Little Law’s quick little guide to Tokyo and Shuzenji

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First of all sorry for the lack of blog posts recently, I have rediscovered an interest of sewing, designing and making things for people to feel special, since completing the wedding quilt which I made last year, I will share more of that with you all later… stay tuned.
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Every time I go to a different country I like to round up some little gems I discovered on the way so that you can add a little part of my trip into yours. It is nice to share information and little hole in the wall to established places to go to. I find that everyone’s perception of a city is totally different due to the places they go. But I always find that finding out places from friends and family  is the way to go and here’s hoping that some of these places which I checked out will make it on to your list if you ever visit Tokyo and Shuzenji:
Tokyo:
Where we stayed: The Peninsula Tokyo located in a more upscale Marunouchi business district which is just across from the Tokyo imperial Palace. The hotel is insanely beautiful, staff friendly and all speak english. There is free wifi access throughout the hotel, but if you get a chance definitely go for a swim in their beautiful pool and by far my favourite the bubbling hot tub beside it, perfect for the end of the day.
Echire maison du beurre: 
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I was told that there was the best croissant down the road from the Peninsula, ok… coming to Japan to eat a french pastry I thought was a little odd. But when you arrived outside the little boutique in Marunouchi Brick square you are hit with a long line of patient people all waiting to be the first into the boutique and the fantastic smell of baked pastries. There are 3 types of croissant, standard, extra butter, and salty butter, I went for the salty butter and boy was it good perfect with a cup of coffee in the mornings. Pick up some madeleines and financiers too if all the croissants are gone by the time you get there, and don’t forget a box of crumbly biscuits especially the ones in the blue tins take home for gifts… or in my case eat at home and pine after having those croissants for breakfast. I recommend if it is a nice day eating them in the brick square on a bench with a take away coffee, there is a starbucks on the premises.
For more information check out the Echire website.
Kagari Echika Fit Ginza:
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Ok, we have to talk ramen for a minute here, if you follow me on instagram you know that I absolutely love a good bowl of ramen and of course coming to the land of ramen I knew that I have to sample at least 3 bowls. The first day we had a good traditional pork ramen it was better then what I get in London but according to our local guide if you go to a lot of ramen places in Tokyo you are hard pressed to get something absolutely terrible. However, creamy chicken ramen!?!? Now that is something that peaked my interest and I can’t get in London. In Ginza Station just outside the Marunouchi Line wicket a little store which basically only sells 2 types of noodles and seats a maximum of 8 people elbow to elbow at a bar. How can chicken ramen be as rich and creamy as its original pork counterpart? However after I took my first bite, I was sold! It was just as thick, rich and creamy as pork ramen with chicken breast, seasonal vegetables and you can have an array of extras. If you are super hungry go for a little bowl of chicken rice on the side, we shared one between the 4 of us. Definitely worth the try! Don’t be fooled that this place is in an underground station, the best places are normally in the weirdest places, GO GO GO! Check out this website for all the info you need: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/restaurants/restaurant-guide/ginza-area/kagari-echika-fit-ginza/#.VxE0-sdGUsE
Tempura Kondo:
Since I was young tempura has been a firm favourite of mine, to have tempura at this place was a completely different experience.
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 We sat in a little restaurant at a counter ordered the omakase menu and sipped sake out of these cute little sake crystal glasses. Relaxing while watching our chef bring out fresh ingredients to tempura and cook in the cleanest oil in a copper pot.
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From seafood to vegetables in the crispiest and lightest batter ever, with some sushi mixed in for good measure of course.
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It is not the cheapest place but boy it is good to sit there and watch how fresh your food is and how a master tempura chef works, especially the piece of tempura with little pieces of seafood and vegetables cooked together and soaked in tempura sauce and placed on top of white rice, yum!
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For more information check out the Tempura Kondo trip advisor page.
Kanikousen – Chiyoda-ku:
On the 9th floor of an unassuming building is one of the most surprising places I went to this trip.
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You are transported to an old Japanese water garden complete with stepping stones and traditional seating on sitting on the floor to eat, luckily there was a little foot well to sit a little properly as you have to order the crab shabu shabu. After being served with sushi, and a egg custard topped with cheese and filled with crab we used the rest in a clear broth complete with loads of vegetables.
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Filling, yummy and something I have never had before, although don’t not pass up the chance to have the beef one either! It comes with a yummy sauce which goes so well with the beef. I was full but not sickeningly full and definitely worth it! Check out the Kanikousen Facebook page for more information.
Fendi pop-up store – Ginza:
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Ok, so shopping in a high end store isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but this store which doesn’t look like a pop up store has a floating tree, truck full of straps and a Karl Lagerfeld corner it is a feast for the eyes. The tree installation in the middle of the store changes with the seasons and there is an exhibition on the lower ground floor of Fendi pieces in film complete with an old cinema where you can watch the pieces in action. This store is not just a store, check it out while it is still popped up, check out the Fendi website for more information.
