12 June 2013

In a Place Called Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world, and also one of the most expensive. You can’t find a city quite like it. Even similar cities such as Shanghai, Singapore City and Beijing, don’t quite match the same mix of hustle, bustle, tradition and quirkiness like this capital. Tokyo has many districts, just like most big cities, which are all linked by an underground and overground train system, not to make things confusing or anything….

Even though you can cover a lot in a few days, you could spend a few weeks here and still not have even touched on the most weirdest and wonderful parts of this great capital. However, I’m here to make it a bit easier and below I've highlighted how you could spend your time in the weird and wonderful city that is Tokyo.


Firstly, the weird world which is Akihabara. Akihabara is known as the Electronics Town where you will be able to find anything and everything electronic. It’s also home to a million and one Pachinko parlours, which apparently earn more money than the Japanese car manufacturing industry. If you aren’t sure what a Pachinko parlour is, then picture rows upon rows of strange slot machines - but not quite Vegas style. Then picture business men, school kids, old housewives and everyone and anyone sat side by side throwing money away on the strangest of games. Akihabara is full of these parlours but it’s also home to a lot of manga and anime madness, which can be seen at the Tokyo Anime Centre. Such centres are worth a visit along with the manga kissaten (manga cafes). Finally, visit Pop Life, the biggest sex shop in Tokyo at an astonishing six floors. Words cannot describe it, so just take a wander round.

Disneyland Tokyo

If you feel like destroying your purse for the day then head to Disneyland Tokyo. Even if you’re not an avid Disney fan like me, I’d still suggest a trip. If you have a good two weeks in Tokyo then I argue that you have the time to take a day out of the neon streets, business men and ramen huts to venture into Disneyland. It really is different from any other part of Tokyo, but it still does have a touch of Japanese kitsch. If you've been to a Disneyland before then I'd recommend going to Tokyo Disneysea (both parks are adjacent) as you’ll find rides and attractions that aren't present in other parks.


Harajuku is one of the quirkiest places I have ever been to. You’ll find some of the most fashionable girls in Japan in this place, with shops to match. Stores range from your designer flagships such as Chanel and Ralph Lauren, to your high street greats of Topshop and H&M, to really quirky vintage shops. The street to visit is Takeshita Dori full of the weirdest fashion shops in the world, but also the most wonderful! I could easily spend a few days exploring all the little streets in Harajuku, but if you don’t want to stare endlessly at clothes, platform shoes and wide eyed shop assistants, then maybe just half a day will do in this place. On the plus side, you don’t have to spend any money here to enjoy it. Harajuku is also really worth visiting on a Sunday where weekly Cosplay events take place. Girls and guys will dress up in eccentric costumes in relation to anime characters, Disney characters, punk rockers and Barbie lookalikes. Worth joining in but worth also just seeing. Fashion and accessorising aside, Harajuku is home to one of Tokyo’s main shrines Meiji Jingu and a few art museums which host great Asian pieces.

Imperial Palace

I couldn't go into the actual Palace building as you have to book a tour fairly far in advance, however the Palace gardens are enough of a spectacle. I was lucky enough to visit the Palace during the cherry blossom sakura season which was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. How you spend your time in the gardens is really a bit weather dependant. I’d suggest trying to take a picnic during the summer, although I’m actually not sure of the etiquette if you just throw a rug anywhere and crack out the Pringles. However, the Palace is worth a visit no matter what.


A high life district hosting some of the best houses in Tokyo. Roppongi is known for its Hollywood feel, and that’s not just because it has featured in Hollywood films. The Gonpachi Restaurant in Roppongi was used as an inspiration for the crazy 88 killing scene in Kill Bill. The actual restaurant didn’t give permission for it to be used, but the set is modelled on its entirety. Take a look and act out a scene. Roppongi also has quite a big expat community, so expect good nightlife and lot of foreigner bars. As well as the high life of exclusive pads and bars, Roppongi is home to Tokyo Tower which was modelled on the Eiffel Tower. Worth a visit but not a must see.


Shibuya is the party central in Tokyo. You’ll find the biggest and most popular clubs here, with a surrounding of Japanese as well as foreigners. Some of the most heard of are Womb, Club Asia, Club Air and Club Harlem to just name a few. If staying in Shibuya then you’re in the perfect place to have a fair few wild nights, however if staying further afield you might have even more wild nights as you’d be expected to stay up until first tube, like most of the locals do. Shibuya is also known for its shopping, with the main street (Centre Gai) jam packed at the quietest of times, and its ample amount of love hotels. Head to Love Hotel Hill to explore the cheesiest and popular ‘by the hour’ rooms.


Shinjuku has one of the world’s busiest railway stations and crossing junctions which is a sight in itself, but of course this district has a lot more to offer. Take a stroll down the seedy Red Light District (Kabukichō) to see an array of school girl posters (adults in school girl uniforms just to be clear) and the weirdest of sex addictions, although be careful at night as this is a place to get scammed and robbed. But if you’re looking for a more family friendly trip then head to Shinjuku Park which is one of the most beautiful parks in the city, with plenty of space for picnics, tanning and playing a few games. Also worth checking out is the Ghibli Museum, for everything anime.


Ueon has one of the biggest parks in Tokyo, which also homes a zoo. This district is worth going to in good weather, as yet another park to have a picnic in and enjoy the cherry blossom. It is also worth looking around the variety of museums here including the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Science Museum. Also a fair few shrines surround this area, which reflect how Ueon definitely shows a more traditional side of Tokyo. A good district to relax within and escape the neon lights of the rest of city.

Tokyo of course has many other districts and sights worth seeing. A few which I haven’t mentioned but may be on your list might include Ryogoku which is home to the National Sumo Stadium. If you want to see a sumo match then do your research and book well in advance, and don’t expect any cheap prices. Asakusa has recently opened the Tokyo Skytree. A good sight to see but I wouldn’t go if you haven’t got much time. Finally, if you like all things fish and aqua then head to Tsukiji which has one of the biggest fish markets in the world. Head early on a morning to experience a one of a kind tuna auction.

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