Tokyo, Japan (Day 2 -Asakusa,Tokyo Skytree, and the Robot Restaurant)

After a full and excitement filled first day in Tokyo, we had no trouble passing out and getting some well deserved rest.  The next morning we were eager and ready to see more of what Tokyo had to offer.

Day 2 Itinerary:

  • Sensoji Temple
  • Nakamise Shopping Street
  • Ramen Yoroiya
  • Tokyo Skytree Town
  • Kabukicho
  • Robot Restaurant

I want to mention that we had breakfast at the local convenience store every morning while we were in Tokyo.  Most Asian countries I have been to have some kind of small breakfast shops or bakeries available to purchase foods, for some reason, we never really saw anything open except a couple coffee shops.  For that reason, we stopped in the convenience store and picked up something to quiet our rumbling tummies before we got too far on our journey.

For Day 2, we planned to spend most of our day in Asakusa, which is known for its old town atmosphere of the Edo era. The first stop was to see Sensoji Temple which is the oldest temple in Tokyo (it is said to have been built in 628).

The main gate is called the Kaminarimon Gate and you can identify it by the giant lantern hanging front and center.

Sensoji Temple
2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan (Take the subway to Asakusa station and use exit 1, then follow the signs to the temple)
Hours of Operation: Open 365 Days, 6:30 AM – 5:00 PM (October – March) and 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM (April – September)
For more information about Sensoji Temple, click here.

We then walked out to the Nakamise Shopping Street and neighboring shopping streets. I loved the cute little storefronts and as you walk around you will see there is no shortage of places to eat in this area.  So after you get your fill of shopping, make sure you stop to indulge in the delightful yumminess (and to take a rest).

There are plenty of vendors selling a wide variety of street snacks, but if you are in the mood for a bigger meal, you can stop into one of the many restaurants.

We opted for Ramen Yoroiya, which is a small ramen shop with bar style seating downstairs and regular tables upstairs.  We had to wait in a short line to be seated, but we didn’t wait too long, they are definitely efficient in getting people in and out of the restaurant.

They offer a few selections of ramen (all with a soy sauce soup base) and some delicious gyoza (pan fried dumplings), prices are very reasonable. We each got an order of ramen and 2 orders of dumplings! YUMM!

Don’t expect to linger too long after you finish your meal, we were asked to vacate so that the people in line could be seated. When we got outside, the line had doubled from what we waited in, so I totally understood.

As we finished up with Asakusa, we headed to Tokyo Skytree Town which is located across the river. Tokyo Skytree Town consists of the Tokyo Skytree broadcasting tower (the tallest freestanding broadcasting tower in the world at 634 m) offering observation decks 350 m and 450 m above ground.


Tokyo Skytree Observatory
1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan (there is a subway stop inside Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Skytree Station, but Oshiage Station is also close by)
Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM (Tembo Deck, last entry is 10:00 PM and Tembo Galleria, last entry is 9:20 PM)
Entry fees: Tembo Deck (350 m high): ¥2,060, Tembo Galleria (450 m high): ¥1030 (You first have to go to the 4th floor to buy tickets for the Tembo Deck and then can buy tickets to go up to the Tembo Galleria).

Also part of Tokyo Skytree town is the Tokyo Solamachi building which houses shopping and a variety of restaurants.

Additionally, located inside the Skytree is Sumida Aquarium. and the Konica Minolta Planetarium.

We didn’t get a chance to go into the aquarium, but we were told that is isn’t very large.  I really enjoyed the gift shop though, they have the cutest stuffed sea creatures!


Sumida Aquarium
Hours of Operation: Open 365 Days, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM (last entry 8:00 PM)
Entry Fee: Adults: ¥2,050, High School Students: ¥1,500, Junior High/Elementary Students: ¥1,000, and Young children (3 and older): ¥600
For more information on the aquarium, click here.

After I basically shopped my heart out at Tokyo Skytree (the guys rested and had some ice cream), we headed back to Shinjuku to rest a bit before dinner and our 09:45 PM showing at the Robot Restaurant. The Robot Restaurant is located in busy Kabukicho, which is known as the entertainment and red light district of Tokyo.  I have never been to Amsterdam or seen their red light district, but from what I understand, at least they have those red lights to warn you.  Although Kubkicho does not have actual red lights, as soon as you set foot in Kabukicho, you will see the posters for the host and hostess clubs and “massage” parlors.  However, don’t shy away from the area due to that fact.  The area has much more to offer to the less “adventurous” traveler.

The area has lots of restaurants, bars and nightclubs for those who want to eat have a few drinks and party in an area of town that truly never sleeps.

We stopped off to get some dinner and I had my heart set on yakitori.  Who doesn’t love meat on a stick? I had found a small restaurant called Yakitori Ban Ban that had some good reviews (I used a combination of Tripadvisor and Foursquare to locate recommended restaurants).  The restaurant is tiny with only bar seating and is located in the basement level of the building.


Yakitori Ban Ban (やきとり 番番)
Chome−1−16−12, B1F, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to (歌舞伎町1-16-12 (梅谷ビル B1F), Shinjuku, Tōkyō)

On our trek to find the restaurant we walked right by the Robot Restaurant and decided to stop in for a photo op with the giant robot ladies, we were already getting very excited for the show.

