New Discoveries in Tokyo + Kanagawa Winter 2016

Sometimes you just get lucky and stumble onto hidden gems of juicy fried minced beef like this.

My latest trip to Japan had me mostly just drifting dreamily back and forth between the stunning fiery Autumn foliage and extravagant Dr. Strange-level Christmas lighting displays smothering every corner of the city. But within the stupor I also came across some other minor but charming discoveries that made my trip quite delightful and which you might not find in your typical Japan travel guide:

Old School Coffee Shops are Dope

All the new hip cafes with super modern interior decor, swagged out young baristas and fancy fluffy pancakes are fun….. but old school Japanese coffee shops are where it’s at, especially if you appreciate a straightforward cup of solid dark black coffee and a comfortable environment to really get some work or reading done. There’s a bunch of these cafes quietly hidden every couple of blocks so just keep an eye out. The cigarette smoke is either a bonus or deal breaker for you.

The museum prohibits photos inside, so all I have for you is the Miyazaki hotdogs from the outdoor cafe. They were pretty good.

Hayao Miyazaki Ate Cookies and Fruit Tarts While He Worked

At least that’s how the Miyazaki museum in Mitaka city portrays it with their super cool recreation of his drawing desk. You see all the supplies he used, sketches, reference material, tobacco setup, trays of tea and snacks, and many more subtle details perfectly rebuilt. It took a lot of restraint to not just cross the barrier and sit down in his magical chair. The whole museum is definitely worth a trip unless you just dislike the human imagination. I also bought a bunch of cookies from the museum store so now I’m gonna become a way better artist.

Keema curry at Minoringo

So Much Untapped Potential in Japanese Curry

People talk mostly about sushi and ramen, but there’s a wild and diverse universe of Japanese curries really worth exploring. I can’t believe I’ve only been living off of Coco Curry until now. I’ve barely skimmed the surface but Alpin Jiro in Yokohama will blow your face off.

The red one is the most powerful

Functional Probiotic Yogurt is great

Digestive yogurts are yummy, healthy and pleasantly effective.

Curry + Probiotic Yogurt is NOT Great

WARNING: DO NOT consume the above 2 categories within too close of a time frame. My friend told me this…just passing along the info.

Temples are Exponentially Better with Less People

When visiting temples, try to go as early in the morning as you can. For such elegant and spiritual places, there’s a critical difference between just you plus a few other people and the entire West coast division of Chinese and Korean old people’s tourist club flanking you on all sides.

Convenience Store Karaage Deserves a Michelin Star

Karaage fried chicken from the 711, Lawson, Family Mart convenient stores are soooooo good and better than anything you can get from restaurants in the US (Lawson is the best). They’re also about $2 USD and you don’t feel that gross afterwards.

Is it okay to cuddle with an okonomiyaki?

Be Okay with Ordering the “Lady-size” Okonomiyaki

You’ll be tempted to order the large size like everyone else around you, but trust me: subdue your ego and go small. It’s impolite to not finish your food, and it’ll be more painful to force down an extra 4 bites of oily crispy udon in the end. Hm, that sounds pretty good actually…

Shibas Become Cuter When They Wear Cut-off Hoodies

I wish all dogs in the world would just start wearing tiny hoodies.

I hope these tips add some value to your next trip to Japan!