Let me just say that Tokyo, Japan was amazing. It is a city worth seeing with some of the most friendly people, but it is very busy. You want to see as much as you can, then you need a Japan Rail Pass.
Our experience is that if you look lost enough in the train station, a local will come along and help you out. Yes, we were pleased to say that we had a few people who helped us out, with one guy even taking us to the right train. You sir are a gentleman!
Staying somewhere central is key for you to get the most out of your 3 days. Since they have a very efficient public transportation system, it makes it easy to move from one district to another.
Do you need wifi? Grab a Pocket Wifi ahead of time or your hotel should have one you can rent. Having wifi is a blessing. You can pick what districts or areas you wish to focus on and save the others for when you decide to go back because you will want to go back.
On the first day you can land at either Narita or Haneda International Airport. The one thing about Tokyo is that it encompasses a very large area. Tokyo is composed of 23 wards that are then divided into districts.
The best areas to stay in are Ginza, Shinjuku or Shibuya.
We decided on the Shibuya district for our accommodations. This area is know for their nightlife and shopping. Since Tokyo can be very expensive, it’s nice to try and save money when you can. Hotels can be pricey. This is why we chose to go with a smart pod for our lodgings.
The Millennials Shibuya was a new experience for us with their smart pods. They had very comfortable beds in each pod, which was controlled by an iPod. This iPod also controlled the lights and fan in your pod. Under each bed is a big enough pull out area to store your gear.
Let’s put it this way, my wife and I had separate pods, yet even at night we went to bed cuddling on the full size bed in only one pod. Our brother was able to fit in one, just barely though. That’s what happens when your 6’2 in height. The bathrooms and washrooms were modern with self closing doors, heated toilets, and were very clean. We were lucky to not experience anyone too loud.
Make sure to have your passport on you at all times. Police can ask for it whenever and if you don't have it on you then they can detain you. It's a law.
You begin with a welcome kit that will include your towel kit and slippers. A plus was the free beer they have each night for an hour, which is a great way to interact with others. This location is perfect to hop on a railway in either Shibuya station or Shinjuku station.
Most likely half the day will be gone by the time you get to your lodging and check in. Also after a long flight for us, we needed to rest a bit so we chose to head to the Shinjuku District. In this area you will find the Kabukicho area. This is the area is where you go to if you want to experience the robot restaurants, bars, clubs, and pachinko parlors.
You know you are in the area once you start to see bright lights. You definitely can’t miss it. This area can be considered their ‘red light district’.
A side note: as lesbians we felt very comfortable walking the streetsand was probably one of the few times they didn't ask if we were sisters when we checked in. Loved it!
After experiencing the robot restaurant, it’s time to head over to some karaoke joints. Make sure to look one up in advance or use google. Some karaoke joints you must dress up, while some others you can pay less than $10 for a private booth to sing your heart out.
In the Harajuku area is the beautiful Yoyogi Park, which encompasses 54.1 hectares of land. You can take a walk along the paths after grabbing some ice cream or cold drinks.
Close to this park is the Meiji-jungu Shrine, which is free. It was finished being built in 1920, where it was dedicated to the defied spirts to the first modern Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The Harajuku Station is located close by if you need to head to another section of Tokyo.
Next, you should take the train to the Asakusa station where you can walk a small distance to visit the Sensoji Temple. This temple is the oldest in Tokyo and close by is the street Nakamise, where you will find shops where you can purchase souvenirs.
Close by is the most famous park in Tokyo, the Ueno Park. Here is a great in depth article on the park and what it has to offer. You want to see the Cherry Blossoms then this is the place to go during the last week of March to the first week of April.
As you head back to the Shibuya district on the Ginza subway line, stop at one of the many small sushi restaurants to try out. We went to Genki Sushi. You know it’s a good place if there is a line. We decided to try out one that had two conveyor belts and an iPad to order your selections. Be warned, you usually will have a time limit for eating, ours was 45 minute’s for the four of us.
How did it go you ask? Well my wife and the other two were very happy with what they ordered. As for me, lets just say that I loved they at least had french fries for me. Yes, I am one of those rare ones that doesn’t like sushi.
If you are like me, don’t worry, I didn’t starve. There were many other food options to eat. One of the best was actually a small wine bar, open until 5 am, which was located around the corner from The Millennials. They served some mouthwatering peach sangria.
On your last day, head over to the Marunouchi district towards the Tokyo Station area. From here, you will walk eastward and head to the Imperial Palace and Gardens. Certain parts of the garden are closed on Mondays and Fridays. After visiting the area, head back to Tokyo Station for a bite to eat.
Foods to try:Sushi,Ramen,Onigiri,Okonomiyaki,Udon,Soba,Tempura,Gyoza Dumplings, and Yakiniku.
So you want to see as much as Tokyo and the sights that you can. Well the best way to do that is to drive the streets and the best way is by dressing up in costumes. Yes, we did Tokyo Kart, which was a highlight for us. This tour offers you the chance to dress up as your favorite character and drive in a group around some of Tokyos most famous spots. They offer tours that range from 1 to 3 hours and would set you back around 5,000 to 14,000 yen ( $45 to $126). You do need an international drivers license, which you can get here.
The timeing of the tour should also be considered. They do drive on the left side and certain parts of the day can be crowded, which is why we chose to do ours around sunset. By doing the 3 hour tour, we were able to see landmarks such as: Imperial Palace, Rainbow Bridge, Akihabara, Tokyo Tower, and the Tokyo Skytree to name a few.
Things to Consider
If you are looking for some other suggestions on things to do, then you should try to hit up a Sumo Wrestling match or tournament. Here you can check to see where and when upcoming matches are for the 2019 and 2020 season. This is another great article about Sumo Tournaments in Japan that will help inform you on what to expect and where to see it.
If you don’t mind rising early in the morning and want to try to get out of Tokyo for a day, then get up early for a day tour to either Mt. Fuji or Kyoto . These day trips will set you back about $142 – $250 for a 12 hour trip and can be a nice change from staying in the city.
Another tip is to make sure to have cash. Not all places except cards.
Have you traveled to Tokyo? What did you think of it? What was your favorite thing to see or do? Have any suggestions, please comment and let us know. We will be going back!