Tokyo is one of the most advanced cities in the world – it has such ostentatious-looking structures that can make your eyes drop in amazement and wonder. Tokyo blends the ancient with the new, from shrines to karaoke bars. Just walking the streets of this hyperactive city was such an energizing experience. It has THE friendliest people and is the cleanliest city I have ever been to.
Here are my top 25 things that you need to experience in Tokyo :
- Experience the world’s busiest metro system – Tokyo subway – The interconnected metro is an absolute wonder because of the multiple levels of underground subways and its awesome connectivity to anywhere and everywhere. With the metro map in hand, it is easy to travel anywhere. People are extremely approachable and you can also ask the officials at metro stations if you have any queries.
- Travel in the one of the Shinkansen bullet trains – average speed is 240 to 320 km/h ! I travelled to Kyoto from Tokyo in the bullet train and it was magic !
- Experience the rush hour in the metro – the traffic volume during rush hours is so intense that passengers are pressed against each other to a degree where they are unable to move, and believe me – there is pin drop silence !
- Visit the busiest stations in the world – Shinjuku and Shibuya station ! Shinjuku station is world’s busiest train station in terms of passenger throughput with an average of 3.5 million passing through its doors every day.
- When you visit the Shibuya station – take the Hachiko exit and visit the Hachiko statue. Experience the world famous Shibuya crossing – Busiest sprawling scramble intersection in the world !! Cross the road to the Starbucks and you can watch it clearly from the Starbucks in the first floor diagonally opposite the Hachiko exit.
View from Starbucks !
From Wikipedia : Hachiko is the name of an admired Akita breed dog in the Japanese culture back in the 30s who exemplified superb loyalty to his owner even after his owner’s death. Up to this day, Hachiko has been remembered for these amazing traits and that’s why this bronze statue of him.
- The Tokyo Central Railway station – the best thing about this station is that it is attached to lovely shopping places in the underground, has lovely Japanese restaurants and also has red brick appearance on one entrance and a modern look on the other side.
- Rules are rules – See the Japanese follow the rules !
- Experience the Karaoke in Japan ! At my surprise, karaoke here is a private affair unlike elsewhere. So, you walk into the karoke bars where they ask how many of you and for how long you would like to stay. And then you are directed to a private room which is only for you and your friends where you can sing to your heart’s content !
- Experience the night life in Japan – visit one of the night clubs in Ginza or Roppongi !
- Hello Kitty is everywhere – see if u can get hold of one or even get it painted on your nails. Nail art is quite a thing here.
Hello Kitty Nails !
- Try the different Japanese food – Rice ( sticky rice ), Sushi ( I dint have the guts to try as I have tried it once ), Tempura, Udon, Soba, Ramen etc.
- Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions – visit the Shinto shrines as well as the Buddhist temples. Every Shinto shrine will have a Tori gate – which is a gate to mark the entrance to the sacred place. Don’t miss to visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine and Sensoji temple in Tokyo.
Note – Shinto shrines usually use the suffix ‘jingu‘; they have a torii gate and a purification fountain at the entrance. Buddhist temples use the suffix ji n their name; they always house an image of Buddha (of course) and have a large incense burner on front.
- Visit the Asakusa Shrine (Asakusa-jinja) and a renowned temple, Senso-ji (which is actually Tokyo’s oldest temple). The Asakusa Shrine is located just east of the large Senso-ji which has an impressive “Thunder Gate” called as Kaminarimon and a shopping district, Nakamise-dori, where you can buy local snacks and accessories (you must try the senbei or rice crackers, and Ningyo-yaki or small cakes).
- Visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine – Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji (1st emperor of Japan) and Empress Shoken, the vast Meiji Shrine is a great tranquil ‘escape’.
- After vising the Meiji shrine, you can walk across to the Harajaku street and also visit a narrow street by name Takeshita Dori. This street is filled with captivating shops and cafes. It’s an extremely sought-out place in Tokyo (especially by fashionistas) so it can get very crowded here especially on weekends. And then there’s also the 100-yen shop: Daiso Harajuku.
- When in Takeshita Dori – don’t forget to try the almond crème puff called Zaku Zaku. There’s always a queue but it surely is worth the wait !
- Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree will help you get a good view of the entire Tokyo. Tokyo Skytree is similar to Eiffel tower and has two observation decks ( has the spiraling corridor ) to catch the view of the city. At 634m, it is the world’s tallest tower and the world’s 2nd tallest structure (after the Bhurj Khalifa in Dubai ).
View from Tokyo SkyTree !
- Try hopping on to a bus and view the city. When I took one such bus, I could see Tokyo Bay’s suspension bridge – rainbow bridge 😊 If you want to see the bridge in particular, the bridge can be accessed by foot from Tamachi Station (JR East) or Shibaura-futō Station (Yurikamome) on the mainland side.
- Tokyo known for its next gen technologies– you must try the Tokyo aqua bay line which is a bridge–tunnel combination across Tokyo Bay in Japan. It connects the city, forms part of the national route and is the fourth-longest underwater tunnel in the world. We took the Tokyo Aqua Bay Line when we wanted to visit the Mitsui outlet from Haneda airport ( when we returned from Okinawa ) .
- Shopping ! Tokyo is a heavenly place for Shoppers ..Right from Ginza to Shibuya – shop till you drop !
- I was Gaping at the “Hi-Tech” Japan Toilets for quite sometime on my first day. These are not just in the high end hotels but these are there in everyone’s houses. Its just crazy ! The toilet has many advanced features that you will rarely see outside of Japan, some of which are: seat warming, toilet remotes, deodorization, front and posterior washing ! My favourite feature was deodorization 😊
- Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market which is the world’s largest, busiest fish market. You need to visit the market at 5 a.m. to catch the live tuna auctions. I just couldn’t get up at 5 anyday to witness this 😊
- Experience the Onsen in the Odaiba region.
- Dine at one of the Michelin restaurants in Ginza – The fact is that eating in such places can be pricey – so if you are up for it, then just experience it !
- See if you can spot a Geisha ! Personally, I learnt a lot about Geishas and most of the Japanese culture in my tour. Geishas are Japanese entertainers. They’re NOT prostitutes. If you want to book them for a private dinner, they’re VERY expensive and that’s mainly because of the training they went through and the expensive clothing that they wear which can range from $30K to $80K. TRIVIA: Geishas have truly dwindled down in numbers but most of them can still be found in Kyoto (the birthplace of geisha culture), apart from Tokyo and other parts of Japan.