Tokyo is a fascinating place. Busy and modern but deeply cultural at the same time. Traditional structures such as temples, are often squished in between large modern skyscrapers – small quiet places of refuge amongst the hustle and bustle.
For a city that boasts over 13 million people it’s very logical to ensure everything is organised. Everyone knows where they’re going, what they should be doing and how they should behave. Conversations are quiet. Laughter is covered politely with one hand. Everything is done in such a way as to avoid being intrusive to another. Because of this I found that Tokyo was a very pleasant place to just explore and wander.
Food in Tokyo is plentiful and good. Literally any random restaurant you walk into will have good food. The standards are high so don’t be afraid to just try any place! I still found places with some form of english menu or pictures helpful. There are also heaps of restaurants which use vending machines to place orders. A great way to eliminate some of the language barriers. But don’t be worried if you have to mime and point at things – that’s half the fun of travelling!
If you’re a vegetarian it can be a struggle. Everything in Japan usually has some form of fish related something in it. However, there are some vegetarian and vegan restaurants popping up in Tokyo.
Things to do
There are so many things to do when you visit Tokyo. So many. Some of the fun things you can do are:
Visit Shinjuku Gyoen – One of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks. It boasts a very cool greenhouse, a French and an English style garden. If you’re lucky and go in Cherry Blossom season (late march to early April), it would be a spectacular place to have a picnic as there are Cherry Blossom in every area.
Go to Tokyo Disney Sea – Unique to Japan alone, Tokyo Disney Sea is touted as the most beautiful Disney theme park in the world. The park is made up of several sections which are based on myths and legends of the sea. My favourite place was Mermaid Lagoon! Don’t forget to dress up when you go. Many Japanese go with friends or on couple dates which usually involve coordinated outfits. You might laugh at first, but being surrounded by matching couples and groups of friends everywhere will make you want to join in. And half the fun of Disney Land is being able to dress up! If you want to get the best experience out of Tokyo Disney Sea, I would definitely recommend getting fast passes so you can see all the rides and avoid waiting forever in queues.
Stroll through Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) – A very impressive shrine which was built in honour of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The Shrine is built within a very large forested area. It has a number of lovely walking trails and several smaller gardens within the main park.
Wander through Harajuku (and buy all the things) – See all the cool things in Harajuku. Most importantly, buy all the cool things in Harajuku! Definitely a must-see, Harajuku is a quirky place for fashion and also well known for crepes.
Visit the Samurai Museum! – Super cool Samurai museum in the heart of Tokyo. Definitely worth the visit to learn about all things Samurai. The museum has a large array of really really old armour and weapons. Highly recommend going with a free tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and happily went through the history of Samurai, which was very insightful.
Be inspired by the Studio Ghibli Museum – Definitely one of my favourite places in Japan. The Studio Ghibli Museum is a must-visit if you’re a fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s films – Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service… the list goes on! There’s no photography allowed inside the museum, – only outside. But I can tell you that there are some rooms filled with sketches from the various films which will leave you with a burning desire to become an artist. Then you’ll walk outside and realise you can’t actually draw…
Take a day trip out to Hakone – This actually deserves a whole post to itself. Only about 30 minutes away by bullet train, Hakone is a magical place. Very pretty even in poor weather. If you’re lucky and you get a clear day you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji! Many people travel to Hakone to enjoy the hot springs and be amongst nature. There are many lovely walking tracks and unique stores which sell special Hakone wood mosaic work. Definitely a great place to visit if you want a rest from the bustle that is Tokyo.
Tokyo should definitely be on your bucket list if it’s not already on there. So many fun things to do and see. And even though it’s such a busy city which can sometimes be quite overwhelming, it’s very easy to get away from all the bustle on day trips. Not only that, but there are many beautiful parks within the heart of Tokyo itself in which to unwind.
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you want further details about any of the places i visited while in Tokyo, please comment below and i’ll try my best to answer 🙂
Until next time!