24 hours in Tokyo is not nearly enough time. However if you find yourself in that predicament, I highly suggest taking the time for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Chazen.
24 hours in Tokyo
Call me crazy but yes I went to Tokyo for 24 hours. Less than 24 hours if we’re being technical. Flying to Thailand from Los Angeles with my airline, I had to layover in Tokyo anyway. After a bit of back & forth with the husband, I finally got him to agree to pitstop in Tokyo. For 24 hours. I get it. He has already spent a great deal of time in Tokyo already and our holiday was 3 weeks in Thailand/Cambodia, not Japan. Point is, I was happy to take the 24 hours and I did it without complaint.
Sushi, Karaoke, Japanese Tea Ceremony
The reason I’m not writing a 24-hours in Tokyo blog post is because I my experience was unique. We have good family friends that live in Tokyo so all I had to do was tell them that we were coming and they planned everything. Knowing my time was limited, had 3 things I really wanted to do – sushi, karaoke room, Japanese tea ceremony. Our friends did not disappoint! They joined us for sushi dinner and karaoke while we went to the tea ceremony by ourselves the next day before heading to the airport.
For the record, while everyone else in my group are sushi lovers, I am sushi light. I just graduated from California rolls to basic sashimi last year. Still, we couldn’t go to Japan and not have sushi (we had ramen too).
Our friends took us to Sushi Maru and it was everything we hoped it would be. This coming from a non-sushi lover.
I’m NOT a karaoke person. I’ve done it a few times…in a group on stage but in general I don’t like to sing karaoke. But something about karaoke in a private room in Tokyo sounded very appealing to me.
Private room, personal waitress, unlimited singing, heck they even brought us microwaved popcorn! I cannot wait to try this back here in the States.
Chazen Japanese Tea Ceremony
Conveniently located in Ginza next to a theater Kabuki-za, Chazen is easy to find. After taking the elevator to the 5th floor of a small building, we were warmly greeted by our tea ceremony master, Rie Takeda.
We did not request a private ceremony so there were 5 other people in addition to the 4 in my party. We were an International group of us 4 Americans, 2 Hungarian women, and 3 Chinese women. Rie conducted the entire ceremony in English. The tea ceremony was educational from the start.
After group introductions, we watched a short video explaining the history and significance of the Japanese tea ceremony and specifically matcha tea. We took our turn at grinding up matcha.
From there we washed our hands in the “tsukubai” outside on the balcony before taking off our shoes and climbing through the small nijiriguchi to the authentic tea room.
Now the fun started. Rie served us delicious Japanese treats and we ate while she walked us through the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and matcha making. The treats were almost too pretty to eat!
Then it was our turn. One-by-one we all made our own cup of matcha. I think the general consensus is that Rie’s matcha was much, much, better.
Less than an hour later we were out the door off to a ramen lunch before heading to the airport to fly to Bangkok. My overall consensus? I like tea but I don’t love it and I’m not a huge matcha fan. Having said all that, I had a wonderful experience! Rie was so sweet. I would highly recommend visiting Chazen when in Tokyo!
Have you been to Japan?
My overnight accomodations in Tokyo were at Hundred Stay – Tokyo Shinjuku. You can find my TripAdvisor review here.