Love hotels in Tokyo

During our trip to Tokyo last week, we stayed in an area called Uguisudani. It was on the Yamanote line, in our price range, easy to get to from Narita Airport and close to Ueno (which has a lot to offer when travelling with small children), so we chose an Airbnb there. What I didn't realise when choosing our accom here, was that is was basically a whole suburb of love hotels. 

Anyone who's been to Tokyo, especially Shibuya, has probably walked past a love hotel or two. They're mostly recognisable by some gaudy lights and a sign out the front indicating the pricing by the hour (rather than a simple nightly rate, like any other normal hotel), and photos of the various themed rooms they have inside. When you go into a love hotel, you can either check into a room using a machine, or often if there is a reception counter with actual human staff, their faces and yours will be separated by a screen so you can keep your anonymity.

Anyway, if you've ever walked through Love Hotel Hill in Shibuya, Uguisudani was even more packed with love hotels. Our apartment building was only one of a few I saw in the whole neighbourhood. Everything else was love hotels.

I actually found it quite entertaining, watching the couples walking out, wondering what their story was. The names of the hotels were also hilarious. Most memorable was Oriental Passage, P-Door and C Heaven. Use your imagination kids!

Love hotels in tokyo
3 love hotels

Add caption

You can find love hotels in most places in Tokyo. Look for the signs out the front with the hourly rates.
The love hotels have signs out the front showing what the rooms look like.
Love hotels

Some izakayas and love hotels

Ain Soph Ripple - Vegan burgers in Tokyo

Ain Soph Ripple vegan burgers in Tokyo
The entrance to Ain Soph Ripple
So as most of you know, i'm not vegan, or really even vegetarian, but I do live with a vegetarian (so eat vegetarian 95% of the time) and have many a vegetarian and vegan friend. For these reasons, and the fact that I LOVE planning holiday itineraries, I am always on the look out for the best vegan places to eat, which is how I came across Ain Soph Ripple.

This past weekend, I was in Tokyo with some vegan friends, and I wanted to give them the best Tokyo experience possible. I had heard about the Ain Soph restaurants and wanted to get to at least one of them. I decided on Ripple, because who doesn't love a good dirty burger, and these looked the business!

Ain Soph Ripple menu
The menu <3
We arrived there at around 12:15, and were lucky to grab a table (we were a group of 6), even though it's a pretty small place. The menu isn't huge, which I liked, so we decided on the cheese burger and the crispy "chicken" burger. Everything on the menu is vegan, even though it sounds like it isn't.

The burgers were tasty and I really loved the fries. The vegan cheese they used was really good. it was really melty like real cheese. If you're a vegan and looking for some junk food, I think it's worth the effort to get here, although I wasn't completely blown away by the burgers, which is probably just because we had eaten at Gub Gubs here in Okinawa a few days before, which makes probably the best burgers i've ever had (and that's including meat burgers too!).

Vegan Cheese burger and cheese fries at Ain Soph Ripple
Cheese burger and cheese fries

Vegan crispy chicken burger at Ain Soph Ripple
Crispy Chicken burger
Ain Soph ripple was easy to find. The closest station is Shinjuku San-chome on the Tokyo Metro Maronouchi and Fukutoshin lines however, it as also a short walk from Shin Okubo on the Yamanote line, if like me you were with small children and didn't want to change trains.


Ain Soph Ripple, vegan burgers in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Tokyo nights, Tokyo lights

View from the Shinagawa Prince hotel Annex Tower 26 floor
View of Shinagawa from my hotel room on the 26th floor

One of the things I love most about Tokyo, and I think is what people imagine Japan is like before they've ever been, are the bright neon lights everywhere. Of course, even though I was super tired when I got to Tokyo on the end of my work trip, I still couldn't resist taking myself out at night to Shibuya to gaze in awe at the lights and people. Another great thing about this was that I got to take a few people who had never been to Tokyo before to Shibuya crossing, and it made me so happy to see their faces as we walked out and saw the lights and hear their exclamations of how amazing it was! This is why I really should be a Japan (especially Tokyo) tour guide! It makes me happy :)

The bright lights of Shibuya are a must see for any visitor to Tokyo
Shibuya Crossing
Giant gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo
Giant Gundam statue in Odaiba

The lights are so bright in Shibuya at night it almost feels like daytime

Typical Tokyo night scene - Shibuya

DMM Planets by Team Lab Exhibition in Tokyo

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo

A couple of weeks ago before going on my work trip I started hearing about this magical sounding exhibition happening in Tokyo, DMM Planets by Team Lab. People I follow in Instagram kept posting pictures and I knew I really wanted to check it out! As luck would have it, I was in Tokyo for work a few days before the exhibition ended.

I had heard that the line-up was LONG to get in and there would be a significant wait time, but I headed over to Odaiba after work one day to check it out. The line up was long, although not as bad as I had heard. I think I was lucky because I managed to arrive just before the night entry started. In the end, I waited for about 70 minutes to get in but it was so worth it. It was definitely one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen.

