Finally the big day arrived, I had my backpack ready and was moreover than excited. My big world trip became reality. The very first country on my bucketlist was just a 21h flight apart of me – on the other side of the globe. A country I’ve already wanted to visit for such a long time and that made me incredibly excited – JAPAN??
First stop Tokyo
Did you know that Tokyo belongs to one of the biggest cities in the world? With more than 38 million people it would even be the largest city if the entire Toky area would be included.
To see the best of the best that such a big city has to offer, I made myself a list of all the MUST SEE places. And because there are so many beautiful ones I want to share with you, I will make different blog posts about what you have to see and experience in and around Tokyo and in Japan in general.
First of all I will tell you all about the world famous Tokyo districts, that every first time visiter needs to know!
Asakusa is in my opinion the perfect place to start your Tokyo adventure. I’ve stayed there for the first five nights and I must say it represents a little bit of all you ever imagined Japan would be like. Buzzy but yet a lot reminds of the past centuries and the Edo Period.
It has the temples – a really beautiful one called Sensoji Temple – historical buildings, old alleys with lanterns at the side and a big market where you can shop everything your heart desires.
On your way to the temple make a stroll through Nakamise shopping street, where traditional souvenirs and local foods are sold.
Also try the food stalls next to the temple. You will find a lot of very interesting foods you probably haven’t tried somewhere else yet. Asakusa also provides you with the perfect view on the 634 meters tall Tokyo Sky Tree nearby.
If you don’t like to explore everything by foot or just want to make a new experience hire a rickshaw and have yourself a guided tour.
If you happen to be in Japan during Sakura season a visit to Ueno-Park is a place you don’t want to miss out. Usually Sakura starts in Tokyo around the last two weeks of March and lasts about two weeks. There’s an official site where you can see the forecast for when in which city the cherry blossoms will be expected.
Ueno Park belongs so far to one of my big favorites! Not only because of the beautiful cherry blossom trees – of which you will find more than 1000 lining the pathway – but also because of the scenic lake and the great atmosphere.
It feels like all the Tokyo residents are having a big spring party out there in the park. Everywhere are blankets and crowds of people sitting in the park. Youngsters, families and couples, they all are having a good time and enjoying the weather.
By the way, if you cross the street behind the Kiyomizu Kannon Temple treat yourself and get one of the japanese sweets sold at the foodstalls there.
I had a Dango ? – three small Mochi balls made of sticky rice, served on a stick. Really delicious and popular during spring time is the Sakura Mochi, or Dango. But you can get any kind other tastes like Matcha all year round. The best thing when you get them at a food stall – they will grill it for you till it’s nicely warm and chewy. Yummy!
If you’re into the history and art of Japan, there are several museums to visit. One of them is the well known Tokyo National Museum. Also not far you will find a big Zoo, Japans first and oldest one.
For all shopaholics is nearby Ameyoko of interest and also for the non-shopaholics of course. It’s a very lively street market full of fresh food, and goods from clothing to souvenirs and drugstore products. You may find some things a little cheaper, but it’s not one of the most tidy streets. For all the fashionistas – the next one has all you’re looking for.
Your senses will be dazzled by all the flashing lights, and the many stors, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs here. Most stores are well known brands or big japanese chain stores.
Known as the entertainment and business hub, it’s an amazing experience no matter if day or night.
Without question the most famous spot in Shibuya is the big Shibuya Crossing. There’s the saying it’s the busiest crossroad in the world. As soon as the pedestrians traffic lights change to green, hundreds to thousands of people cross the intersection at the same time from ALL DIRECTIONS. Right across the street is a Starbucks located. Sitting there and watching the crowd down there was the highlight of my day. You might not believe it but the crossover is actually very well-ordered and not so overwhelming as it looks like.
In addition to the big selection of fashion and gadgets stores you can check out, I highly recommend to take a look into the many 100 yen shops in Shinjuku.
Very famous are Daiso, Seria, Can Do Seibu, Silk and Rainbow Spectrum. You will find there everything from household products, to stationary and crafty goods, make-up, and even little souvenirs and colorful foods.
Definitely not just for Anime and Manga fans. The city district around Akihabara is like entering a big quirky, fantasy world. You will find all kind of “Otaku” stuff related goods here, but moreover also playhalls, game stors and vending machines filled with capsule balls with little lucky charms of your favorite Anime characters.
Oh and then there’s also to mention the experience of visiting Shibuyas SPECIAL Cafés! Let’s start with the Cat Cafe, where you not only get something to drink, but also can cuddle the furry friends. Perfect for all the people who miss their darlings at home. But that’s not all of the crazyness. In the same street you will find a hedgehog Cafe and some further down an owl Cafe as well.
By the way, did you know that there are Maid Cafés where your servants are dressed like the girls out of Anime series? At the weekends Akihabara is also the place to find cosplayers especially around the train station area.
The most popular place in Harajuku is Takeshita Street. As you can see from the picture it’s a narrow pedestrian street, flanked on each side with little boutiques and restaurants. Sometimes it get so crowded and busy that you almost don’t get the chance to change to the other side. You will have to go to the middle of the street and then quickly change direction to get to the opposite direction. Sounds horrifying? No, believe me you will enjoy the fun!
A lot of the shops here are by smaller, independent companies. That’s why you can find more unique fashion than elsewhere.
And there’s something else Takeshita Street is famous for… Crepes! ?
They look amazing and I personally never saw this anywhere else outside of Japan. You can choose from chocolate, strawberry, matcha and many more flavors.
Another famous sweet – thanks to Instagram – you will find in Takeshita street are the famous rainbow cotton candy’s! I mean who can say no to this? 😉
Are you tired of shopping streets, or more of a culture seeker? Than make sure to head to the Meji Shrine next! Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and destroyed during the second worldwar it’s now Tokyos best known shrine, in the middle of a big beautiful forest.
You can make the city districts Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku in one day. But believe me you will be tired at the end of the day as if you did a LOOONG hiking trail 😉 . There’s just so much to see and capture.
So this is it. My first impressions of Tokyos main districts and the amazing things you get to experience there. I hope you enjoyed reading my Japan adventures so far and that it made you itchy feet to go there.
Stay tuned for the next post about all the day trips waiting for you in the outer areas of Tokyo, only a short train ride ahead.