Stuff To Do

As much as we would love to be tour guide to you all, I am sure we will be kinda busy with the wedding business and all. So we humbly request that you check out the information below and plan some fun stuff to do while you are here.  Keep us informed of your itinerary so we can keep track of you. 

Key Tourist Information

Tokyo Tourist Association website—fantastic site
TokyoTopia—lots of useful information for visitors

Highlights In Tokyo

Here are some ideas for self touring.

Tokyo Essentials

No visit to Tokyo is complete without a temple, some sushi, a good view, and a bit of entertainment.

  1. Tocho (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building) 45th floor observatory has a great view of the city all the way to the suburbs. At sunset on a clear day, you’ll see the outline of Mt. Fuji to the west. When you exit, be sure to visit the Tokyo Tourist Info Center on the first floor. They have lots of maps and ideas. Plus it is all free!! Nearest station: Tocho-mae on the Oedo line.
  2. Meiji Jingu is the serene and beautiful shrine of the Emperor meiji and his Empress. Nearest station: Harajuku, Yamanote line or Meijijingu-mae, Chiyoda line.
  3. Sensoji/Asakusa Kannon Temple is a fun, bustling colorful temple with a street full of souvenirs. Not to be missed! Nearest station: Asakusa, Askakusa line.
  4. Kaiten Sushi - the “sushi go round” conveyor belt sushi shop is a popular and fun way to have a snack or a meal.
  5. 100 Yen Shops are full of silly and strange knickknacks, accessories and fun stuff mainly importated from China. The Daiso store in Harajuku has a great selection.
  6. Karaoke! Festa Iikura in Roppongi offers costumes as well as songs, drinks and memorable times.
  7. Tuskiji Fish Markets A super early start to the day (5am for the auctions) but it is the largest and oldest fish market in the world. Stay behind the observation area as this is a working market but it is really interesting.  Free!!  Then stop at one of the local shops and have a sushi breakfast.  Great for hangovers. 

Sunday in the Park in Tokyo

Sunday is everyone’s play day, so seeing the rockabilly dancers and gothic lolitas at Harajuku is a must.

  1. Takeshita Dori - a long shopping street with costumes, shoes, accessories, crepes and lots of people. Nearest station: Harajuku, Yamanote line or Meijijingu-mae, Chiyoda line.
  2. Yoyogi Park - on Sundays you’ll encounter the rockabilly dancers, jugglers, musicians and all kinds of people pursuing their passions. Bring a camera. Nearest station: Harajuku, Yamanote line or Meijijingu-mae, Chiyoda line.

Fashionable Tokyo

Tokyo is home to hundreds of up and coming designers and all the major labels.

  1. LaForet - several stories of small shops where off beat and wannabe designers showcase their work.  Nearest station: Harajuku, Yamanote line or Meijijingu-mae, Chiyoda line.
  2. Omotesando - the Champs-Elysee of Tokyo. Fashionable boutiques, haute couture brands, cafes and fun shopping venues. Oriental Bazaar, for all your typical souvenirs, is here. Nearest station: Omotesando, Chiyoda, Hanzomon & Ginza lines
  3. Ginza - all the old department stores have branches here, and many designers do, too. On the side streets you find milliners and kimono shops. On Sunday the main street is blocked to traffic. Nearest station: Ginza, Ginza and Marunouchi lines.

Old Tokyo

The east side of Tokyo has quiet back streets, beautiful gardens and bustling shops.

  1. Edo Tokyo Museum - showcases life in Tokyo in past centuries. Great exhibits of everyday items.

Otaku Tokyo

Akihabara, maid cafes, and anime are heaven for some visitors.

  1. Akihabara - the mecca for electronics shopping. Prices aren’t really that cheap, but you’ll find the very newest models on sale here.
  2. Ghibili Museum

Gourmet Tokyo

Some restaurant recommendations and ideas.

We know many of you, love a good feed so we thought we would give you some ideas on the Tokyo restaurant scene.
Really this town is full of restaurants! They are literally everywhere.

We are big fans of eating as much of the local food as possible but also know that some of you have some reservations about raw fish, chicken gizzards or other unknown food stuffs.
Below are a bunch of restaurants that we have been to and can recommend. Some are a little expensive but guaranteed English service staff, English menus and good service.

