Tokyo was the third stop on our journey through Japan during our round the world trip. The largest megapolis in the world (35 million inhabitants) has a thousand things to offer, and our 5-day stay proved it! We offer you our itinerary to discover the many facets of Tokyo in 5 days!
Where to stay in Tokyo
Japan is one of the most expensive countries we visited on our world tour so we decided not to stay at the hotel but in an Airbnb 10 minutes from Shibuya by subway, a very active area With supermarkets and restaurants of all kinds and well connected (Shibuya is one of the city resorts).
Getting around in Tokyo
The Tokyo subway is a real headache! Unlike the rest of the world, the lines belong to different companies and offer different lines. This means that you can not make transfers from one line to another (you have to leave the station, pay for a new ticket and enter again), there are no line numbers but line names ( Line Ginza, Asakusa Line, etc.) and the prices are quite high.
The most commonly used general line is the Yamanote line, as its circular route covers the most popular tourist sites of Tokyo (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, etc.). Do not hesitate to ask the employees of the stations, they will be happy to help you and guide you through the labyrinth that are stations. We still remember that day when we spent nearly 40 minutes walking in search of the northern outlet of the resort of Shinjuku! And rightly so, Shinjuku is the most traveled resort in the world (3.5 million users a day!).
Day 1 in Tokyo: Odaiba Island
Our first day in Tokyo is dedicated to the discovery of the island of Odaiba, a large island full of shopping malls and entertainment. It was Ana’s birthday, and her sister came to spend the week in Tokyo. As she really wanted to visit Obaida we decided to do it for her birthday. To reach the island you can choose between a ferry or underground, we decided to go to the metro because it passes over a large bridge and the views are beautiful!
Among the many attractions, we enjoyed the view of Tokyo Bay, the replica of the Statue of Liberty, the Rainbow Bridge, the Grand Robot Gundam (on a TV series 80), the commercial center of Venus Fort (fully decorated In the style of ancient Rome, so that gives the feeling of being in Italy!), The Ferris wheel and the construction of Fuji TV (with its multiple footbridges and large observatory a ball). We were lucky enough to coincide with the anniversary of the mall, throughout the day there were dances from different dance schools in the city. It was very nice!
For dining, you will find hundreds of options: we chose a Thai restaurant on the top floor of the Aqua City Shopping Center. The views from the top are sublime!
There are a thousand things to do on this island, we really enjoyed spending the day there, plus we had a wonderful time! We stayed until the soirt to have a view day and night.
We then went back to the apartment and we both went to dinner in an Italian restaurant called Alma. It is located on the same street where the apartment is located, it attracted us when we walked past because the decor is very nice.
In fact it is an Italian “Japanese”, which means that they did not have a menu in English and even the wifi to translate … In the end we ordered two pasta dishes and a salad with White wine. It was good but nothing more! In addition there were no desserts (not a real Italian if there are no desserts!). Luckily Ana’s sister brought us chocolates they served as dessert 😉
Day 2 in Tokyo: Shinjuku and Shibuya
To enjoy the beautiful weather and the autumn sun, our second day was devoted to the discovery of two very active and at the same time very contrasted zones of the city: Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Arriving at the Shinjuku metro, we went directly to the Metropolitan Government Building, because in its two gigantic towers there are two free observatories at no less than 202 meters high! The views are breathtaking. We let you judge from the photos.
A few yards further down and to the east, we went for a walk in Shinjuku Gyoen Park, a beautiful park (200 yen or € 1,70) containing a Japanese garden, English style with an esplanade and a French garden .
A little further south, another large park, the sanctuary of Meiji Jingu, well isolated from the noise of the city. After crossing the forest, we arrived almost directly in front of Takeshita Street. Takeshita saw the birth of fashion in Tokyo and today is a center of the culture of the city! Plenty of shops, takeaways, pancakes, ice cream, coffee … It’s nice to walk around and find shops of all kinds!
We ended our day by Shibuya on the way back to our apartment, where you can see one of the busiest pedestrian passages in the world “Shibuya Scramble Crossing”! We crossed it and it is impressive to see the people arrived in all directions!
Day 3 in Tokyo: Asakusa and Ueno
For the third day we headed for the traditional part of the capital. The Asakusa district is not as big as we had imagined, but it is home to one of the great attractions of the city: the Senso-ji Temple.
