Oh man, Tokyo! I ended up spending almost three full days in Tokyo, and I could have easily stayed longer. This city is just full of diverse neighborhoods to see and delicious foods to try! Let’s get started with my list 🙂
What to see/do in Tokyo
1. Visit the Sensō-ji temple and walk around the Asakusa neighborhood
Entry: Free ; 100YEN suggested donation for an omikujo
The Sensō-ji temple is located right in the Asakusa neighborhood. What made this temple special for me compared to others I had visited earlier is that I got to read my omikujo (japanese written fortune) in English, which is usually not available in other temples.
All you need to do is basically donate the suggested 1ooYEN and draw one of the sticks from the available boxes. You will have to then match the number on the stick with the one of the drawers that’s available and then open the drawer to take your omikuji out. Fortunes range from BEST FORTUNE to WORST FOTUNE ( or BAD FORTUNE I believe). If you receive a fortune you like you get to keep the paper. Otherwise, it’s best if you tie it to the wires available on site, so that the bad fortune is released. Pretty cool no?
Thankfully, I was lucky enough to draw the BEST FORTUNE omikuji. How awesome is that? Now, if it only came true 😀
2. Jimbocho neighborhood
If you’re a book nerd like me, you’ll appreciate walking around the “Book Street” in the Jimbocho neighborhood, which is basically full of stores selling second hand books. Most stores unfortunately sell Japanese books; however, I passed by at least a couple that had a special floor dedicated to other languages including English, German and French.
3. Don quijoto store
I ended up going to the Don Quijoto store in Shibuya, and it was honestly quite the experience maneuvering around the store. This place is apparently open 24 hours, so you can stop by at any point. However, the main reason this place made it on my list is that it had the most KitKat options I could find around, and if you have friends like mine, they will definitely appreciate those as souvenirs 😀
4. Tokyo metropolitan government building – 52nd floor
You could opt to pay the $20+ ticket to go up the Skytree, but why would you when you can enjoy an awesome view for free from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with barely any lines? Just show up there and take the elevator to the 52nd floor and voila!
5. East Gardens of Imperial Temple
Is it a nice day out in town? Then head to the east gardens of the imperial temple for a walk. And even though there might be others around, the place will not feel like it’s too crowded based on how big it is. Plus entrance is free, so why not?
6. Randomly walk around town
I spent countless hours in Tokyo just walking around and getting lost. It is a truly fascinating experience and I would definitely recommend it when you need a break.
7. Visit a public bathhouse
Price: depends but can be as low as 400YEN
There’s so many bathhouses all over town. Some are true onsens, which offer real spring water, while others are just regular bathhouses. My Japanese friend and I ended up going to a super old traditional onsen, namely the Jakotsuyu sento. We showed up at 1pm (right when it opened) and there was already a line full of the regulars who apparently have a pass and show up there almost daily.
The atmosphere inside is very relaxed, and after half an hour or so, you leave feeling refreshed and super clean!
Address: Several but I went to Jakotsuyu sento: 1 Chome-11-11 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
8. Stroll around the Tsukiji Fish Market
This is one of the places that you’ll need to show up early to. Not only to enjoy as much fresh seafood as you can, but also because it tends to close early in the afternoon. If you’re also a fan of ceramic goods, there’s a little shop around that sells so many GORGEOUS ceramic cups and plates. I just wish my backpack were bigger!
9. Watch the Shibuya crossing
Have you ever watched the movie “Lost in Translation”? Doesn’t really matter what your answer is since it’s honestly still as cool to head out to Shibuya and watch people cross in all directions when the traffic lights change. For the best view, go up to Starbucks and watch it happen on repeat. So fascinating.
What to eat in Tokyo
1. Aoyama flower market
My first stop in Tokyo was a tea shop since I wasn’t really feeling hungry yet, but man, I am so glad I stopped by. They do have a food menu, but as mentioned I opted out for some strawberry tea and it was delicious. Plus sitting in a place like this, you cannot help but be happy.
