After reading a message in my inbox, I suddenly remembered about an email I sent to G and some friends a few years back, about what to do and where to visit when you’re in Tokyo for a short vacation. And I thought, that email may actually be useful for others, so I’m gonna post it here. It’s actually just a very brief and short idea about what’s here in Tokyo and what you might be able to do if you have one or two days, and you want to see around.
So, there are several nice places in Tokyo. Depending on where you want to go and what kind of activities you want to do, there are famous places for different activities. I would break it down as follows:
- Shopping: shibuya, shinjuku, omotesando, ginza, shimo-kitazawa (one of my favorite shopping places)
- Temple: meiji jingu shrine, asakusa shrine (comes with the gifts shopping place), several other places I’m not familiar with :P. If you want to see temple, Tokyo’s not the place. Go to Kyoto instead.
- Cultural places: imperial palace and those shrines I mentioned before, museums (ueno, edo museum), tsukiji fish market
- Electronics: akihabara
- Amusement and entertainment: odaiba, roppongi (for clubbing too), disney park
- Near tokyo: yokohama, kamakura, nikko, hakone. These places are quite far though, yokohama is the closest, only for about 30 minutes from shibuya. Others, I wouldn’t recommend if you only have very few days.
- Disney world/sea. Traveling time from shinjuku is about 1,5 hours (one way plus waiting time). Going to disney park is better if you have all day, otherwise, waste of money. It’s 5.800 yen, although they give discounts if you enter the park after 5 (or 6?). Find more information on its website.
- Odaiba. traveling time from shinjuku is about 40 minutes. It’s a recreation place made from land reclamation. There are Fuji Terebi (tv station) there, in which you can find doraemon and other japanese manga character, and palette town shopping mall, in which you can find toyota showroom with its future cars. You can actually test-drive their latest model, if you have an international driving license with you.
- Imperial palace. Traveling time from shinjuku is 15 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend it though it’s a nice place to have a quiet walk in japanese garden. Why not recommended? Because you can hardly see anything except for the garden. The palace itself is surrounded by wall 3 metres high. But if you’d like to see japanese garden, then it’s a good place to go since it’s included in top three most beautiful garden in tokyo.
- Tsukiji fish market. Traveling time from shinjuku is 40 minutes. You might not want to miss the auction, which is the most interesting thing in this market. Come as early as possible, say around 5 in the morning. But if you just want to walk around and taste the best sushi ever in japan, then 8 or 9 is fine. Oh, and dont forget to taste squid ink ice cream, it’s BLACK! 😀
- Ginza, near tsukiji. Best time to go is Saturday or Sunday, because the streets are closed so you can walk on the street. Expensive shops, but you may be able to find bargains off the main streets. There’s also a Sony building there to show the latest innovation from sony.
- Ueno. traveling time from shinjuku is 30 minutes. Ueno is a beautiful park, in spring or autumn. In summer or winter, it’s boring. Lots of museum. If you like museums, then try national museum there, and science museum is a must. You can also go to Edo museum in ryogoku station, around 20 minutes from shinjuku. Cheap stuffs are in ameyaka street near ueno park. Another interesting museum is Ghibli museum, of course that will do if you love Ghibli, Tottoro, or Ponyo, otherwise, you’ll find it very boring. One more is Doraemon museum that was just opened, probably in last September?
- Akihabara, near ueno maybe around 2 stations. For gadget freak, and also for weird people you can only see in akihabara.
- Asakusa, near ueno, it’s a temple, but with the cheapest souvenir shops with good quality in japan, more expensive than 100 yen shop but better quality. Shops are located around the temple, but don’t stop there, try go a little further down the shotengai (old shopping areas a bit further away from the temple)
- Harajuku-omotesando-shibuya, the three shopping places near to each other. It’s only around 10 minutes from shinjuku. Harajuku is well… you can say the hip center in Japan. Best time to go there is on Sunday morning. Also in Harajuku is Takeshita street, with a huge 100 yen shop. Near Harajuku is omotesando street, expensive stores but nice places to walk around. Yoyogi park is not far from there, near Meiji Jingu Shrine, a place to find solitude in the middle of very busy Tokyo. Then, Shibuya has the crowdest crossing street in Japan, where “lost in translation” was filmed. You may be able to take a good picture from starbucks near the crossing, but dont forget to buy something otherwise they’ll kick you out.
No.9 (Harajuku-Omotesando-Shibuya) is my favorite strolling course, I always take people to this course. Plus, since I lived there for a year and have been going there back and forth at least twice a week in the past five years, I know Shibuya very well, almost like the back of my hand. Ask me if you want to find something there, great restaurants, cheap clothes, old vynil records, best adult shops *what?!*, I may be able to give you some suggestions.
Now, that’s the kind of the normal sightseeing course that people just have to do when they visit Tokyo, especially for the first timers. But if you’re looking for the out of the ordinary, that’s something else. I guess one day I’ll share my version of places in Tokyo worth the one-day visit. I hope.