My boyfriend and I visited Tokyo, Japan last November 2017 for our 10th anniversary (yey!) It was a trip we’ve been wanting for a long time and then finally, we were able to make it and it was beyond wonderful! Fast facts: Tokyo is the capital of Japan and is one of the largest and most populous cities in the world. It is composed of 23 wards and is the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the country’s government (Wikipedia). I’d like to start with how the city made me feel. Well, I was taken aback. I never expected much but there I was all wide-eyed and amazed. Tokyo inundated my senses – from the glowing lights in Shinjuku to the chaotic scramble at Shibuya crossing, from eating the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted to some retail therapy in Harajuku. The hotels are hi-tech, the train system is astounding and there is always a park in your vicinity to take a respite from the busy city life. One moment I was in the middle of madness but with a bit of walk, I was with the serene beauty of nature. What really impressed me though is the good manners and politeness of the Japanese people and how clean their city is. I can go on and on about what I love about this country, with all its quirks and characteristics so I should probably stop now and share with you our itinerary and some travel tips during our stay in this great and dynamic metropolis.
Our 3-day Itinerary in Tokyo
Day 0 – Arrival
We arrived at Narita Airport quite late in the morning. From there, we rode the Narita Express to bring us to the city because it was the most convenient option for us. Other ways to get to Tokyo is by bus, taxi or through a private transfer. We arrived at our Airbnb accommodation in Shinjuku past 4 pm. Once settled in, we went for a ramen in one of the famous ramen places in town, Ichiran to properly welcome our stay. It was worth every calorie!!!
Day 1 – Top Places to Visit in East Tokyo
For our first day, we decided to explore the Eastern part of Tokyo.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Japan is blessed with abundant sea life and the Japanese people sure know their seafood. In Tsukiji Market is where the famous tuna auction happens. We were not able to catch one as you have to line up in the wee hours of the morning to be able to have a chance to attend to one. Yes, limited slots only! What’s interesting though is the market is very clean and not that smelly. The market has long been planned to be relocated but was delayed. In recent news though, it was said that the move will finally happen come Oct 2018.
This is where the Emperor of Japan lives. It is a large area surrounded by moats, stone walls, and a vast green space. Right in the middle of Tokyo, it is just a walking distance from Tokyo Station. The inner palace grounds are not generally open to public access but guided tours can be arranged to be able to enter limited parts in the inner grounds. The Imperial Palace East Gardens, however, is open to the public all year round. Unfortunately for us, a state visit was going on and so we weren’t allowed to go inside the area.
Asakusa is famous for the Sensoji Temple. Equally famous is the Kaminarimon aka Thunder Gate, the first of the two entrance gates leading to the temple. Two grand statues stood on each side of the gate, Fujin
(god of wind) and Raijin
(god of thunder) and right in the middle is the iconic giant paper lantern, take a photo op with it!
Once you’ve entered the gate, a street lined with gift shops and food stalls composed the Nakamise shopping street. Eat some delicacies and buy gifts for your friends and loved ones back home!
Before calling it a day, my boyfriend and I decided to have some quality park time at Ueno Park just next to Ueno Station.
Day 2 – Exploring West Tokyo
After an extensive first day, our second day was a bit lighter but still lots of walking around!
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
First stop for the day is one of Tokyo’s largest parks near Shinjuku Station. It was not yet the peak for fall colors, but I was glad some of the trees have turned to golden yellow leaves already.
Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko Statue
Witnessing one of the busiest intersections in the world is fun. Taking part in it is all the more fun! Take an epic picture in the middle of the chaos but do it in less than a minute before the cars start to roll by! Hachiko is the famous Akita dog known for his incredible loyalty. Show your respect and admiration by visiting his statue conveniently located outside the Shibuya Station, take the Hachiko exit.
Rokkasen in Shinjuku
For our dinner, we went for an unlimited yakiniku in a restaurant in Shinjuku called Rokkasen. A bit of a splurge but really with quality food and topnotch service, you get what you pay for!
Day 3 – More Tourist Spots!
We really did not set a planned itinerary for our third day. We went to one of the most famous shrines in Japan, walked to the nearby park and did some window shopping in Ginza.
The towering torii gates and the long walk to the Meiji-Jingu (Meiji shrine) feel so removed from the city but when in fact it is just located near the shopping centers in Harajuku.
The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji where during his time, Japan’s gates were opened to the world. Under his rule, Japan experienced revolutionary changes better known as the Meiji Restoration. The political, economic and cultural changes made Japan the country as we know it today.
Beside Meiji Shrine is Yoyogi Koen, probably my top 1 park in the city. Many of the trees have turned already making it a picturesque sight to behold.
Easily accessible from Harajuku Station, take a walk around and take in the beauty and stillness of nature.
If you’ve got money to burn then Ginza is the place to be! It is claimed to be at par with the Fifth Avenue of New York. High street shopping and fine dining go hand in hand here.
That’s it! There are still lots of interesting places and things to do in Tokyo. But with such limited time, you need careful planning and research to be able to make the most of your time and enjoy everything the city has to offer. Tokyo was a discovery for me. I never expected much but here I am with a whole new appreciation of Japanese culture and people. I will definitely come back and explore more of Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.