Last but not least, our third destination… Tokyo!
Tokyo is Japan’s leading industrial center, with a highly diversified manufacturing base for products such as cars, clothing and audio and visual devices, causing Japan to be the world’s third largest economy. As mentioned in the last post on Osaka, Japan, and specifically Tokyo, is hosting the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games. But even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, there are plenty of other things to do in and around the city.
Likely the busiest crossing in the world, the Shibuya crossing. Every day this crossing helps 2500 people to reach the other side of the road. If the street crossing seems a bit too busy to be in the middle of, or you would just like to see it from a different perspective, you can go up to Magnet’s Mag7 for free and behold it from above. Not far from this crossing, in front of the Shibuya station, you’ll find another great sight of this city. The Hachiko Statue is a statue of a Japanese dog called a chūken Hachikō. The story behind it is one of the dog who awaited his owner in front of this station every day. But what makes this story extra special is that this dog continued to do so for nine consecutive years after the owner died. After the dog himself passed away too, they decided to put up a schedule in honour of him. If you haven’t been able to shoot your perfect picture after this, it is recommended to visit the Jiggen Bridge around sundown. This bridge will give you an excellent view of the Tokyo Sky Tree and its surroundings. However, to get a great overview of the city, your stay cannot lack a visit to the actual Sky Tree, which is one of the highest buildings in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
It will not come as a surprise that Tokyo is one of the more expensive places to visit in the world. However, a place where you’ll be able to find a little more affordable cuisine and drinks are the Golden Gai Izakaya Alleys. This would be a good place to both start and finish at least one night. With over 200 Shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries there is more than enough to keep you busy for a couple of hours. Whoever would like to see more of the traditional side of Japan, should take the boat to Asakusa. Mainly known for the famous Buddhist temple Sensi-ji, but also the centre of Tokyo’s traditional low town or old town.
Didn’t they say ‘when in Rome…’ In Tokyo, there are definitely ways to behave in all sorts of ways. Just like most of the activities, it is again possible to combine something old with something new. Whether you’re interested in the traditional Japanese entertainment like Sumo wrestling or Kabuki theatre shows, or would like to finally beat your friend at Mariokart for real. It’s all possible within the borders of Tokyo. For who would like to see and be a part of some crazy technical light shows and activities, the TeamLab Borderless is a must. This interactive digital art museum lets you experience a fantasy world where the borders between real and surreal will definitely fade for a few hours.
In case you got hungry after all this excitement, there are definitely some options to continue your lunch right in the middle of this craziness. One of the most famous ones is the Robot Restaurant. A real tourist trap and pretty expensive, but we’d still consider it a must go, just because it’s crazier than you can imagine. Although the name suggests otherwise, it’s more of a show where it’s also possible to order a box of food. But this will definitely be an experience you won’t get elsewhere. Another possibility which will not be the preference of everyone, but sure is much more quiet than the Robot Restaurant is Tokyo’s Cat Café. A place to enjoy some lunch or coffee, while playing or relaxing with one of it’s furry friends. Did you know that Simply interacting with a cat can evoke strong feelings of connection, which lowers stress because intimate connection leads one to feeling less alone and better able to cope with stress. Or at least, that’s what professor Adnan Qureshi said, the professor leading the research towards lowering chances of heart disease in relation to stress. But in case all you need is a typical Japanese lunch without any craziness, there are tons of ramen or sushi places around where you can eat your heart full.
As already mentioned, highly technical and traditional go hand in hand, or at least side by side, in Japan, so make sure to have a look at the Meiji Shrine and/or the Nezu Shrine. The Nezu Shrine was built in 1705 and that also makes it one of the oldest Shrines in the city. It’s known for being a little more quiet and and peaceful, since not many tourists actually take the time to visit it. But don’t be fooled by this, it’s actually only an extra reason to do go out and explore this beautiful temple.
I don’t think I have to explain anyone that you cannot really leave Japan seeing a glimpse of Mt Fuji. This almost 4000m high vulcano can only be climbed during certain times of the year, but it’s possible to do a tour past the viewing points and other beautiful spots and parks all year round. So make sure to fit that in!
Sidenote: Unfortunately Japan has suffered one of the worst hurricanes in decades recently and that therefore not everything will be as accessible as always, or even worse, that thousands of people have lost their home and some have even lost family members. We feel very sorry for the inhabitants of the affected places and people and do wish them all the best.