
    Thanks for sharing your one of the happiest moments with us.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cover-up-your-phone-designer-make-you-stylish-jay-gupta

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  • Reply Lisa Mao April 17, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Oh wow babe I can’t believe you got to visit hakone as well! I have definitely heard about their hot springs, but it’s even more amazing to see it within your pictures – it’s absolutely breathtaking! What better place to experience the natural hot springs, than in the most authentic way we can? I love how this place is so in tune with nature, it must be such a beautiful sight to see when you relax in that outdoors wooden bath they have – in the last picture in hakone, is that the seikansou you were referring to?
    In contrast tokyo looks incredible packed and full of life !! But of course you stayed at ritz Carlton, after all your amazing experience with this hotel, I can’t imagine a better choice. Especially if it’s within the subway vicinity so you could get around everywhere !
    And did you say SIX restaurants?! How could you even choose (but if there’s Azure 45 as an option, I guess it’s not that hard hehe)! And wow, bar on the 45th floor sounds like something we have to experience at least once for the view!!
    And yes!! I’m a HUGE Miyazaki fan, and the TOLO Cafe will be on my bucket list for sure – you had me at totoro shaped cream puffs lol!!
    Three weeks may seem long but you’re absolutely right, it’s no way long enough to cover how much there is to do and all the culture and experience to see – a trip back is a must !

    Wanderlustts
    http://www.Wanderlustts.com

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  • Reply Jennifer Lee Quattrucci April 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Dear Soo,
    I enjoyed your first account of this fascinating trip so much. The experiences at Osaka and Kyoto were so amazing and I couldn’t wait to hear more about your adventure.
    This Part 2 post is truly a photo delight! It was a fabulous idea to spend those 3 days in Hakone. The hot springs must have been extremely relaxing and I’m sure they allowed you to take on the rest of your trip with ease. I would have loved to see Takeshita Street, have some shaved ice at Yoroniku and see that view of the Tokyo Tower from Azure 45 ! Chef Iwa at Sushi Iwa is truly phenomenal because I’ve never seen such amazing omakase !
    The Ritz Carlton is completely amazing and beyond compare and I appreciate all your information and advice !
    Thank you so much!
    Love,
    Jennifer

  • Reply Diana April 18, 2017 at 10:23 am

    My brother-in-law recently travelled to Tokyo, and he told that the food is so delicious even if you go super cheap places, everything is fresh and super tasty. I heard that Ritz hotels are truly nice, I wish they were on IHG program, because I have a membership there. Anyway, love all the places that you visited, beautiful diary. Our Japanese friends live in Harujuku and they told that it is best part of city to experience Japan, from your photos I def can see it! How many weeks would you advise to stay in Japan to see, since you mentioned that 3 weeks is not enough. I wonder if we should book our trip for a month or just move there. What is your next oversea destination?

    queenhorsfall.com

    queenhorsfall.com
  • Reply Eliza April 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    This town Hakone looks so beautiful, with all the waterfalls, the cherry blossom and the calmness. The Ropeway looks incredibly scary but the view is definitely worth it.

    And the Tokyo trip is so fascinating, this is a city that never sleeps. All these lights everywhere! Wow! And the hotel is very authentic and traditional, like you are back in time. I was always curious about that, how people can actually cherish and preserve traditions by creating those tiny spots like this one.

    And the people themselves! Was it the weeding? The girl in white looks absolutely stunning, I love all the traditional clothing, it’s always great to dive deep into the culture. All in all, this is such a great experience!

    The Totoro coffee and the Harajuku girls were my favourites, haha! <3

    Cheers, Eliza | http://www.fashion-confession.com

    fashion-confession.com
  • Reply Maryam April 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    One of my friends just recently traveled to Hakone and she really enjoyed it. Now that I hear about your experience, I’m definitely adding this destination to my list. I am a huge fan of natural hot springs and I’ve traveled to a few destinations mainly for this purpose. I don’t think I would like the public baths but it’s good to know that hotels offer private baths. Seikansou is definitely a place I would go to and take advantage of their private baths on the top floor. I could only imagine how relaxing it would be to enjoy the bath under the sky. Do you think summer is a good season to travel there?
    xx, Maryam
    http://www.glamandposh.com

    glamandposh.com
  • Reply Vanessa April 18, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    April 18, 2017 at 8:56 pm
    I love the pictures that you took, you really captured the beautiful scenery that Japan has. I went to Tokyo 15 years ago! I loved the city, it’s totally cosmopolitan and I remember the amazing fashion stores there at Ginza. I remember Harajuku, such an amazing neighborhood and night life there is the best! Congrats ! For me all of your post is 100% visual because the images are breathtaking. The food looks delicious, and I definitely will go to have dinner at Suetomi on my next trip to Japan.