Address: 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato, Minamiaoyama, 5 Chome−1−2, 青山エリービル1F
2. Ramen Ichiran
Perfect place for solo travelers! You get to order your ramen from a machine outside (where you also have to pay in cash!). Once you pay, you get a paper ticket and walk inside, where you pick an empty seat from the screen. There are instructions in English, so don’t worry. The good news is that you get to enjoy your ramen in a little stall all alone, and if you’re with someone you get to open up the stalls and have a chat. Definitely worth a try!
Address: 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0041, Japan
3. Fuunji ramen
Came here based on a friend’s recommendation, and let me tell you. I arrived at 11AM because that’s when the place opens and already found a line that’s 20 people long. Don’t give up though, the line moves fairly quickly and you get to make some friends. The speciality of this place are drunken noodles and the broth is actually pretty delicious (albeit definitely salty!) It was slightly weird for me that the noodles were cold and didn’t really get too warm from the broth, but I would still encourage you to go and make up your own opinion 🙂
Address: 〒151-0053 Tokyo, 渋谷区Yoyogi, 2 Chome−14−３ 北斗第一ビル
4. Nemuro hanamaru sushi
Oh man, such good sushi. However, dear God, the lines. Prepare yourself. Come at least an hour before you know you’ll want to sit down to eat especially during regular lunch or dinner hours. That was my goal, but then I also got lost trying to find the place. Tokyo addresses!!!
Address: 〒100-0005 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Marunouchi, 2 Chome−7−2, JPタワー KITTE KITTE
5. Katsu midori
Another sushi conveyer belt place. You probably think I’m crazy I know, but these places are just so good & not too expensive, and you don’t feel weird sitting their on your own.
This place has multiple locations, but they all get crazy busy super fast. Believe me, if you thought you waited in lines before coming to Tokyo, you have no idea what you’re about to experience here.
Address: multiple but I went to Seibu Ikebukuro, １-２８-１ Minamiikebukuro, 豊島区 Tokyo 171-8569, Japan
6. Sadanharu aoki desserts
Craving a dessert? I stopped by Sadanharu Aoki on a whim while walking by. This patisserie also exists in Paris, but I had never been there, so I figured it’s only fair to give it a try here. Super good!
7. Satei Hato
Oh man. I kind of don’t want to mention this place in the fear that it’ll turn into the most touristy thing. I would rather keep it all to myself. I mean picture a speakeasy but for coffee lovers. Literally the moment I walked in and sat at the bar, I felt transformed to another era. The coffee was delicious and so was my cake, but it’s the experience of the place that made me feel all cozy! Just be aware that smoking is allowed inside.
Address: 1-15-19, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Futaba bldg. 2F
8. Tsukiji Fish Market
Fresh seafood for breakfast anyone? Grab whatever you like for breakfast, and then stop for a delicious coffee at this stand and maybe some mochi for dessert? Go wild I’d say! How often are you in Tokyo afterall?
Craving a snack? Find someone who sells Doriyakis and stop by for one. There’s usually different flavors and you can pick which one you want!
10. Onomiyaki and Takoyaki
If you’re not heading to Osaka or have missed those while you’re there, another snack option could be Onomiyakis (japanese pancakes) or takoyakis (which is very familiar but is made slightly different. P.S. It usually has octopus pieces inside.).
Where to Run in Tokyo
I also sadly didn’t get the chance to run in this city, but if I had to pick a location, I would say either by the Imperial Palace or by the gardens around Ueno. Would avoid the busy streets and try to find some greenery 🙂
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Oh man, let me tell you about another favorite of mine. The Bed and Book hostel in Tokyo. They also have a location in Kyoto if you’re interested as well. Anyways, so it’s more of a capsule hotel than it is a hostel, but if you’re a book lover, you’ll fall in love in a heart beat. Plus people are respectful, toilets are clean, and noone will judge you if you come back at 7pm and decide to chill and read a book 🙂
Hope this helps!