The exhibition was made up for four different rooms/zones and it started with a dark room with extremely soft, bean bag-like walls and floors. It was amazing! I basically fell into the room and sat there relaxing for a good 10 minutes. Next it was in to the room you've probably seen the most Instagram pictures of. It was filled floor to ceiling with lights, and the walls, floor and roof were mirrors. The lights changed colour and moved about with music that was mesmerising. Even though there were a lot of people there, it never seemed really crowded because of the way it was set out and presented.

Awkward selfie

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo
This looks like it's upside down but it's just the mirrors

The next room was filled with a cloudy white water that had projections on it that kept changing. There were Koi carp swimming around (well, projections of koi carp) and apparently you could use your phone to change what was happening in the room (although I didn't realise this until after the exhibition). This was probably my least favourite of the four rooms, although it was still fantastic. 

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo
My legs
Although there were so many people, it didn't feel overwhelmingly crowded

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo
Spot the Koi

DMM Planets exhibition by Team Lab in Tokyo
Koi swimming
The final room, was a dome with flowers and petals being projected onto the roof. It was absolutely amazing, and I couldn't get photos to do it justice! Everyone was lying down on the floor looking at the roof and it felt like I was sinking into the room with flowers falling all over me. I think I was in this room for about 30 minutes and found it hard to leave.

flower petals projected onto the roof of a dome
All in all, this exhibition was absolutely amazing and i'm so glad I made the time to go and see it. It's not something I will forget anytime soon. The photos (and video) in this post really don't do it justice, but I really wanted to capture the memory on my blog somehow. If you ever get a chance to see an exhibition by Team Lab , I definitely recommend it!

What's the best exhibition you've ever been to?

Pin it for later:
DMM Planets x Team Lab in Tokyo is an amazing art installation open over the summer. It it definitely worth checking out other Team Lab exhibitions throughout the world

Early morning shibuya

While I was on my work trip a couple of weeks ago, I had a morning off in Tokyo. Anyone who has been to Tokyo before knows that hardly anything is open before 10am. I didn't want to venture too far from where I was staying in Shinagawa, so I hopped on the Yamanote Line and headed to Shibuya because there were a few things I wanted to pick up at the Tokyu Foodshow basement (namely quality wine and French cider). Department store basements in Japan are amazing places to shop for food! I highly recommend having a look, and buying yourself some food and drinks and taking them to a park for a picnic lunch! The food quality is amazing.

I knew nothing would be open, so headed straight through the famous Shibuya crossing to the Starbucks in the QFront building. Luckily as I got my coffee, a large group of people were leaving so I grabbed a seat in the window and people watched and snapped some photos. If you ever find yourself up and about early in Tokyo, I recommend grabbing yourself a coffee at the Shibuya Starbucks and watching the scramble as it gets progressively busier throughout the morning.

Rush hour on the Yamanote line, Tokyo
Rush hour at Shinagawa station
Shibuya crossing in the morning is not as crowded as it is at night. Grab yourself a coffee and sit in the window of Starbucks and watch it get busier as the morning goes on.
9am, Shibuya
The Hachiko statue is the famous meeting spot outside Shibuya Station, If you are looking for the famous Shibuya crossing, take the Hachiko exit from the station
The famous Hachiko statue. 

Shibuya crossing in the morning is not as crowded as it is at night. Grab yourself a coffee and sit in the window of Starbucks and watch it get busier as the morning goes on.
My view from the Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya crossing in the morning is not as crowded as it is at night. Grab yourself a coffee and sit in the window of Starbucks and watch it get busier as the morning goes on.

Shibuya crossing in the morning is not as crowded as it is at night. Grab yourself a coffee and sit in the window of Starbucks and watch it get busier as the morning goes on.
Even on a weekday morning before the shops have opened, it's busy.
What's your favourite morning activity when visiting a city?

Eisa Festival in my neighbourhood

Eisa festival in Nakadomari

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to see the Eisa festival in my neighbourhood! Usually my neighbourhood is very sleepy and quiet. You don't see too many people about except first thing in the morning and the afternoon when all the old people are out doing their Rajio Taiso (radio calisthenics) and playing gate ball (kind of like croquet).

I was really surprised when, while we were cooking dinner, there was lots of drumming and music I could hear coming from nearby, so I took the puppy out for a walk to see what was going on. I came across a festival of a couple of hundred people watching a big group of Eisa performers dancing and drumming to a live band! The atmosphere was absolutely amazing, and I think it was the best thing i've seen since living here in Okinawa. There were so many people there; kids in yukata and families sitting around drinking or dancing to the music. As soon as I arrived a bunch of kids ran up to me and spent the whole time patting the dog.

Unfortunately I only had my iPhone with me, so the photos below aren't amazing. I've also included a video at the bottom of a bit of the performance.

Nakadomari Eisa
This flag says "Nakadomari", which is the name of my neighbourhood.

Ollie was a hit with the kids