Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is a sprawling metropolis and one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Known for its extremely friendly locals, outstanding public transportation, extensive nightlife, and shopping, Tokyo is an awesome place to visit. Whether you want to hike Mount Fuji, spend the day at Tokyo Disneyland, take in a sumo wrestling tournament, or just enjoy the sights, there is something here for everyone. While it may seem a little intimidating at first, the train system here is very easy to navigate. Just keep in mind that there are two train systems (the subway and JR lines), so sometimes the fastest way to get where you’re going may involve using both for a single trip.
Things to See and Do
At close to 850 square miles (more than 2000 square kilometers) Tokyo is way too big to see everything in one visit. But, with everything from modern cityscapes to ancient temples and shrines, there is something here for everyone. With 23 special wards and roughly 40 distinct districts or neighborhoods, it can be somewhat daunting trying to figure out where to go. Below are a few of the most popular areas to visit when you’re here.
This is a popular area for a lot of tourist and expats and the location of the affluent Roppongi Hills. Roppongi is home to an extensive nightlife scene with something to fit almost anyone’s taste. There are also a lot of western restaurant chains in this area if you aren’t in the mood for Japanese cuisine. Because this area is so often frequented by tourist, prices may be a little higher than in other areas.
Shibuya is popular with college students and where you will find the famous Shibuya Crossings which is one of the, if not the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world. This area is known for shopping and has a very vibrant nightlife scene.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is located in Shinjuku along with many skyscrapers and is considered by some to be the secondary center of Tokyo. Shinjuku may not have as many large nightclubs as some other areas, but there are a lot of bars and restaurants and is considered a favorite nightlife destination. While I wouldn’t really consider it dangerous, the area on the east side of the train station can be somewhat seedy at night.
Harajuku is one of my favorite areas to visit when I need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The many boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and high-end shopping make this an ideal place to unwind. Harajuku also has some awesome jazz bars and clubs. There is also an art museum in this area.
Akihabara is sometimes called the Electronics District or Electric Town because of the many stores selling household electronics and computer goods. Many of these stores are several stories carrying anything you would think to look for. While Tokyo is a pretty expensive city, there are actually plenty of deals to be found. Akihabara is also a cultural center for all things video games, anime, and manga, so there is a good chance of seeing cosplayers dressed as some of your favorite characters.
This is the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo. High-end retail shopping, elegant restaurants, and luxurious hotels make Ginza easily one of the most expensive areas in the city. On the weekends, for a large part of the day, the main street is closed off to traffic making this a great time to visit and take in the sights.
Tokyo has one of the most impressive nightlife scenes of anywhere in the world. From small basement bars to large mega clubs, you can find any genre of music and any type of crowd you can think of. There’s rarely any type of altercations or foolishness because everyone is out to have a good time. One of the most impressive aspects of nightclubs in Tokyo is that there are a lot of DJs that take the time to perfect their craft and stay up on new music, especially when it comes to hip-hop and EDM. And for jazz lovers, Tokyo has hands down some of the best jazz clubs around. The only knock to the nightlife in Tokyo is that there are no casinos, but you can always take a shot at pachinko if you’re up for something new.
The food in Tokyo is another plus for the city. You can check out a hibachi restaurant where they cook the food right in front of you or a yakiniku where you have an endless supply of meat and can cook for yourself. Another option is to find a sushi bar. For the experience, try one where the sushi comes around on a conveyer belt and you take whatever you like. When it’s time to go, the waiter will figure out how much you owe by the number of plates you have on the table (different color plates have different prices). And nothing beats a bowl of ramen, especially when it’s cold outside. Tokyo also has some outstanding steak houses. Keep in mind that Japanese portion sizes may be smaller than what you are accustomed to.
If Japanese cuisine isn’t your cup of tea, Tokyo has dining options from all over the world so you should easily be able to find something to fit your appetite. Roppongi is a good place to go if you are looking for international dining.
Tokyo is one of the economic centers of the world, so as you might expect, things aren’t going to be cheap here. Paying for a full day or multi-day rail passes can help cut down on transportation cost in and around the city. Also, you may want to look into getting JR Line Tourist passes as well for train discounts. Flights into Tokyo can be expensive as well. If you have the option of planning your trip well in advance and can afford some flexibility in your schedule, you may be able to catch a deal. Also, if you break your flight up and take a full day layover before taking on the long leg of the flight, you may be able to bring the cost down quite a bit (this can also be a good idea because this may be a long flight).
Japan, in general, has a very low crime rate and for the size of the city, it is amazing how little crime exists here. While the chance of you running into any trouble here is very low, that doesn’t mean that you can completely let your guard down. Keep an eye out for the girls on the streets that will attempt to lure you into massage parlors, as there have been reports of them occasionally picking pockets. There have also been reports of gentlemen going to hostess bars only to wake up to with large amounts of money charged to their credit cards.
Place Name: Tokyo
Place Description: From old world charm to futuristic technology, Tokyo is an awesome place to visit
Good mix of culture and nightlife