Before entering the temple area, we went to the terrace of the building of the Tourist Office. The views from the summit are beautiful, one can see the top of the buildings, the direct temple but also the Sky Tree, one of the towers representing the city of Tokyo. After a lot of pictures, we went down and walked down the pedestrian street in front of the temple. There are many souvenir shops, food and clothes that are mostly intended for tourists, but also many Tokyoites buying and walking around the area.
The Senso-ji temple is the oldest in the city. It was founded in the year 645, and is also one of the most important in the country! Although the architecture has nothing to envy to other magnificent temples such as those of Kyoto, the place is very pleasant and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. We stayed about an hour to visit.
Then we left for the Ueno district, known for its park. Before visiting, we went through Ameya Yokocho, a space located between the metro rails south of Ueno. The place surprised us! There are plenty of shops, restaurants and food stalls of all kinds! We ate there to prepare for the tour of the park.
Ueno Park, however, was a bit disappointing. We were expecting a large park, but actually not. If you want to see the museums, you will find several. However, we walked around but the park is not as nice as others that we saw in Kyoto or Narita. We did it in about 30 minutes when we had thought to spend a few hours there …
To continue with the afternoon tours, we went to Nezu Shrine, a little to the west. We loved it! It is very similar to the famous temple of the thousand torii of Kyoto. The Nezu Shrine is much smaller and less impressive, but we liked the quiet atmosphere and the garden with all those orange bows (pay attention to your head because they are smaller than it looks!).
We finished our day walking in Yanaka Ginza Street. We had read in several blogs that this street was active and full of shops. However, we were a little disappointed that the street is actually quite small and there is not much to do. We took a walk before taking the metro to the apartment.
Day 4 in Tokyo: Chiyoda, the gardens of the Imperial Palace and Akihabara
The Imperial Palace of Tokyo is the official residence of the Imperial family, so access is prohibited (only open two days in the year towards the end of December). However, a lot of the gardens surrounding the palace are free and very beautiful!
We started by visiting Hibiya Park, south of the Imperial Palace. It is a small park with a pond in the middle, a large open-air theater, and lots of trees and flowers. We loved the way it is kept and the buildings surrounded by trees.
We then went to Tokyo International Forum, just behind the Yurakucho metro station. It is a huge glass building with a large indoor room that is accessible for free. We saw a lot of businessmen heading to various conferences. The building itself is impressive.
After a while sitting around watching the incessant coming and going of people, we went to the gardens of the Imperial Palace. A first stop by the bridge Nijubashi, old bridge near the entrance to the Palace. Luckily, we saw two quite impressive carts arrive! We do not know who was inside, but looking at the procession of police cars and horses, we would say that it was the Emperor himself!
A little further north is the Eastern Gardens of the Imperial Palace. We were lucky enough to meet Mashe, a pensioner who is the guide for the gardens. The tour is free and only available on Wednesday and Saturday at 11am! Mashe nus explained all the details about the gardens (the smell of the leaves of trees, the difficulties of access to the palace today and in the past, the history of the city and its many fires …). We really enjoyed the visit, and even more with this beautiful sun and Japanese autumn colors! So much so that we did a picnic there!
A little further north, we visited the last part of the gardens, in a place where there was hardly anybody, and we sat a good time to rest and contemplate the leaves of the trees and their thousand colors Japanese call it momijigari!).
Resting we headed to Akihabara, the geek and freaky district of Tokyo! You will find all kinds of electronic gadgets (robot for vacuum cleaners, telephones and video games), manga stores, cartoons, of all kinds. We also found a cat bar! A place where you can come to drink coffee and play with the cats… not bad!
Day 5 in Tokyo: Shibuya
Our last day in Tokyo was dedicated to walking among the several shopping areas of Shibuya! The stores are chained and follow each other and seem never to end! Among the most well-known centers are the Shibuya 109 shopping center, QFRONT (opposite the pedestrian crossing and the most popular Starbucks in the world), and the famous Tower Records, with 8 floors of music CDs and DVDs. It is a place to get lost and warm up the blue card!
So that was our week in the capital of Japan. We loved Tokyo, for us this city has something we have never seen before. We like the contrast between the shopping streets with thousands of games and quiet parks which are so typical of Japan. It is a city where when you change neighborhood you feel in another city! It’s almost impossible to get bored, there are thousands of things to visit and do. After Tokyo, we spent our last two days in Japan in the lovely town of Narita.