Recently I took a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trip to Tokyo. It was my first time in the Land of The Rising Sun and even though I feel like I only scratched the surface – I thought I’d share my mini Tokyo Travel Guide in case you’re heading their sometime soon.
Tokyo Travel Guide
Before you go: If you don’t have much time to prep for your trip, I suggest these three must-reads: superfuture’s Tokyo superguide, this great little piece by Ebony Bizy from Hello Sandwich (sadly her Hello Sandwich Tokyo Guide is sold out) and Hey Kumo’s travel guide.
Robot Restaurant: There’s kitsch, and then there’s Japanese kitsch. For a truly unique night out, head to Robot Restaurant and see bikini-clad babes battle robots. The fit out cost ¥10 billion and is a mind-blowing overdose of neon, mirrors, crystal and video screen. You’ve got to see it, to believe it!
Piss Alley: Tucked away in the shadows of Shinjuku station, is a cramped alley of restaurants and bars that are so small they usually only seat about five customers. Known as Piss Alley (don’t let the name put you off!) this is the place to have yakitori and a beer.
Shimokitazawa: For top shelf vintage shopping, take a train to Shimokitazawa. Found on the western side of Tokyo, this sweet little neighbourhood has incredible style – but in more of an organic way. Plus, a lot of the roads are too narrow for cars, so it’s got a very different energy to most of Tokyo
Dover Street Market: While Ginza is the land of high-end labels, my must-visit destination is Dover Street Market. Created by Rei Kawabuko, the founder of Comme des Garcons, this concept store has seven floors of cutting edge brands. Make sure you keep your shopping strength up by having a pit stop at Rose Bakery on the top floor!
Yoyogi Park: For a complete change of pace, head to Yoyogi Park (Shinjuku). When we visited it felt like we had stepped onto a picture-perfect film set. There were jazz buskers, families picnicing and pooches dressed up to the nines!
Isetan: In the name of research, I visited my fair share of Department Stores in Tokyo! My favourite was Isetan (3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku). It’s got a killer cosmetics floor, brilliant range of labels and even have a green juice bar on the second floor. While you’re there, visit the mega Muji next door.
Tempura Kondo: I’ve never been a fan of tempura. I always thought it was too soggy. Too greasy. Too over-rated. And then we went to Tempura Kondo (5-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Sakaguchi Building 9). This Michelin two-star restaurant only seats 16 and produces exquisitely delicate tempura – yes, there is such a thing!
Harajuku: Visiting Harakjuku on the weekend is everything you expect…and more! After getting in some of the best people watching of your lifetime, hit up Kiddyland for the rugrats and Lazy Hazy Planet for insanely good street wear for the fellas. Then spent the rest of your time cruising through the backstreets and lanes off Omotesando Dori.
New York Grill and Bar: Make like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation and sink a few cocktails at New York Grill and Bar where the sky-high view of Tokyo will take your breath away.
Onsen: To experience a ‘souped-up’ onsen, head to Spa LaQua. I spent a blissful afternoon on my own there. Since it’s likely you’ll be the only Westerner there, read up on Onsen etiquette before you go.
Shibuya: No trip to Tokyo is complete without seeing the famous crossing outside Shibuya station. Once you’ve taken in this incredible choreography of humanity hit the shops. Visit the legendary general goods department store, Tokyo Hands; stop by Mandarake for three floors of Japanese anime and manga madness and finish with the lifestyle mecca, Loft (21-1 Udagawa-cho).
Have you been to Tokyo? What are your travel tips? Share them in the comments below!