Japan is probably our favorite country to visit for food and travel, and there's just always something about Tokyo that we love to return to. We've been in Tokyo 3 times now, and honestly we can't wait to go back. Our friends always ask us where we like to go in Tokyo so here's our list.
The beauty of Tokyo is that there's so many neighborhoods and areas, there's really something for everyone. But of course, it really also depends on where your interests lie in. For one, C has always loved cars, motorcycles and games, and I love paper/stationery, manga and their sense of design. And the two of us, could live off Japanese food all our lives, haha! But I'll save that for another post, for our favorite places to eat. So even if you may not be interested in some of those things, I'm sure the variety and quality of food will surely impress you.
Shinjuku is a hustling and bustling area of Tokyo. This was where we first stayed! It's a super busy area, it's got the business area (so lots of people heading to work, etc.) and then the red light district/entertainment area as well, but it's also surrounded by a park. We picked this area initially because we knew there would be lots of things to do. The Shinjuku station is also really large and complicated, definitely not for the faint-hearted. We love going here for:
- Arcades! - C and I love going to arcades, lol. We just have to get at least one of those UFO game prizes every time we go. We usually end up spending around $30-40 on a measly toy but the joy of figuring out how to get it, is priceless. Then of course they always have the latest and greatest in the racing car games so we make sure that C gets his time in in those places. We also found that the Shinjuku arcades tend to have the medal game too, which is one of those coin pushing games, and we have so much fun playing those.
- Purikara - These are the little photo stations that make you all pretty and cute, haha! I love them for memories... C only allows me one of these in a trip, so Shinjuku is one of our favorite places for this!
- Shopping - Shinjuku area, especially close to the station has so many of the flagship stores, so we always head to those. BIC Camera, Yodobashi, shopping malls in the station, etc.
- Stationery Shopping - A short walk from Shinjuku is Sekaido, an arts and crafts store where I get a lot of my nibs and calligraphy supplies.
- Entertainment - There's lots of interesting shows in the Shinjuku area, albeit some are definitely tourist traps (i.e. the Robot Show!)
Shibuya is another bustling place for the younger people in Tokyo. It's known for the Shibuya crossing, and you'll quickly realize that Tokyo itself just has lots of these crossings! But since Shibuya is such a busy area, it's extra awesome to watch people - especially since a lot of people dress up in this area. I personally love going to this area to shop for clothes.
Ginza is the upscale area of Tokyo. It's really pretty and I love walking around in the area, and it's also really close to the Tsukiji Market as well, so if you want to start with a delicious seafood breakfast, I would do that and then head over to Ginza for shopping.
- Shopping - If luxury shopping is your thing, there's definitely lots to see in Ginza. Aside from that, I love going to the Uniqlo, Muji and Loft store in Ginza, the store is just laid out so well.
- Stationery Shopping - Itoya is a multi-story stationery heaven, I love visiting it! Tokyu Hands, a department store that also has a great stationery and craft section, also has a branch in Ginza, and it's called Ginza Hands - and I love visiting it as well.
Since I'm a big fan of all things manga and anime, this area is so awesome for me! I just love visiting it to just check out what they have for hobbyists. And of course they also have tons of gachapon shops and arcades, so there's a little bit for both Clement and I here.
Tokyo Bay Shinonome
The main reason we head to this area really is to visit C's car and motorcycle stuff.
- Shopping - If car and motorcycle stuff is your thing, their two large big-box stores Super Autobacs and Ricoland is right here. And of course you can also visit other motorcycle shops but this is a good place to stop.
Harajuku + Omotesando
This is another shopping area for the cute/kawaii Japanese fashion style, but also home to tons of hipster stores, haha! Lots of coffee shops and expensive boutiques, all along a beautiful tree-lined street. It's really busy, as well, lots of people walking around. Aside from visiting those shops, we usually head here because of the Meiji shrine.
Disneyland + DisneySea
I know Japan isn't really the place for the Mouse, but these past two trips we made our way to visit Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea so we could check it off our list! And besides it's always fun to go to a theme park and ride, it really brings the child out of all of us. On our first trip to Japan, we also went to Universal Studios in Osaka. That, was super fun too! First time hearing Harry Potter speak in Japanese, lols.
We love going around the area around Tokyo Station because there's just so much to see. It's also close to the Imperial Palace, so it's a beautiful juxtaposition of traditional and modern. We had our recent photoshoot there, too! Such a gorgeous place to go. And beneath the Tokyo Station is the Ramen Street and Character Street, which are both places we love to go for food and shopping. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world that has anything remotely close to the Character Street - where all the Japanese characters like Rilakkuma, Totoro, Pokemon get their own store! And of course there's also the anime/manga stores there, so I really do love checking it out. Plus, one of my favorite companies - Traveler's Notebook, now has a shop at the Tokyo Station!
Ueno was just at the other end of Akihabara, so we loved visiting it! It has a little street market that's nice to walk through, tons of locals eat here, too. Beside that is the Ueno Zoo and Park where C&I got to stroll around and watch weekend events transpire. I'm not sure if it's just over the weekend but when we went the last time, there were tons of food stalls that we got to try!
The reason why we headed to Ikebukuro before was because it's where the large Pokemon Store was located (this was when Pokemon Go was all the craze!) but we found that it was also a little ramen haven! Lots of the big name places here like Ramen Jiro, Taishoken, Menya Musashi and so much more. It's also just a fun little area to explore, so we enjoyed it.
A more touristy area that has lots of little shops that are great for souvenirs, and traditional Japanese snacks. Also home to many sukiyaki shops!
We were originally in Ebisu just to check out some delicious donuts from Camden's Blue Star Donuts, but we also found it was so cute! It's a little area that's part of Shibuya as well. Definitely a cute hipster-ish neighborhood. I heard that Setagaya was similar too, but we haven't made it there yet. Maybe next time!
While Tokyo is a fun and bustling area, I would definitely encourage you to check out other places instead of staying just in Tokyo. There's lots of cities and areas that are amazing just outside of the city. Last October, we checked out Hakone, and the first trip we also visited the Tsukuba Circuit and actually attended a meet. All absolutely amazing places to visit!