So here’s a little not-so-secret, secret. THE PEOPLE BEHIND OUR SINGAPORE TRAVEL BLOG ABSOLUTELY LOVE JAPAN! So much so that we have been to Japan about 5 times in total over the last 2 years. If we had put our trips together, we would have spent close to 3 months out of our past 2 years there. So yes, we really do love Japan! And I literally mean everything, from the food to the people to the things available.
So if you’re looking to take a short trip to Japan too, take it from us that there’s no way you should miss the their beautiful Capital, the bustling Tokyo City!
Here’s our Travel Blog‘s recommendation on 14 things to do in Tokyo that we think you can do, to get a quick all rounded feel of the land of the rising sun.
Eat at a local sushi bar or sushi restaurant. Like c’mon, who goes to japan and not eat (as fresh as you can get) sashimi prepared right before your eyes, and served with authentic grated wasabi, at a fraction of a price (compared to sushi restaurants in Singapore). We personally recommend “Sushi Zanmai”, which is a popular affordable local chain sushi place that is available at various locations. The one we frequent would be the outlet at Asakusa, as we almost always stay around the area.
No trip to Tokyo is done without heading to Asakusa’s Senso-ji Temple (for us at least). For all the times we’ve travelled to Tokyo, this is one place we never fail to return to. Senso-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo, famed and widely visited by tourists all around the world. The famous “huge lantern” that you may have seen in photos, is the Kaminarimon Gate, which marks the start of the temple’s 250 meter long street, leading all the way to the main temple. The streets are lined with stores of unique souvenirs and Japanese snacks for locals and tourists to savor which taking a slow walk towards the temple.
Before you step into the temple however, locals would use the buckets provided near the fountains outside the temple to scoop some Holy water and use it to wash your face and hands.
To pray, we’ve noticed different locals would do it differently but the majority of them would hold their coin in their hand as they make their wish. Once done, they would throw their coin into the box provided and clap thrice.
If you are curious why there are ribbon shaped papers tied outside the temple, it’s because the locals would draw their fortune lots and tie them to the stands outside the temple if it’s a bad lot. They would often keep the lot with them if it’s a good lot.
3. Tokyo Skytree
And since you’re around the Asakusa area, do head over across the Sumida River and take a slow 20 minutes walk towards the Tokyo Skytree. This is currently the tallest structure in Japan, and second tallest building in the world, standing at an impressive 634 meters. You can even head up to their observatory deck for a fee, but we do encourage you to do it in the evening slightly before the sunset, as the night lights will blow you away. Alternatively if you are just here to take photos of the sky tree itself and the observatory deck is not your thing, you can also do some shopping and find pretty awesome food available just below the sky tree as well.
Also, there is the exclusive Tokyo Banana Tree outlet, which sells the full Tokyo Banana range such as their chocolate flavored cream which may not be available at the airport! If you’re a Tokyo Banana lover like us, you do not want to miss this!
If you prefer to skip the 20 minute walk from Asakusa, you can take a train over by alighting at either the Tokyo Skytree Station or Oshiage Station.
4. Ichiran Ramen
We cannot emphasize more on how you must have a bowl (or two) of ichiran ramen when you’re in Japan. Forget about all the famous or best ramen stalls in Singapore. Have a bowl of noodle from ichiran and it’ll never be the same ever again. This affordable bowl of pippin’ hot pork bone soup is the best convenient food everrrrr. You get to customize the entire bowl, from the hardness of the noodles, to the oiliness of the soup and ingredients and sides to add to your bowl. A regular standard bowl of noodles with sliced pork will set you up at a mere S$8, which is really a steal, in our humble opinion. And the best part about this place, it operates 24 hours. Do not be surprised to see long queues outside this small noodle place, but rest assured you’ll be coming back for more.
Shibuya, the one-stop shopping district that hurts the bank the most. So according to me, one day is never enough. Well then again, there is always never enough shopping time whenever you’re away. And if you think only I feel this way, you’re dead wrong! You should see how Alvin bags them Under Amour stuff from the 3 story tall UA boutique! There is practically anything and everything for you and me and you and me and EVERYBODY. But before you forget, do stop and take a instagram worthy photo at the Shibuya Crossing which was made famous in Too Fast Too Furious for keepsake!
If you’ve heard of Shibuya, you’ll know never to miss out on Harajuku as well. Just a stop away, most people would walk from Shibuya all the way to Harajuku all in one day. But for shopaholics like us, one day is hardly enough to comb the entire place.
But I would like share with you how I always plan my shopping day for Harajuku. I’d alight at Omote-Sando Station instead. I love the streets of Omote-Sando, and you can find plenty of artistic and laid back tea houses and cafes along the streets. Even though majority of the stores on the streets are super high end fashion boutique, you can also find more affordable brands such as “Agnes B” and “Burbery Black/Blue Label” along the way. As you walk all the way down the end, you’ll reach the foot of Harajuku Street, and you can find Takeshita Street right opposite. When you’re there, don’t forget to visit the famous Calbee + store for some freshly fried potato chips and Japanese Crepes (we recommend getting your crepes from “Santa Monica Crepe” shop *picture above)!
Kids and adults alike, who can resist the happiest place on Earth? And the best part? Tokyo has two! Disneyland & Disneysea!
