Tokyo is a city like no other. With its sci-fi streetscapes and soaring towers, it is a city that forever seems to be reaching in the future. Therefore, it is no wonder that the study trip from my master programme, MSc Management of Innovation, was to Tokyo. It is finally time to give away my top tips of highlights you have to see during your trip to Tokyo! Final note before we begin: I stayed at the Oak Hostel Cabin, a hostel where everybody sleeps in their own capsule. It was very comfortable and I felt extremely safe.
1. Shibuya Crossing
If you have seen any image of Tokyo, it was probably of the Shibuya crossing. This extremely large and busy crossroad with zebra crossing is in the heart of the Shibuya district. Shibuya is famous for its neon lights, the statue of Hachi, and the district of Harajuku, but also for Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine.
2. Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine
In the Shibuya district, you will find the large Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine. Yoyogi Park is a beautiful park that is conveniently located next to the Harajuku metro station. In the middle of the park, you will find a beautiful shrine, Meiji Shrine, which is worth a visit.
Have you ever seen pictures of Japanese girls all dolled up as their favourite cartoon character, with Hello Kitty hair bands and coloured contact lenses? This trend originated in Harajuku, Tokyo.
Not only is Harajuku famous for its unconventional dress, it is also known for the several different theme cafés that are around. Think of cafés where you can cuddle with cats, hedgehogs, owls, bunnies, or even snakes.
A different type of theme bar is the Kawaii Monster Café (“kawaii” is Japanese for “cute”). No, there are no actual monsters here. The interior of the bar is just over-the-top and the waitresses are dressed like out-of-this-world characters. Monsters, so to say. Also the food tends to be multi-coloured. For 1300 Yen (almost €10,50) you can get rainbow coloured spaghetti, and for 2300 Yen the Monsters bring a full-on multi-coloured ice cream coupe to your table. Check out their Instagram page to get a sneak peek of what it is like (I do wonder how these people take such perfect pictures, as the lighting inside is pretty terrible).
4. Tokyo Sky Tree
New to Tokyo since 2010 is the Tokyo Sky Tree. Its 634m make it the highest tower in the world, and the second tallest structure (after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). The tower is used for TV and radio broadcasting, but you can also go up to enjoy the view (from ¥1030, which is a bit over €8).
5. What To Do In Tokyo: A River Cruise!
After I payed a visit to the Tokyo Sky Tree, I went on a river cruise on the Sumida River, down to the Hamarikyu Gardens. There are a lot of different companies that organise a cruise like this, so just turn to our best friend Google and find one that you like.
6. Hamarikyu Gardens
The Hamarikyu Gardens are a beautiful park in the heart of the city. This garden was built in 1654 as a retreat for the shogun’s family (the shogun was the military dictator of Japan for about 700 years). The garden grounds surround a duck pond and there is an excellent teahouse to enjoy a Japanese cup of tea.
Address: 1-1 Hamarikyūteien
7. Kaiten-Zushi restaurant
Kaiden-What? Kaiten-Zushi! Or, in plain language, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Thus, one of these restaurants where sushi comes by on a conveyer belt. It may be considered fast food sushi, but the experience of grabbing food that comes by on a belt is invaluable.
8. Party in Shinjuku, Shibuya or Roppongi
Tokyo is not only famous for all of its tourist highlights, but also for its nightlife. The most popular areas at night are Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Roppongi.
To start off with, Shinjuku will give you the more traditional Japanese experience. The Golden Gai district is full of bars where you can have a good time. This district consists of six narrow alleys, which are at some points just wide enough for one person to pass through.
Secondly, Shibuya is the modern and classy area of Tokyo. There is a good mix here of exclusive clubs, karaoke bars, and everything in between. The more chique clubs have a strict dresscode, meaning heels for girls and leather shoes for guys.
Last but not least, Roppongi is where you will find an international crowd. Cheap Japanese girls surround the average drunk American. In short, Roppongi is known for its not-so-classy, Western bars and clubs. Thus, the recipe perfect for a night out in Tokyo as a foreigner! 😉
9. Mt. Fuji
Number 9 on the list is one that I skipped, but that several people from my group did do: Climbing up the 3776m high Mount Fuji! Climbing season is from July 1 until September 14. If you are fit, you can do the 5 to 7 hour climb in one day, but if not, you can sleep on the mountain for a night.
I once climbed Mt Batur on Bali and after this terrible experience (picked up at 1am, start climbing around 4am, horrible weather, freezing cold at the top, rain all night, too foggy to see the sunset), I decided to pass on this one. My friends had a great time and even though there it was freezing cold at the top of the mountain and it was too foggy to see the view, they didn’t regret it one bit.
Also good to know: I didn’t regret NOT climbing Mt. Fuji either, as it gave me an extra 1,5 day in Tokyo.
For more information, check out this website.
10. Kamakura (day trip from Tokyo)
Finally, my last tip is a day trip just outside of Tokyo. During my 10 days in Tokyo, we paid a visit to the seaside town of Kamakura. This city is located just outside of Tokyo, and is easy to reach by train. The highlights of Kamakura are certainly the Great Buddha, and the many, many temples. However, my personal favourite was the bamboo garden Hokokuji.
Are you ready now for your trip to Tokyo? If you still have any questions, let me know in the comments below or on Instagram!
If you enjoyed this blog, you will certainly like my Top 8 Tourist Tips for Marrakech.
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