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Heading off to Tokyo for 12 days....Any suggestions as to what I should see and do

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by essence_of_soy, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

    I'm heading to Tokyo next week for 11 days. Five of those days will be spent watching Worlds. But 5 days before and one day after will be free for sight - seeing. I'm flipping through my Lonely Planet guide picking and choosing things to do.

    However, if anyone has been before, your suggestions are more than welcome.
  2. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    If you have five days, I would suggest traveling down to Kyoto for a day/overnight. I have not been, but my brother went to Japan last year and seeing things like the Golden Pavilion and the temples in Kyoto was the highlight of his trip and he absolutely recommends it. He found the train system very easy to navigate despite not speaking/reading Japanese. Personally, if/when I go I want to climb Fuji-sama but I don't know how much like a hike you're feeling....
  3. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    I hope you mean Mount Fuji and are not suggesting that essence of soy climb a person whose surname is Fuji no matter how politely it's asked. :eek: :lol:

    -sama is a polite suffix for somebody's name in Japanese. ;)

    Mount Fuji is called "Fujisan" in Japanese. The "san" part means "mount" and is not a suffix for a name.

    If you do, then climbing Mount Fuji is only done during the summer months as it's far too cold/dangerous to do it at any other time of the year.
  4. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    essence_of_soy, Tokyo is a huge city and there are lots of things you can do. Do you have any particular interests or things you want to see? Are you into museums etc?

    If it's your first visit to Tokyo, I'd suggest hitting some of the following:

    Senso-ji temple in Asakusa
    Meiji Jingu Shrine
    Shinjuku - On the west side are the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings. There are two towers with observatory decks and on a clear day you might be able to see Mount Fuji. It's free of charge to go up as well. The east side of the station is where the entertainment district is and nothing there is free of charge. ;)
    Harajuku and Shibuya - Great for strolling around and observing Japanese youth culture in its natural habitat.
    Akihabara - Mecca for all things electronic

    There are a couple of day trips you can do from Tokyo like Nikko, Hakone (to get closer to Mount Fuji and its lakes) or Kamakura. Or you could take the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto if you didn't mind the two and a half hour journey each way.

    Let me know if there is anything specific you would like info on and I'll do my best. :)
  5. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    For someone young, first time in TYO - "skybus hop-on/hop-off" is your friend!

    It offers 3 basic routes which well cover most interesting parts of TYO
    Roppongi line (my favorite!) - http://skybus.jp/hop_rop.php?lang=en
    Azakuza line - http://skybus.jp/hop_asa.php?lang=en
    Odeyiba line (my least favorite, it covers modern sections more than old TYO) - http://skybus.jp/hop_oda.php?lang=en

    You can buy tix on-board or go to TYO Station (a City on it's own) and across the main entrance, there is Mitsubishi skyscraper, it shows: SKY BUS Ticket Counter.

    You want to start by taking Roppongi Line, because it brings you to fun walking areas - Roppongi, Roppongi Hill Development/Complex, Mid-Town, TYO Tower.
    You can get off at every stop that interests you and then get back on. Or walk down to the next stop, these areas connected by long stretches of avenues.

    Then, next day, you want to take Azakuza line. The area of Azakuza is a must see. Temples, parks, "old world" side streets (read up on it, you will find what to see).

    Then, at least 1 Japanese classical park is a MUST - Chose Shinjuku area: Shinjuku Park, and around it Pedestrian Area and Shopping complexes (again, read up on it and see what you like). Metro is your friend - sky-bus does not go to Shinjuku.

    Last but not least: GINZA!!!!!! (TYO Station is in Ginza), most people see the Imperial Temple and Gardens. It has 3 Main shopping avenues. And! if you're up for it, go see a Kabuki Show, Ginza is a good area to reach for Kabuki show.

    Most praised is Kabuki-Za. But I prefer Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre shows.

    The performance is very colorful and story line is easy to follow (read the libretto and watch the movements), and you can also order traditional dinner to eat during the show in your loggia. Get a loggia, you live only once.

    I would get TIX in advance on line, to make sure you get loggia... http://www1.ticket-web-shochiku.com/en/

    So, that should take care of "TYO in a nut-shell".

    Now, tell me HOW MUCH YOU REALLY want to go to Fujiyama? it is NOT a quick or easy reach ex TYO..... A special tour bus will take you back-and-forth in 1 day, it is expensive, you'll spend 2 hours each way on a bus (granted, they are VERY comfortable). The bus will drive through the 5-lakes district (its nice, in Spring and Fall, good colors on trees), and then come the base of Fujiyama, then it's up to you how and how high you want to go up the mountain, by trail or tram...