  • Dazzle -  Ginza
  • Citabria  - Nishi-Azabu
  • Stellato - Groomzilla’s stomping ground
  • Legato - Shibuya on love hotel hill - great place for a cocktail overlooking the city
  • Zest - burger joints all over town
  • Salt - just near Tokyo station - posh Aussie grub
  • Xex -  Daikanyama and Roppongi - lush cocktails
  • Fujimamas - Omote Sando - reasonably priced fusion (lunch/dinner) and great cakes for arvo tea
  • Good Honest Grub - brunch/lunch

But we would urge you to try the local food as much as possible which means going to your local small Izakaya for some beer and Japanese food.  Look at the menu and point at things that don’t look like they will bite you back. 
Coming up soon we will organise a few nights out on the town and if you are, dear reader, welcome to join us.
Watch the calendar!

Cultural Tokyo

The art museums at Ueno are only the start of the cultural possibilities.

  1. Tokyo Art Beat - what’s on in museums and galleries across Tokyo
  2. Ueno - major museums are clustered together in the park.
  3. Edo outdoor museum has a range of original and reconstructed Japanese architecture

Sporting Tokyo

Japanese baseball, sumo and more.

  1. Sumo - see the fat men in action May 10-24 2009 Sumo Tickets
  2. Baseball - main venues are Tokyo Dome and Jingu Stadium. Check the schedules here. And check out the Baseball Museum at Tokyo Dome
  3. Horse Racing is very popular in Japan - off track betting from Japan Racing Association is scattered around town, or you can see the horses run in person at Tokyo Racecourse

Watery Tokyo

From the rivers and bay to the baths, Tokyo has all kinds of wet entertainment.

  1. Oedo Onsen Monogatari. An Edo era bathing theme park. Admissions gets you unlimited hot spring bathing in an old fashioned atmosphere. You can choose our own yukata robe to wear around the park, too. Nearest station: Telecom Center station, Yurikamome line.
  2. Neighborhood Sento. Depending on where youa re staying, there may be a city-run neighborhood bath nearby. Look for old folks carrying buckets and towels, or check the Tokyo Sento Search page (in Japanese)
  3. Tokyo sight seeing cruise - the route between Asakusa temple and the Hamarikyu Garden makes a pleasant transit between two worthwhile destinations.
  4. The Floating Bar - cruise around Tokyo Bay in a cool anime inspired boat that doubles as a groovy bar.  Sails Thurs, Fri, Sat nights from 8pm for ¥2,500 for entry plus cash bar.  Highly recommended. 

Nighttime Tokyo

Enjoying the city after dark.

  1. You might know that the Northcotts own a bar in the Golden Gai area of Shinjuku. It is called Araku and has Aussie wines, snacks and some English speaking staff.
  2. Shibuya is the place for clubs and dancing.
  3. Love Hotels - though you probably already have a hotel room, a love hotel can be a fun place to spend a few decadent hours. There are love hotel districts in Shinjuku and Shibuya, among other places. Look for hotels that have discreet entrances and offer prices for “rest” and “stay”

Beyond Tokyo

For research - use this Japan Guide site - really handy.
Japan Guide
Plus this site again as it is great
Tokyo Tourist Association

Japan Rail Pass

JR Rail passes are a must if you plan to do any travelling around Japan.
Japan Rail Pass

Air Passes

All domestic flights depart from Haneda airport which is much closer to town than Narita and is super easy to get to by train, bus or monorail. 
Japan Guide - Air Passes

Accommodation

Japanese Guest Houses - Guide to staying in Japanese inns
This gives you a summary of the different styles of hotels. We like to stay in a country ryokan or onsen. Japanese Guest Houses site helps you with everything including a free booking service.

There are places to stay that are really interesting - eg at a buddhist temple etc.  When you have chosen a few potential hotels, just send us the list and I can give you my thoughts if you like. Have stayed in a heap of hotels in the country and so can give you the skinny on what sort to expect.

Personally I do like the minshuku style hotels.  They are smaller, cheaper and more like a B&B so you really get to meet the family and eat with them.  The modern Ryokan style hotels are a bit more impersonal but bigger, cleaner and more modern.  Really depends on what you want.  Minshukus have a curfew usually as it is a family house.  Traditional Ryokans are just like a hotel but with japanese futons as bedding.  If you are brave, use the communal baths for the true experience.  As long as you don’t mind a heap of old japanese ladies checking out your boobs and bits.

Stay clear of “western style” hotels as the rooms are pokey and the beds are small and single and take up the whole room.  Japanese rooms are great as the futons get folded away in the cupboard during the day so you have a large comfy living room when you are not sleeping. Usually the staff come around and lay out the futons while you are at dinner so you are all set.

Where to Go

Day Trips

Kamakura (big budda) then head to Enoshima
Nikko
Kofu
Hakone

Longer Trips Outside Tokyo

Kyoto
Hiroshima
Matsumoto (snow monkeys)
Nikko
Okinawa
Hokkaidoa