Lives in New York City, New York
Since Oct 2014
25-34 year old female
Hey, there! I'm Jessica, an eastern polyglot journeying West. With Korean, Japanese, and Chinese floating around in my mindspace, I've got my sights set on tackling French and the rest of the Romance languages next -- and their countries, food, and culture with them! I was bitten by the travel bug young and have moved every few years since I left my family home in sunny Southern California, leading me to experience life amongst the rice paddies of Hita-shi, in the quaint college town of Amherst, and from bustling Tokyo to sleepless New York, which I now proudly call "home." My favourite international cities include Kyoto, Osaka, London, and Paris, continuing to dot my travel map with trips to Marrakech, Malta, Tel Aviv, and Dhaka in the meanwhile. Learning where the best local eats are and exploring each city as a native is my game, so hang on tight, and be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the aircraft at all times. Cheers!
Scenic Walking Areas, Parks
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Observation Decks & Towers
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas, Universities & Schools
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Arenas & Stadiums
Theme Parks, Disney Parks & Activities
Hibiya Park is not only a great reprieve of green in the middle of Tokyo, but is also a surprisingly popular site for the live music scene. The awkward concrete amphitheatre is somewhat of an eyesore nestled in the corner of this lovely park, but as it's rare to find outdoor gigs in the city at all, beggars really can't be choosers. Check out the 'Tōkyō Gig Guide' online beforehand to see if your trip will coincide with any cool performances, or take your chances and wander on through during the weekend for a potential glimpse of greatness.
Personally, Inokashira Park is one of my favorite green spaces in the city, and often falls to the wayside in lieu of the more intricate gardens and parks to be found in more central Tokyo. However, it's definitely worth heading out a little further west into the young and hip Kichijōji area to visit this beautiful forest. Take a boat out onto the pond, have an intimate picnic with a friend or loved one, visit the zoo or the aquarium, and on weekends and holidays, wander through the pop-up art market for a new statement piece to take home with you. Last but certainly not least, wander around the Ghibli Museum, tucked away in the southwest corner of the park, and get in touch with your inner child while also learning of the technological intricacies of the animation process.
If there's one thing I love most about living in Tōkyō, it's learning about and eating all of the naan and Indian curry I can get my hands on. Halfway between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku is the innocuous mouthful of a station named Takada-no-baba, where you'll find some of the best South Asian curry restaurants in town. Check out Durga or Khana Waseda in particular, and order your favorite type of curry, plus an order of naan: garlic naan, cheese naan, regular naan, any-kind-of-naan, you just can't go wrong when naan's involved!
Despite having a whole short-novel-turned-anime series take place in this oft-overlooked neighborhood, Ikebukuro and its many well-known sites are so underground that they rarely get a mention, even in the hippest of guidebooks. In reality, Ikebukuro is about as densely populated as Shinjuku and nearly as popular as Akihabara for local otaku (anime and manga fans); in fact, it's known as the Akiba geared toward female otaku, offering stores on Otome-dōri like Mandarake, Cospa, Animate, and others, as well as butler and cat cafés in contrast to Electric Town's many maid cafés. On the less otaku-specific side, Ikebukuro is also quite fun to shop in at places like the specialty department store Tōkyū Hands and the building complex Sunshine City, complete with a museum, an aquarium, a planetarium, world-class dining, a theatre, a hotel, and a shopping mall. For a small fee, head to the top of the Sunshine 60 skyscraper for an even better view of Tokyo than Tokyo Tower itself!
On the esteemed grounds of the University of Tokyo, you will find a beautiful pond in the shape of the Chinese character for 'heart.' This spot, nestled in amongst the Ikutoku-en, or the Garden of Teaching Virtue, is named after famous Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki's coming-of-age novel 'Sanshirō.' When you stand at the edge of the water, it's easy to imagine a life where skyscrapers are nothing but a wild dream, to imagine the pond as Sanshirō's heart, pure and transplanted from the sleepy countryside to the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo. So take a moment to just breathe in the fresh air around you, meditate a little, and recharge before you head off to your next destination.
Often referred to as 'Old Ladies' Harajuku,' Jizō-dōri shopping street may seem to cater to an older age range of clientele, but that doesn't make it any less intriguing for a stroll. Visit the Jizō Bodhisattva statue that this street gets its name from at the local temple, ask him to help ease the pains of your carpal tunnel and early onset arthritis from typing all the time, and then head out onto the main street to purchase one of the district's signature akapantsu (red underwear) for good luck! Maybe it's because older people are far more worldly and wise than the average young whipper-snapper, but you can probably expect to have some great and charming conversations with staff and fellow patrons here - a rarity among the typically aloof Tokyoites.
Visit the Ryōgoku neighborhood for all things sumō! Many tourists tend to bypass sumō as a thing to do in Tokyo when they're pressed for time, but this is definitely an experience you'll want to have at least once in your life - and if not now, then when? Catch a match at the Ryōgoku Kokugi-kan, and then head to one of the many restaurants in the area to try some chanko-nabe, the staple food item of sumō that resembles hotpot - a stew of vegetables, meat, and seafood. Most of these restaurants are run by retired sumō too, so if you're a fan of a particular wrestler and know which restaurant he owns, this is a great chance to dine with a celebrity!
Izakaya (tapas-style drinking restaurants) are a ubiquitous trend across the country, ranging from normal everyday restaurants that offer amazing tabe-hōdai (all-you-can-eat) and nomi-hōdai (all-you-can-drink) deals, to themed venues with a bit of an interactive element to them. The Lock-Up's theme is a prison-slash-insane-asylum, complete with hosts and waiters dressed up as police officers, and individual rooms for your party, set behind iron bars. When the alarm goes off and the lights go out every half hour or so, monster-like prisoners that have broken loose wander the halls to wreak havoc on patrons as they drink from test tubes and eat questionably-shaped and textured (but quite delicious!) meals. Definitely not for the weak of heart, but still worth the teary-eyed, heart-pounding experience!
Give Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea more of a shot than you think you ought to! There's the nostalgia of your childhood to enjoy here, and there're also a few subtle differences that are worth taking note of, like how Cinderella's Castle may display the same character and plot that we're all used to, yet is still presented in a manner that is distinctly Japanese. The 'World Bazaar,' too, presents characters wearing traditional Japanese kimono, rather than sticking to a rigid US Disney formula. So even if you aren't a fan of theme parks in general, come people-watch and experience a Western childhood staple from a completely different perspective!