Tokyo City Guide

Before arriving in Tokyo, I was expecting a nonstop rush and gridlocks galore. To my surprise, Tokyo was the definition of order and efficiency. Not once did I get stopped in gridlock traffic or find myself frustrated at the sheer masses of people. The subway system can be quite intimidating right off the bat, but after my first day, it became very easy to use.

After mastering the metro network, getting to each area of the city and viewing attractions is simple. It is surprising how many places you can see in one day with proper planning. I was amazed at how one minute you can be inside the crowds of people at Shinjuku Crossing and half an hour later find tranquillity within Meiji Shrine. Tokyo is a diverse city where I only began to scratch the surface of the experiences it has to offer. Starting your trip here is the perfect segway into Kyoto and the remainder of your time exploring Japan.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing
Photo by Moyan Brenn via Flickr

One of the largest intersections in the world. Experience it for yourself and then grab a coffee from Starbucks, watching the crowds from a nice vantage point. In addition, there’s plenty of shopping and dining options in this area.

 

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

Meiji ranks among Tokyo’s best Shinto shrines. Nestled within a large forested area, it gives a nice change of pace after visiting Shinjuku and Shibuya. Many visitors will write down a wish and leave it at the shrine.

 

Asakusa

Tokyo City Guide

Asakusa houses my favourite temple in Tokyo. Senso-ji’s large red lanterns are iconic and recognized all over the world. The surrounding area offers an excellent opportunity to pick up some cheap souvenirs.

 

Roppongi Hills

Japan Travel Guide

An upscale area offering some of the city’s best shopping and restaurants. Tokyo Sky View has breath-taking views of the cityscape. I highly recommend visiting near sunset or after dark when the city begins to light up.

 

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

Take a tour of the palace grounds. English audio guides are available for your hour long journey through one of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks. Make sure to reserve your spot as early as possible!

 

Tsukiji Fish Market

Fish Market

Arrive early in the morning to gain the full experience. You’ll have the opportunity to see tuna auctions and almost any fish you could imagine. Arriving later in the day, you can still walk around and eat some fresh sushi.

 

Shinjuku

Shinjuku
Photo by Zengame via Flickr

Shinjuku is one of the largest train stations in the world. Upon leaving the station, you’ll enter into the futuristic metropolis that is Tokyo. During my first visit to Shinjuku, I got lost which very easy to do! This happened to be a blessing in disguise as I was able to discover places off the beaten path. Just like Venice, getting lost in Shinjuku can be a fun activity.

 

Tokyo Disney Sea

Tokyo DisneySea

A unique Disney experience targeted towards an older audience. Many of the rides can only be found in Japan and focus more on thrills. Be sure to check congestion reports before purchasing a ticket, wait times often exceed six hours for the popular attractions.

Day Trip to Yokohama

Yokohama Day Trip from TokyoYokohama is the second largest city in Japan by population. It makes a fun day trip that features lots of shopping and eating. There’s also an amusement park named Cosmo World which offers some cool rides. The perfect way to end your trip to Yokohama is enjoying the city lights from the Sky Garden Observatory.

Budget

  1. IMANO TOKYO HOSTEL – A short way to Shinjuku Station, this hostel has a tremendous reputation among the backpacking community.
  2. K’s House Tokyo – Part of the popular hostel chain, K’s House is known for its consistency and high-quality accommodations. Located close to Asakusa, its a short journey on the subway towards other attractions.

 

Splurge

  1. Shangri-La Hotel – This hotel is brand new and boasts a convenient location beside Tokyo Station. The bullet train leaves from this location, making the Shangri-La a perfect starting point for your luxury trip through Japan.
  2. Shibuya Excel Hotel – Looking for an amazing view of Shibuya Crossing? This hotel has the best vantage point and offers close access to one of the city’s largest subway stations.

Click here for a full listing of Hotels in Tokyo

Great: March – May

Beginning in mid-March, temperatures start climbing towards comfortable levels and the probability of rain is fairly low. There is a large variation in temperature, but you can expect between 8-18°C during these transitionary months. Depending on weather conditions, March and April are when cherry blossoms start to paint certain areas a vibrant pink. It is generally a crapshoot and prices are high, but the beauty of cherry blossom season is unparalleled.

Great: September – October

Temperatures during September and October start to cool, however, the probability of rain is highest during autumn. These two months certainly rival cherry blossom season as the best time to visit Tokyo, especially if you’re planning to visit other areas of Japan.

Okay: December – February

There really isn’t a cheap time to visit Tokyo, but the winter has slightly lower prices (as long as you not visiting near New Years). Mean temperatures hover around 5°C and approach freezing at night.

Bad: June – August

Daily highs are in the upper 20’s and the humidity can get quite bad. Try envisioning massive crowds of tourists and locals in that type of heat, you’re walking into a big sweaty mess during this time of year.