    Enjoy the rest of your week!
    Vanessa
    thefashionstatement.net

    thefashionstatement.net
  • Reply shalini April 18, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Soo, looking at your beautiful pictures brings back so many great memories from our trip to Tokyo. I am so glad you took the time to experience the Ryokan. I see you booked your own private outdoor bath. We did the same thing because we had heard from friends about the baths being separated. How incredible was the dining at the ryokan, right? I can never forget because I was unable to eat so much food. haha. The best part about staying in these great hotels, such as the Ritz Carlton is how you get to enjoy the club lounges if you end up booking the club level rooms. I love my afternoon champagne and tea. I am glad you guys enjoyed it too! I love all your food choices and recommendation on where to visit in Tokyo and agree 3 weeks time is not enough for Japan. My dream is to live in Japan for few months because I truly love the culture and people. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful Journey of yours. xo Shalini

  • Reply Sofia April 19, 2017 at 12:00 am

    I think the short visit to the hot springs was a great idea! I spent 4 days in NY and it was freezing cold. All we wanted to do was to go to the hotel but we also wanted to explore NY so we held it out and once we finally got back tot he hotel we would just completely pass out. I have never been to Tokyo but now I want to go so bad. All the little shots of the cute food items gets to me! Those huge fishes at the fish market were insane!! I hope that I get to visit Japan soon.

    aloveaffairblog.com
  • Reply Sarah Atiq April 19, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Soo, I loved reading both parts of your Japan photo diary. Your photos have captured the beauty of each city and I can visually see how each region is different from one another.

    I have always wanted to visit a city with Hot Springs and like you, I wouldn’t want to be separated from my husband. So your private outdoor bath experience at Seikansou in Hakone sounds so amazing and relaxing. I am glad you managed to rest before heading to Tokyo.

    Wow I am amazed by the views of Tokyo from the Ritz Carlton. It’s so cool that the Hotel occupies the top nine floors of the tower, it must have been an incredible experience. I always love staying at Club Level floors too, there is so much good food to enjoy (and no holiday is complete without good food :)). Your restaurant recommendations sound fantastic, I love Japanese Beef, so I would love to visit Yoroniku.

    Your whole trip was an incredible experience. And I can’t wait to visit these beautiful cities with my family one day :).

    xxx
    Sarah
    http://sarahatiq.com/

    sarahatiq.com
  • Reply Sarah Atiq April 19, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Soo, I loved reading both parts of your Japan photo diary. Your photos have captured the beauty of each city and I can visually see how each region is different from one another.
    I have always wanted to visit a city with Hot Springs and like you, I wouldn’t want to be separated from my husband. So your private outdoor bath experience at Seikansou in Hakone sounds so amazing and relaxing. I am glad you managed to rest before heading to Tokyo.
    Wow I am amazed by the views of Tokyo from the Ritz Carlton. It’s so cool that the Hotel occupies the top nine floors of the tower, it must have been an incredible experience. I always love staying at Club Level floors too, there is so much good food to enjoy (and no holiday is complete without good food :)). Your restaurant recommendations sound fantastic, I love Japanese Beef, so I would love to visit Yoroniku.
    Your whole trip was an incredible experience. And I can’t wait to visit these beautiful cities with my family one day :).

    xxx
    Sarah
    http://sarahatiq.com/

    sarahatiq.com
  • Reply Sheree April 19, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Another wonderful travelogue post! I was so looking forward to your Tokyo diary after reading the first. I loved the Hakone where you can soak under the stars, the photo of you in the tub is simply amazing!! Japanese culture is all about healing with nature and these hot springs are def a must visit. As for Tokyo, there is no better place to stay than the Ritz, their service and accommodation is par none. The mini desserts and tea services and late night snacks are all so good. I am most excited to read your restaurant reviews as Tokyo host some of the best sushi and omakase spots! That marbled meat at Yoroniku makes my mouth water and how lucky are you to snag one of the last seating at Suetomi! I’m def taking notes for my future Japan visits.

