WILL DEFINIETLY HAPPEN: You will be fascinated by everything! When we say everything we mean everything! From electronics in Akihabara, to the larger than life Robots in Kabukicho, to the freshest most delicious food in the world! You will experience the high-tech, perfectionist, at times hedonistic, magical land that is Tokyo, Japan!
**MUST DO- Visit Kabuki-cho, just past Shinjuku, home to the Golden Gai and Robot Bar.
WILL PROBABLY HAPPEN: You will visit Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s busiest seafood market. Well worth a detour and an early morning wake-up call. Get there at 3am to be sure you do not miss the famous tuna auctions!
PROBABLY WON’T HAPPEN: You will leave without trying the local beverages, ice cold sake with sushi is a must, or if you like beer, you will have the MOST AMAZING (longest to poor) beer at the Kirin City in Shibuya! If you don’t like alcohol you have come to the wrong place 😉
DEFINITELY WON’T HAPPEN: You will leave without having eaten the best sushi/curry chicken/suki yaki of your life. Japanese people are perfectionists (although they don’t feel that way) Each thing you will eat from a basic soba to a piece of sashimi has been treated with the utmost culinary respect and will be simply unforgettable.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO, JAPAN:
- Shopping in Shibuya. Home to the world’s busiest cross walk and great shopping, dining and nightlife. Have at least one night out in Shibuya and don’t bypass karaoke.
- Tsukiji Fish Market. Eat sushi for breakfast at the largest Fish Market in the world. Get there early (around 3am) if you want to see the Tuna auctions.
- Park Hyatt Shinjuku has a great Jazz bar and restaurant the New York Bar & Grill with incredible views over Tokyo
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden a large park with a beautiful Japanese garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya. It was originally a residence of the Naitō family in the Edo period. Particularly pretty during Spring time when the cherry blossoms (sakura) are out.
- Kabuki-cho and the Golden Gai district in Tokyo. Around 200 ramshackle bars in tiny alleys.
- Robot Bar. Anthony Bourdain has labeled it ‘the greatest show on earth’, definitely worth a trip to Japan alone. See Tokyo City Guide post for more on Robot Bar.
- Meiji Shrine, a Shinto Shrine located in Shibuya, the shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, its still active and you can see Japanese people still going there to pay there respects. A very peaceful place and less ‘touisty’ than other shrines.
- Odaiba is a man made island in Tokyo Bay with shopping and entertainment district that offers great views of Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge, a highly recommended way to spend an afternoon in Tokyo.
- Roppongi Hills a shopping district with some of the best restaurants in the world. Mori Tower and Art Museum. The Tokyo skyline picture in this post was taken from the Mori Tower. The Mori Art Museum showcases interesting Japanese artists, I saw a Murakami exhibition here once.
- Ginza a mix of traditional and modern. is one of the best places to see the neon lights of Tokyo. A world-renowned shopping district, Ginza is a fascinating place where the latest trends and the oldest traditions meet. This harmonious mix is clearly visible in its streets lined by department stores, designer boutiques. In addition, the district is an art haven with theaters and over 200 galleries. There a many Michelin-starred restaurants in Ginza, including Jiro Ono’s 10-seat 3 Michelin star sushi bar.
Budget for at least $100 a day this will cover you for basics like food, drinking and transport.
The subway is well priced, clean and probably the most reliable transport you will ever catch in your life. You can travel just about everywhere by train in Tokyo. Shinjuku station is the busiest station in the world, best to avoid peak hour thought or you will feel like a sardine.
Is expensive. Unless you stay in a capsule motel (more on this later). Hotels range from $200 USD-$1000 USD per night. There are some great options on air bnb Tokyo, to rent a small but adequate apartment in great locations, like Shibuya.
Do not blow your nose in public, this is considered rude. Do not kiss your partner in public, this is also considered rude. Japanese people do not like to be touched, so don’t slap your Japanese friend on the back or touch them as you are talking. Be sure to line up on the subway stations. Don’t tip, its not customary, and can be offensive.
Most dress styles go in Japan. From salary men wearing suits to cosplay baby doll maids and vampire-chic, Japanese people embrace fashion and uniqueness. Dress smart casual for daily activities, a little funkier or dressier for bars and if visiting shrines, religious monuments, or memorial sights make sure to have some covered clothing.
Most western countries do not require a visa to visit Japan, this will be granted once you arrive. Just be organized with your accommodation details and other travel documentation that you may be asked for.
Budget at least $100 a day for activities for Japan. You will want to take day trips and eat lots of delicious Japanese delicacies
There are many free activities to do in Japan. Many parks and and shrines don’t cost anything to check out, this is also a relaxing change of pace from the crowded subways and streets.
Tokyo in a word:
‘Irrashaimase’ means ‘Welcome’. You have probably heard this before. You will hear this everywhere you go! Learn ‘Thank-you’ ‘Arigato Gozimasu’ (Ari-gat-o Goz-i-muss).