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one day in japan

hi folks,

first post here. i'm a looooong time lurker and finally joined in because i'm looking for some specific recommendations.

in a few weeks i'll be having a long layover in tokyo. i'll have 14 hours there and i plan on eating my way from haneda to narita.

i get into haneda at 5 in the morning and fly out of narita at 7pm.

looks like trains and buses run fairly regularly from haneda and various parts of tokyo. what i'm not sure about is what time i should be getting into narita for an international flight out.

i don't speak any japanese, but this will be my 3rd time in japan and i'm relatively familiar with how to find my way around with trains and subway.

i'd like recommendations for areas where i can get off the train and walk and eat for a couple of hours at a time for breakfast, early lunch, and lunner (meal between lunch and dinner).

i've done tsukiji market and would love to do it again and get some sushi for breakfast there, but i also welcome traditional japanese breakfast somewhere else as well.

i would think a busy business district with restaurants catering to salary men for lunch would be good for the second meal.

i'm not opposed to getting out of the heart of tokyo for lunner, and also am not sure if this would be too ambitious on my part, trying to squeeze in a third meal spot.

one note is that i'm not afraid to walk! having lived in nyc walking for 30 minutes or more is definitely not a problem, and it would only help with my appetite!

any suggestions and recommendations on where to go and which train to take would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. We actually did a thread on this last year or so. Might want to look into a search here.

    You'll want to be out at Narita by about 5pm and it takes at least an hour to get out there from the east side of the city, longer from central or western parts. So your cutoff is about 4pm, which probably won't get you into dinner service in most restaurants. Most "proper" sit down places, like we discuss here, are closed before 5pm or during the 2-5 "lunner" slot. So I would suggest finding a nice lunch spot and perhaps hitting a ramen or soba joint in the afternoon and maybe a cruise through one of the better depachika department store food halls for takeout stuff to eat on the train and perhaps flight back home. These are open from 10am until night....As to where exactly to eat lunch, there are plenty of options discussed here. Kinda one of the largest cities in the world. So better to pick a neighborhood or type of cuisine if you want specific recs.

    In the morning, I would just head to Tsukiji. There really isn't a strong dining out breakfast culture in Japan. For a traditional Japanese take, I don't know, maybe one of the large international hotels does some kind of set. Otherwise, Tsukiji has early morning sushi and other options open and in a fairly concentrated area.

    1. For breakfast I'd say either have a Japanese traditional breakfast at a hotel, or have sushi. There's no point in spending two hours of your ten hours in Tokyo waiting on line in Tsukiji Inner Market, so one of the Outer Market restaurants like Zanmai might be better. Zanmai also has 24-hour branches all over Tokyo, so there's not that big an advantage to going to a Tsukiji branch unless you want to see the Outer Market also, which is fun (and is one of the few things going at that hour). There are also tons of breakfast places that opened in the past 18 months serving international breakfasts, if that's what you want.

      I'll skip lunch for now as there are literally tens of thousands of options.

      For your final meal before leaving at 3:30 or 4pm, generally restaurants in department stores, shopping malls and major train stations are more likely to serve food all afternoon. So for example in Tokyo Station North Court (inside the wicket) you can find excellent Sendai-style beef-tongue cuisine at Rikyu, or wander around the Kurobei Yokocho complex (http://bento.com/ra-nihon.html#tokyos... ) where there are around a dozen pretty good places, most of which are open all afternoon. You can also shop for food to eat later inside the station or at Daimaru department store food floor basement right next to the station.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Robb S

        One important part in food is fun you can experience.. So if you have done the Tsukiji market once or twice, I will suggest you at first a early breakfast at Komoro soba (less than 400yens) in Nihonbashi, open from 7:00am). Busy morning for the salary man, you will meet the crowd !!
        http://m.blogs.yahoo.co.jp/kimubb2003...
        Put your luggage in custody in the Tokyo Station, exit at Marunouchi, follow the Eitai Avenue on the opposite right side of Oazo Bldg, then go straight until you reach the Chuo Avenue, Komoro soba will be on left side.
        After you will be in a 30 mn distance from Ginza, in the Ginza crossing ask the Police Box a map of Ginza in english and try the lunch at Sushi Taichi 2500yens, 5000yens. You have to try the well prepared sushi!!!
        - and before taking the express, if you want to see the last high tech or buy the last no wire Walkman Sony in Akihabara, the ramen Aoshima is open from 11:00 to 19:30.

