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All the Hanami and It’s a me, Mario-Gudetama.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Nakajima, Imperial Palace East Gardens, Tokyo free walking tour, Chidorigafuchi, Shibuya Crossing, Tempura Temmatsu, Gokarting!

We started this day with the purpose of doing Hanami “cherry blossom viewing”. We headed straight to Shinjuku Gyoen National Park (500 Yen admission) and joined the boards of people taking selfies with the cherry blossoms (Sakura). I have to say that I still love this park so much. It’s huge and landscaped beautifully and because we had such good weather, there were many families enjoying picnics under the shade of the cherry blossom tree. You could easily get lost in the park for hours. I wish I lived in Tokyo just so I could read under one! We wandered the grounds and people watched and then quickly exited to head towards one of my favorite meals from my last trip, Nakajima!


Nakajima, again is a one Michelin Star sardine restaurant, is one of the cheapest Michelin Stars because at lunch you can get an entree for 800 Yen! We arrived at 11:20am and there was already a line of about 15-20 people, but they are so efficient that we were seated within 20-30 min (we were 2nd in the second round of people). We opted to try one of everything so 2 of us got the sashimi entree and one got the Yanagawanabe (like a donburi). We then ordered side whole sets of the fried sardines and the simmered in soy sauce one (nizakana) which were 600 yen each. My least favorite is the fried sardines (not worth even trying in my opinion) but they did come with pickled cabbage and curry bean sprouts which were tasty and interesting to try. The other 3 are worth ordering and trying. The order of my favorite to least would be: sashimi, yanagawanabe, and then nizakana. Sashimi still was my favorite because it is just so well done and well balanced with the ginger. The yanagawanabe was so delicious, more than i remember and is a perfect warm egg dish soaking into the fried sardines. The nizakana was good but the soy sauce gets progressively sweeter as you eat more and it was a lot of work to not choke on all the bones.

Fried and Yanagawanabe

Happily, we left Nakajima and raced to catch the Tokyo Free Walking Tour for the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. This tour was about 2.5-3 hours. It was very informative and at the end they let you try on a kimono to wear and take a picture with. It was slightly disorganized as I think one person was training but Yama and the woman tour guide were so helpful and social. The poor lady however had to wear full kimono garb the entire time and i have no idea how she didn’t fall down in her slippers. We wandered the East Gardens learning about the upcoming NEW emperor and the first Shogun (ruler of all the samurai) as well as many other historical facts. It was a fun tour to take if you have the time but not quite as well done as other countries like the one I took in Berlin and Quito. Just don’t forget to TIP.

Our guides walking through East Gardens
Kimono time!

We then walked over to Chidorigafuchi to see the cherry blossoms, which are so pretty and all over right now! We walked away from where people row on the river and to the park where TONS of people were having picnics and day drinking under the Sakura. My kind of people drinking in the middle of the day enjoying nature.... We sat and admired the blossoms and the interesting groups and then headed to Shibuya!

I love Chidorigafuchi
Everyone Hanami!

We went to Shibuya to see the spectacle that is Shibuya Crossing. Because it is Sakura season, Tokyo is EXTRA crowded, and so Shibuya was packed to the point that I barely could take another pic with Hachiko (a statue of a dog that promises you’ll return to Japan again). We prayed and crossed diagonally along Shibuya Crossing straight to the Starbucks. (Tip: Don’t wait in line to buy anything. Just go up to the 2nd floor of the department store and wait by the window to record the CHAOS of Shibuya Crossing and the crazy people running across when it is red. After wandering Shibuya and admiring the many lights and shopping, we went looking for Tempura Tsunahachi (which I went to in Shinjuku last time and was amazed) but couldn’t find it so we settled for Tempura Temmatsu (at the top of Tokyu Department Store). The reviews online were promising but the food was just okay for Tokyo (better than any Tempura in the states but not the same mind blowing experience I’ve had previously). We ordered the Ten Ichi set and had some fluffy tempura but the taste fell a little flat. The squid especially was just thick and not that appealing. My favorite pieces were the mushroom and the shrimp head. It was a good experience and good service but I’d search elsewhere for real delicious tempura.


Full, we rushed over to Maricar Roppongi (in the middle of nowhere) to go GOKARTING. We did a 2 hour tour (courtesy of GoVoyagin) which includes shibuya crossing, roppongi, and Tokyo Tower. I have to say THIS WAS SO AMAZING AND FUN. It was the mixture of excitement, fun, and shear terror. You really are driving next to real cars on real roads following one guide..... The most terrifying was when a car would cut us off in the middle of the pack or when the whole group leaves you behind because the turn signal is short and you don’t want to run a red light but then have no idea how to read Japanese light signals... (not that I know from experience or something lol). They do wait for you though but you have to be paying attention if you are going to do this and make sure you set your video WAY BEFOREHAND (i recommend a head mount or a VERY high chest mount otherwise you get steering wheel view). The coolest thing is that the guide takes HELLA photos of the group and will share them at the end. They also stop in 2 locations (one near Tokyo dome and one in front on Tokyo Tower!) and take a bunch of photos here as well (they really know their audience haha). Also, whatever you do, GO AT NIGHT. The lights ARE SO MUCH cooler. Don’t get your hopes up on characters though because they had to get rid of all Mario related ones and they only had one pikachu costume (which i don’t think they clean well....so plan on showering soon after).


Posted by E.M.N 06:55 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo gokart

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