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Top Ten Tokyo Experiences!

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Whether you want to immerse yourself in ancient history, soak in solitude and nature, or bask in the glory of modern technology, Tokyo offers something for every taste. Tokyo can overwhelm your senses around one corner and bring you calm and relaxation around the next. We’ve highlighted ten top activities that blend the historic and the modern to give you a complete Tokyo experience.

Shopping in Ginza

Head to Ginza to see Tokyo’s most famous shopping area. If you are able to schedule your visit for a weekend day, you’ll find the central Chuo Dori Street closed to traffic and you can wander the street safely. Check out Ginza Six, the largest shopping complex, for a wide range of shops. For an overwhelming but affordable experience, visit the massive twelve story Uniqlo store.

Meiji Shrine

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Arrive at the main entrance to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens at the first light of the day to avoid crowds and embrace solitude in the cool dewy park full of lush tall trees. You’ll be greeted by a tall wooden torii gate and then proceed along a wide trail for about fifteen minutes. It will become easy to forget you are in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities. Watch for signs directing you towards the shinto Mejiji Jingu Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Mejiji, Japan’s first modern emperor.

If you’d like to experience this early morning activity with a guided tour that can provide you with additional historical and cultural context, check out our recommendation.


Shibuya’s Starbucks

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Grab coffee and a front row seat Tokyo’s most famous intersection at the Shibuya Crossing Starbucks. The Shibuya Crossing unleashes massive crowds crossing from every direction when the traffic stops. It’s definitely worth crossing and blending with the crowd at least once. Then you can head up to Starbucks where you can watch the intense and iconic crossing from above.

Eat standing sushi in Shinjuku

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Don’t miss out on a fantastic sushi lunch while in Tokyo! Uogashi Nihon-Ichi is a great choice for a solo traveler because it is a “stand-up sushi bar.” Turn west as you exit Shinjuku Station and you’ll find a row of restaurants. Look carefully because Uogashi Nihon-Ichi is quite small! When inside, you can grab a hot green tea and browse the English menu or simply point to what you want.

Robot Restaurant Dinner Show

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The Robot Restaurant is absolutely iconic. The glitz, glamour and tech aesthetic of modern Tokyo comes together in a non-stop onslaught of entertainment.

We suggest that you prepare yourself for kitsch, and then embrace it. When you enter Robot Restaurant, you’ll be immediately overwhelmed by loud pop music, flashing lights and moving lasers. We won’t reveal too much of the show’s actual performance to preserve the shock factor for you– however, we will guarantee that you will gasp, laugh and shriek throughout.

Pro tip: Show up 45 minutes before your show time, and you’ll be able to stop by the “Rainbow Lounge” for a quick performance by a robot band.

Imperial Palace

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Tokyo’s Imperial Palace is a sprawling enclosed estate. You’ll spend a bit of time walking as you attempt to visit the various gardens and the castle itself. As you explore, you’ll see an expansive lawn area that’s perfect for a quick midday picnic. (If you are visiting during the hot and humid summer, you may enjoy this activity more in the morning or evening.)

Nakamise Street

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The Asakusa district is extremely popular with tourists, and with good reason. The lively shopping market on Nakamise Street brims with intriguing trinkets and traditional paper lamps hang from every corner. The Senso-ji Temple and Pagoda offer stunning examples of traditional Japanese architecture. However, a daytime visit will leave you maneuvering against hundreds and hundreds of tourists and competing to find space for a temple photo.

That’s why we recommend a nighttime visit. Start by strolling down Nakamise Street to see the open air market and then Dembo-in-dori Street for a glimpse at traditional shops. You won’t be able to enter and make purchases, but the shop shutters display beautiful paintings.

Then enter the Senso-ji Temple complex. Everything is illuminated with bright lights until 11:00 pm each night. You’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of this temple without distraction. Plus, you’ll be able to take photographs that aren’t full of tourists and their selfie sticks.

End your evening by heading west to the nearby Koenchi Street (also known as Hoppy Street). This stretch is packed with eating and drinking establishments. Visit an izakaya, a small Japanese style pub, for a quick meal of yakitori.  If the weather is nice, sit outside to observe the passersby.


Tokyo Skytree

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A remarkable skyline view makes for an epic way to wrap up– or begin– a couple’s date! No view surpasses that offered by the Tokyo Skytree.

The Skytree is a fairly new addition to the Toyko skyline. It was completed in 2012, and it quickly became one of Tokyo’s most visited attractions. We advise heading up just before sunset. The crowds will have died down, and you’ll be able to share the experience of watching day turn to night over sprawling Tokyo together.

Pro Tip: Check the smog forecast before heading to the Tokyo Skytree. Your romantic views could be obscured if smog is particularly heavy on your chosen day.

Onsen

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After thrilling and overwhelming experiences like the Robot Restaurant show, you’ll enjoy and appreciate a chance to unwind in a onsen, which is a private hot spring. You and your beau will be able to lean back and let the warm healing waters relax you.

We recommend taking a day to venture outside Tokyo to visit Hakone, a stunning mountainside town just outside of Tokyo known for its hot springs. If you choose a private tour, you’ll have a chance to pair your onsen experience with a cable car ride to catch views of the majestic Mt. Fuji and a visit to the ancient Hakone Shrine.

Grab a selfie latte 

Because who doesn’t want to get their caffeine with a picture of their face on top?

We got our lattes at the adorable Reissue Cafe in the Shibuya area. (They can also serve you a latte with a three dimensional panda, cat or Pikachu on top, if that’s what you’d prefer!)

These ten suggestions are just the beginning of the adventures waiting for you in Tokyo. For more ideas tailored to couples and solo travelers, check out our posts here and here. 

 

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