    If you want to go to the Fuji/5-lake district, you might as well spend 2 full nights/3 days on that venture, because the area has mineral hot-springs and charming local onsens, and traditional japanse pansiones with thermal water pools - they are called "ryiokans". That requires a bit of planning and reservation.

    Then, pretty much a "must to do" in my opinion, for anyone who is spending time in central Japan for more than 5-6 days, is a 2-3 days/nights stay in Kyoto and Nara. Kyoto needs 2 days to stay. Temples, the old town, and MONKEY GARDEN! http://www.kmpi.co.jp/english/index.html

    Nara (original capital of Nippon) is a 30-min metro ride from Kyoto. Besides being an interesting place, it is the City of Deer.
    Deer is a sacred animal - Deer owns the streets of Nara - they walk every-where and EVERYONE must feed them with bisquittes sold on every corner.

    Most deer in Nara Park

    The rest are on the city streets:



    Let me know if you're interested in going to Kyoto/Nara. I have few "fast transport and hotel" tips.
  6. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    As fascinating as Tokyo is, if you are spending that much time there, you should take at least one full day out of the city.

    The Hakone Round Course, using five different modes of transportation (train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus) makes for a fun day out.

    Another possibility that hasn't been mentioned so far is the Izu Peninsula. I haven't been there but would very much like to go to the less developed west side one day.

    If you have time on a Sunday, try to get to the area inside the east entrance to Yoyogi Park for some people-watching.
  7. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    The deer are a novelty for those who don't live in Nara, but for those of us who have/do they are a nightmare. :scream:

    Otherwise Nara rules! :D
  8. ks777

    ks777 Well-Known Member

    My favorite thing to do is to play Pachinko at Minami pachinko parlor in Roppongi, Tokyo.
  9. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    weellllll......... this local does not think so...... :p some locals love them.....

    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y64/screeech/In Asia/2007 - December/Nara-DeerAttacks03.jpg

    you have to be spiritual about it.....:D

    you need to learn the rules what not to do.......:rofl:

    ....... and DO NOT touch the venison..... http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PMTQmImQ7...pvzCbaHQCF4/s1600/Nara_Deer_Sign0616408a.jpeg

    ....... and by the way, they were there first......... http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/7828140/2/stock-photo-7828140-mule-deer-rear-end.jpg :kickass:
  10. FiveRinger

    FiveRinger Well-Known Member

    I don't have any suggestions.....just wanted to wish you a safe and happy trip!
  11. moebius

    moebius Well-Known Member

    If you like sushi, you can head over to Tsukiji Fish Market which is right off the Tsukiji metro station And if you are really up for it, you can arrive there at 3am to observe fish auction which starts at 5am.
  12. rosewood

    rosewood Well-Known Member

    If I guide my friends from out of Japan, I'll take them to Asakusa(temples, souvenirs, cruising), Harajuku/Shibuya(fashion/people watching), Akihabara(otaku culture watching, shopping), Meiji-jingu/Yasukuni shrine, and if possible Nikko/Hakone(hot springs, nature, Toshoguu shrine). Also I'll take them to have sushi, tenpura, udon, soba. Actually some French/Italian restaurants in Tokyo are wonderful.

    Other than the places above, if you are interested in Kabuki, one of the most popular kabuki house "Kabukiza Theater" is located in Ginza. There are many high bland shops and famous department stores in Ginza, so you can enjoy walking around and shopping there as well. At Kabuki Theater they usually perform the same programs( usually four programs in Matinee and three in evening show) for a month. March programs are very attractive, especially the evening show. They perform Kanjincho this month, it's one of the most popular programs. When you hear the word "kabuki", maybe you'll think of an image like this, it's kanjincho. The cast is fabulous, they are the bests of the bests. For further information please see the site below. If any, please feel free to ask any questions.

    This is the time of cherry blossom in Tokyo but it's a shame this winter has been very cold so I assume cherry will bloom in the beginning of April. If the weather changes and cherry blooms in the end of March, Ueno Park and the Imperial Palace are the places to go. The blossom forecast says that cherry will start blooming on 31th March(at this point).

    Have a good trip!
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  13. Celine82

    Celine82 Well-Known Member

    My absolute favorite place in Tokyo is the Meiji-jingu parc and shrine. So peaceful. And then you walk out of the parc into Harakuju and it's another world (go down Takeshita-dori to get the full experience!).

