A complete guide to Tokyo, Japan
Oh my gosh, I am so excited for you to explore Tokyo. Like I am actually quite envious right now that you are planning / considering a trip to Tokyo because I had the adventure of a lifetime here.
I’m feeling super nostalgic over my time in Tokyo and I’ve only been gone 2 hours…
Tokyo, for those of you that don’t know, is the capital of Japan located on the largest island that makes up this Asian sensation, going by the name of Honshu. Tokyo is an undeniably thriving city that boasts a maze of streets and neighbourhoods all filled with endless colour and aroma. Tokyo’s vibrant decoration and architecture makes even a walk to the shop for milk, a highly engaging and photo friendly experience.
Tokyo really isn’t your average Asian destination.
Whilst most Asian cities i’ve previously been too will have one hot, sweaty and playing sardines on public transport, Tokyo is way ahead of the game. Their efficiently running and extensive infrastructure delivers you from one end of this large city to the other without a bead of sweat (the metro is lot more spacious than the London underground and has air conditioning). It’s quite amazing to experience.
People were honestly queuing nicely to get on the metro… without instruction. Even the noise that sounds when the metro doors are about to close, sounds like you are in some kind of Disney film.
It’s these tiny details about Tokyo that make it the most pleasant, fun and fascinating of experiences.
Add the calm and selfless nature of the Japanese population that was so evident throughout my whole stay and you cannot help but fall in love with Tokyos subtle flare.
I just love that within minutes of exploring Shubuya’s world famous crossing and candy flossed streets of Harajuku, you can be surrounded by endless greens, temples and hawking crows.
The diversity of adventure on offer in such a small vaccinity keeps even a high adventure seeking traveller like me, occupied infinitely.
To give you an example, during our time in Tokyo we: petted hedgehogs in a hedgehog cafe, went to a sumo wrestling competition, drove go karts through the city dressed as Mario Kart characters as the sun set, at picnics in the park, explored temples, learnt how to make sushi, ate rainbow coloured candy floss with harajuku girls and went to a fresh fish market. Oh we also ate on a kill bill set and sung karaoke in a private room for some casual evening entertainment.
Your senses will be totally awakened for your whole Tokyo experience, trust me, it’s magic.
Should you manage to be king of no jetlag and with some time to spare during your visit, you should definitely consider the likes of Osaka and Kyoto too.
So. Tokyo. Let’s break it down.
As always, i’ve plotted all the places I went to (plus the ones I didn’t quite have time to see) that may be of interest to you guys onto a google map. Everything mentioned in this post is plotted so open this link up on the Google App on your phone and you navigate yourself to the hottest places in Tokyo!
The ultimate hotspots on a google map, just for you…
Where should you stay?
To be honest, the transport system is so good I wouldn’t stress too much about where you stay.
I stayed in the heart of the shopping, food and lights district – Shibuya. This is also where you’ll find THAT crossing, the one claimed to be one of the busiest in the world – Shibuya crossing.
Though you will most definitely find hotels cheaper in other areas, if you can hunt down a bargain or afford to be in Shibuya – that would be my recommendation. That’s if you want to be in the heart of Tokyos entertainment and madness anyhow.
How do you get around?
As I mentioned previously, the tube and metro system is super quick, it’s clean and it’s efficient – I would definitely recommend giving it a go. It will open up your Tokyo experience, makes the city seem super small and cuts costs of taxis.
You can of course buy single tickets but if you find yourself a fan of the metro like I was, definitely get yourself a Moo Moo card. You can pick one up at any station and it acts like an Oyster… but better. You’ll save the pennies with one of these if you’re taking multiple trips.
Top tip: You can use the MooMoo card on trains, trams, in taxis, in the super market. Its a one card wonder.
P.s. Tokyo does also have Uber and a yellow cab system to hand. Use 1l08a to get £10 off your first Uber ride!
When should you go to Tokyo?
Spring (march – may)
Mild weather (summer by day, jackets for evening) and blossoming of trees. Cherry blossom season!
Summer (june – august)
Hot weather (up to 40deg) and rainy season.
Autumn (september – november)
Temperature cools a little but is still pleasantly warm. September runs the greatest risks of typhoons but aside from that it’s a great time to explore.
(We went 13-23rd September and crossed paths with a Typhoon. I would say we had 1 cloudy day, 2 heavy rain days and then a week of gorgeous hot sunshine!)
Winter (december – february)
Clear, crisp and pleasant. Temperature usually averages 1-5 deg, but Tokyo receives little or no snow. Head north for the snow!
What should you do in Tokyo?
1. Wander the electric Takeshita street in Harajuku
2. Buy or eat something pink there (not hard)
3. Experience a cat / owl / hedgehog / rabbit cafe
4. Visit some of Tokyos temples
5. Learn how to make sushi
I booked our class through Airbnb experiences – book the same one that I did here.
6. Experience a tea ceremony
7. Try something matcha
8. Tuck into a good Japanese ramen
9. Eat sushi, gyoza and all the Japanese food
10. Tour the streets of Toyko dressed as Mario Kart characters
11. Admire panoramic views of Tokyo from up the Tokyo Tower
12. Take the metro (Yurikamomei line) over Rainbow Bridge
13. Get pot noodle from a 711
14. Watch sumo wrestling
15. See Tokyo at night (the skyline if you can)
16. Eat local
17. Walk across the legendary Shibuya crossing
18. Eat at Gonpachi restaurant where Kill Bill was filmed (the food is amazing!)
19. Party in Rappongi
20. Wander around Ayasana traditional town and explore the temples and markets
21. Check out the Daiso store (pound shop equivalent!)
Pick up souvenirs and all your favourite Japanese treats to take home.
Cleaner, fresher eateries for when the rice, sushi and noodes gets too much…
- Rainbow Raw (raw vegan goodness)
- Eggs ‘n Things
- Sky High Juice Bar (unreal acai bowls)
- Brown Rice by Neils Yard Remedies
Random facts and tips for Tokyo:
- Be sure to research vegetarian eateries before you get to Tokyo. The Japanese eat and serve up a LOT of pork and it is in most restaurant dishes.
- The noise when you get on the metro is the BEST… go check it out!
- Grapes are SO big and juicy but so expensive (I was craving fruit and paid £9 for a tub!)
- You can use the MooMoo card on trains, trams, in taxis, in the super market. Its a one card wonder.
Watch out for:
- Exhibitions at museum of emerging science
- Sumo competitions
- Ultra Japan
Have you been to Tokyo?
What did you think? What did you get up to?
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