Tokyo is on the bucket list of every globetrotter and with good reason. It’s a world unto itself with its rich, crazy, and distinctive lifestyle. Tokyo is frantically modern and fast paced but embraces traditional Japanese culture to create a unique language of its own.
Tokyo is MASSIVE
Let me warn you. Tokyo is a huge city! You need to set aside proper time if you want to really take in the city. From revelling in traditional Japanese culture to enjoying the eclectic selection of eateries serving scrumptious food, you’ll need more than a couple of days to really cover Tokyo, even with the bullet trains!
Soak in the Tokyo Air
There’s honestly no place like Tokyo. Before getting started, here’s a quick roundup of useful tips that will help you plan your visit to Tokyo.
People mostly converse in Japanese. English is halted and limited but with Olympics 2020 next year, you’ll spot a lot of English signs. Free WiFi is not readily available so having your own global hotspot would certainly make things easier for you. You can find WIFI at major chains such as Starbucks or Mcdonald’s but it isn’t very convenient when you’re trying to navigate or maximize your time in the city.
You need a Place to Crash for the Night
After being on your feet all day exploring a city which has more to offer than you can take in, you will certainly be exhausted and want to hit the sack ASAP. Tokyo offers you a diverse selection of accommodation from luxurious to mid-rage, where you can check in and catch up on your zzz’s before returning to your wild exploration trip.
For those who are on a budget, the backpackers’ hostels are the best option. Tokyo has an extensive train system and you can stay anywhere close to one of the stations.
Tea inspired Boutique Hotel – Hotel 1899
One of Tokyo’s newest properties is the brand new Hotel 1899 that opened its doors to public in December 2018. It’s less than a half an hour drive from Haneda Airport and Tokyo Metro lines are within the walking distance. The tea influences throughout this trendy hotel are thoughtful and quite clever. For instance, the lamp shades resemble the chasen (a whisk for matcha). The bath amenities are all infused with green tea. The clean and spacious guest rooms are stocked with tea and biscuits for you to enjoy. The hotel offers a ‘handy’ phone for you to take along your adventures. It saved me from getting lost and helped me stay in touch with family and friends as long distance calling was complimentary. Ask for a room with a view and you won’t be disappointed!
Courtyard Marriott Ginza
If you are not someone who’s into trendy hotels, Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza is right up your alley with a rich 50-year legacy of hospitality. The hotel is located in the core of Ginza district and depicts Japanese flair for efficiency and organization. There are several dining options on-site that will satisfy even the pickiest eater. In true Marriott fashion, afternoon tea is also served daily. You will find world class shopping at your doorstep as major fashion houses such Dior, Gucci, and Cartier are all a hop, skip, and jump away. Pro Tip – Taxi Drivers and locals may refer to it as Tobu Hotel in Ginza.
Things to Do
However short or long your stay in the city is, you will want to make the most out of it. If you are wondering what to do or where to go, here’s a rundown of the must-do activities and must-see places in one of the most-visited cities of the world.
Shop in Ginza
Ginza (銀座) is known as the most high-end shopping district of Tokyo. The one-kilometre long main street, Chuo Dori, is closed for traffic so the pedestrians can enjoy their shopping on weekends. Sleek and modern stores line up the streets boasting names like Chanel, Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci alongside affordable options like Zara, H&M, and GAP. You can go shopping for electronics at the Sony showroom, the Apple store, or inclusive electronics store options like Big Camera.
Visit the Oldest Temple in Tokyo
Sensō-ji Temple is one of the oldest in the capital of Japan. Sensō-ji is one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples and offers a great way to understanding the intrinsic spiritual values of the Japanese way of life. If you want to learn more about Buddhism and want to observe Shinto customs first-hand, this is a must-see place. Leading up to the Sensō-ji temple is none other than Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street, where you will be able to try various street foods as well as pick up all of your souvenirs – they literally have everything you could want!
MORI Building Digital Art Museum
Even if you are not into art, you can drop by the MORI Building Digital Art Museum to capture some out of this world, insta-worthy images. Equipped with mesmerizing lights and ever-changing colours, the museum is sectioned into Borderless World, Athletic Forest, Future Park, Forest of Resonating Lamps and En Tea House. I fell in love with the Crystal World and couldn’t get over the hypnotic dance of lights and colours.
One of the most frequently visited tourist spots is the Shibuya Crossing (also known as the Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble Crossing). The sheer number of people crossing the street is overwhelming. I would recommend going up to the Second Cup above Tsutaya to really capture this moment.
The Eclectic, Delicious Food Scene in Tokyo
Tokyo offers a diverse and appetizing variety of mouth-watering food.
Heinz Beck Tokyo
Heinz Beck Tokyo is a Michelin star restaurant offers the best Italian food in Tokyo. Set up by the chef of La Pergola, the cuisine is enriched with organic vegetables and typical Japanese ingredients. I would recommend everyone to capture the beautifully presented dishes before you dig into your pasta with carbonara sauce. If you’re a true foodie, you will appreciate this extremely thoughtful Michelin star menu. Be sure to pay the extra for truffle.
Muraki at the Courtyard Marriott Ginza
Featuring the wooden inlay, Muraki Restaurant is a modern restaurant that offers a wide range of Japanese specialities presented in a unique style. You can either opt for a la carte or go with a prix fixe menu depending on your appetite and budget. I loved the tempura counter where you can see firsthand how the chef meticulously prepares tempura. If you’re in search elevated Japanese fare, than Muraki would be an excellent option.
Kit Kat Chocolatory
Jump right into your Willy Wonka Chocolate fantasies by tasting the best chocolate ever! The offerings at the Kit Kat Chocolatory in Ginza are a feast for the palette as well as the eyes as you can observe the pastry chefs creating each and every sweet concoction. I opted for their matcha flavoured sundae. Did you know that you can find over 40 different flavours of Kit Kat in Japan?
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
This was quite a discovery for me. Nestled inside a flower shop, Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is one of the most romantic tea spots ever! Every week, the cafe is adorned with a new type of flower and the menu has enough tea offerings that you will need time to decide which one to try. We have all visited a flower shop but how many of us can say that we have dined in one? This is your chance for a truly unique experience.
Afternoon tea at the ANA intercontinental
The world’s First Ruby Chocolate Afternoon Tea was offered at the Atrium Lounge inside the ANA Intercontinental. Concocted with the Ruby Cocoa Beans, this is only the fourth type of chocolate offering in the world and is highly sought after. This high-end afternoon tea experience left me want for more. Currently they have a sensational strawberry afternoon tea set available until March 31, 2019. Now’s your chance to try out the very rare all-natural white strawberry!
Hopefully, I have given you enough travel inspiration to make the most out of your Tokyo visit. Let me know if you have had the chance to visit the places and how it went for you!