After 4 years of living in Asia and visiting Japan twice, I finally went to Tokyo! I had bought my plane ticket on a whim 4 months prior as an attempt to have more weekend travels for 2018. Japan is only a two hour plane ride from Seoul, Korea, yet it is a lot pricier than most Japanese destinations. Even the hostels are expensive, but I've heard are top quality. 9 Hours, the hostel I stayed in, located in Shinjuku has an amazing view of the city from the 8th floor. It also had pajamas, slippers, towels, a locker and a toothbrush and paste given to you at check-in unlike most hostels I've stayed in.
I didn't do a whole lot of planning because I would only be in the city for 48 hours. As a first timer going to Tokyo, there were so many things I wanted to do and see which would be impossible for the amount of time I would be there. So I checked out other travel resources to see what they would recommend a first timer to do in Tokyo. Temples and shrines were at the top of the list but I skipped some places because I wanted to see other things. Here are a list of things you can do whilst in Tokyo for 48 hours!
DAY ONE IN TOKYO-- MUST SEE SIGHTS
The Imperial Palace is a large park surrounded by moats.There is no entrance fee, but they do give you a plastic ticket you are supposed to return when you leave. The grounds are very peaceful, considering it is in the extremely busy city of Tokyo. However, you don't hear much traffic which is nice. It's a great place to go for a stroll and see cherry blossoms.
Closest Station: Takebashi
These red gates are a popular staple of Japan. Unfortunately, the one I really wanted to see was all the way in Kyoto. The gates at this shrine are smaller and descend down a staircase but are the highlight of this shrine. It is located behind the main building and you can access it from only the right side. There is no fee to enter!
Closest Station: Kokkaigijido-Mae
Senso-ji Temple & Nakamise Street
Although I only got 3 hours of sleep, Senso-ji was the first place I went when I landed. It is Tokyo's oldest and most visited Buddhist Temple. This temple is very impressive and is one of the number one attractions in the country. This temple is the most colourful temple in the city and the busiest. It can get noisy and very crowded but it is a great place to experience the historical side of Japan. Be prepared for the clouds of smoke due to the large burning incense sticks. Nakamise street is a shopping street directly in front of the temple. It's a great place to buy Japanese souvenirs or street food.
Closest Station: Asakusa
Skytree is the world's largest tower, standing at 634 meters. The tower is used as a TV and radio broadcasting site. There is also a restaurant and observation deck so you can see the 360 degree view of Tokyo. The only downside is the price. To visit the main deck it costs 900yen ($11 CAD) and the top deck tour is 2,800yen ($34 CAD).
Closest Station: Kamiyacho
Kabukicho District, Shinjuku
Shinjuku is an amazingly quirky place with tons of glowing neon signs, bars/restaurants and crowds. Walking through the streets take time because if you don't look up you will miss so many great places. There are tons of things to do from pachinko parlours to walking about Central Park.
Closest Station: Shinjuku
Gonpachi Nishiazabu (Kill Bill Restaurant)
The great thing about Gonpachi is that the menu consists of mostly appetizers. If you are with a group you can try lots of different foods to share. Gonpachi is a chain so there are multiple locations, however the Roppongi restaurant is the one where Kill Bill was filmed so it tends to be very, very busy. You can always book a time slot online that way you don't have to wait an hour for a table.
Closest Station: Roppongi
DAY TWO IN TOKYO-- MUST SEE SIGHTS
Dubbed the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya crossing is known for their scramble crossing. Not sure what that is? Think of people crossing from all different corners of the street at the same time because all the traffic is halted. That is scramble crossing. This crosswalk is consistently packed with shoppers, commuters, tourists and students. To get a good view of the scramble visit the Starbucks or another coffee shop across from the subway station.
Closest Station: Shibuya
Kawaii Monster Cafe
Kawaii Monster Cafe is the craziest cafe I have ever seen. Everything is colourful and psychedelic. Once you enter there is a colourful cake merry-go-round that actually turns. The decor is really trippy, there are animal heads and baby bottles hanging from the ceilings. There are large mushrooms, slime by the bar and DJ booth. The servers are dressed up as "monsters".... Kind of. They looked more like cute colourful dolls with crazy colourful hair and bows. To visit here there is an entrance fee of 500yen ($6 CAD) plus you HAVE to buy a set menu, which comes with a drink (non-alcoholic), entree and dessert.
Tokyu Plaza is a shopping mall with many locations. The one in Harajuku is on the way to Kawaii Monster Cafe. To me, the best part is going up and down the escalator because of the hall of mirrors.
Closest Station: Meji-jingumae (Harajuku)
Takeshita Dori is Harajuku's famous pedestrian shopping street for Japanese fashion. Here you will see people dressed differently ranging from a dark grungy look to flamboyant outfits with bright wigs and props. This trend is slowly dying out but is still seen here. The street is extremely crowded so take your time walking through.
Closest Station: Harajuku
I almost skipped the Robot Restaurant due to all the mixed reviews I saw and heard from people who had visited. I decided to go anyways and had a great time. It was not what I thought it would be, it was actually a lot better then I expected. The funny thing is that the Robot Restaurant isn't even a restaurant. Unfortunately, there are very few robots but there are people in flashy costumes, ninjas and dragons. The atmosphere and show are memorable but it will set you back 8,000yen ($98 CAD) for a ticket.
Closest Station: Seibu-Shinjuku
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I’m Hilda, the writer behind Herxtravels. Here you can find travel guides, reviews and tips. Find out more about me here.
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