Sequels are dope because there’s less need for a back story. All the characters pretty much know each other, so the fun starts way quicker. That pretty much sums up my second trip to Tokyo. But, I know you like details, and I’d love to take you on a visual tour. For this trip, we opted for easy shots using an iPhone 11. We left the bigger cameras back home because they’re heavy to bring along, and their settings are harder to adjust on the fly. In a fast-paced city like Tokyo, bobble head Super Mario and friends will drive through the intersection in brightly painted go-carts. Yea that happened, and then, the moments over before you had the chance to adjust the shutter speed.

But first, a little back story. I was set to DJ at Buddy Buddy again, this time with my boy Eddie Grand joining me. Jessica’s birthday happened to be that same weekend, and we were meeting a few other friends I’d met on my first trip to Tokyo earlier in the year. It was two weeks before Christmas, and the flights were crazy, so Jess and I, unfortunately, had to catch separate flights to different airports. Jess arrived at Narita, and I touched down in Haneda. We both arrived within 30 minutes of each other, but Jess’s airport was 2 hours away. Uh oh. Her cab ride to the Airbnb would come to almost $300, but we had no choice but to eat the cost. It took a bite out of our budget, but we were insistent on not letting it ruin the trip. Remember, all good sequels need a plot twist. At this point, we were glad we made it safely and happy to push forward.

Jess and I stayed at Port House, a quaint Airbnb and hostel-style hotel in Shibuya-ku, right off the Hatagaya subway stop. Eddie stayed in Port house too, but he flew in to meet us a few days later. In the meantime, Jess and I roamed Tokyo alone, but the first stop on the list was Gram, a restaurant well known for its jiggly pancakes. We HAD to try them, there was no other place on Earth that made pancakes like this. We’re from Jersey, the home of 24-hour diners and breakfast. We like to consider ourselves connoisseurs of breakfast, and jiggly pancakes were uncharted territory. Our friend Bianca decided to join us for breakfast.

After filling up on pancakes and my morning cafe, we shot across town to meet my homies, Ikuhiko and Miki Majima, owners of Buddy Buddy. Buddy Buddy is my favorite spot to chill out, listen to obscure music, and grab a drink. Ikuhiko hooked us up with some extra snacks, then Jess and I hit the road again for dinner. We spent the entire afternoon taking taxis and linking up with our friends.

See the photo above? We have no clue who the guy on the bottom left is, but he was diggin’ the vibes (especially Jess’s) and asked if he could practice his English with us. After a little Charades and small talk, we invited him to take a picture with us. To us, this flamboyantly outgoing Japanese man was legendary, and these are the best moments tourism can’t buy.

For dinner, we hit a new ramen spot and ate some of the best noodles ever. The four of us walked around the mall and grabbed matching hoodies to commemorate our Tokyo meetup.

After shopping all over Shibuya, we walked over to Takeshita Street, a shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes, and restaurants in Harajuku. Harajuku is known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. It was getting late and most places close up after 10pm, so we grabbed some oversized crepes and snacks before we headed home. Getting a good, late-night meal is hard when you’re not staying at a deluxe hotel. We were jet-lagged after a 14 hour trip from Newark International, and eager to grab much-needed rest. The next day we planned to hit Team Lab Planets and more. Tokyo is enormous, like ridiculously humongous, and transportation around town can be intensive! The night was young, but the week was just beginning for us. We would need to readjust our jet-lagged bodies to keep up with our schedule for the week.

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