        1. re: Ninisix

          That sounds like a really great day eating out in Tokyo.

            1. re: yawgwee

              Am probably too late, and as regular posters/ readers know, I've not even been yet, am currently planning my first trip.
              Would Ebisu fit your requirements? Lots of different casual food stalls, serving lots of different food, sounds like it's quite buzzy and popular with locals? If I'm reading correctly...

              1. re: Kavey

                Ebisu doesn't really have "food stalls," no. There are a number of casual restaurants and bars there, and roughly none of them are open for business at 3 or 4 pm.

                1. re: Robb S

                  Aah, I guess they're more mini restaurants/ izakaya?
                  I had bookmarked articles like this one: http://www.time.com/time/travel/cityg...
                  Whilst I realise they're not food stalls like a street food market, it seemed they might be the kind of places you could stop into for small snacks, and browse between a few of them for a varied meal?
                  Had been thinking more for the earlier time slots of breakfast and or lunch, not mid afternoon...
                  But obviously, not been so was just a thought.

                  1. re: Kavey

                    No, actually you're on the right track in that you can go to a place like Buri or wherever for half an hour, have a drink and a bite, then move on to the next place. But shops like that tend to open at 5pm and stay open until late. (And if they are open for lunch, it's usually not very exciting.)

                    1. re: Robb S

                      Regarding that article, I don't particularly recommend Saiki anyway and there is also a factual mistake confusing tonkotsu and tonkatsu....I love Ebisu though, but after dark....I will use Buri as a meeting spot for one drink.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Oh gosh, I'll have to be careful, I'd not notice tonkotsu / tonkatsu difference. Not that I'll see it much as imagine won't be English menus at many places... :-)

                      2. re: Kavey

                        The picture in the Time article is actually one of the places in the Ebisu Yokocho (on whatever that street is that runs into Komazawa Dori), so that might be what was meant by "casual food stalls". Yes it is quite popular with locals and yes I did drop a lot of coin there over the years. And yes I don't think any of them are open before 4 or 5 PM. Don't remember if they had English menus or not.

                        1. re: kamiosaki

                          For what it's worth, Gurunavi says that Nikuzushi 肉寿司 in Ebisu Yokocho has English speaking staff, although they may or may not have an English menu. Can't say whether or not any of the other places in Ebisu Yokocho have 'em, as their pages on Gurunavi are sort of sparse.

                          GuruNavi: Nikuzushi - English page
                          http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a687110/lang/en/

                          Tabelog: Nikuzushi - photos of menu
                          http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1303/A13030...

                          1. re: graceface

                            I used to love nikuzushi but a friend told me that the original nikuzushi had closed down and was replaced by something not very good (and very foreigner unfriendly). Has anyone been recently? I would love it if my friend gave me incorrect information as nikuzushi was a really fun place. Haven't been for quite some time though.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              There wasn't much English overall, not that we had to use much Japanese to get what we wanted to eat. Also a lot of the places were on the really grungy and cramped side. But like anyplace else in Japan once you go a few times they would start to warm up to you a bit. Never went to Nikuzushi though. Ginmaru was the one we ended up at most frequently, sometimes followed at 1 AM by a trip round the corner to Ippudo to refuel more cheaply. Then either Footnik, Muse or the 300 yen bar in Shibuya, sure most of you know how the rest of that story goes etc.

                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                EDIT: Is it still open? I see some recent reviews and now I'm confused.

                                That friend was me. I stopped by with a friend(japanese actually) and we noticed that the decor and chef and the restaurant/stall setup was different. My friend asked if they were still nikuzushi and they were not. They also were pretty gruff and unfriendly.

                                It wasn't the type of gruffness that comes from an older master of their craft but rather a gruffness that comes from being a young person and also a jerk.

                                We ate at another place inside the yokocho and it was ok, nothing special but a fun experience sitting on milk cartons and drinking and eating shirako and cow tail. God I love shirako...