Tokyo For One Week - Recommendations?

  • Hey allies,

    I'm going on a last-minute trip to Tokyo at the end of the month, 20th-25th February (my girlfriend is going there for work so I get to share her accommodation for free, yay!). I'll be staying in the Higashiazabu area.

    I've been there before but there's so much to do and see, I would still love to hear some recommendations from all of you, particularly:

    • Places to eat/drink.
    • Places slightly outside of the city, for small day trips.

    So far I haven't planned anything except a day in Akihabara and a NJPW show if I can get tickets.

    Also, if any of you live in Tokyo, we could always try to meetup!

  • Im going in march for 9 days. Checking out the unicorn gundam among other things. Would like to see recommendations too

  • I listed some off in @bard91 's thread from a little while back. Check them out if you want!

    Do you know where you'll be staying?

  • If you can, stop by Dominique Ansel’s bakery! My friend tells me that they have the most amazing and creative food there.

  • @Bigdude1 do you know which cities you are going to? I can provide a few recommendations from my experience, and if you are thinking of hostels I can recommend a few and not recommend others

  • First time visitors have to hit up the major tourist neighborhoods of shibuya, shinjuku, and harajuku. Make sure you hit the Meiji shrine. Tsukiji fish market if you are willing to get up early (~4am). Asakuka is a nice afternoon to see the temple and markets. If you are on EZA, I assume you will enjoy akihabara for all your otaku needs.

  • @Bigdude1 If you are into gunpla, while visiting the gundam unicorn 1/1 go inside the mall, to the top floor and see Gundam frontier.. its a big gunpla store, with really awesome displays.

  • Thanks for the tips! I'll try to post some pictures of my trip here once I'm there for those who are interested :)

  • my recommendation is to go for two weeks. lol

  • @edsortiz already got that planned, im SUPER into gundam so thats actually one of the reasons im going. i already missed out on RX 78 though

  • @TokyoSlim if i had the days i would

  • @bard91 we are actually doing 2 airbnbs in tokyo and a hotel in kyoto. spending 2 days in kyoto and the rest in tokyo. already got my jr pass

  • Just to clarify - I recommend a longer trip because on a seven day vacation (specifically coming from the US) to Tokyo - what most people mean is that they are starting their trip on say, the 1st, and flying back on the 7th.
    You're only going to have like 4 usable actual days in Tokyo with that schedule. 4 days in Tokyo is about enough to see/do like 8 specific things. A reasonable pace is hard to establish, but you're going to want to take some time out just to wander around and people-watch. You will also get extremely lost at least once. (maybe once a day) Before you get into a groove in Tokyo, it can be exhausting. Generally speaking on that hypothetical 7 day trip, in which the first 2 days are eaten up by traveling across the international date line and travel fatigue, day 3 is you waking up super early, wandering around, maybe spending like 5 hours out in Tokyo, getting tired and then having to head back to your hotel before you get overwhelmed - day 4 is when most people hit their stride. Day 7 comes WAY too quickly after that.

    I see your trip is 9 days, with 2 days in Kyoto. if you're talking actual days in Tokyo/Kyoto - that's just about the perfect trip, IMO.

  • If you're coming from the US and planning to hit Tsukiji market at all, (going to the Tuna auction is hard to do unless you're staying nearby, since it's limited admission to like 40 people a day, it's at 5am, which means you need to be there around 2:30am to 4am to meet with your tour group, and the trains aren't running yet.) It's going to be very difficult for you to get in to see the Tuna auction. so if that's on your list, you might want to just skip that.

    Visiting Tsukiji in the morning in general though is a good "Day 1" activity because it's most alive in the early AM when you're going to be awake the first full day in Tokyo due to jet lag. Take the first train into Tsukiji, start in the outside market, wander around and eat at the street food stalls, and work your way down into the inner market around 10am when it opens to tourists.

    From there, it's about a 15 min walk to Hamarikyu Gardens in Shiodome, which is a very beautiful Japanese garden/Park area that used to be the Emperor's private duck hunting grounds. They have a guided tour in English on Mondays at 10:30am and Saturdays at 11am. There's a teahouse in the garden and they have a relatively inexpensive and informal self guided Japanese tea ceremony which I strongly encourage people to take part in. Doing other tea ceremony tours are often lavishly expensive, and this is more low key, gives you a good idea of things, has good tea, and you can just walk up and participate - no appointment or reservation needed. It's also a serene and pretty place to catch your breath after what might be a hectic morning at Tsukiji.

    If you're still not tired and ready to do something else after that, it's probably going to be around 1 or 2pm or so - if you can keep going for another 4-6 or so hours - there's a water taxi that takes off from Hamarikyu that goes to Hinode where you can transfer to Odaiba. You can catch lunch there, walk around on the boardwalk, visit Gundam-sama, hit up Fuji TV's observation sphere, maybe go to Toyota Mega Web or Joyopolis, Pallette Town and the Ferris Wheel, do a "traditional" (it's more like a theme park at this point) Japanese Hot Spring at Oedo-Onsen Monogatari, go to Miraikan (the museum of science and innovation?) See the mini Statue of Liberty, (but honestly, Odaiba's probably most of a whole day in itself, so you could also just do that another day.)

    If you would rather do something shorter/ just grab food before heading back to rest... maybe go people watch in Ginza. It's not the cheapest place in the world to do stuff, but Tori-Paitan at Kagari is great for around $10

  • @TokyoSlim described a classic day that I suggest to most people. My go to restaurant in Ginza is called Torigin - it's down in the basement of an alley about two blocks away from the Sony building. It's literally my favorite restaurant in the world. Get the shiitake kamemeshi and some tsukune (or some other kamameshi/yakitori combo - those are just my favs).

