Nowhere in Japan is more wild, bright and colourful as Harajuku. This neighbourhood is filled to bursting with amazing places to see! Below is my list of the best places get those iconics shots of Kawaii Tokyo! All the stops are located at the bottom in a handy dandy google map for you to follow and are in an easy to follow directional order.
Exploring Harajuku is more than just walking down the famed Takeshita Dori Street. There are so many side alleys and hidden shops you need to explore to get a real sense of what Harajuku is all about and not just the touristy side of things. I’ve tried to make this list an easy to follow walking path from the station so you don’t have to backtrack too much!
Japan has the reputation of being unique, quirky and sometimes even flat out weird. But not weird in a bad, but weird in a good way. These unique experiences which are synonymous with Tokyo are the reason some people make the trip out there. While I would always advise you pair your adventures in Japan with some traditional experiences as well, I do completely understand those who want to find all the most bizarre activities this country has to offer. Here are my favourite weird and wonderful places and adventures to can find in Tokyo!
Travelling to Japan as a first timer is a daunting experience. Going to a city where they don't use the Roman alphabet, let alone speak the language, is just one more hurdle which can make those first few hours in the city all that more confusing and intimidating. But trust me, Japan is one of the most incredible cities in the world and the kind people you'll find there are always more than happy to help you out with any pickle you might find yourself in. That being said, after many "first times" in Japan, I've plotted my top tips to ensure your first few hours there go as smoothly as possible, and you've set yourself up for success for the rest of your trip to Japan!
When visiting the famed area of Asakusa and the Sensoji shrine you're bound to work up an appetite! Luckily, Nakamise Shopping Street and the side streets around it, have a plethora of amazing street foods to choose from. I decided to make a day of this the last time I visited. Come HUNGRY because there are so many different things you NEED to try! This one area offers up so many traditional Japanese street foods, each one costing only a dollar or so. You can easily spend under $15 for an entire 10-course meal! There are plenty of food tours of this area, but it's so easy to do it yourself. While having a guide is a great way to ask questions and find out more from a local's perspective about the area, doing it on your own means it's up to you to find your way around and interact with the locals yourself.
When you think of visiting Japan, no doubt one of the first things you'll imagine is walking into an ancient temple, painted bright vermillion, the smells of incense wafting the air. One of the most iconic of these temples is Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo. Perhaps the most visited temple in Tokyo, Sensoji is also the oldest temple in the city with over half millennia of stories to tell.
About an hour from Tokyo lies the seaside town of Yokohama. It is the second largest city in Japan with a population of 3.7 million. Despite being such a big city it still keeps the small town feel that it once had when it was first established. Yokohama makes for an easy day-trip from Tokyo. It’s a scenic escape with a myriad of peaceful gardens and exciting activities.
Blocks away from Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in Tokyo, you'll find Nakano. Nakano feels like the amalgamation of everything we dream about Japan being. You can find some of the best ramen shops, grandmothers dumplings, bustling Japanese shopping centers and the best in Japanese pop culture. And the best part about Nakano is that it's a low-rise neighbourhood, meaning that unlike Shinjuku with it's towering neon skyscrapers, this feels more like a quiet suburban community.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to do a bunch of psychedelic drugs in the year 2200? Well, wonder no more because the Robot Restaurant here in Tokyo is here to show you! The "restaurant" isn't really a restaurant at all. What it is, is a futuristic, energetic, vibrant, exciting, surprising and overall insane display modern, Japanese cabaret.
In my ‘11 Things to Know Before Travelling to Japan’, I tackled how the country has an amazing public transport system, that gourmet-level meals are available at convenience stores, and that their toilets are indeed as amazing as you think. What I didn’t tell you about Japan is how important the cherry blossoms are to the nation’s culture.
If you're looking for a peaceful day trip from Tokyo, Enoshima is the ticket. This tiny little island off the coast is one of the most serene and beautiful places I had the chance to visit on my last trip to Japan. It was so perfect and quaint it felt like a cartoon seaside village from a Miyazaki film. Hiking up and down the island you'll be able to see stunning shrines, perfectly manicured parks, a secret garden, and if you're VERY VERY lucky, a wonderful view of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is known as the shy mountain so don't expect to see anything but feel lucky if you do. The island itself is inaccessible to vehicles, making it an incredibly quiet location, and walking up the hills, sometimes the only sounds which can be heard the birds and wind through the trees.
If you’re looking for the busiest, liveliest, brightest, craziest area to stay while visiting Tokyo, there is no other option for you other than Shinjuku. Shinjuku is home to the world’s biggest railways station, where more than two million passengers flow through their hallways each day. Just a taste of the immensity of this mini-city.
Visiting Tokyo in the wintertime is one of Japan's best-kept secrets. So many people avoid travelling in the winter due to the cold but if you layer on those coats and scarves, you'll be treated to a Japan which is sometimes only seen by locals and those few tourists who make the effort to brave the elements. Winters in Tokyo are meant for soaking in hot springs, visiting Mount Fuji on a clear day and best of all, eating delicious winter food! Dining in Tokyo can be had for as little as under $20 or as much as over $100. I've been sure to include various price points in this list so whether you're looking for a cheap lunch or a luxurious dinner there is something for everyone!
Tokyo Disney is one of the most amazing amusement parks in the world but what they really excel at is creating incredible merchandise to commemorate your time in the park or wear throughout the park to show off your passions! Japanese fans love their merchandise! You'll see girls wearing backpacks COVERED in little Duffy keychains, so many the backpack simply disappears. Everyone who is anyone in the park will be wearing some sort of Disney gear and trust me, upon seeing everything that's on offer here you'll find it impossible not to buy it all. But here is my list of the BEST items to both buy while you're in the park and bring home for your fellow Disney loving friends and family.
Tokyo DisneySea is, without a doubt, the very best of all the Disney Parks around the world. Sorry, Paris, California and Shanghai, this place just got ya beat! Maybe it's the imaginative themeing, the "stepping into another world" charm, the kindness of the employees or the respectfulness of the crowds. Whatever it is, this place truly is magic.
There is so much to see and do in Tokyo, and unless you're armed with a month or two to explore it, chances are you might have to be more careful with how you spend your time to ensure you see and do everything on your bucket list! While Tokyo is devoid of "scams" which plague some other cities in Asia, there are some overrated attractions which aren't worth your time or money. Hopefully, this list will help you make the most of this magical city!
Japan is often thought of as an expensive city to visit. Tokyo is one of the world largest metropolis and while finding a cheap place to stay might not always be a walk in the park, you can easily save money on eating out while still eating like a king!
In my constant search for all things related to travelling in Japan, I discovered that unlike the traditional four seasons which the western world uses to divide their calendar, Japan celebrates 72 different "micro-seasons". These micro-seasons each are given a wonderfully descriptive name which paints a perfect picture of those little moments throughout the year.
Depending on where you're setting off from, you're most likely looking at an at least 13-hour flight to Japan. If you don't have the cash to splurge for first class - and let's face it basically no one does - see if your airline has to ability to upgrade to upgrade your seats for some extra legroom.
During the cherry blossom season, when many people make the pilgrimage to Tokyo to witness this natural phenomenon, festival food stalls crowd the pathways around the temple. Off-season, there are only a few, run down stalls on site, selling traditional Japanese street food to locals and tourists alike.