We took some time this trip to explore the area around Tokyo station, as we’ve never really given that side of Tokyo much time. This is where the tallest buildings are, where all the business happens, and where the gigantic imperial palace is located. First things first, Dylan had a ramen from Tokyo Station, inside of which is found many high quality restaurants, including a host of ramen shops.
We also checked out the Imperial Palace East Gardens. It’s easiest to walk there from Tokyo station, to the Otemon Gate. This gives you access to the gardens, not the actual palace area itself – to do that you’ll need to book a tour online and bring your passport. We attempted this but it was all booked out whilst we were there – so if you’re thinking about it make sure to book well in advance.
Also around this Tokyo station area is Nihombashi. Nihombashi is actually also another train station but it is within easy walking distance to Tokyo station so you might as well just walk from there. Nihombashi translates to “Japan Bridge” and is a Edo era bridge that marked the dead centre of Tokyo / Edo a few hundred years ago, and still stands today (although a giant highway overpass has been built above it). It’s quite a nice bridge but Jess found it boring so if you’re not into history you probably will too.
We had dinner at one of our favourite restaurants in Tokyo – The Pizza Bar on 38th, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, 38th floor, in Mitsukoshimae (which is also a station, and also an easy walk to Tokyo station). Here the half Japanese, half Italian pizzaiolas prepare the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives (!) and they are reasonably priced (around $25 AUD per pizza, not much more than Sydney prices). If you strike up a conversation with the chefs they’ll be happy to tell you their story, and one of them even let us sample his homemade Mandarin Limoncello! It was delicious. After dinner, head downstairs to the spectacular bar which is the epitome of luxury, complete with private liquor lockers, private wine cellars, private humidors, and a cigar bar, all overlooking an impressive vista with the towers of Shinjuku in the background.