When your boyfriend tells you that he wants to go to Tokyo the next day for his Birthday, you pack up your carry on and make it happen. My boyfriend has a flight pass from his friend who works for an airline and he can travel anywhere in the world for dirt cheap. His flight friends also had a “buddy pass” for me to use to fly into Tokyo first class round trip for only $400. I simply could not pass up this opportunity! I drove to San Francisco from Sacramento and parked my car using the Way app. This app is amazing because it shows affordable parking areas. Parking your car at the airport can be pricey. I parked my car at a hotel that had a free shuttle to the San Francisco airport for $10 day.

The flight to Tokyo was a dream. This was my first first class experience and it really made me think about how to travel hack/make more money so that I could fly like this on the regular. We were greeted with champagne and given wet towels to wipe our hands. We were served a five course meal. The ability to lay down during a long flight was magical. I was super grateful for this experience.First class food

As soon as I arrived, it was my boyfriend’s birthday so I walked around the Narita Airport trying to find a candle and a little cupcake or sweet to put it in. Finding a candle was a lot harder than I anticipated. I went in to every restaurant and shop to try to find one. I used Google translator and even showed photos of candles. Finally a restaurant had a candle and I was able to surprise him when he arrived.

Before traveling to a new destination, I recommend downloading these 3 apps:

City Mappers – A public transit and mapping app that will help you navigate the city. I love this app because it shows subway, bus and rail lines. It even shows you the best walking and bicycle routes. This app is so incredible that it’ll even calculate how many calories burned, money that you’re saving and your carbon footprint. The app isn’t available in every city but it is worth checking if it is available in the city you’re visiting.

Google Translate – This app has been a saving grace for me. It translates all languages. You can have the person that you’re speaking to talk in to the microphone and it will translate it. You can also take a photo of a menu, sign, etc. and it will translate as you hover over the photo. Although it is important to learn a few words before traveling internationally to a country that you don’t speak their language, it is also important to have Google translate to help you.

Currency Exchange – It is so important to have a currency exchange rate app. There are many free options on the app store. I use the Currency Converter when I travel. Some merchants may try to rip you off by not abiding to the current currency exchange rates so having this app helps protect and show you how much you’re actually spending.


Yen is the currency of Japan. Japan is pretty much the same price of things in the United States but some areas/activities/restaurants are more expensive.


We stayed at the APA Hotel Pride. Gorgeous hotel and super affordable at only $70 a night. It even has a bath house inside the hotel. The bath houses are segregated into men and women for privacy. Everyone in the bath is naked (I opted in to wearing my bikini). They have individual and group tubs that are indoors and outdoors to lounge in. Find the perfect place to stay below!

Our hotel room was very quaint and by quaint I mean small. Japan blew my mind on how everything seemed to be made for a midget. The bath in the hotel was very short but also deep. I was also blown away by the level of technology. The beds had a built in system where you could control the AC, TV and all the lights in the room. The TV showed how many people were down in the spa bath house area and other interesting hotel facts. All of the toilets have bidets. Be careful when you turn the bidet on because the writing is in Japanese and I once turned one on and couldn’t figure out how to turn it off and it squirted water all over our hotel bathroom (Whoops!).


We arrived pretty late at night so we just checked in to our hotel and went to explore and grab dinner. We went to Shibuya, which is the “time’s square” of Tokyo. Even late at night there were thousand of people walking in all directions in the intersections. I had an awe moment as I looked around at all the amazing lights and technology. We even saw mario carts zipping through the streets.

The next day we made some green tea that they had in the hotel room and sat in a lookout area. The view was in a downtown city area and was pretty polluted but it was still nice to enjoy some morning tea in our Japanese robes.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

We then took the subway to Harajuku, which is an area of town that is known for their colorful street art and top of the line funky fashion shops. We screwed up by coming here too early in the day as all the shops were mostly closed but still walked around and found a fun Hawaiian themed breakfast spot to have breakfast at.

