Japan: An incredible Trip to Remember

Our Head of Growth Marketing Irine Gujabidze writes an interesting memoir of her business trip to Japan to attend Foodex

Having been in the business and marketing profession for over 12 years, I'll admit that blogging or keeping diaries has never quite been my forte. However, Instagram highlights have become my go-to for preserving memories, offering a snapshot of my experiences for future reflection and sharing with others.

Yet, this recent work trip to Japan has completely changed my perspective. Despite having been fortunate employee of Whatever Brands to travel across beautiful and interesting countries and continents, I've never felt an urge to document my adventures—until now. So, if you're intrigued and considering a trip to Japan, or simply enjoy a good read, stick around.

Touching down at Tokyo Haneda Airport on March 3rd after a 14 hour long-haul flight from New York's JFK, I found myself navigating the landing forms, a routine yet necessary task for British and EU citizens. Pro tip: to bypass the queues, pre-fill the form and generate a QR code online. It's a game-changer. Here's the link: https://www.vjw.digital.go.jp/main/#/vjwplo001

But enough about logistics—let's dive into the heart of my Tokyo experience. Tokyo Foodex kicked off promptly the next morning, marking the official start of our mission. I can say, our company’s internal ethos is "work hard, play hard," and boy, did we embrace it. From very busy work days at the show and numerous important meetings to being invited at British Embassy of Tokyo, Tokyo kept us on our toes.

Given that our hotel was located in the Shinjuku neighbourhood, right in Tokyo's buzzing nightlife, our daily commute to Tokyo Big Sight for the exhibition took approximately an hour. Surprisingly, navigating the underground system was a breeze once we familiarised ourselves with it. As for the metro system itself, what can I say? It was impeccably clean, just like my very own living room. Tokyo Big Sight itself deserves a few words —a futuristic exhibition centre that stands as the largest in Tokyo, home to our Whatever Brands stand. Its architectural design is breathtaking, as you can see from the images.


Now, Tokyo—where do I begin? This city is an absolute mind-blowing, whether you're a first-time visitor to Asia or a seasoned traveller like our team. The vibrant Shibuya-ku district, just a stone's throw from Shibuya's bustling high street, immediately captured my attention with its array of designer boutiques and tantalizing dining options.


 For those who wants a luxury shopping experience, Ginza is the place to be, boasting gleaming, massive stores that capture your eyes, soul and wallet. And let's not forget Ueno-Ameyoko—a shopping wonderland where you can find unique souvenirs at bargain prices.

Our team indulged in some retail therapy at Niko and …, edgy Japanese clothing at irresistible prices. If you're seeking to elevate your wardrobe, Public Tokyo offer trendy options that promise to stand the test of time. And here comes our favourite boutique, Hysteric Glamour, with the trendy bar downstairs, and the boutique upstairs, this was a trendiest shop in Tokyo we encountered.

Another noteworthy mention is the Don Quixote store in Tokyo. It's not your typical clothing outlet; rather, it's a unique blend of grocery, clothing, and luxury items. Yes, you heard that right.

During our visit for market research on food items, we stumbled upon a vast array of products, ranging from affordable snacks to mid-range desserts, kids' toys, and even high-end designer bags and jewellery from brands like Louis Vuitton and Rolex—no exaggeration. The store we visited in Shinjuku was already massive, and we found ourselves lost in every aisle for a whopping 1.5 hours. If you're craving an even larger experience, head to Shibuya Mega Don Quixote—I can only imagine what wonders await there.


But Tokyo isn't just about shopping malls—it's a treasure trove of street markets brimming with culinary delights and unique souvenirs. Harajuku street market stole my heart with its delectable street food and handcrafted treasures, while Yanaka Ginza radiated traditional charm, complete with its resident maneki neko mascot.

And let's not overlook the breath-taking sights Tokyo has to offer. From the historic Asakusa neighbour-hood and its iconic Senso-ji temple to the colourful and authentic Shinjuku Golden Guy, each corner of Tokyo is steeped in history and intrigue. However, if you want to experience real Tokyo (my opinion of course), visit Shibuya Crossing; this place is crazy…



One particular highlight for me was Shinjuku—a vibrant hub teeming with nightlife, dining options, and bustling shopping malls. And nestled within Shinjuku is the enchanting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.


 And if you're a fan of anime, Akihabara is your playground. This vibrant neighbour-hood pulsates with energy, offering a glimpse into the fantastical world of Japanese animation. We did have a blast there, played, laughed and won couple of anime toys.


But our Japanese adventure didn't end in Tokyo. A three-hour bullet train ride transported us to Kyoto, a city that felt like a living embodiment of my childhood dreams.

From the graceful geishas to the serene temples, Kyoto captivated me in ways I never imagined possible.

Among the plethora of attractions in Kyoto, several stood out as must-visit landmarks. The Fushimi Inari Shrine, with its iconic rows of vermilion torii gates, was an unforgettable sight. The serene beauty of the Kiyomizu Temple, where visitors can offer wishes by tying colourful sachets to its railing, left a lasting impression. Additionally, the towering presence of the Diagoji Temple and the tranquil atmosphere of the Hokan-ji Temple provided moments of reflection and awe.




No visit to Kyoto would be complete without marveling at the exquisite Golden Pavilion and admiring the timeless elegance of the Yasaka Pagoda. Each of these landmarks contributed to the rich tapestry of experiences that Kyoto had to offer, making it an essential destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the essence of Japan.




In essence, Japan isn't just a destination—it's an experience that transcends the ordinary, leaving an indelible mark on the soul. And if my words have piqued your curiosity, I encourage you to embark on your own Japanese odyssey. Who knows what wonders await?


Happy travels!

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