This is a summary of how I spent 48 hours there and to give you an idea of what to do. Naturally you can’t do everything exactly the same but it will give you some pointers in the right direction.
Be sure to pick up the Lonely Planet Tokyo (Travel Guide) to help plan your trip.
You can find loads of other things to do in Tokyo here:
Staying with friends nearby Shibuya, one of the main areas of the city for nightlife, eating, shopping, etc, the first thing was to go on out for dinner at a local cheap eatery near their house. I suggest this is how you start the beginning of your trip, eat, eat, eat! Japanese food is great.
This being Japan somehow I ended up eating fish sperm sacks.
Then we hit up small street side bars to knock back some beers and shots, and talk with the locals. It’s really fun in these small bars but you may end up a bit lost in translation, and possibly in a drunken state. But everyone is such a blast to be around, for the most part.
I don’t have any photos from that night as a rule I won’t take my good camera out when there is drinking involved (for obvious reasons), and I forgot my phone so none from that. But the beginning was that night.
Grab some breakfast, don’t be worried about having sushi for breakfast, many travellers do. Japanese food is seriously delicious. It really is mind-blowing and not that expensive if you hit up more local places.
After eating I went to a photography exhibition (as I love photography) at the Tokyo Opera House with my 2 friends. Check out the guidebook you bought and find a good museum to go to. The national history museum is a good bet.
With my friends going back home afterwards to rest their heads I walked on by myself to the area of Shinjuku. It’s a famous party and shopping place. Wandering the busy streets ( I should note that I have rolled in on a holiday week and there are more people than usual around, and that’s saying a lot for Tokyo) it is great for people watching.
With the masses pouring all around I decided after a while to escape to more peaceful grounds, and Yoyogi Park is only a 15 minute walk from Shinjuku, which is where I went next. My head was a bit tired from jet-lag and vodka the night before.
Yoyogi Park is so chilled out, with huge trees sheltering you from the sun and peace and quiet all around. The real gem is in the centre of it at the Meiji Jingu Shrine. It’s very traditional and cultural there. You wouldn’t imagine a place like it in the midst of all the modernity around.
After chilling out there for a long time I continued walking to nearby Takeshita Street (love that name) which is known for its cosplay (costume play), although there wasn’t much of that going on that day. Still it’s a hectic place. Back into the thick of it.
The whole area has loads of shops and is very youth-centric. It’s kind of hard to take photos without some youngsters flashing the peace sign 🙂
Getting back into the city high speed pace of life, I started wondering what took me so long to get back to Tokyo.
Tokyo is epic.
I got the munchies and hit up a really good spicy ramen place, you will find them everywhere.
Going with the flow of the street life I ended up in Shibuya again where I had been the day before when arriving.
Watching the chaos of the famous Shibuya crossing for a while I then walked around the area before being totally knackered and going back to my friends apartment nearby to crash.
My friends were still sleeping the next morning and not wanting to disturb them I went out by myself and took a 30 minute train to Asakusa district. It’s actually surprising how cheap public transport is in Tokyo. That 30 minute train journey only cost $2.
The main reason for going to Asakusa was to see Senso-Ji Temple, a historic place to the goddess of mercy. Well I don’t know about the mercy part, but it’s a very atmospheric place, with the occasional chants going on, incense burning, people in traditional clothes, and a nearby small beautiful Japanese style garden.
It was a nice sunny day and was good just to sit down in the shade of some trees and do some people watching for a while.
It is one of those places where the old is surrounded by the new, but unlike Meiji Jingu in Yoyogi Park the day before it was absolutely packed with people.
I left and walked for 30 minutes to Ueno Park, taking the back streets to get there away from the tourists and busy pace of life, where you can find cute little coffee houses and only locals. The park itself was a peaceful break.
Japan is all about the cute and you can’t escape it anywhere, like the pavement picture below in Ueno Park. But that’s all good 🙂
I would suggest taking a break there for a while before going to the busy shopping alleys of Ueno area going down to the famous geek/manga/gaming/electronic Akihabara district.
Yeah things can get weird there with cutely dressed girls selling the services of maid cafes, where the girls get dressed up and serve you as you wish, in a non sexual way. They generally don’t like having their pictures taken so always ask them if it’s ok. I’ve only included photos of them from the side so not to offend.
The area is packed with manga/animation stores, massive gaming arcades, flashing bright lights all around, and the weird.
It’s fun to get lost in!
Make sure you head up into the gaming arcades and manga shops if you do go there, the atmosphere is great and you will stumble upon a few things you might not expect.
Taking a train back to Shibuya I got thrown into the busy street life there once more. I wasn’t complaining.
I absolutely love big cities.
Getting back to my friends later at night I was again buzzing from the buzz of the city streets of Tokyo.
There is so much to do there so this is just one recommendation to give you an idea.
I love Tokyo
I hope you will to.