Cheer Up Tokyo!

From Singapore to Tokyo – 4 very different profiles take you on a journey
through Tokyo in 24 hours! Check out their adventures and more...
Tokyo Tokyo

QIAN YI

24 Hours in Tokyo with Qian Yi – Toyosu and Tokyo Tower

I moved to Tokyo in August of 2019, slightly over two years ago. It took a couple of months before I finally managed to settle down and get used to life here. I was fresh out of university, in a new city, ready to tackle the 9 -5 working life on weekdays and explore Tokyo on the weekends. With Tokyo being ranked one of the top travel destinations for Singaporeans, moving here might seem like a dream to many. However, a few mere months into my new life, the pandemic struck and brought all my plans to a halt.

Now, 1.5 years into the pandemic, Tokyo has overcome four states of emergencies (and the Olympics!), and is easing into a new normal of its own. It was finally time to resume the plans I’d put on hold. I called up my boyfriend, who was originally from the Northern region of Japan and had only moved to the Kanto region a couple of years ago, and we put together a one-day plan to become tourists in our (not so) new home.

Toyosu market

We started our Saturday with an early-morning trip to Toyosu market. Contrary to what one may envision when they hear the word “market” , Toyosu is less of a place bustling with shopping tourists, and more of a place to learn about the distribution of food in Japan.

I’d previously watched documentaries like “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and was deeply intrigued to learn not just about sushi, but how seafood travels from ocean to table in Japan. We Singaporeans often marvel at the Japanese food we see on tables at restaurants, but how often do we get to learn about the process behind all of it?

We had our temperatures taken and were asked to sanitise our hands before entering the facility. Signs were also all over the facility, asking visitors to maintain social distancing measures and to have their masks on at all times.

We visited the three main blocks of the Toyosu market and learnt about the fishing and agriculture industries in Japan. We’d decided to forgo the famous 5AM tuna auction (do note that advance booking is required) as there weren’t any trains that could get us there at that hour, and instead, took a tour around the facility at our own pace. (Although should you be interested, there is a hotel right across the street from Toyosu Market!)

We got hungry along the way and decided to grab a hearty breakfast at one of the restaurants. I’m not a fan of raw fish (don’ t stone me!), so we decided on a restaurant specialising in フライ (fu-rai; or fried food).

We resumed our tour of the facility after breakfast, and headed over to the fruits and vegetables block, where produce from all over Japan is gathered. Our final stop at Toyosu was the Marché Mall Edomae Jokamachi, a congregation of shops and restaurants outside the facility, next to the station. I happened to have the best matcha cream dorayaki I’d ever had in my life here, but I wolfed it down so quickly I forgot to take a picture so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Tokyo Tower

After our morning study-tour we headed over to our next destination, Tokyo Tower.

We also had our temperatures taken and were asked to sanitise our hands before entering the lobby. We then grabbed lunch at the food court in Tokyo Tower, before touring the rest of the place. We’d only managed to get reservations for the main deck (that rectangular block at the halfway point of the tower) that day, but the view was breathtaking nevertheless.

The main deck also has a cafe selling drinks and light snacks, like hotdogs and ice cream.

As the sun began to set we decided to take a walk down the stairs, 531 steps to the bottom of the tower. The staircase began indoors at the main deck, which then transited to an outdoor staircase, where we managed to catch the sunset through the red bars of the Tokyo Tower. When we got to the bottom, we made a brief stop at the souvenir shop before leaving.

After our afternoon at Tokyo tower, we decided to return to the Toyosu area for dinner as we didn’t have time to explore the food in the neighbourhood earlier in the day. We headed to Tsukishima, one stop away from Toyosu station, to try its famous Monjayaki.

The street we visited was lined with restaurants bustling with customers - there was hardly a restaurant that didn’t have a line waiting outside of it! It seems that after the state of emergency has been lifted in Tokyo, people have slowly started returning to restaurants and izakayas, meeting friends and catching up. We headed into a restaurant specialising in Monjayaki

Monjayaki: the lesser-well-known cousin of Okonomiyaki - cabbage and other ingredients mixed in a thin batter and spread flat out across the hot plate. Tsukishima in particular is famous for its Mentaiko-Cheese-Mochi monjayaki. I started off as an okonomiyaki fan, but with quality monja like this, I might just end up switching sides.

We concluded our day with a long walk around the Toyosu area.

The night scenery around the water certainly reminded me of the night walks I used to take around the CBD area in Singapore. It was a long, packed day and the first touristy experience I’d had in Tokyo in a long while, but I’m certain this will not be the last!