Sunday, 26 April 2015

What to do in Tokyo, Japan

I was lucky and managed to make two trips to Tokyo last year. I did as many different things as I could during both trips and ate a large variety of food. The list below is the essence of what to do in Tokyo. It is in no particular order since I love them all and find it terribly hard to rank these places. 

If you can only do one observatory, this should be it. Ditch Skytree unless you are really keen on being really high up with not much of a view. Admission is 1500 yen with an additional 500 yen for the sky deck. I would strongly recommend paying the additional 500 yen for the sky deck because the view from the sky deck was really breath-taking. The sky deck is actually a helipad which provides a glorious 360 degree open air view of Tokyo. It can get quite cold in the autumn or winter on the sky deck, especially after the sun sets so bring your coat with you. You will be asked to leave your belongings in a locker before heading up to the sky deck.You could see Mount Fuji on one side, and the Tokyo Tower on the other. If you are lucky, you can even catch the setting sun! The Tokyo Tower was beyond beautiful when it lit up. 


It is iconic and really high up so if you like that, do check out Tokyo Skytree too. But aside from the fact that it is iconic and really high up, there is nothing much going for Tokyo Skytree unless you count Rokurinsha Ramen. 


If you like to explore a tranquil shrine without large bustling crowds, visit Meiji Shrine. A stroll along the tree-lined path will definitely restore peace in your heart.  


This area has an amazing vibe with loads to see, feel, and eat. Walking through Kaminarimon with its large red lantern, you will enter Nakamise Shopping Street which is lined with small shops on both sides. The crowd is thick by midday so I would strongly suggest making this area your first stop in the morning after 9 am. Strolling along Nakamise, taking in the bustling atmosphere, eating yummy snacks, and grabbing cute little knick knacks make a wonderful start to the day.


If you are a teen, you will enjoy Takeshita Dori with its cutesy little shops selling kawaii fashion. If you are too old to fit into cutesy little skirts (like myself), you will enjoy the young vibrant energy in Takeshita Dori and the delicious crepe! Forget about the calorie count and treat yourself to a yummy crepe and freshly prepared Calbee chips. After your tummy is satisfied, cross the road into the Omotesando area where you will find luxury brands and, if you turn into the right alley, a ton of sneaker shops! I bought a pair of rose gold Nike sneakers there which were so perfect!


You probably know this already, but I just have to repeat it again. The best spot to catch the action at Shibuya Crossing (aside from actually being in the Shibuya Crossing) is Starbucks at Level 2 of Tsutaya. This particular Starbucks is insanely crowded and everybody is gunning for the window seats. Pick the right window seat and you will find yourself facing the busiest crossing in the world. Try the Hojicha Latte which is my favourite Starbucks drink in Japan (followed by the Matcha Latte). They use real tea bags!

Shopping is perfect at Shibuya too with a million and one shopping malls. I read numerous positive reviews about Shibuya 109 and 109 Men but I am personally not too awed by them. Instead, I am totally blown away by the large Tokyu Hands in Shibuya! They have everything under the sun, and their goods are just so cute.


This place has one of the best ramen ever (Mutekiya) but I will rave about this in another blog post. My family and I came here for Sunshine City (where we did some amazing shopping) and for the giant supermarket at Seiyu. There are a bunch of sneaker shops around too though Harajuku definitely reigns supreme in terms of sneaker fashion. We were also huge fans of the Kit Kat Chocolatory inside Seibu Department Store which stocks many interesting flavours.


Take the Yurikamome for a scenic journey into Odaiba. This place is fabulous and there is just so many things to see. There is the giant Gundam Robot (don't miss the light show at night!), colorful ferris wheel at Palette Town, Toyota Museum, Venus Fort, and many large shopping malls for good shopping. The Rainbow Bridge lights up at night and is incredibly beautiful behind the Statute of Liberty.


If you want to come here for fresh sashimi, make sure you reach at the time you usually wake up to go to work. I am a self-declared lazy bone and am determined to sleep as much as I can every night so I failed to eat sashimi at Tsukiji twice in a row. Needless to say, I am extremely bummed. The good thing is, Tsukiji is fun to walk around even if you are not stuffing your face with sashimi. You can also eat other stuff like fresh scallop but make sure your tummy is strong enough (mine wasn't and I came down with a very serious bout of food poisoning).


Glitzy shopping, period. If you are into expensive brands and high-end department stores, look no further than Ginza. I can hardly afford anything at Ginza but luxurious department stores have one of the best restrooms. Just saying.


I LOVE DISNEY. Do I need to say more?


Beautiful Lake Aishi and Mount Fuji. I took a day trip and while it was enough to see the famous sights, I felt like we were rushing from point to point without much time to really soak up the view. Hakone was truly beautiful and two days might allow you to slow down your pace.


Land of manga, anime, video games, maid cafes, otakus and all things quirky. Anything mainstream is too boring for Akihabara so make sure you walk into the shops and check out everything on display. You will definitely find something that will make you go WOAH.


I stayed at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku for both trips so Shinjuku was sort of our hood at night. We explored Kabukicho and Golden Gai (in the day with my family and at night with the boyfriend), strolled through the department stores in the area and checked out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observatory (it's free!).

Next up, what to eat in Tokyo, Japan!

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