Quick Tokyo Guide.
The capital city of Japan is a tourist haven. Every travelling style and need is accounted for here- from luxury to budget travel, sun, diving, snow, skiing, food and alcohol, religious sites and ultra modern elements. There is something here for everyone. I’m often asked for suggestions about the best things to do, eat and see. Therefore the Quick Tokyo Guide was born! This is a list of resources that will help you plan the ultimate Tokyo adventure!
Currency- Japanese Yen
Tokyo is a central hub of international transport with many full service and budget airlines providing regular routes to both Narita and Haneda airports. I managed to score a Jetstar budget flight from Melbourne to Narita for around $350 each way, although I have noticed they regularly offer a 2 for 1 deal.
I have only flown into Narita so cannot speak for Haneda, but my advice would be to avoid taxis as they will cost you a fortune. The fastest, and in my opinion the simplest way to get to central Tokyo would be to jump on a N’EX train. These high-speed trains will get you into Tokyo within an hour. Cost- 4000yen/ AU$45/US$33US
Purchasing a Suica or Pasmo cards is the easiest option. These can be purchased at majority of train stations and convenience stores. The cards are rechargeable with currency, but unfortunately they don’t provide any sort of discount. However it makes travel much easy as it calculates the fare for you, so you don’t have to worry about correct fares or the keeping track of paper tickets. It’s tap and go! These cards can be used interchangeably at all Tokyo transport, as well as paying for luggage lockers, vending machines and often at many convenience stores, showing that their use and convenience is limitless.
Cost- PASMO approx 1,000 yen, including a 500 yen deposit and stored value of 500 yen. SUICA from 2,000 yen, including a 500 yen deposit and stored value of 1,500 yen.
Where to stay?
*Citadines Shinjuku (See my full reviews here)
*Granbell Shinjuku(See my full reviews here)
Things to do/see:
- Walk across the famous Shibuya crossing. This iconic Tokyo site that connects the Shibuya train station to Shibuya 109 shopping area, is renowned for when the traffic stops and thousands of people flood the crossing. A great vantage point to see this is from the Starbucks on the second level in the Shibuya 109 building.
- Play arcade games. You’ll find multi level arcade parlours in every area of Tokyo. Explore each level then play a few rounds- looking to win KitKats, anime figurines or extra tokens for more games.
- Edo Tokyo Museum – will give you an incite into the growth and development of the city from its roots as the early capital Edo through to modern day Tokyo.
- Go fashion spotting in Harajuku on the weekends. Keep your eyes peeled for teenagers wearing the latest trends and Harajuku fashion.
- Check out Akihabara- the center of electronic and gadget shopping as well as the otaku cultural center (best for manga, anime and video gaming). Due to the clintelle that this area regularly receives (young Japanese) this is also the area to find Cat cafes or Maid cafes.
- Mejii shrine– the most famous Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Located in the peaceful area of Tokyo around Yoyogi park this temple is a serene and fascinating place to visit. Keep your eyes out for wedding couples dressed beautifully in traditional kimonos.
- Find a bathhouse and enjoy an onsen/sento nude. Be brave and strip off to enjoy the ritual and the hot water. You will find local establishments in every suburb, or more fancy establishments offering more spa like amenities. Top suggestions include Spa LaQua (admission approx- Y2600) or my personal favourite Oedo Onsen Monogatari (admission approx – Y2500) (For those wanting a more in depth explanation check out my guide of how to onsen! Click here!)
Things to eat:
- Fresh sushi- the best place to try fresh sushi or sashimi would be in the area surrounding the Tsujiki fish market. In other areas of Tokyo you’ll find plenty of conveyor belt sushi or sushi only establishments. A personal favourite was Genki Sushi in Shibuya which had plenty of vegetarian and cooked seafood options, as I’m not personally a fan of raw fish!
- Yakitori- small chunks of chicken meat (breast, thigh, skin, liver, etc) threaded onto bamboo skewers then grilled over hot charcoals and topped with a sweet sauce.
- Ramen- traditionally a bowl of pork based broth heavy in garlic, served with al-dente cooked noodles. This is often presented with slices of roasted pork, marinated boiled egg, leeks, spring onions and bean shoots.
Places to drink:
- Golden Gai district in Shinjuku. The Golden Gai is a block filled with tiny bars and drinking dens in the center of Shinjuku’s Red Light District. Although it is renowned for being run and the known lair of the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) this is a safe place to visit. Many bars will not permit tourists but there are plenty that will allow you to pull up a seat.
- The New York Bar at the Park Hyatt. Who wouldn’t love to order a ‘For a relaxing time make it Suntory Time’ whiskey in the bar depicted in the classic Lost in Translation. Whether you are a film buff, Bill Murray fan or just looking for somewhere classy to drink this is a great choice. Note that evening rates include a Y2400 cover charge fee.
Best daytrip from:
- Kamakura- people flock here to see the Giant Buddha, but many do not recognise that there are exquisite Buddhist temples within easy walking distance. Hase-dera temple is a must see. A comfortable hours train from Tokyo Kamakura is an easy day trip destination.
Department stores in Japan not only sell the latest in fashion and homewares, but also have entire floors dedicated to food. You will find the very best and most visually appealing food supplies here meaning that you’ll be spending top dollar. However in the late afternoon prices are slashed to as low at Y100 to clear everything. You can find some amazing top quality sushi as well as other yummy items on sale during this time, making it a perfect hint for a budget traveller.