    ~ xo Sheree
    Posh Classy Mom
    Instagram

    poshclassymom.com
  • Reply Natalia k April 19, 2017 at 4:38 am

    I love seeing what you get up to on your trips.
    You think the same way I do I like to plan out my itinerary so I’m not rushed and you wouldn’t want to catch a cold!
    The Private baths sound luxe and relaxing I would definitely want to stay there.
    Everything you did on this trip to Japan I would want to check out too!
    I’m going to use your blog post as a guide for me when I travel over there as I think you hit the highlights.
    Your photography is absolutely gorgeous like out of a magazine.
    I’m so glad you checked out the cute cream puffs and 3D coffee art it would be on my list too.
    The black eggs I always wondered about them do they taste any different?
    Those desserts at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo look to die for and your pictures really did them justice.
    What does turtle taste like ? Chicken ?
    Xo,
    Natalia

    melbourneyum.com/distressed-denim
  • Reply marcy April 19, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Wow babe Im so amaze about your Japan visit. In your previous post I really enjoyed reading about Osaka and Kyoto diary but now reading about Hakone and Tokyo is also so amazing. So difficult to choose hahaha How much time in advance did you plan this trip? I heard planning for Japan is extremely complicated specially in the cherry blossom season. I will love your tips in this because honestly this have been in my bucket list probably since I was born lol!! Japan is such an unique culture that I cant really wait to experience in the way you did. The hot spring place looks so unreal. Thanks for sharing

    xoxo
    Marcy

    marcyyu.com
  • Reply Elif Kadioglu April 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Really enjoyed ready this post! I love Tokyo. The street photography images are so amazing. The tea service at The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo’s Club Level Lounge look so amazing. And the view from the Tokyo Tower… I so wanna go to Tokyo now! Which camera do you have? Especially the coffee and food images are super clear. Just wow :O
    How was the traditional Japanese weddings? Traditionally, the religious wedding ceremony is held in Shinto style at a shrine. This is so magic and you guys are so lucky to witness the weddings. Thanks for the amazing tips! xoxo Elif

  • Reply EVA April 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I imagine this experience will remain unforgettable forever. Unbelievable how many things you have seen and experienced. All these photography of the lodgings at the hotels. I was very glad when you apt to have chosen the private bathroom, as well as watching the stars from your room, soak a drink hmm
    I’m obsessed with that Japanese desserts are sure to be yummy, like the cappuccino with the heads of the cat.
    The most beautiful things are the photos you captured, as well as small corners, moments of life or major metropolis and city.
    Your post and as a trip, it takes you away. Thank you <3
    xx
    EVA
    http://www.themermaidfashion.com

    themermaidfashion.com
  • Reply Thomas Falkenstedt April 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve expressed time and time again how much I love Tokyo and that I need to go there soon as I’ve been talking about it being on top of my bucket list for so long, but I realize a short visit won’t do. I also realize Tokyo won’t be the only place I will be visiting as I need to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and now Hakone is added to that list. For like forever I’ve dreamt of staying at a ryokan and I actually didn’t know it was separated by gender, but hey, that’s not an issue for me, right, haha. I’d also need to visit the hot springs, have a gaze at Mount Fuji and add 7 years to my life by eating those not so tasty looking eggs. As for Tokyo, the views from Ritz-Carlton (especially the night view) is incredible! I am THIS close to booking a ticket there right now, but I do want to experience Sakura, so maybe next spring. I also can’t wait to experience some Kawaii fashion in Harajuku and Soo, my darling virtual tour guide, this is one of the best travel guides I’ve ever read and it’s now bookmarked so I can look back on your tips when I plan my trips.
    With unlimited amounts of admiration for this post and love,
    Thomas

    http://thomasfalkenstedt.com

    thomasfalkenstedt.com
  • Reply Andreea Birsan April 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    These pictures made me fall in love with Japan over and over again. I wonder, what is there not to love about this country?! I was amazed by the mesmerizing views from Hakone, every landscape was gorgeous in it’s own way. Drinking sake and stargazing with your hubby from the hotel room should have been felt like a dream. I’ll make sure to add Hakone to my must-see towns in Japan and as for Tokyo, that city is so vivid! You were lucky to visit the fish market and watch a live auction in there. Should have been an unique experience! Thanks for all the tips you gave us, all those coffee shops and meals were so drool worthy! Not to mention the 3d coffee art and the cute cream puffs! xx

