We are down to our last Japanese city – Tokyo! I’ve already blogged about my explorations in Osaka and Kyoto day tour so let me now take you to the wildest city of Japan. I’ve allotted 3 days in Tokyo and I’m already telling you that it’s not enough! (Warning: This is a long and a photo dump post but in a very friendly tone because I know Tokyo can be quite intimidating.)
HOW TO GO TO TOKYO
You can read my previous post Japan: Airfare, Visa, Budget & Travel Guide for some basic things you need to know before going to Tokyo, or basically Japan.
via plane: You can reach Tokyo via Haneda or Narita Airport. Haneda Airport is more convenient since it is already in Tokyo. (Only Philippine Airlines has a direct flight to Haneda) But most of the international flights are directed to Narita Airport which is 1.5 hours away from Tokyo.
via train: If you will enter Japan in Osaka or Fukuoka, or Sapporo, you can go to Tokyo by their shinkansen (bullet train).
via bus: Shinkansen can be quite expensive. So if you’re on a budget, try Willer overnight bus.
GOING AROUND IN TOKYO
Taxis, of course, are the most efficient way but it is as well the most expensive way to get around the city. Bus routes in another country are complicated to know so it’s always better to take the train.
I never had a hard time planning our transportation in Osaka and Kyoto but I went crazy in Tokyo. Their subway system is so tangled up with each other that even the locals get lost. Imagine that! There is a dozen of subway companies running around Tokyo but the big three are the JR East, Toei and Tokyo Metro. You also need to keep in mind that Tokyo has different train types. You might skip your station if you rode an express train or take a lot of your time if you rode a local train with 10+ stops on your destination.
- Local – Just like our MRT-LRT, this stops at all stations.
- Rapid – Trains skip some stations.
- Express – Trains skip more stations than the rapid.
- Limited Express – Trains that stop at major stations.
Since we have a JR Pass and my head is hurting by just looking the subway route map, I decided to stick with the JR Yamanote Line. This line is a loop that goes around Tokyo which is very famous for tourist (and even locals) who wants to go around the city. I’ll stick with this train line in my whole Tokyo guide, okay? (NOTE: We had a JR Pass because we went to Osaka and Kyoto too. If you’re planning to see only Tokyo, I advise you not to get one. )
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN TOKYO
FIRST STOP: SHIBUYA
We rented an Airbnb in Shibuya and it’s the best ward in Tokyo to stay in. It got food, entertainment, and shopping malls. Plus, it’s freaking wild at night, people (and wink wink specials) are everywhere that I didn’t get scared to walk alone at 12 midnight! There’s also a lot of drunk kids but they’re harmless.
The best things to do here: visit Hachiko monument and cross the Shibuya crossing until you canl. If you love shopping, there’s one whole building of H&M, Forever21, and Daiso here. And of course, the famous Shibuya 109. I’ve also tried Ichiran here.
SECOND STOP: HARAJUKU
Harajuku is said to be the kawaii capital of Tokyo. This is the ward where Japanese teenage culture and fashion trends are much visible. If you’re a fan of cute things and Lolita fashion, you should check out Takeshita Street. So hello kikay girls, you’ll 100% enjoy this street but be sure to brace yourself of the crowd.
But if you think you’re too old for this teenager things and crowd, you can go check out Meiji Shrine just behind Harajuku Station. You’ll be transported back to Kyoto with all its green trees and temples and if you’re lucky enough, you can witness a Shinto wedding here. Be sure not to wedding crash.
THIRD STOP: SHINJUKU
Shinjuku is another ward that is good to rent a place to stay. It has the busiest train station. All most dozen of railway and subway lines stops at Shinjuku and it is also a major stop for overnight buses. (In short para siyang Cubao) Shinjuku is divided into two: the east side is more of entertainment and shopping; while the west side is more of business and skyscrapers.
Best things to do here are the free aerial view of Shinjuku in Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Godzilla head in Hotel Gracery, Robot Cafe and Don Quijote for pasalubongs. I also crossed out one of my Japan bucket list here- Purikura!! I went all different stages of cray my sister and I tried it in a Game station.
FOURTH STOP: UENO & ASAKUSA
Ueno is the home of the famous park in Tokyo – the Ueno Park! The park is crowded during the cherry blossom and autumn foliage season because of the hundred trees around. We just walked around Ueno Park enjoying the street performers. You can see Ueno zoo and Tokyo national museum as well since it’s inside the park.
If you’re already in Ueno, you shouldn’t miss Asakusa! You have to transfer to Ginza line (with the orange G symbol) from JR Ueno Station then go down at Asakusa Station. Asakusa has the famous Buddhist temple Sensoji. You can make wishes here or shop Japanese souvenirs at Nakamise street. I bought my Japan snow globe here. This place is flocked with tourist at 10 am so I advised you to see it as early as 7 am or just go back at night like what I did.
Just near Sensoji temple is the Tokyo Sky Tree. We decided to just walk since we want to cross the Sumida river and do some photo walk. At the Tokyo Sky Tree, we didn’t go up since a ticket cost around P1,000 and we are 5. Good thing, Akiko told me that there’s a free observation deck in the adjacent building of Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s not as high but the view is already good anyway.
FIFTH STOP: AKIHABARA
I didn’t get the chance to roam around Akihabara since I’m distracted by my Fujifilm camera. Akihabara is known to be the electronic town of Tokyo but today it also the center of Japan’s otaku culture. So if you’re one anime lover, better not miss this.
Best things to do here are shop or window shop at Yodobashi Camera, eat at maid cafes, visit Tokyo anime center and Gundam Cafe!
SIXTH STOP: CENTRAL TOKYO
We didn’t get the chance to visit central Tokyo. And I promise to go back for this someday. Central Tokyo is said to be the heart of business and politics of Japan. It is in my itinerary so I’m gonna share it anyway.
Best places to see here are the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tsukiji Market, Ginza and Tokyo Tower of course. You can also transfer to JR Keiyo Line to be able to go to Tokyo Disney Resort.
SEVENTH STOP: ODAIBA
Odaiba is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay that is turned into a futuristic town. From Shimbashi (Yamanote Line) we rode a Yurikamome, an automated, elevated train! I was so amazed how advanced it is. But it turned out that there’s still a lot more of futuristic things in Odaiba (like the robot that is so much like a human already!).
You shouldn’t miss the Gundam statue and buy Gundams inside Diver City for it is a lot cheaper. You can visit Palette Town as well if you’re into shopping and entertainment. But be sure to witness the sunset with the view of the Rainbow Bridge. We waited until the Rainbow bridge, Fuji TV Building and Tokyo Tower are all lit. I swear it’s one of the best views.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME?
Almost all that I mentioned here are free except of course if you planned to dine in the cafes or shop till you drop in the malls mentioned. Here’s a sample of an itinerary with the estimated budget in Tokyo.
*Given this itinerary & your hotel is in Shibuya
Day 1: West Tokyo ( Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku)
Day 2: North Tokyo (Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara)
Day 3: Tokyo Disneyland Resort
Day 4: Central Tokyo (Imperial Palace, Tsukuji, Ginza, Odaiba & Roppongi Hills)
|West Tokyo||North Tokyo||Disneyland||Central Tokyo|
|Transportation||420 yen||880 yen||1300 yen||1950 yen|
|Entrance fee||free||1030 yen (skytree*)||7400 yen||free|
|Food (*estimated)||2500 yen||2500 yen||2500 yen||2500 yen|
TOTAL= 22,980 yen (approx. 10,500PHP)
So there are the famous things you can do it Tokyo. Have you been to Tokyo? Or going to anytime soon? We can talk in the comment section below! 🙂