Plain People:
One of my favourite stores I discovered while in Tokyo. Cool, relaxed shaped clothing with a Japanese twist. Great stores full of clothes and accessories from the wearable to the really quirky. I simply loved it and could spend hours in there, no doubt I had to come home with a couple of pieces and I don’t regret it! Just waiting for spring to well and fully come and the weather to heat up a little bit to show it off. Be sure to do a quick stop to check it out when you go to Japan there are shops all over, for more information check out the Plain People website.
Shuzenji, Shizuoka:
Shuzenji is one of the oldest and most famous hot spring resort towns on the Izu Peninsula. It lacks hilly views of many onsen towns but it has a historical and charming feeling to the town and is a great little place to go for a wander and see what you can find. I have to highlight some places we went while staying in this charming little town.
Shuzenji temple:
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In the middle of the town and probably the most busy place in the whole town is the temple. I think that people come from far and wide to visit this beautiful place. Take a wander round the garden and take a peek into the temple, there is a little museum room which you have to pay to get into where you can see old relics. But to be honest it is not that big and I think that walking around the grounds and taking in all the statues, the perfectly trimmed trees, and the construction of the massive bell pagoda and the actual temple will give you enough of a historical insight.
Shuzenji town onsen:
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In the middle of the town runs the onsen water and there are pristine red bridges which go over it. However, for a small fee you could just simply sit and dunk your feet and relax in a mini onsen bang smack in the middle of the town. Cute or what?
Shuzenji – ten Gallery and Shop:
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A short stroll down from the temple there are a couple of shops and we fell in love with this little gallery and shop full of beautiful hand carved wood pieces. The Shuzenji – ten gallery is a charming and beautiful little space, we spent a lot of time in there trying to communicate as best we could with the friendly shopkeeper who was trying to tell us the kind of wood each piece is carved out of. From spoons to large plates and everything in between this is a creative woodworkers dream. I can now look at my beautifully made and rustic photo frame and remember what it was like to stand among all those beautiful pieces, the perfect useful souvenir. Check out the Shuzenji-ten website for their exact location or just watch out for this sign:
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Bokunenjin:
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Thanks to our new friend from the Shuzenji-ten gallery we headed to this gem of a soba spot. On the other side of the river from the temple is this incredible local place to eat. You take off your shoes on entering and you sit on the floor just like the locals.
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I had the soba with tempura shrimps and it was light and incredibly tasty. Don’t forget to order a side of the egg omelette as well which was so light and fluffy we had to order it twice. The menu is not very big and they only serve soba noodle dishes. Even though they don’t speak english they are super friendly and try and help as best they can, it was one of the best soba I have had in a long time and thanks to it not being that expensive you can have more then one portion… I was tempted!
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Definitely worth asking the locals where is good to eat, and we were so happy that we found out about this place.
Check out the trip advisor page for Bokunenjin for more details.
Cafe Koto San:
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Down the same road as Bokunenjin is a little place you can sit down and have a ice cream and a coffee. If you spot a colourful mini outside covered in little plastic ice cream cones you are in the right place. Cafe Koto San was the perfect little pit stop for a cup of coffee and an ice cream after our lunch. It is owned by a friendly retired vet who has a love of music and animals. A cute little place where he serves coffee in beautiful cups and saucers, hand grinds the coffee beans and serves up great soft ice cream including wasabi flavour. Which we mixed with some mango ice cream and it went surprisingly well, such a cute little place I wish that I had on my doorstep in London.
Check out the Cafe Koto San foursquare page for more information.
Shuzenji plum-grove:
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On the north side of the Shuzenji onsen, cover of a natural park there are an abundance of plum blossom trees. With Mount Fuji looming in the background these trees are so beautiful in the scenery and there are over 20 different kinds of trees which produce different coloured blossoms.
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They make for a thoroughly beautiful photo, they being to bloom from the end of January and the Plum Blossom Festival is held in February. Take a little stroll among these beautiful pink and white flowers and feel like you are in a fairytale world. Nature at its most beautiful and something I will never forget, be aware thought there are a lot of steps and it is quite hilly so just be prepared for that. But definitely take your time as there is definitely a lot of photo opportunities which you don’t want to miss.
I wanted to share these highlights from my trip to Tokyo and Shuzenji, a trip that I will never forget. I am so happy I get to go to such special places and to share places I have discovered with my friends and family. I love when people share their experiences with me and tell me to go to places, sharing information of amazing places and experiences is such a great thing. There are so many things to do in each city or place it is nice to know which ones you can’t miss. I can’t wait to return to some of these, just writing this makes me pine for some soba noodles with those sakura prawns and a bowl of creamy chicken ramen… if only teleportation was real!
Have you been to Tokyo and Shuzenji? Please share your little gems and places to go with me below.