Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and officially known as Tokyo metropolis, is one of the world’s most densely populated cities. A fast-paced and bustling city, filled with traditional and cultural history. Travel to Tokyo for not only the bustling city vibe, but also it’s peaceful gardens, shrines, and temples. High-fashion, an insane nightlife, and incredibly delicious and fresh cuisine.
HOW TO GET THERE
For travel from Narita airport, The JR operated Narita Express Train is your quickest way into Tokyo. Express buses leave for major hotel and sightseeing districts at regular intervals. Taxis are a convenient but more pricey option for travel from Narita airport.
Haneda airport is more centrally located. For travel from Haneda airport, Express trains run from the International Terminal to Shinagawa Station on the JR Yamanote Line, which is the loop train that circles the city. You can also take the monorail to Hamamatsucho, another Yamanote Line station closer to Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Access bus travels from Haneda airport to all areas of the city, visit the bus ticket counter at arrivals to purchase a ticket. Travel by taxi is reasonably priced due to the airport’s central location. There is a taxi rank signposted in the arrivals section. A fixed taxi rate is calculated based on which zone you’re travelling to.
For travel around Tokyo, use the metro or taxi. If using the taxi, many of the drivers won’t speak English, so have the address of your destination printed in Japanese. For the metro, you can purchase a tourist travel card at the station, which will give you unlimited travel for the duration of your stay. The Citymapper Tokyo cellphone app or the Google Maps app is useful for travel on the metro.
Tokyo has a 24-hour hop-on hop-off bus tour operated by Sky Bus. Book tickets, view schedule and more details here.
WHAT TO DO
Go for a stroll in the gardens around the Imperial Palace, The Emperor of Japan’s primary residence. Free guided tours can be booked on their website.
Take in views of the city from the observation deck of the Tokyo Skytree in Sumida City Ward, not far away from Asakusa. On a clear day you should be able to see Mount Fuji in the distance. The Tokyo Skytree has a beautiful shopping mall and aquarium at the base of the tower.
Visit the oldest temple in Japan, Senso-ji Temple, in Asakusa.
Cross the enormous Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing at night. Shibuya is known for its giant neon screens, many shops, restaurants and nightlife. Visit the Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing, and sit at a window on the first floor, to have an elevated view of people build up and cross the busiest crossing in the world.
Enjoy three designs, English garden landscaping, French formal landscaping and traditional Japanese gardening at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Shinjuku.
If visiting in spring, visit Ueno Park when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Visit the Tokyo National museum at Ueno Park.
Shop at Don Quijote in Roppongi, the biggest discount store in Japan. Or shop in Akihabara, famous for its many electronics shops.
WHERE TO STAY
Ranging from budget friendly to high-end accommodation, each chosen for their high ratings.
For a Japanese experience, stay in a Capsule hotel or a Ryôkan.
A Ryôkan, Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan near Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
A Capsule Hotel, Nine Hours Shinjuku North in Shinjuku.
Airbnb, Central Tokyo in Shibuya.
Sakura Fleur Aoyama in Shibuya.
Hotel Asia Center of Japan in Akasaka.
Roppongi Hotel S, near central Roppongi.
Courtyard by Marriot Tokyo Station, near Tokyo station.
The Tokyo Station hotel next to Tokyo Station.
The Peninsula Tokyo near Tokyo Station.
WHERE TO EAT
Han no Daidokoro Bettei in Shibuya for Wagyu beef (fine Japanese steak).
Numazu Uogashizushi, sushi in Tokyo Station’s Kitchen Street.
Ramen Street for Ramen at Tokyo Station.
Kyourakutei Soba in Shinjuku for tempura & soba noodle.
Il Figo Ingordo Italian cuisine, in Roppongi.
A Happy Pancake in Shibuya for light and fluffy Japanese pancakes.
Gluten Free 61 Cafe & Bar for gluten free ramen and dumplings in Roppongi.
Kanetanaka So for one of the best kaiseki traditional Japanese breakfasts, in Shibuya.
Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills for sushi at Jiro Ono’s restaurant, who is generally regarded by fellow chefs as the greatest sushi chef alive.
Sushi & Matcha tea, Gyoza (Japanese dumplings), Wagyu beef, Soba noodles & shrimp tempura
OTHER TRAVEL TIPS
Avoid travel on the metro at busier times, as commuters can get packed like sardines, between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Modern Tokyo is on the west side, and traditional Tokyo on the east side.
Leaving a tip is not something that is done, its seen as being charitable rather than generous so perhaps a little insulting.
People greet each other by bowing. Bow at a 30 degree angle to greet others in a formal setting. Bow at a 60 degree angle as a closer sign of affection or as a sign of thanks. And bow at a 90 degree angle when you are wanting to be more humble or apologetic.
Tokyo accommodation gets booked out far in advance for the cherry blossom season so book in advance if you plan to visit during that time.