Temple viewing, sumo wrestling matches and lots of karaoke on the itinerary can only mean one thing, Tokyo!
The energy is electrifying!
Located on Japan’s largest island, Honshu, Tokyo was originally a small fishing village and was not officially established until 1889. After back to back disasters (the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and World War II), Tokyo was completely rebuilt and made its big debut during the 1964 Summer Olympics. Today, fashionistas walk the neon-lit streets amongst bustling markets selling electronics, anime and video games. Your senses are in for an awakening in this colourful capital!
Narita Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND) are the two international airports of Tokyo. If you arrive in Narita, a one-hour ride on the JR Narita Express will take you to Tokyo Station in the city centre while the Tokyo Monorail takes about 25 minutes and is the best transportation between Haneda Airport and the city centre. There is also nonstop transportation between both airports and Shinagawa Station, which is much less crowded and easier to navigate than Tokyo Station. When in the city, Subways, trains and bikes are the best way to travel around.
Here’s a pro-tip: Taxi’s in Tokyo open their passenger door automatically from a switch activated by the driver so watch out for the swinging door when you approach!
There are so many things to do in such a lively and exciting city! Quirky cafes, Instagram-able food and shopping like you have never seen before are only on the surface of this magnificent capital city. Here are my top picks of things to do in Tokyo:
Here’s a Pro-Tip: If you love amusement parks, Tokyo is a fabulous place to visit! Some of the most notable are Yomiuriland, DisneySea and Thunder Dolphin Roller Coaster.
Cherry blossoms are Japan’s national flower!
Tokyo Skytree – This 634 metre (2,080 ft) tall broadcasting and observation tower is the tallest tower in the world and offers sweeping 360 degree views of the city. Enjoy the many Skytree shops nearby, including the beloved Hello Kitty shop plus master amezaiku (candy sculptor) artists demonstrating their skill.
The Ghibli Museum guard!
Ueno Park – Located on lands that once belonged to the Buddhist temple of Kan’ei-ji, Ueno is now the largest park in Tokyo. Home to Tokyo National Museum, Shitamachi Museum and the Musuem of Nature and Science (just to name a few), this is the perfect place for a day of museum hopping and enjoying the numerous springtime cherry blossoms throughout the park.
Ryogōku Kokugikan – Located nearby Ryogōku, Tokyo’s sumo capital, this indoor sports venue hosts many sumo wrestling tournaments and matches along with boxing, wrestling and music concerts. There is an on-site Sumo Museum and even a sumo-themed restaurant!
As one of the most renowned cuisines in the world, Japanese food is certainly one of a kind. In traditional Japanese culture, the number 5 is considered very meaningful. This mindset extends into the cuisine as well. The five senses, colours (white, black, red, green and yellow), tastes (salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami), and ways of preparation (raw, simmered, fried, steamed and roasted or grilled) are typically all incorporated into a meal. Miso soup, sushi, and kaiseki (small, beautifully crafted seasonal tasting courses) are some dishes that I highly recommend tasting while in Tokyo! You can find excellent high-quality meals at Yatai, or small food stalls set up throughout the city. Otherwise here are some of my top places to experience the art of Japanese cuisine:
- Ninja Shinjuku – This gourmet restaurant offers more than just fantastic food, from the artistic presentation of the dishes to the ninja show entertainment, this restaurant is a true experience for all of the senses!
- Nakiryu – Known for delicious Michelin star ramen, this is a great Tokyo lunch spot, or place for a lighter meal. There is usually a queue, so plan to arrive early.
- Toyosu Fish Market – This large fish market has an array of incredibly fresh fish on offer and is home to many incredible sushi restaurants including Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Itadori Bekkan and Daiwa Sushi.
Sushi: the Rolls Rice of food!
Here’s a Pro-Tip: For some quirky Tokyo food, make your way to Harajuku, a district of Shibuya where you will find (amongst an abundance of shops, cafes and bars) some truly unique food options!
For goodness ‘sake’, that looks like a good time!
- The SG Club – Consisting of two floors, each with its own concept, décor and menu, this refined bar in Shibuya serves deliciously intricate cocktails, many of which are Japanese inspired
- Bar Propaganda – Located in Roppongi, “The Prop” is a fun-loving cocktail bar with weekly live music and DJ’s and a great beer selection.
- Utsrua Utsura – Equipped with a sake sommelier, the main focus of this more relaxed Shibuya bar is to pair the perfect sake with your otoshi (similar to tapas).
Tokyo is a big city, so deciding where to stay in Tokyo can be overwhelming! Here are some great recommendations to make your planning a bit easier:
- Imperial Hotel – Centrally located, this luxury stay is Tokyo’s most historic hotel featuring a wide selection of restaurants and bars and remarkable spa services.
- Claska – A quieter accommodation, a bit outside of the city centre, this super modern hotel features art galleries and a lovely roof terrace.
- Shibuya Granbell Hotel – Located in the heart of Tokyo, this lively boutique hotel offers a variety of rooms with different styles, sizes and colours.
The bustle of Tokyo never ends, and neither does the fun! I am always left with a new appreciation for creativity, food and a brand-new outfit!