    Love Asakusa/Senso-ji temple (good place to buy souvenirs, too) and the SkyTree close to it is the new hit in Tokyo, though the lines can be very long to go up. The view is magnificent from the top though, but it's definitely not worth waiting in line a second time and paying extra to go to the upper deck.

    I'd also recommend Shinjuku, Shibuya and the Imperial Gardens.

    If it's raining and/or you'd like to visit a museum, I recommend the Edo-Tokyo museum.

    And if a combo of nature+temples+quiet interests you, I'd recommend a day-trip to Kamakura. Get off the train at Kita-Kamakura, visit the temples around and then take the Daibutsu trail along the hills (about 1.5-2 hours), with a few temples along the way, down to the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) and the Hase-dera temple. For me it was a magical day.

    Finally, I'll go against the flow and say that I wasn't so impressed with Kyoto and wouldn't "waste" a day out of the Tokyo area to try to catch a glimpse of it (knowing the fastest shinkansen are also quite expensive).

    In any case, ENJOY YOUR TRIP!! :cheer2:
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  14. ks777

    ks777 Well-Known Member

    when I lived in Tokyo, a friend of mine came to visit me from Seattle. he wasn't interested in the Japanese culture at all so I took him to the Tokyo Disneyland and a few other amusement parks. Also he seemed to like Shibuya/Harajuku/Roppoing. I lived in the Hiroo/Ebisu district and he really liked the area.
  15. rosewood

    rosewood Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add sukiyaki, teriyaki, and shabushabu to try there, all are beef dishes. If you visit Asakusa, Imahan is a very good restaurant to have sukiyaki and shabushabu. You'll find good restaurants for Teriyaki or actually various foods, say in Ginza, Jiyugaoka and Nishiazabu. IIRC Tokyo is the city which has the most restaurants on Michelin guide, so you can find good restaurants on 'Michelin guide Tokyo'.

    Among the cheap/reasonable foods, I recommend ramen, yakitori, udon, sushi-go-round and curry-and-rice. They are kinda soul foods of Japanese people. Actually curry is one of their typical home dishes. lol You can find small restaurants for those foods anywhere and most of them are not bad. Also Bento shops are so popular in Japan, especially in the train stations for passengers. Also you can find them in downtown as well. Having Bento in a beautiful park would be wonderful and also you can save time.

    Other than restaurants, there are nice sky view bars in the hotels in such as Akasaka and Shinjuku, there are many small and good jazz bars(such as Blue Note Tokyo),say in and around Ginza/Yurakucho, and small play theaters in Shimokitazawa(but maybe it's difficult to understand the story of those experimental plays if you don't understand Japanese).

    Hato-bus day tours are popular among Japanese people from out of Tokyo, it's reasonable and easy. They have tours which have guides who speak English. See the link below:

    i.e. "Hakone-Mt.FUji" course: (9:00-20:00 9,500yen)
    Hamamatsucho bus tourminal--Cruising on Ashinoko-lake(Hakone)--lunch at Hotel Kowakien--Oshinohakkai(small ponds near Mt.Fuji)---Mt.Fuji visitor center (it seems you don't climb Mt. Fuji but see it from the foot, it must be because of the season)
  16. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    I lived in Tokyo for several things and didn't do much sight-seeing, as I was focused on working.

    But the food was amazing, regardless of where you had it. The noodles shop soups were always delicious, and inexpensive.

    And pubs were great for food. Tapa type dishes were served with drinks and always amazing, even though you might not know what vegetable had been pickled. And the pub atmosphere was always convivial, although the Japanese men do tend to drink excessively and get a little - well, bratty and silly to put it nicely.

    If you don't want to pay for lunch, go to the supermarket you can find on the bottom floor of any supermarket and enjoy chirping women enticing you to load up on free samples!
  17. cmchan

    cmchan New Member

    If you are a fan of the Ghibli cartoons, the museum is highly recommended, but you must purchase tickets in advance. They sell out FAST and sometimes months in advance.

  18. DAngel

    DAngel Well-Known Member

    Rosewood, I just want to say your recommendations totally :kickass:

    I second the Harajuku/Shibuya/Akihabara, Meiji Jingu, day trip to Hakone-Mt Fuji and all the food Rosewood mentioned :swoon: I would also add Ueno for the National Museum and Ameyoko street (lots of cheap snacks/food and other stuffs). There are other museums and temples in Ueno as well..

    This may not interest first time tourists, but I like Yokohama for the yaki xiao long bao and shin yokohama for the ramen museum :D