But if you only have time for one, we would recommend you to go for DisneySea, which is a nautical themed park unlike its Disneyland brothers. Fun Fact, Tokyo has the ONLY DisneySea in the world so even if you have been to Disneyworld in the states, we can assure you DisneySea has something new to offer and would still be a whole new experience for you.
As per all Disney Parks, be very prepared to queue and as Disneysea is suited right next to the sea, do expect it to get extremely windy and cold especially if you are visiting in the winter. So don’t forget to read about our 8 tips and tricks to effectively conquer Tokyo Disneyland to learn how you can save time and shorten your queuing time as it works the same for Disneysea.
(you MUST MUST MUST try these Adorable Toy Story Mochis that are each of different flavors)
I personally would highly recommend the TOWER OF TERROR! Scary as it may sound, (yea its pretty scary Hahaha) but its such a fun ride and the story build up was pretty good, even though we couldn’t really understand Japanese.
And if you are a bear toy lover, you should check out the Disney Bears, Duffy and Shellie Mae which can only be found here, exclusively in DisneySea. So forget a “I love Tokyo” Tee off Giordano or something, grab a bear or two home as souvenirs and people would know you’ve been to Tokyo!
I don’t want to give away too much, but do make time for the parade as well as Disneysea’s parade isnt the usual walk around the park parade that you see at other Disney parks and is instead, held on water!
*NOTE Although Disneysea is a nautical themed park, it does not mean that they only have wet rides or that you would even get wet. It is NOT a water themed park! Disneysea is only named Disneysea as it is suited right by the sea.
8. Owl Cafe
You’ve heard of Cat and Dog Cafes, but do you know that Japan has something even more exotic? Owls! Owl cafes has been sprouting up around Japan over the past few years and you can find a couple of them in Tokyo as well. We personally went to the one in Asakusa next to Sushi Zanmai outlet.
The owl cafe we went to charged you for every 30mins you spend interacting with their owls and parrots (we personally just stuck to the owls). You are allowed to touch, pet and take pictures with them. Some of them do bite, but it doesnt hurt.
For those brave enough, you can even ask to hold one either on your shoulder or just on your hand for a better instagram shot.
Do also note that as most of these cafes operate base on the owl sleeping times, their operating hours may be pretty short in general.
9. Mt Fuji
Lastly, if you have 1 full day to spare, take a romantic train out all the way to Mount Fuji. And be blown away by its majestic size and mesmerizing snow capped peak. Good news for thrill seekers, while you’re there, at the foot of the mountain there is the Fuji-Q Highland themepark, which is absolutely not for the faint hearted. In there, you can expect nothing but mind bending, hair raising, world record roller coasters, and a really scary haunted house.
10. Ueno Park
Ueno park is well, basically a park that the locals go to to do their daily stuff. Aside from being able to shop local goodies in the market nearby, the park also has smaller shrines that are far less crowded than Sensoji temple. And if you liked the Torii gates in our things to do in Kyoto article but is upset that you are not heading to Kyoto, they have mini versions of these torri gates that would too make a instagram worthy shot.
Ueno Park is also a MUST visit if you are visiting in the Cherry Blossom period as theres not many better place to enjoy these beautiful Cherry Blossoms than at Ueno park.
11. Pokemon Centre
Japan is the home of Pokemon and Tokyo is it’s headquarters. If you’re even half the geek that we are, you would want to visit Tokyo’s Pokemon Centre. But to be very honest, it’s basically just a shop selling tons of pokemon related stuff and going there once would suffice. It is more of a “I’ve been there” kinda thing rather than a experiencing the place cause like I said, it’s really more of just a shop.
There’s no better way to experience Japan cultural than to embrace their national sport, Sumo! Watching Sumo in japan can be rather complicating and we would be writing a whole separate article on our travel blog soon!
13. Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the largest wholesale fish market in Tokyo. It sells everything from flowers to produce but is made popular cause of their seafood. Tsukiji Fish market is unique for their Tuna Auction (we do not know of anywhere else that has this), which if you have watched Tuna Wars on National Geographic, you would understand.
As famous as the Tuna Auction is, the number of visitors is capped to a maximum of 120 people every day in order not to hinder businesses. The 120 people is based on a first come first serve basis and you would have to register at the Osakana Fukyu Centre (the main information center) on the actual day itself at 5am. However, queues usually start forming way before 5am and you would have to get there really early if you wish to get in.
14. Robot Restaurant
Yes you read that right! Japan has always been known to be over the top for alot of stuff and none more so than their Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo! We admittedly haven’t been there ourselves but from friends that have, we heard the experience is really like nothing else in the world. Entrance fee is pretty steep but we would try and see if we can visit one of it in due time! From what we gather so far, it’s a combination of pretty Japanese girls, loud music, huge ass robots, dancing etc, basically all the fantasies of a child who watched “Real steel” growing up. The place that cost $125 million to open is a popular night spot and lucky guests may even get picked to “fight” the robots! The entire experience is said to be somewhat of a performance as you watch everything that’s going on while you eat and drink to your heart’s content.
That sums up our list of top 14 things to do in Tokyo and we hope you have found our travel blog useful. We would also be adding more things in if we find anything else that’s worth going to in our future trips so watch this space and follow our Singapore Travel blog‘s facebook and instagram pages (*Links above)