There’s so much to do, so much to see in Japan, let alone in Tokyo. So how about a quick roundup on the things you must not miss for when you visit the land of the rising sun?
Get your stationery fix at Ito-ya, Ginza.
Whether you’re into paper or not, a stationary collector or not, likes giving out cards or not, you’d still find something interesting in Ito-ya. I call it my “paper heaven” solely because they have this incredible selection of quality paper, designs, colors as well as other writing tools, washi tapes, and art materials that would just make anyone’s heart flutter.
Oh and did I mention they have eight floors allocated for that and another building across it with six floors which cater more to their pen, paint, and frame collection?
Shop at the busy streets of Ameyoko, Ueno.
Ameyoko with “Ame” standing for American, is a busy street market in Ueno selling foreign items. Imagine a cleaner and a more organized strip from Divisoria and that’s Ameyoko for you. You can find fresh fish, spices, and dry goods in here.
People-watch at the train stations.
They said that if you want to see striking fashion statements, you should head on to Harajuku. And while that’s true, I think that the train station is also your next best option—to check out the locals’ fashion sense, daily etiquette, and more.
Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of pop culture in Akihabara.
If you like toys, gadgets, and anything kawaii, then to say you’d enjoy this place would be an understatement. Try checking out the Gundam Café and their concocted drinks as well as Yodobashi for your gadget shopping. After all, prices are a little less expensive than the ones you’d see here in Manila.
Check out the Pola Museum Annex, Ginza.
I don’t know about you but I don’t normally include museums with limited-run exhibits on my itinerary when I travel abroad. But after having been to Pola Museum? That might have just changed. So consider going to a local museum on your next trip and prepare to be amazed.
During the time I visited Tokyo, Pola Museum housed the Crystal Universe Exhibit and I was just lucky enough to chance upon it. And between you and me? It was so surreal, it made me tear up.
Walk the streets of Tokyo. No really, walk it.
I don’t mean the kind of walking you do to get from the station to your destination. I meant, taking your time to enjoy whatever it is the street offers. Graffiti, statues, or in my case, an artist that plays saxophone around 9 o’clock in the evening. It was breezy and not to mention, romantic even for a solo traveler like me.
Time-travel a bit with Asakusa’s temples.
Home of the famous Senso-ji temple, Asakusa also has a short market strip where you can find souvenirs, mochi, and other street food. One store also sells Kanzashi, a traditional Japanese hair accessory.
Marvel at the number of bikes you’d see parked without locks.
Bicycles and locks are no new concepts. But when you have a bike without a lock, well that’s a different story, at least here in the Philippines. It’s probably the reason why I was so amused because even with their efficient train stations, a lot of people still bike around and just park it without locks.
Buy food from the convenience stores.
Not only because you can find them in almost any street corner or that it’s cheap, but also because they sell really good stuff. I personally enjoyed their selection of ice cream and regretted why I haven’t tried more. And also, let’s not forget the seafood cup noodles at half the cost compared to its price here. Pasalubong, perhaps?
Go to Tokyo Skytree’s observatory deck for a spectacular view of the city.
If you like a nice view, say from an angle of 350 m or 450 m above ground, then you can’t go wrong with Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world. It’s located in Sumida, Tokyo and easily accessible from the Oshiage train station.
Get the most out of Shibuya.
When people mention Shibuya, the “crossing” is almost always the second word that comes after it. And understandably, Shibuya Crossing has gained its popularity for being the busiest intersection in the world.
But Shibuya itself is a lovely area so don’t forget to make the most out of it. Go to bars, watch at the Toho Cinemas or shop at Shibuya 109 or Tokyu Hands. If you’re a fan of Hachiko, then you can also visit his statue here.
Hoard from the 100 yen stores or Don Quijote in Shinjuku.
Also called Donki, Don Quijote is a one-stop shop for almost anything you’d need. From toys to gadgets, from food to costumes, they have it here. If you wish to get usable pasalubong though, then you can try 100 yen shops scattered all over Shinjuku. It’s almost like the equivalent of our Daiso here. And of course, the nightlife. Enjoy Shinjuku’s nightlife.
Other places not on the list but are also highly-recommended are watching Sumo in Ryogoku, trying an onsen or a public bath, and eating raw fish for breakfast in the Tsukiji fish market.
If, however, you consider yourself a rare breed who rather wants to trust wherever his feet may lead him, then this story might be for you. READ: Explore Japan Without a Plan