Japan is undoubtedly one of my favourite countries in the world for many reasons – the food, sights and people. Many of you have asked me, so I’ve consolidated a list of activities that you can consider doing if you’re planning to visit Tokyo!
1. Visit Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland will never grow old no matter your age. If you’re not an adrenaline junkie or dislike long queues, there are plenty of other things you can do at the park, such as watching shows, indulging in Disney-themed food, photo-taking and shopping.
By the way, there are many Instagram-worthy spots for you to take your #ootd (outfit of the day).
2. Take a side trip to Mount Fuji and Fuji-Q Highland
There are several places to spot the iconic Mount Fuji, including Hakone and Lake Kawaguchiko. I went with Lake Kawaguchiko this time. A ~2h bus ride from Tokyo gets you there. I highly recommend staying for at least a night so that you have ample time to explore the area.
I stayed at Fuji View hotel – the hotel name says it all. We could see a clear view of Mount Fuji from our hotel window. Wake up just before sunrise to catch the first peek of Mount Fuji.
Fuji View Hotel; 01-0310 Yamanashi Prefecture, Minamitsuru District, 富士河口湖町Katsuyama, 511, +81 555-83-2211.
For thrill seekers, Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park with the world’s STEEPEST roller coaster is nearby. If Disneyland is a walk in the park (literally) for you and you think you might enjoy a 121 degree free fall, you might want to check this one out!
3. Wear a Kimono
Stroll the historic streets of Asakusa in Tokyo in a traditional kimono. By booking the package, you are entitled to rent your choice of kimono for a day. I highly recommend this fun activity which you can do with your partner or friends! For those heading to Kyoto, they have a Kimono package for that too.
Since you’re all dressed up, might as well engage a holiday photographer to capture these precious moments. Thanks to the lovely Sweet Escape team, I have these visual memories for keepsake.
4. Stay in a designer hotel
Two chic hotels in Tokyo worth checking out are Park Hotel Tokyo and Roppongi Hotel S.
If you’re planning to stay at Park Hotel Tokyo, I’d recommend booking the Artist’s Room. The hotel has enlisted local painters with 31 (of its 273) rooms as canvas for their work. Expect to get hand-painted walls and fantastic city views.
Roppongi Hotel S is an award-winning boutique hotel that is a beautiful place to stay in if you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time.
Tip: If you are on a tighter budget, check out the mid-range Tokyu Stay hotel chain. I stayed at the Ginza branch which is relatively newer than the rest. It is decently priced with a pretty spacious room and great amenities. It’s also very accessible to the Ginza shopping district, major subway lines and takes you approximately 15 minutes by foot to get to Tsukiji market.
5. Eat ramen
No Japan trip is complete without ramen. From the ubiquitous vending machines to the Michelin-starred ones, it is a hearty dish to enjoy at any time of the day.
Afuri Ramen; 1 Chome-1-7 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0013, Japan; Daily, 11AM-5AM.
Ippudo Shiromaru Base 渋谷店; Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya, 宇田川町２５−３; Daily, 11AM-5AM (6AM on Fri and Sat).
Ichiran (various outlets); 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0041, Japan; Daily, 24/7.
6. Treat yourself to a Michelin-starred sushi omakase
There are a few ways to get a much-coveted seat in a Michelin-starred sushi-ya for that quintessential Japanese omakase experience. You can either: 1. Book via an online sushi concierge (e.g. Pocket Concierge) ahead of time, 2. Book via your hotel or AirBnb host.
7. Go for a midnight sushi run at Tsukiji fish market
Sushi Zanmai is a sushi restaurant in Tsukiji. Best of all, it opens 24 hours so you can head there when the sushi cravings set in at night. The quality is great and sushi set prices are very reasonable. If possible, take the counter seats to watch the sushi chefs in action.
Sushi Zanmai; 3-11-9 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Square bldg 1F, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture; +81 3-3524-9833; Daily, 24 Hours.
8. Dine at popular U.S. food outposts
As a product of globalisation, there is a cross-pollination of culture through food. Nowadays, you don’t have to travel to NYC to experience the NYC food scene. There is an increasing number of food establishments in NYC that have sister outposts in Japan. Here are some of my favourites.
Shake Shack (various outlets); 150-0022 Tokyo, 渋谷区 Ebisuminami, 1−6−1 アトレ恵比寿 西館 (Ebisu outlet); Daily, 10AM-10:30PM.
Luke’s Lobster (various outlets); 150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, ６−７−１; Daily 11AM-8PM.
Blue Bottle Coffee (various outlets); 4 Chome-1-6 Shinjuku, 新宿区 Tokyo 160-0022, Japan (Shinjuku outlet); Daily, 8AM-10PM.
9. Go pastry shopping
Japan is every sweet tooth’s dream come true. Sophisticated patisseries and boulangeries are practically everywhere in this city. The quality of desserts here can rival (or even surpass) those in Paris and NYC.
Sadaharu Aoki (various outlets); Japan, 〒100-0005 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi, 3 Chome−4−1, 新国際ビル 1F Shin Kokusai Building (Ginza outlet); Daily, 11AM-8PM.
Rituel (Du Pain et Des Idee in Paris); 107-0061, 3 Chome-6-23 Kitaaoyama, Minato, Tokyo 107-0061, Japan; Daily, 8AM–7PM.
10. Visit the Hedgehog cafe
From cats to owls cafes, there is an extensive list of animal cafes in Tokyo. But have you heard of the Hedgehog cafe? This cafe houses these adorable and prickly animals which you can interact with. You pay a fee based on how long you choose to spend at the cafe and you get to hold and feed the hedgehogs. Beverages are provided too. Do try to reserve a slot online in advance as it tends to get crowded!
Harry Hedgehog Cafe and Pet Store /ハリネズミ専門店; Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-7-2, IWAHORI Building 2F, 東京都港区六本木, 6-7-2 IWAHORIビル2F; 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m; Website
Tips for getting around
- I did not buy the JR Rail Pass for my trip. Instead, I used the Pasmo and Suica card within Tokyo.
- Alternatively, if you’re there for 1-3 days, you can explore the option of booking the Tokyo Metro Ticket that gives you unlimited access around Tokyo.
- I opted for a convenient airport transfer for my flight home from Narita. It’s worth a splurge especially for groups (also can’t deny the comfort that private transportation provides.) After all, Tokyo is quite notoriously known for their confusing and not so luggage-friendly subway stations.
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