    I also second skipping the auction - for sure not worth it. Just wander around Tsukiji early-ish and you'll have more fun.

  • @TokyoSlim ah i got 7 usable days in japan but i dont plan on going to the fish market and stuff .

    my day one is akihabara because im gonna arrive at like 5pm

  • @bigdude1

    I'm not sure exactly if you mean you're going to try to go to Akiba at 5pm or you're going to try to go the next day, but either way, good luck!

  • This is a pretty useful infodump
    Youtube Video

    One thing I would do differently is that I almost always "splurge" for the Keisei Skyliner from Narita to Ueno. It ends up being about $15 more than taking the local trains, but takes less than half the time. After being on an airplane in coach for 12-15 hours, I don't want to be on a local train with no luggage area for 90+ minutes just to get to Ueno. The Skyliner does the same trip in 41 minutes. There's a dedicated luggage area, and if the last thing you want to do is sit down in airplane style seats, I've never seen a skyliner that was more than 1/2 full - plenty of room to pace around like a wild animal!

  • One thing I would recommend would be to get a Suica card ASAP. It's a card you can charge to use for the trains so you don't have to go the machine to buy a ticket every time you get on a train and then worry about finding your ticket when you get off so you can get out of the gates. They can be used on all of the trains and buses in Tokyo and service has been expanded to most major cities so you should be good to use it in Kyoto too. You can even use it to pay at convenience stores or vending machines. I think it's like a 500 or 1000 yen deposit but you can get it back if you return it or keep it as a souvenir/for next time you go. You can buy them at the machines or just ask the people when you claim your JR pass.

    Speaking of when you claim your JR Pass, if you are flying into Narita, I think you can get a discount on the Narita Express (NEX) that takes you straight into Tokyo. If you have luggage, I highly recommend taking it. Riding the local saves you a small amount of money but takes longer and you'll be on a commuter train with luggage. I have done both and personally will not go back to the local.

    If you're going to Akihabara, I would suggest you try Ichi Ni San gyu katsu (deep fried steak). There's always a line though, FYI and it's a bit hard to spot as it's downstairs. If you are into ramen, there is a place called Jangara that is pretty good and it's in the heart of Akihabara. If you are not from L.A. and don't mind walking ~10 minutes from Akihabara Station, there is a Tsujita and, as Ben Moore can attest, their tsukemen is insanely good. If you're looking for games or arcades, certainly visit Super Potato but treat it more as a museum. Traders usually has better prices but it's just a question of whether they have the game you are looking for. The Club Segas are good for the modern stuff like fighting games, Gundam, UFO catchers etc. but Taito HEY is a good spot to see some insanely good shooter/shmup/shooting game players.

    If you can, maybe try to do areas by day. You could easily do Ueno (park), Akihabara and Tokyo (palace) stations in a day. They are all really close together on the JR Yamanote Line and each offer a few hours of entertainment. Similarly, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Omotesandou and Harajuku are all super close together and could be done in a theory, at least. I like taking the train to Harajuku and then walking to Shibuya from there but that's certainly not for everybody. If you do decide to do it, it takes you past the Harajuku battle area in Devil Survivor and then turn right to head straight up to the crosswalk. Also, if you come out of Harajuku Station and walk towards the entrance of Takeshita Street but walk past it, there is a place on the next street (you need to cross to the other side) that serves yuzu ramen that's quite nice...but also possibly closed because places I like in Tokyo seem to always do that.

    In Shinjuku, if you like fighting games, you could hit up Taito Station near the south exit. The USF4 cabinets are down there and that's where the pros used to play. There are still a LOT of killers who play down there. There's a pay to enter park called Shinjuku gyoen that is a good date spot. I'm not sure the cherry blossoms will be out yet but it's still a really nice spot and it's huge. Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower are famous lookout spots for good reason but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building also has great views AND it's free AND it's usually pretty quiet on weekdays.

    I can't recommend an extended time in Ebisu (only from lack of experience) but if you spend a day in Shibuya, it's a short train ride and then walk to a super good okonomiyaki place called Bochi Bochi. SImilarly, if you end up in the Tokyo/Shimbashi Station area, it's a relatively short (though out of the way) trip Tsukushima Station where there is monjyayaki street.

    Time is short so you may wish to stay within Tokyo but Minato Mirai in Yokohama is a nice waterfront area with parks and shops and what used to be Japan's tallest building. It's also close to Japan's largest Chinatown. It's nice and there are things to do there but it feels a little more "any city" rather than distinctly Japanese - in my opinion, of course.

    Kyoto I have only been to once or twice so cannot say much except that a lot of people are surprised to find out that it's only an hour away from Osaka and Nara. While Kyoto has more than enough to do in two days, Osaka does have a far superior nightlife. So you could, in theory, do Kyoto by day, Osaka by night but that would still be tough in 2 days - just trying to provide as much info as I can. If you do plan to go to Osaka, let us know and I could maybe suggest some spots. On the other side, Nara is the original capital so (perhaps obviously) has a lot of history.

    Sorry if this is all very "know-it-all" ish, I can never talk Japan enough. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll be glad to write another essay.

  • Thanks everyone for the awesome recommendations, it's super useful! I'm leaving tomorrow, I'll try to report back with some pics in a few days!