Before diving into day two, make sure you are all caught up on day one HERE.
If you are traveling on a budget in Japan we already mentioned eating at your hotel, if breakfast is included. But if you are staying in an AirBnB or a hotel without breakfast, then one of the cheapest and fastest meals you can have in Japan comes from a vending machine. Now if this was in another country, I don’t know if we would have the same suggestion, but Japan is at the top of the vending machine game and the food that comes out of them is pretty good quality at a great price. I would opt for a Suntory milk tea or coffee and a sandwich – maybe even pick up a banana, yes they really have a few banana vending machines!
Since today we are starting off with the longest train ride of our time in Tokyo, grabbing breakfast in a vending machine at the station is a nice time saver. We are going to be grabbing the train to Keio-Tama Center Station (about an hour) to get to our first stop of the day: Sanrio Puroland! As soon as you get off the train you know you are in Hello Kitty’s town. Her face is plastered on the floor, the ceiling, the walls, vending machines, everything. You don’t have to be a Sanrio fan to enjoy Puroland, but it definitely helps. If Hello Kitty isn’t your thing then you can sub this out for Tokyo Disney or teamLab, but there is something very Tokyo about Hello Kitty.
We spent about 1.5 to 2 hours here exploring the 3 floors of merch stores, themed rooms, photo ops, and games. We even had a quick early lunch at the Sanrio Rainbow World Restaurant. Now admittedly this won’t be the best culinary experience you will have in Tokyo but it’s fun and filling. I mean who doesn’t want a Gudetama Gyudon (roast beef rice bowl)?
**Pro-tip from some unprofessionals – the Hello Kitty swag inside comes with a hefty price tag, but in between Puroland and Keio-Tama station there is a Diaso (dollar store) where you could pick up some cute Hello Kitty items for a fraction of the price**
If you haven’t had your fill of cats, great! Because we have a few… hundred more. Picking up the train, aim for Gotokuji or Miyanosaka stations. Gotokuji will be the fastest, but requires a little more walking and Miyanosaka will have less walking but is a more local station and may require a bit more work to figure out. Either way you are heading for Gōtokuji Temple, a Edo era Buddhist temple. The temple has picked up a bit in popularity over the last few years but due to it being a bit off the beaten path, it is still frequented by mostly locals. The grounds are tucked away in a very quiet residential neighborhood and make for a peaceful walk away from all the noise of central Tokyo. While the temple and surrounding spaces are worth a visit on their own, the main draw is the hundreds of lucky cats left in hopes of bringing good luck.
On the walk back to Gotokuji Station you will pass one of our favorite coffee spots in all of Japan- IRONCOFFEE. I strongly suggest hanging out at the window for a few minutes and talking to the staff (or owner if he is in) because you are guaranteed great people and great conversation. A cup of whatever they happen to be dripping that day will be incredible.
Now dinner and a show means different things to different people. To me it doesn’t get any better than a baseball game and as many stadium snacks as I can fit on my lap… and Japan does both perfectly. Back in central Tokyo we made our way to Meiji Jingu Stadium to take in a Swallows game. Make sure you show up hungry because these are not your everyday snack bar staples. We are talking Yakitori, Yakisoba, Sausages, Takoyaki, and an ever-changing menu of limited edition food and drink specials. Get there early because you can find amazing food vendors and food trucks set up outside the park before the game and have your pick of all of the Swallows gear.
Whether your team wins or loses, nothing tops off a night of cheering and singing with the locals like a late night bowl of ramen. You have almost endless options at your disposal in the city, and no matter what anyone tells you, there isn’t really a bad one. Whether you want to hit up Ramen Yamaguchi, Kintoki, Mitsuwi, or the closest Ippudo location to your hotel, any ramen in Tokyo is a memorable experience.
Wrap up your second day in Tokyo with a late night stroll back to your bed with a bowl full of ramen warming you from the inside and the satisfaction of knowing you are now a Swallows fan for life.