 

When we arrived to the restaurant, there were 2 Japanese gentleman waiting for spots to open up.  After about 10 minutes I think hunger got the best of them and they gave up. We did not complain about that at all! We were now first in line, another 15 minutes went by and some seating finally opened up. The restaurant is all bar style seating, and it’s not a big place by any stretch of the imagination.

The inside was very traditional with wood paneling, and I looked around and saw that only Japanese patrons were around us and then we realized the menu posted on the wall written in Japanese…and there were no other forms of menus….

Luckily the waiter was very patient and with his limited english pulled out a plate of raw skewers and helped us choose.

After a lot of hand gestures, mime impersonations, and chuckles from our fellow diners, we ended up getting chicken, chicken and scallions, beef in shoyu sauce, chicken hearts (these were an accident, I thought I was ordering pork skewers…), and  ground chicken (aka chicken burger).

I also ordered a soup I saw a neighboring couple had, it ended up being my least favorite dish of the night.  However, all of the skewers were delicious!  Even the chicken hearts weren’t bad!  They were a little chewy, but definitely did not have the “organy” taste or texture that usually comes with those types of dishes.

Of course no meal is complete without some beverages, and we ordered some Sapporo beer and a chuhai to wash it all down! Chuhai is a mix of shochu (a rice liquor) + Carbonated water + in this case lemon. It’s almost like the Japanese version of vodka soda.

As we were waiting for our food, a man suddenly came up and sat behind us, we said hello and he asked us where we were from.  We had a nice conversation and he told us that he came here to eat every night! He also asked us what we were eating, I honestly wasn’t all that sure at that point.  He also informed us that his daughter just got married and said that it was nice to meet us and then left.  It was a nice little conversation (even though it was difficult at times, as his English wasn’t the greatest and our Japanese is nonexistent), especially after feeling a bit ridiculed for our ordering techniques by some of the other patrons (although I don’t hold that against them, I’m sure we looked ridiculous). Next thing we knew, the waiter brought us some fried tofu with bonito flakes, octopus yakitori and 2 more bottles of beer, saying that the gentleman has purchased it for us!

This basically unleashed the floodgates as we had another couple sitting across from us order us edamame with a special salt that was the wife’s favorite (she was one of the original guests that got a kick out of us trying to figure out the menu options).

Shortly after, another couple decided they wanted to share their favorite dish with us, which was buttered potatoes. These potatoes were the most amazing potatoes ever, simple, but crispy on the outside and permeating with awesome butter flavor.

At this point we had about twice as many dishes as we originally ordered and were running out of room on our little spot at the bar!  Side note, everyone also got a kick out of the fact that I was taking pictures of all the delicious food, so I hope you enjoy them!  We were so impressed with how welcoming and friendly everyone was and we had an awesome meal and experience with the locals.  I was extremely stuffed at the end.

Now we were ready for the Robot Restaurant show!


Robot Restaurant
1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku 160-0021, Tokyo Prefecture
Phone: +81 3-3200-5500

We had pre-purchased our tickets online and had vouchers for that evening’s show. The tickets are usually $80/pp, however, I was able to find a discount dropping the price to $60.63/pp, online at Veltra.

The Robot Restaurant basically owns this strip of the street and we were told we had to exchange our vouchers across the street from the entrance.  There are many neon signs and workers out front to direct you to the right area, but you basically stood in line, exchanged your vouchers in the cash line, received your tickets and then headed across the street.

If you thought the outside of the restaurant was flashy, just wait till you get inside.  We were directed to a waiting area which was covered in psychedelic designs and had a “robot” playing the guitar for us.  There was also a concession stand where you could order drinks and some food before the big show (since we had heard that the food is not the greatest, we made sure to eat prior to the show).

Next to the food concession area is the entrance to the show area.  They let us in about 15 minutes before the show started and we walked down what seemed like 5 flights of stairs.  Here is a sneak peek of our experience at the show.  It’s really hard to describe in words…so just watch the video.

Inside the arena (for lack of a better term) there are two stages on each side where the acton will come from.  The seating is stadium style, with only 3 rows on each side, so I would say all of the seats are pretty good.

The performers are really good about making the rounds and I think at times you will think that you are on sensory overload.  The most random things happen in the show (again it’s really hard to describe).  We were told that they change the show up every few months so that returning customers still have a great time and are not bored with the same performance.

Overall I can’t really say that there is anything to compare the Robot Restaurant to, but don’t expect to see a Broadway show.  However, they definitely know how to entertain and the sets, costumes, and robots are pretty amazing.  We all left the show pretty satisfied.

From the food and sites to the shows, we really loved our time in Tokyo. I love all the random and fun things that they have to do.  The city is really alive and you can just feel the pulse of the city running through you when you are there.

One of the things I wanted to do while we were in Tokyo, but wasn’t able to, was watch a practice sessions at a Sumo Stable (which are located in Ryogoku which is close to Asakusa).  If you are interested in that, you need to make sure to call the day ahead to ensure that the stable is open and receiving visitors and make sure to wake up early to catch the practice session.  We tried to have our host call for us, however, he wasn’t able to reach any of the 3 Stables that I had phone numbers for, so we weren’t able to do it.  There are also sumo tours that you can sign up for, but they are usually quite expensive, especially since visiting the sumo stable is customarily free. This is still on the “to do” list and I will be sure to update you once we check it off! We will be back to Tokyo for more fun in the near future, I’m certain!

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