Experience the beauty and eccentricity of Japan’s capital city. Here are some of the things you need to know before travelling to Tokyo.
The walk down Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, is like no other. The mesmerising, vibrant colours fill every inch of space and the smell of freshly-cooked Japanese local cuisine lingers in the air, while groups of men and women walk past dressed as fairies and action men. The enchanting street is so fascinating, it’s difficult to know where to look first. It perfectly depicts and defines the true essence of Japanese culture. If you’re planning a trip to Japan then look no further!
Tokyo is famous for being one of the priciest and quirkiest cities in the world. It is home to more than 37 million people and is renowned for its stylish balance between old and new. On the one hand, it offers serene and idyllic ancient temples, while on the other, it presents designer boutiques, pop culture and innovative technology.
Tokyo boasts hot and humid summers and icy but sunny winters, so it can be a great place to visit at any time of the year. However, if you’re hoping to see the infamous Japanese cherry blossoms, then the end of March to the beginning of April is the best time to go.
Japan is renowned for its fantastic food, and you will certainly not be disappointed. The ramen and sushi in Japan might possibly be the best you’ll ever eat. It is so easy to find amazing food anywhere in Japan, as even the street food is excellent. However, for traditional Japanese food, with a stunning 14th floor view of Tokyo, head to Gonpachi restaurant in Shibuya. It is the perfect place for tourists to experience authentic Japanese cuisine and even sit at a floor table next to the window with an enchanting view.
Annabel Hudson grew up in Japan before moving back to England in 2011. Having spent eight years living there, she believes that the best advice she could give to somebody hoping to travel to Tokyo for the first time, would be “to get an English to Japanese dictionary and an English version of a map of each major area of Tokyo.” She also encourages researching before the trip to learn how the transport systems work and to learn basic Japanese etiquette. She said, “some things westerners do are extremely rude in Japanese culture so you must make sure you’re polite and respectful so people are polite and respectful to you.”
In terms of shopping, Tokyo has plenty to offer. Marunouchi offers luxury shopping complexes, while Shibuya has many quirky stores. Don Quijote and Loft are stores situated in the heart of Shibuya and are brilliant for all things eccentric. From lobster hats to birthday cake hairbands, they have it all. Disney Resort is about a 15-minute train ride from central Tokyo station and it is a fantastic day trip for everyone, no matter how young or old. Another fun activity is to use a purikura machine. These are unique photo booths which allow you to change your eye/ hair colour or place stickers of your favourite Japanese characters on them. They are great fun and are the perfect souvenir to take home with you. For those who want to experience Japanese culture more, Tokyo Tower, which is designed like the Eiffel Tower, is another amazing landmark, as well as the famous Shibuya Crossing, which is the busiest crossing in the world.
“Visitors can get dressed-up in Japanese traditional clothes and slip back in time to 17th century Japan.”
Angus Miyaji spends half of his time living in Japan and the other half living in London. Having travelled a lot of Japan himself, Angus believes that there is something for everyone. If you are artistic, he highly recommends North Kanto, which is 1-3 hours north of Tokyo. He said, “North Kanto is rich in traditional crafts such as pottery, indigo dyeing, papermaking, woodcraft and metal casting.” As well as this, Edo Wonderland is a popular period-themed park in the town of Nikko. It is a fantastic destination for families as “visitors can get dressed-up in Japanese traditional clothes and slip back in time to 17th century Japan.” Angus said, “If you like nature, there are a few well-known flower gardens and many hot spring towns,” such as Yunishigawa and Kusatsu onsen.
From the striking traditional culture, to the unorthodox fashion, there are many reasons to visit the buzzing city of Tokyo. There are hundreds of ways to immerse yourself in Japanese culture so you’ll never be stuck for ideas of places to go in the land of the rising sun!