'i was really excited to come back to japan after 3 years away. I was coming from south america so i knew that this would be something totally different. tokyo'...
when you first arrive at the airport either narita like me or haneda you will notice that most of the signs are translated into english but if you lose your way like me. i had only 2 mins to get to the platform before the train departed i got lost and as soon a i looked lost a japanese girl came over straight away and asked if she could help. you will find this is japan, even though people are very reserved and quite they are also very hospitable to each other and foreigners so don't be afraid to ask people some people don't speak much english but most young people do and are happy to help.
there are so many areas to stay in tokyo it just depends on your budget, i stayed in grids capsule hotel and hostel its very clean near akihabara so in a good area but what you need to understand in tokyo is that this is not a walking city the distances are so vast that yes you can walk from some areas to other i would recommend getting a metro pass that lets you travel around whole city for either 24,48,72 hours. i took the 72 hour option as the title suggests it was ¥1500 and i could use it as many times as i like around the whole city. considering that one trip costs on average ¥200 its a bargain as some days i took more than 6 trains around different areas i think i saves at least ¥2000 over the 72 hours.
So here are a few of my favourite areas in tokyo each with there own charm and craziness..
this is were you will find the tokyo metropolitan building that has a free viewing platform until 11pm so its a great option for those on a budget as the other viewing platforms are charging a lot. this is a place for young people. lots of cool restaurants and bars especially in golden gai. you will also find gyoen gardens here its extremely beautiful especially if you go in cherry blossom season.
this is the place where you will find one of the most famous sites in tokyo the ‘shinbuya crossing’. its the busiest crossing in the world and especially in the afternoon when all the company men leave work its a incredible experience to be part of the mash up of people but also to watch and take some cool photos get yourself to one of the cafes overlooking the crossings and enjoy the spectacle of mass human movement.
shinbuya also has some of my favourite places to eat. uobei sushi is a robot sushi place that has no servers and instead small robotic machines bring your sushi direct to your seat after ordering on a table in english of course the sushi is super fresh and will be some of the best you have ever tasted on it only cost ¥108 for 2 pieces so you will get full for less than $6. also try out this ramen restaurant that has an interesting concept of making your eat in a booth alone so that you can totally immerse your self in the taste of the noodles its strange if your a couple but very cool if your travelling alone as its take away from the taking up a whole table by yourself in the restaurant. explore the area and enjoy the atmosphere, its electric in the night time.
harajuku & otomosando
harajuku is were you will find the anime guys and girls and even though not so common anymore you can still catch a glimpse in this area as its full of mostly high school students and all things cute so for gifts its a great place to go. the most famous place here is actually a temple (meiji jingu) nearby its very calming and serene try and go early to avoid the crowds.
walking down the main road you will come to the luxury area of otomotosando this is where you will find all the luxury shops and really cool architecture of the new building that the brands have as their flagships. i would recommend going to the louis vuitton building as they has a permanent art gallery on the top floor that is free of charge and open every day. around the corner you will find the dominic ansel bakery famous for creating the cronut, its expensive but delicious. a little further on you will find that (notoriety cafe) its a bird cafe this was one of the highlights of my time in tokyo you pay ¥80 for a drink and your surrounded by the most beautiful birds that are singing all day long if you want to touch they do a 5min experience for ¥50 this is definitely recommend.
this was the area that was closest to my place. its known as electric town as you can buy all things electronic here. it has lots of games and arcades so a great place to take the kids also to note that on sunday afternoon the main road is closed to make a pedestrian walk way. yodobashi camera is an electronics mega store its has everything you could ever dream of when it comes to electronics my favourite area was of course the camera floor. i would recommend coco curry house here to eat its a chain but you can get fabulous chicken katsu curry there and its only about ¥80.
uneo park & other area
this is where you go for the cherry blossom its a beautiful park with lots of things to do but its super famous for the row of cherry blossom trees that line the entrance i can in early march but one or two trees had blossomed early so i was really lucky. its such a big deal in japanese culture.
senso-ji temple; i woke up at dawn to get here early as its super busy and when i arrived there was barely a person in sight this gave me the opportunity to take some amazing pictures. its also the place where you can get your fortune for ¥100 you take the stick out of the metal box and select the draw with the corresponding symbol don't worry your fortune comes with the english translation. this is a cool area for the afternoon as it has lots of restaurants, shops and bars to choose from so keep a whole afternoon to explore the area.
eye explore night time photography tour
this is a special shoutout as i had the pleasure of joining a nighttime photography tour that was located in both shinjuku and shibuya. I got some of the best night shots that i have ever taken on this tour so i can highly recommend that you take this tour if your interested in photography. you can click here to visit their site to book.
you could spend weeks in tokyo and only touch the surface of all the great sights and areas. japan to me has always held a place in a my heart since i visited for the first time back in 2014. It is truly a special place and im sure that you will enjoy the city and country just as much as i did.
my recommended places to visit
- senso ji temple
- metropolitan building (free views)
- shibuya crossing at 7pm
- kotori cafe (bird cafe)
places to eat
- uobei sushi
- domonic ansel bakery
- bird cafe
- ichiran ramen
- blue bottle cafe (amazing coffee)
how to get around
- metro: get the pass
where i stayed
- grids akihabara around $25 per night.
length of stay
- this is a 72 hour guide and i would recommend that as a minimum.
- everyone thinks that japan is very expensive and while that is true for backpackers for me its was the same price as european cities like rome and paris and it seemed definitely cheaper than LA where i was paying $55 per night for a hostel.
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: very expensive here
sim card: wifi is everywhere i would do that as sim cards can be expensive depending on you length of stay.
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
Booking.com: get $20usd off your booking here
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here