Japan (specifically Tokyo) is a big travel destination, so many of our friends and families always ask us for tips on what to do when they visit. I’d like to think we have a bit of knowledge on traveling and backpacking Japan after spending 3 months there. So, we thought we would share our personal Tokyo Itinerary with all of you.
Most of these things, you won’t find in your conventional Tokyo Itinerary or “things to do in Tokyo” google search results, lonely planet, or trip advisor. For that, click on the links and follow the boring tourist track. For local-ish suggestions, read on…
Tokyo is such a HUGE city, I’m talking biggest in the world kinda BIG, with so much to see! These are only a few things we did while we were in Tokyo but we really enjoyed them, and we think you will too:
- Get a Hostel/Hotel in this area: Shinjuku was our favorite area in Tokyo. I think it was mostly because this is where the gay district is located, but also because Shinjuku is simply the best. It is filled with restaurants, bars, and shopping. There really is something for everyone here. It is also conveniently located around many tourist attractions and public transportation. If you’re looking for a hostel or hotel in Tokyo, I’d suggest you stay in Shinjuku. You’re guaranteed to make new friends, eat delicious food, and have a drunken night out!
- Go gay clubbing/bar hopping: There are lesbian bars, gay clubs, drag queen cafes, fetish bars, sex shops, and a general welcoming feel. It was the first time we felt like we didn’t have to hide. Our go-to bar was Gold Finger, the best lesbian bar in Tokyo. It is a ladies only bar and everyone is really nice. You can mingle with foreigners and locals, it’s great! We checked out the gay clubs and had a proper night out making best friends all night. The community is bright, alive, and pleasantly inviting . So, if you’re looking for a fun night out where you can be yourself and let loose, Shinjuku’s gay district is the place for you.
- Biggest Crossing in the world: It’s located outside of Shibuya station, you can’t miss it. it’s amazing watching all the people cross the road from every direction. You watch the entire street fill up and empty in seconds.
- Melon Pan Ice: This is a delicious desert that everyone should try at least once. It is a freshly baked bread stuffed with ice cream. It resembles Mexican pan dulce but it is original to Japan. TRY IT!
- Yoyogi Park: Zoey and I really enjoyed this park, so I always suggest it to people. It is a huge park where people go relax, workout, have a picnic, or catch Pokemon (so many people catching Pokemon!). It is located near Meijin Shrine, so you can go there after a day of sightseeing.
- Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Lost in Translation: Yup, the movie was filmed here. You know the bar scenes with the view? That’s here. It is a great place to take a date or to just go have a very pricy drink. They always have live music which goes really well with the AMAZING view of Tokyo in the background. The bar is located on the 55th floor, so you can only imagine.
- Government Building: If you’re not looking to spend a silly amount of money on a drink, go to the government building. It is located only a few minutes from Park Hyatt Tokyo, and it offers free observation decks from the 40th floor.
- Tsukiji Fish Market
- Eat the fresh fish: the fishermen catch beautiful tuna (maguro) and other fish in the early morning and sell it here. The Tsukiji Fish Market is famous for the tuna auctions in the early morning, but unless you’re looking to buy a fish as big as teenage girl, there’s no need to wake up that early. Go walk around, eat the sushi, take pictures, and enjoy.
- Yokohama: Tokyo’s neighbor city.
- Go to a baseball game: We went to watch the Tigers vs. Giants. It was such a cool experience. Japanese LOVE baseball and you’ll definitely feel the pride and enthusiasm when you’re in the middle of hundreds of people singing and cheering for their home team!
- Cup Noodle Museum: This is a cool activity for anyone. It is especially fun for kids, but most of us had that stage in college when we ate nothing but cup noodles, so it’s cool to check out how they are made. At the end of your tour, you get to make your own cup noodle, which is a really awesome souvenir.
- Ramen Museum: Personally, I thought this place is meh…Zoey really liked it. It is basically a building that gives you the background story on the types of ramen in Japan, then you eat. Bleh, I could have read the history online and ate ramen at my favorite ramen shop. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth paying the entrance fee.
- 7 Story porn shop: This sex shop definitely caters to heterosexual couples and to men in general. There is only one section with dildos or vibrators, so that was kind of a letdown, but it was still really cool to check out. Who doesn’t like to see seven floors of nothing but toys, porno mags, dvds, sexy maid outfits, vibrators, strap ons, and an endless amount of other random Japanese sex toys. It’s GREAT!
- Electronic Shops: Akihabara is known for electronics. If you’re looking to buy anything from a camera lens to a memory drive, you can buy it all. No really, buy your electronics here. They are relatively cheap and easy to find in every store. We didn’t buy anything but enjoyed looking around.
- Anime: Akihabara is also known for Japanese anime. There are hundreds of shops with anime books, dvds, figurine displays, anime cosplay outfits, and everything else you can imagine. This area is exactly what you think of when you think of Japan.
- Fashion: This is where young Japanese people go shopping. Don’t expect Prada or Gucci, it’s more like the extreme Japanese fashion. I’m talking wigs, really intense makeup, and especially Ganguro girls. It’s interesting, to say the least.
- Other things not to miss in Japan:
- BIC CAMERA: Again, shopping. This store has everything from clothes to electronics. It’s like a shopping mall but within a single store. Our favorite park was the massage chairs. You can go and sit in a massage chair with 15 other Japanese people and get a 15-20min massage for free before you carry on with your day. It’s great. We did it all the time. Ha!
With all of this being said, I am guilty of sometimes looking up “things to do in….” when I go to places but I often find myself disappointed. It is never the shrines, temples, or castles that one remembers from our trips… it is the food, the people, and the experiences. So I suggest to give yourself enough time to do 20% sightseeing, 50% exploring with no real aim (that’s when you find the best things), 30% following recommendations from friends who’ve traveled to the country you are in, from this blog, or from other blogs by regular travelers.
I hope this was helpful. Enjoy Tokyo!