Out of all the cities in Japan we'd visited so far, we spent most of our days in Tokyo. Mainly because we wanted to do a couple of day trips to Mt. Fuji, Nagano, etc. However, that didn't happen. Let me start by saying that Tokyo's main railway station is the most complicated station I've ever been to! Nearly 30 countries down, and I've never seen anything like it. The three times I passed through this station, I got lost all three times. Its just too complex. Tokyo is a big, beautiful and fast-paced city with plenty of things to see. Since we had six days here, we could explore this city at our own pace. We stayed at the Grand Arc Hanzomon and bought a day pass everyday to get around. Here are some of the places we visited while we were there:
1) Senso-ji - This is one of Tokyo's oldest temples. We had to enter the Kaminarimon Gate and walk through a row of shops (Nakamise Shopping Street) selling Japanese stuff to reach the main hall. There are a few other structures on the grounds including a five storey pagoda. It was crowded!
2) Tsukiji Fish market - One of the largest and busiest fish markets in the world. If you're interested, you can even witness an auction that takes place around 2am. We're a bit allergic to early mornings so we visited around 9am for a seafood feast. The choice of fish is plenty and we saw things that we'd never ever seen before. This market also had fruits, veggies, spices, sweets and more. Ditch your hotel breakfast & head here!
3) Takeshita Dori - A popular street in Harajuku known for its teen culture. Stores here sell wacky outfits popular among the young crowd ... not something that I would wear though. If you love a good crepe, this is your place! You'll find a crepe shop after every 2-3 shops. Make sure you try out this giant cotton candy too!
4) Akihabara - This is Tokyo's electric town and you'll see why when you get out of the station. What you can expect here is fancy signboards, gaming arcades, stores selling any and every kind of gadget and shoppers hunting for great bargains. We were more inclined towards coin machine games that vended soft toys! In Japan, you'll see more adults at these games than kids. Plenty of French maid cafes too in the area.
5) Odaiba - An artificial shopping and entertainment island built on Tokyo Bay . To visit Tokyo Bay, we had to purchase a separate ticket as our regular day passes were not valid. This part of Tokyo kinda reminded me of New York. We saw a Statue of Liberty, Rainbow Bridge and a giant robot.
6) Rappongi - This area is popular for Tokyo's vibrant nightlife. There are clubs, bars, pubs at every nook and corner in addition to a number of restaurants too. We visited Rappongi during the day as well and checked out the giant spider at Rappongi hills.
7) Hachiko Statue - You may have watched the movie about this faithful dog who waited on his master in the same place every day for 9 years after his death. A bronze statue was built near Shibuya Station in memory of this dog.
8) Shibuya - Another area in Tokyo with flashy signboards, restaurants and more. The most popular tourist attraction here is the Shibuya crossing. Thousands of people cross this busy junction every hour.
9) Tokyo Skytree - This is the tallest free standing broadcasting tower in the world. We visited in the hope of seeing Mt. Fuji ... which supposedly can be seen from here on a clear day. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky. However, we did enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city. If you pay extra (which we did), you can visit a higher deck located 450 metres above the ground. Tokyo Skytree has a glass bottom floor which totally freaked me out!
10) Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Our second attempt to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo was here. And we failed yet again. There are 2 observations decks - one at the north & the other at the south which are free to enter. We just enjoyed the view from the observation deck.
11) Ameyko Shopping Centre - We stumbled upon this large outdoor market by chance. What followed was two consecutive days of shopping. This place is insane. Rows of shops branching into even more rows of shops. This is a bargain hunter's and foodie's paradise!
12) Tokyo Midtown - An upscale area in Tokyo which consists of stores, restaurants, museum, park and a 5 star hotel. We popped in here just for an hour on our final day and basically walked around the mall and the surrounding garden.
13) Tokyo Dome City - An entertainment city in the heart of Tokyo that features a stadium, shopping mall, amusement park and spa. Although we were tempted to visit the spa, we couldn't because people with tattoos weren't allowed inside. We visited the amusement park though, where Mr. D unleashed his inner child. For an adrenaline rush, make sure you try out the Thunder Dolphin roller-coaster . I was happy to be a spectator!
14) Kabukicho - This is known as one of the liveliest entertainment areas in Shinjuku. Kabukicho is supposedly the red-light area of Tokyo with plenty of hostess bars, clubs and theaters. However, we felt very safe walking around. During the day, we checked out the gaming arcades and restaurants. At night, we visited the Robot Restaurant. This was probably one of the highlights of our time in Tokyo. It was a glitzy show of robots, dancers, lights and characters. Definitely worth checking out while you are in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a big city and there are definitely more things to see than what I've mentioned here. We visited Tokyo during the end of the cherry blossom city and this was the only city where we didn't see any cherry trees. However, I'd seen enough by then. I was more than happy to settle for unique food, busy streets, neon signboards and skyscrapers!
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