What an adventure this trip was… I know I’ve said this before but there really is no place like Japan. Tokyo was the first stop on this trip and what a crazy start. I could have spent weeks exploring this magnificent city, but somehow managed to do it in three days! Here’s how to get the most out of a quick trip to Tokyo.
We signed up for a bike tour and it was the best way to get our bearings. It got us around much faster than walking, but being outside allowed us to take in more of the scenery than driving in a car. I absolutely loved the tour and our guide (named Gak) was amazing! He spent an extra hour with us and took our group to secret spots that weren’t on the itinerary.
Some of the highlights from our bike trip were:
- Meiji Shrine- surrounded by a beautiful forest whose trees were donated from people all over Japan when it was being created.
- Yoyogi Park- You aren’t normally able to see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom in the winter, but luckily there were a few showing off for us 😉
- Sunny Hills- the best pineapple cake. They bring you a free cake and green tea and you can purchase a box of the cakes on your way out. I especially loved this place because the outside of it is shaped like a pineapple!
- Tokyo Imperial Palace- This tourist hotspot is where the emperor of Japan lives. The beautiful structure is surrounded by guards and a very impressive moat.
- Tokyo Tower- Reminded me of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This is a must see and looks incredible all lit up at night.
- Tsukiji Fish Market- this was not originally on the tour, but after expressing our interest in it, our tour guide spent extra time with us so we could see the market! (How freaky are those giant fish heads?!) To see the live auction you have to visit from 5:30-6:30 in the morning.
We biked a total of 20 kilometers through a period of 8 hours, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of a full-day bike tour in the middle of winter, but this was one of my favorite days from the trip. I want to add a bike tour to the start of all of my travels now!
It was a perfect (and full) first day in Tokyo, so we decided to get some yummy ramen and head to bed early.
Our second day began with a visit to the Harajuku district, which is known for its crazy fashion and young culture. I especially wanted to take a walk down Takeshita street to experience the wild stores and creative food shops. Harajuku is also home of the famous owl and cat cafés.
We had lunch at the Kawaii Monster Café and while the food was definitely better to photograph than to eat, it was an experience unlike any other! The restaurant is divided into a baby animal room where the ceiling is covered in giant animals drinking milk, a mushroom forest section, a trippy tearoom, and a glowing jellyfish bar. The waitresses were dressed in crazy costumes and added a fun vibe. If you want a place to take epic photos, this is the spot for you.
That night, when I thought Tokyo couldn’t get any crazier, we got an even more ridiculous taste of Japan: The Robot Restaurant. Just about every blogging site I read before this trip mentioned this restaurant so I made it a top priority to head there. The amount of absurdity that occurred at this restaurant deserves a post of its own…so for now let me just say one thing; go to the Robot restaurant.
This being our last day, we had to visit the famous Shibuya Crossing. This is known as the busiest street crossing in the world- and rightly so! The amount of people that cross at one time will astound you. I would recommend grabbing a Starbucks and watching all of the people rush around from up above. (This intersection takes people watching to a whole new level).
When we finished creeping on the people below (and trying to sprint into the street before the crowd to get a good picture), we stopped in a market that was selling every flavor of KitKat bar you could want…and some you wouldn’t want. I’m talking green tea, apple, cherry, sake, even wasabi! This was a great gift to bring home to family and friends 🙂
Unfortunately, it was time to head out of Tokyo and onto the next destination. Before taking our first ride on the bullet train (which was a highlight in itself), we bought bento boxes to snack on during the journey. The bullet trains felt like sitting business class on an airplane: super spacious, comfy seats with plenty of leg room and we could not get over how smooth it was at that speed! *special tip: if you are going on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto make sure to book your seat on the right side of the train so you have a better view of Mt. Fuji (vise versa if you are going the other way)
Tokyo outdid my expectations completely. The culture, the people, the city, everything was incredible. If you have any thoughts on today’s article or want to share other must-see items, then leave them in the comments section!
xx (& sayonara),
Little Brantley Abroad