It started to rain so we bought an umbrella and decided to go to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The entrance is a small fee of $2. It was absolutely breathtaking and pretty surreal to walk around with it lightly raining. There is a temple in the garden where you can find people practicing tai chi.

best things to see in Tokyo


After strolling through the garden, we took the train to Sensoji, which is a Buddhist temple lined with vendors with traditional snacks and custom made kimonos. Kimonos can easily cost you $150+ so we just wore the kimono type robes that the hotel gave us. If you want to enter the temple, you are allowed to. You may even see a Japanese racoon dog called Tanukis, which are said to bring good luck to businesses and protect homes.

To finish off our day of exploring, we made reservations at the Robot Restaurant. The Robot Restaurant is a dinner with a show. Make sure you make reservations as soon as possible because seats fill up fast. The entry price to the Robot Restaurant is 8000 Yen (about US$72) which is discounted to 7500 Yen when you pay online. If you buy the meal package, it is an additional 1000 Yen or 1500 Yen. We didn’t get the meal package. Make sure that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the show. We were a few minutes late but they wouldn’t let us enter until after the beginning announcements because it was apparently a safety hazard for us to enter late with all the robots driving around. They have an intermission during the show where you can purchase snacks or drinks. We got these light bulb looking drinks that tasted like sprite but be careful because those really sneak up on you. They taste sooo good that you don’t realize how much alcohol is in them.

Guy wearing a samarai outfit

Our third day in Tokyo, our sleep schedule was pretty messed up so we were up at odd hours. We went exploring and decided to stop in the Samurai Museum. It was only 1600 Yen or $16. It was a good experience to learn the history of samurai’s and they even show you a samurai battle at the end. You get to try on samurai gear and hold their swords.

Sky tree tokyo

After the museum, we went to the tallest tower in the world called the Sky Tree. We didn’t pay to go to the top but you can if you choose to. The Sky Tree has people dressed up in anime costumes walking around so if you’re in to anime you would love this area.

Our last day we went to see the Gundam tower since my boyfriend is an anime lover. We walked around and ate some more rice, meat and eggs.

As you can see, you can cover a lot of ground in Tokyo in just four short days. If we had more time, I would like to visit Kyoto, some more scenic parts of Japan and even hike Mount Fuji.


We knew that we must try ramen first as we are self proclaimed ramen conissours. We were told Ichiran is the BEST ramen in Japan so we waited for two hours to be seated. As we waited, we took turns going to buy snacks from 7/11 and McDonalds. When we were finally seated, we were told to order our food via vending machine. I noticed that mostly all restaurants served food in this fashion where you place your order on the vending machine and someone will bring it out to you. At Ichiran, each table was a barstool and on the other side was a bamboo curtain where the ramen would be served. In my opinion, the ramen wasn’t the best I ever had and it wasn’t worth the two hour wait. We found ramen in a hole in the wall spot a couple days later and it was exceptional. I wish I remembered the name of it but don’t be afraid to try the spot that isn’t #1 on Yelp. You’d be surprised on hidden food gems!

I was also looking forward to eating sushi on this trip but sushi in Japan is nowhere near the sushi that you get in America. Their rolls don’t come with spicy mayo, cream cheese or any of the other toppings you would usually get with your sushi. Their sushi is just sashimi – raw fish with rice.

You also want to be mindful on the meat that you’re ordering. We walked into a random restaurant to eat lunch where they served “uma”. Upon looking it up, it was horse meat!! I’m all for trying new flavors and foods but I just cannot bring myself to eat a horse especially growing up with a mustang as my school mascot.

The best food that I had there was from Yoshinoya, which is actually a chain restaurant that you can eat at in America. They have a beef dish with rice and a sunny side egg on top and it is delicious! We tried eating it when we got back to America but it just wasn’t as good.

Another must while you’re in Japan is to try their vending machines that they have on the streets or in the public transportation areas. The Rainbow coffees are to die for and a must have. I had one every single day I was there.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same flight experience on the way back. I sat in the middle seat in economy for 13 hours. No first class for me but I was so grateful for being able to travel to Japan and to cross it off my bucket list!

What are some fun things you want to see in Tokyo? Comment below!

Couple in Japan