Tokyo is one of the biggest city in the world and fascinates by its strong culture and soul. Near Shanghai, it is interesting and easy to dive into another asiatic way of thinking and art of living. Here is a shortlist for a nice itinerary in the heart of Tokyo.
How to move ?
Once at the airport, you should buy a PASMO or a SUICA and charge it with about Y3000 (about 25 euros). Subways in Japan are quite expensive but easy to understand. Those cards enables you to take whatever transport you want and are available in konbinis as well.
Google Maps is a great help there because streets are not as organized as the Chinese pattern. They are not listed or recognizable with precise billboards.
Therefore, I recommend you to buy a SIM card at the airport – even it is expensive as well, you will be prepared for any surprise ! Eventually, you can also buy it in the shop Big Camera (Shibuya area) for about 13 euros for 2 gigas.
First day :
Shibuya area is one of the first thing of which people think about when you speak about Tokyo. As a very animated space, you can enjoy the famous pedestrian crossing always crowded. That’s very impressive ! Near the railway station, you also have the emblem of Tokyo, the Hachiko dog.
You can have a lunch in a sushi restaurant on conveyor belt which is called Genki Sushi. The atmosphere is surprising and it is also a good value for money.
All over Shibuya you will find a lot of love hotels, fancy and cosy bars, small streets but also huge shops. It is a good way to enter Japanese atmosphere ; you will discover your first pachinkos, speakers in the streets and neon illuminations. You can finish by Yoyogi park to have a look on a typical temple.
Second day :
If you are full of energy, let’s move on at dawn to discover a sumo training ! Those very special fighters are practicing in the streets of Asakusabashi very early in the morning. This area is very nice for a walk as well, there are a lot of coffees, small houses and bicycles. Then, reach back the Asakusa district which has the very special atmosphere of old Tokyo. It is the ultimate traditional part of the city with temples on every street corner.
Have a lunch break in Nakamise Street to enjoy street food and then enter the Senso-Ji sanctuary. This series of temples presents different styles and architecture of the conception of sacred in Japan. You can finish the day in Ueno park which offers a lot of museums and a delightful and huge green space.
Third day :
Let’s try another side of Japan and go to the countryside 🙂
About one hour from Ebisu railway station is located a charming city called Kamakura. At the seaside, it was in the medieval era the political center of Japan. It is now a seaside resort surrounded by mountains, a perfect spot for surf and a good idea for an easy hike. There are a lot of temples to visit, I particularly recommend the Hokoku-ji one ; you can find a bamboo forest and a meditative atmosphere thanks to the site’s beauty.
You can take the bus between the different points of interest or easily walk between them. If you are lucky, you will be overfly by a lot of birds of prey ; a complete immersion out of the city 😉 The city is also famous for its Great Buddha of Kotoku-in, a huge sculpture of 11 meters from the 13th century. You can even enter the statue and admire the work from its inside.
Last day :
Back in Tokyo for the last moments ; I recommend you to enjoy Naka-Meguro and Ebisu districts. There are a lot of coffees, nice walk along the riverside (perfect spot for Sakura, cherry blossoms)… In the street behind Naka-Meguro railway station, you have a lot of great sushis restaurants on “tatamis”. Daikanyama area is also great for libraries, beautiful shops and design atmosphere. To end this Japanese trip, you should definitely try a shento or onsen which are respectively public baths and natural thermal bath. Those places are dedicated to well-being and are very present in Japanese usages ; be careful, a lot of them are naked area ! Here is an adress in theses environs.
I hope you will love your days in Tokyo ! Of course, there are a lot of other things to do ; the fish market, numerous museums, the geek district of Akihabara… Feel free to add your tips or ask for other ones in the comment zone 🙂