    Andreea,
    http://couturezilla.com/

    couturezilla.com
  • Reply Aimara April 19, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Japan but over the Summer, but I think it’s so brave you did it with freezing temps! There’s certainly beauty in Winter, not all is bad!
    This town Hakone seems amazing and the photos you took are absolutely beautiful! The rope ride looks so cool, even though I’m such a chicken a I’m always shaking when I do these rides, but I force myself to go on these type of rides because I know the view is worth it!
    And Tokyo… OMG! Seems like such a cool city! So unique and exotic and I think you capture the essence of Tokyo perfectly with these amazing photos. The Ritz seems like the place to stay (and eat!) for sure, and I’m so jealous of all that exotic food you got to try during your visit! I don’t recognize most of the dishes but they sure look delicious!
    I’d love to see in person the Space Needle and the Tsukiji Fish Market. And I also love the fact that the city is so walkable! I didn’t know this!
    Thanks for sharing all these pics and advice babe! Definitely a great travel guide when traveling to Japan resumed in two amazing posts!
    XO
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

  • Reply Tandya April 19, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Such a beautiful photo gallery! I love your food recommendations. I have never been to Asia, but I just realized that the food in Japan would primarily be Japanese! Glad you were able to find a French restaurant. One kind of food for two weeks straight can be very hard! Yoroniku also sounds good. I LOVE Korean BBQ. Lattest lookes like the cutets coffee place! I have forever been looking for 3-D character lattes.

    Hakone sounds like my kind of place. I love vacations where you can relax.

    Thanks for sharing! XO

    simplytandya.com
  • Reply Tandya April 19, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Such a beautiful photo gallery! I love your food recommendations. I have never been to Asia, but I just realized that the food in Japan would primarily be Japanese! Glad you were able to find a French restaurant. One kind of food for two weeks straight can be very hard! Yoroniku also sounds good. I LOVE Korean BBQ. Lattest looks like the cutest coffee place! I have forever been looking for 3-D character lattes.

    Hakone sounds like my kind of place. I love vacations where you can relax.

    Thanks for sharing! XO

    simplytandya.com
  • Reply Tania April 20, 2017 at 5:13 am

    Your travel photos are always so incredible Soo!! I really feel like I was almost there. I haven’t heard of Hakone but it definitely seems more my pace than Tokyo–especially during winter! That place you booked with the private outdoor bath under the stars sounds beyond incredible. Also all of the cute little dessert cafes and coffee shops you posted have me DYING!!! Typically big cities don’t appeal to me too much but Tokyo is a definite exception–it just seems like there are endless different cool things to do and see! Amazing photo diary and I’m so happy you provided so many pertinent details. I’m definitely bookmarking this post for my future trip to Japan!

    freshfizzle.com
  • Reply Jacqueline April 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    A short getaway sounds like perfection. I’ve never heard of Hakone but that’s so awesome that they have natural springs. I’ve been wanting to go to one. The food looks exquisite and I love that they have a cable car. I wish they had those here! Tokyo on the other hand looks very busy. Such an interesting contrast to Hakone. That shaved ice cream looks amazing. Does it come in flavors? And love the presentation of the desserts! The gummies sound phenomenal! All of the food actually looks really good! Haha. And that coffee shop is the absolute cutest. Overall your stay looks amazing. On one had you had a relaxing getaway to Hakone and the experience you had at the Ritz looks one of a kind and seriously like perfection! How did you like the turtle that you had at Suetomi? I’ve had turtle eggs but never just turtle. Also, how was the omakase at Sushi Ichiyangi. I’ve heard the sushi in Japan is unreal! I’ve never tried omakase but I really want to one day! The sushi you had at sushi Iwa looks divine too! Thanks for sharing a very detailed post on both of these places. It’s really got e considering traveling there! I honestly really love all the food you shared. It’s so different than something you’d normally eat here. And you can see so much of the culture in these photos. It seems like we take a lot of inspiration from places like Tokyo and bring it back here to the U.S.

  • Reply Beautyfineprint April 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I love the photos, they do offer a glimpse into the trip you took. The one with the bride in wedding kimono is my favourite.

    beautyfineprint.com
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