Going to Japan!

Hi Food52,

I'm planning a trip to Japan for my husband and me, and I could use some help! We are starting in Tokyo, and possibly traveling after that to Hakone, Miyajima Island and Kyoto--although we're still open to other destinations. (It will be a winter trip.)

I have so many notes for places to eat, and specialty dishes I'd like to try, but I could use the help of someone who lives (of has traveled extensively) in the country, and has opinions on favorite spots, or must visit establishments.

For us, delicious food and great experiences are more important than "fancy" restaurants, although we are open to anything that will be a wonderful and memorable. experience. We're interested in experiencing the food of Japan as unobtrusively as possible.

Thanks so much!


Cristina Sciarra


mainecook61 March 21, 2017
Ramen. A restaurant that serves only eel. An omakase tempura place. Rice balls and green tea ice cream bars at convenience stores like Lawsons. A tonkatsu place (try the train station). Department store food halls. A kaiseki dinner at an onsen resort (what could be better after soaking in scalding hot water?). Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi--so much fun. 7 a.m. sushi at Tsukiji fish market. Oh, I could go on!
Jan W. March 21, 2017
Isetan has arguably the best depachika (basement food hall) in Tokyo - I've gotten lost down there several times. Also its a great place to go for lunch or a picnic because you can take one of the elevator banks directly to the rooftop garden. Along with views of the Shinjuku skyline, it has a sheltered picnic area with tables (and there are vending machines/waste receptacles just before you enter the outdoor area). Really nice place to stop in or take a break from your shopping. Hikarie in Shibuya also has a nice food hall.
Jan W. March 21, 2017
I will visit Japan in April this year - my brother lives there so I usually visit once a year. One thing I never try to skip, at least in Tokyo, are good yakitori and yakiniku restaurants. There is a fantastic one in Jiyugaoka, Meguro that will spoil you for eating chicken in the USA for life. There's also a tiny but very frequented by locals horumon-yaki spot near Nishi-shinjuku go-chome station which I swore I wouldn't divulge the exact location, but the clue is that it's one alley up from a strange tiny house with a red staircase and a clock on the front on Honan-dori. Horumon-yaki serves beef and pork offal and isn't for those who aren't adventurous, but the food is very good (and won't at all break the bank).

Also I love anago (saltwater conger eel) restaurants - I remember going to a really nice one on or near Tsukishima/Tsukiji but cannot find the exact location, will have to inquire. The most famous one in Tokyo is in Nihonbashi called Tamai - probably will be harder to get a table there but I heard its still top-notch anago.
scruz March 20, 2017
i would look at trip advisor dot com for advice. also, a youtube vlog named simon and martina has some really great advice on some restaurants where they have eaten and they include addresses to. they are a young canadian couple who recently left korea to live in japan and are bright and open and learn the language and are very fun.
Amanda March 20, 2017
I was in Japan only once in 2015, and I can tell you it was the best food I have ever had. If you are willing to spend a bit more, I would recommend a Kobe beef dinner. It is pricey, but we were staying right in Kobe so it was hard to pass up. Miyajima Island was my favorite place to visit. If you are into hiking, there is at least one trail that takes yo up to the top of the mountain and you can ride a gondola back down. Some of the best tasting seafood we had was on that island. We stayed at a Guest House on the island (sorry, I do not know the name) and they served dinner and breakfast like a B&B.
Osaka is awesome, get the Takoyaki!! Also, you can get yakitori anywhere (my personal loose translation is 'food on a stick') yum!
A can-not-miss would be visiting any of gardens, many also have tea (Matcha) and pastries. Lastly,I recommend getting the Lonely Plant Japan travel book, came in handy. Enjoy your trip!!
HalfPint March 20, 2017
So jealous!

If you haven't already, please read "Pretty Good #1" by Matthew Amster-Burton. It's a book about his stay in Tokyo and all the food to be enjoyed. It's a quick read, but after reading it, you will have a laundry list of foods to eat and food places to experience.

If you have Netflix instant streaming, check out "I'll have what Phil's having", Episode 1 is Tokyo.

My husband use to travel to Japan at least 4 times a year. At the beginning and the end of each trip, he heads to the ramen shop at the train station.

Bon Voyage! Hope there will be a future Food52 article on your trip ;)
Cristina S. March 20, 2017
Thanks so much for this!
Samantha W. March 20, 2017
Oh I will be watching this thread! We were there in January 2016 and going back this May. (I only spent 2 weeks there, but here are my suggestions: https://food52.com/blog/15865-one-simple-act-that-can-change-how-you-travel).
Lindsay-Jean H. March 20, 2017
Whoop! So exciting! How long will the trip be? Rather than write an essay here I'll email you thoughts.
Cristina S. March 20, 2017
Thanks, lady! We are planning two weeks.
Lauren R. July 18, 2017
Hi Lindsay! Planning a trip to Japan for this year! Would you mind posting your thoughts here or forwarding them to me? Thanks :) :)
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