In the short time that I have been in Japan, I’ve had opportunities to dine on some of the best foods that Tokyo has to offer. Filled with an innumerable amount of opportunities to delight the senses, Tokyo has become one of my favorite places on earth to be. From ramen that will warm your soul to jewel-like sushi, you would need a lifetime to fully appreciate all that this area has to offer. While I could recommend several dining establishments, the one thing that I would recommend above all else is the experience of dining alone.
Now hear me out, I know that the mere mention of solo dining may make me seem like a weird or lonely person. Even though solo dining is sometimes perceived as a solitary activity for those without friends, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Dining alone is a liberating experience that I believe that we should all indulge in every once and a while.
Daily life asks so much from us in terms of social obligations as we go about our day to day lives; we must put our best foot forward and maintain a certain demeanor constantly. It’s necessary to give yourself some alone time to unwind and go over the day and what better way than with a tasty meal. This is especially important in Tokyo, the best place for solo dining in the world. With a number of places that are open to a table for one, you wouldn’t look out of place here if you decide to treat yourself to a meal.
1. Ichiran Ramen
My personal favorite place for solo dining in Tokyo is Ichiran, a chain ramen restaurant where, from start to finish, you can have a totally private experience. One of the main reasons that I like Ichiran is that you can make it through the whole experience with little Japanese knowledge. At the beginning of my time in Japan, it was definitely a place that I did not feel intimidated to visit, even with my lack of knowledge of Japanese culture and language. Since the seating is in a cubicle style and customers can’t see each other, its a great place to read a book or catch up on a little Netflix. It was definitely a lifesaver after my first trip into the streets of Shibuya.
2. Hitori Yakiniku Misono
Another spot for solo dining in Tokyo that’s still on my bucket list is Hitori Yakiniku Misono. If you don’t know what yakiniku is, it’s basically Japanese-style barbecue, usually meant to be a communal meal due to the huge portions. At Misono, they have counter seats where everyone gets their own little grill and they can sit and fry their meat, having it all to themselves without sharing. One of the biggest factors in choosing to dine alone is the fact that you don’t have to compromise on what you want. If you want to just eat meat and nothing else then you can go to a place like Misono and eat to your heart’s desire.
3. Moomin Cafe
If you aren’t completely comfortable with the idea of having a whole table to yourself, then go to any of the three Moomin Cafes in Tokyo where you can sit down and have a meal with an adorable Moomin doll to keep you company. In addition to the Moomin cafes, Japan is filled with unusual and interesting cafes that appeal to all sorts of niche interests, be it reptiles or cute cartoons, there is something for everyone. Admittedly, not everyone is interested in these niche interest cafes, so don’t be afraid to go alone! This type of experience is unique to Tokyo and is something that should definitely be experienced, even if you go alone.
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Solo dining is an act of self-indulgence that gives you time for introspection which everyone needs. The world is a busy and hectic place that demands a lot from people on a day to day basis. Sometimes we need some space for ourselves and all in all, achieving this through a meal is one of the best ways to do so. Next time you’re hankering for a meal, grab your coat and head on out for a solo adventure.
Francisco is a student who is currently studying abroad in Japan. He enjoys walking around the streets of Tokyo and discovering great places to eat.