No matter how many times you visit Tokyo, there’s always something new to discover!
Whether you’re seeking sushi or shopping, temples or technology, when you’re willing to explore a bit off the beaten path, you can discover your own secret Tokyo amidst the city’s many village-like neighborhoods.
On your guided vacation, you’ll come across many of these amazing experiences and foods, but if you want to venture off on your own this is a great list to make sure you include!
1. Discover historic Asakusa
From kimonos to temples, Tokyo’s time-honored traditions are best explored in historic Asakusa. Get your bearings with a guided rickshaw tour and then rent a kimono to explore the neighborhood in traditional Japanese garb. The neighborhood’s most popular attraction is Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. Enter the temple through the outer “Thunder Gate”, wind your way through the Nakamise Shopping Aracade, and then enter the inner complex through the “Treasure House Gate.” Need guidance in your life? A 100-yen ($1) donation earns you advice from the temple’s oracle.
2. Shop ‘til you drop along Omotesando
Stretching from the Meiji Jingu Shrine to the Nezu Museum, Tokyo’s famed tree-lined avenue Omotesando is a veritable who’s who of the fashion word. It’s not just the fashion that will catch your attention; the stores themselves are works of art.
Famed Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron designed six-story Prada store entirely out of diamond windowpanes. The Louis Vuitton store is designed to resemble the luxury brand’s iconic suitcases.
3. Eat the freshest sushi of your life
No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the famed Tsukiji Market– just be ready to get up early! The market handles more than 2,000 tons of marine products each day, including the famous tuna auction. Only 120 visitors can observe the auction each day, and you’ll need to be in line early as the auction is first-come, first-serve. A group of 60 visitors will be admitted between 5:25 and 5:50am with a second group of 60 visitors admitted between 5:50 and 6:15am. Visitors line up as early as 3am at the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) to secure their place. Once you’ve seen the tuna auction, head over to Sushi Dai, the most renowned sushi restaurant at the market for the best piece of otoro (fatty tuna) you’ll taste in your life.
4. Mingle with Tokyo’s “cool kids” in Harajuku
The Harajuku neighborhood is ground zero for Tokyo’s youth subculture and extreme fashion. Under cherry blossom trees in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo’s cool kids show off their eclectic styles. Stroll down Takeshita-dor, a street lined with stores selling fast fashion, Hello Kitty accessories, and plenty of souvenirs.
Be sure to grab a Harajuku crepe, a delicious freshly-made crepe rolled into a cone and stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate, and even whole slices of cheese cake. If you’re in the mood for more walking, the famed Shibuya Scramble crossing is nearby. Head to the Starbucks located just above Shibuya station for a birds-eye view of the frenetic chaos below. More than 500,000 people cross this intersection each day, making it the world’s busiest intersection.
Need a break from all the people watching? Visit Meiji Shrine, which sits just above Harajuku. The shrine may not be the city’s oldest, but it’s undoubtedly one of its most beautiful. As you trade the colorful, over-the-top Harajuku fashion for the peaceful forest of pine trees, you may forget you’re even in Tokyo!
5. Sample sake, shochu and Japanese whisky
Head to the Ginza district for some of the city’s best spots for sipping sake, shochu and whisky, Japan’s three most popular drinks. While you may already be familiar with sake, don’t overlook its relative, shochu. Shochu is a traditional Japanese liquor that is single-distilled from soba, barely, sweet potato, rice or brown sugar, rather than being brewed like sake is. Whisky connoisseurs won’t want to miss Japan’s award-winning labels, including the 25-year old Yamazaki, awarded “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky”.
Don’t be afraid to ask locals to recommend their favorite watering holes. Many of the best bars in Ginza are tucked away inside unmarked office buildings with little signage, and make for a fun discovery!
Prefer your evening cocktail with a more expansive view? Then make like Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation” and head to the 57th-floor of the Park Hyatt for stunning views of Tokyo’s skyline at sunset.
[su_button url=”http://www.vacation.com” target=”blank” background=”#4cd00e” size=”8″ center=”yes”]Find a travel agent near you to plan your adventure[/su_button]