Tuesday 5 March 2019

I'm not going to lie, after a month off from blogging it's been a bit of a struggle to try and find the motivation to start writing again (especially because we have moved around so much last month that the whole trip seems like a bit of a blur). Thanks to my precious google docs and my camera roll, I have managed to recall most of the stuff we got up to in Tokyo. 3 days might seem like a short space of time to explore this massive city, but I think we covered everything we wanted to do before moving on to Kyoto. If you're planning a trip around Japan, these are my recommendations for your time in Tokyo, Japan. 

tea with gi tokyo guide


There are a lot of districts in Tokyo that are good to be based in - Shibuya, Asakusa, Shinjuku, Ginza or Roppongi. We stayed in Unizo Inn in Asakusa and found that it had good transport links to all other areas in Tokyo, and we were 400m away from Sensoji temple. The rooms were pretty basic and on the small side, but they were clean and had all the basic amenities (and some very nice shampoo and shower gel may I add). 

unizo inn


I think the easiest way to write this up is to suggest things by area, so that you're not running back and forth on the subway and can just explore each district and move on. 

Asakusa: We got a very authentic traditional Japanese vibe from this district, and was nice to just wander around here and take in everything around us (deep, I know). We first came across Nakamise Dori which is a 250-meter long shopping street between the Kaminarimon and Hozomon gates of Sensoji Temple. Here you can find lots of little food stalls, souvenirs and unique little trinkets.  

Once you walk through this you'll find the Sensoji Temple in front of you and after you've taken your instagram photos and marvelled at its beauty there are a couple of 'activities' you can do here. You can throw a coin into the collection box and clap, pray and ring a bell (I just copied what everyone else was doing). You can get purified by the dragon-themed fountain by taking the ladle of water and wash your left hand, then wash your right hand, wash your mouth, then wash the ladle, and put it back (or just copy what everyone else is doing). You can also get your fortune told for 100 yen, and if you don't like what you get told then you can wrap the paper on a nearby pole, tree etc to leave the bad fortune behind.

sensoji temple

Shinjuku/Kabukicho: I recommend coming here when the sun has gone down so you can properly appreciate all the neon lights and signs. Kabukicho has robot cafes and is also home to the Golden Gai (Tokyo's former red light district). Here you will find over 200 bars, some that only fit 2-3 people in them. Not all these places welcome tourists, but you will see signs outside the ones that do. 

Shibuya: The first thing we did when we got here was rush to Starbucks across the worlds biggest crossing (simply known as the Shibuya Crossing) because it was pissing down with rain. You do get a great view of the intersection from the Starbucks cafe, and I ordered a matcha latte and matcha waffle so it did make the experience slightly more cultural. 

Here you'll also find the statue of Hachiko the famous dog that waited everyday for his guardian to come home from work, even after he died. If you want to find out more about this before your trip and make it a bit more sentimental, watch Hachi: A Dogs Tale. There is a pleasant walk to get to the Meiji Shrine which was dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

meiji shrine

If you've watched the film Lost in Translation (or Shawn Mendes music video for Lost in Japan) there's a popular scene where Scarlett Johansson is wearing a pink wig and singing karaoke in a booth with Bill Murray. You can do the same thing at Karaoke Kan and if you ask for their specific booth, you get some great views of the city. We had a blast doing this, it only cost £15 for an hour and it included a drink, costumes if you wanted to borrow some and a private booth, so I could scream I'M OFF THE DEEP END WATCH AS I DIVE IN as loud and off-tune as I wanted to. 

Harajuku: Here you will find everything cute, quirky and unique that is Japan. We head to Takeshita street which was lined with a lot of pink. The street was lined with harajuku fashion shops, stalls selling a large variety of crepes, and themed cafes.


We spent half an hour in a Shiba Inu dog cafe (be warned it smelt like feet in here) but the dogs were very cute. There were also Owl Cafes, Bengal cat cafes and other aesthetically pleasing cafes too to get your bubble tea fix.

dog cafe

A 15 minute walk from this street you will find the Kawaii Monster Cafe - which is probably aimed at children in terms of the quality of the food, but it's definitely an experience. The place is an explosion of colour and there are live shows everyday, and here you can find colourful spaghetti, pink burger buns and french fries paired with an array of colourful sauces. If you're planning on going in the evening then I recommend booking in advance through GetYourGuide or Viator.

monster cafe

Roppongi: This is the 'Mayfair' of Tokyo and there are a lot of rooftop bars here too. We didn't find there was a lot to see during the day but that it became buzzier and full of life in the evening. If you also fancy a change from Japanese food there is a great gluten free and vegan pizza place called Pizzakaya here. 

Fuji: Whilst you're in Tokyo, I definitely recommend taking a day trip to Mount Fuji. We paid £45 which included pick up from Ueno station and drop-off (1.5 hour journey), and we visited 3 locations. We couldn't actually go to the 5th Station (entrance to the mountain) as it had been snowing and so the roads were too slippery, but we did get great views of Fuji from Kawaguchiko lake and Oshino Hakkai. The Oshino Hakkai village was very cute and there were a number of little shops scattered around, where you could also buy white strawberries, and we got some matcha ice-cream cause we were matcha obsessed that week.

mount fuji


The journey from Tokyo Narita airport to the centre was pretty straight forward. When you exit after arrivals, opposite you will see a counter for the Keisei Skyliner train which will get you to Keisei Ueno Station in around an hour and a half for around £20. 

The subway/train system was a tad more confusing as there are different companies running the subway and you need a new ticket for certain lines/stations. So your best option is to buy the tickets as you go along or get a return if you're just going to one location and back. Most single journeys were under 300 yen (£2). 


  • Don't walk and eat - it's considered rude, so if you buy something from a stick etc at one of the food stalls, stand on the side and eat it instead. 
  • Line up when waiting for the subway - this is probably something we should adopt in the UK instead of everyone trying to get on to the central line at Waterloo like cattle. When you get down to the subway you might notice that there's be people lining up in an orderly fashion to get in to the train. 
  • Carry more cash than you usually would, because we found a lot of places were cash only. There were also machines around the city where you could slip in your GBPs and get yen in exchange. 
  • Start your days early. I mean I'm sure when we all travel we're out of bed earlier than usual, but things tend to shut early in Japan so to avoid disappointment (and bigger crowds) try and be out of your hotel by 8:30am. 
  • Cross your fingers if you want to say no (like this 🙅🏽 and yes like this👌🏼), because shaking your head doesn't have the same meaning here. 
  • Make use of all the toilet button functions. 

Obviously there is a lot more to do and see in Japan than what is on this list, we also came across a lot of shrines just by wandering around (but truth be told I can't remember the names of a lot of them). 

Have you ever been to Tokyo? What did you get up to on your trip? 


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