Having spent a short four days in Tokyo, here are my list of things to do when in Tokyo.
1. Spend half a day in Asakusa
Alighting from Asakusa subway, Kaminarimon is the first thing that greets you. Beyond the gate lies Nakamise shopping street that lures you into buying countless of Japanese sweet snacks and cute souvenirs. At the end of the street is where Sensoji temple is located and usually full of visitors. The temple looks even better in the evening when they are all lit up. Aside from Nakamise, there’s Shin-Nakamise which is also a shopping street. If that doesn’t tire you, try walking to Sumida Park or Tokyo Skytree.
2. Tuna auction at Tsukiji Market
When news about the relocation of Tokyo’s most famous market broke out, many are wondering whether that will signal the end of the tuna auction that takes place almost daily at the market. The truth is, nobody know what will happen when the market relocates, but if you are in Tokyo, do make it a point to visit Tsukiji market especially the tuna auction even if it means you will have to wake up at ungodly hours trying to be the first of the limited 120 visitors allowed daily. I know nuts about tuna, but witnessing the auction is truly an eye opener for me. You won’t be able to find this elsewhere.
3. Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Market
There is a debate on the best sushi place in Tokyo. Some may say the best comes from Tsukiji because it is the place to get the freshest seafood. Some may say these are actually overrated because it’s easy to find the best sushi anywhere in Tokyo. For me, having fully witnessed the passionate Japanese when dealing with tuna, it actually made me even more eager to find out about sushi shops in Tsukiji. We ended up at a shop which is sandwiched between the famous shops. Suffice to say, the sushi was top notch but it was the experience that captured our hearts.
Note: Also near the market, possibly the shop that sells the best tamago in Tokyo!
4. Shibuya, Shibuya and Shibuya!
Yes, the busiest intersection in Tokyo has to be Shibuya. It’s madness and always fun to watch these people cross into each other’s path. The best place to watch this is from Starbucks, so grab a cuppa, sit down and watch the ‘human traffic jam’. Shibuya is also the place where the most touching story about a faithful dog took place about 90 years ago. He was best remembered as the most faithful and loyal dog, even after his owner’s death. Today, in Shibuya, you can find several of Hachiko’s legacy. A bronze statue stands proudly outside Shibuya station, with the station’s exit is named as Hachiko-guchi and the exact spot where Hachiko waited patiently is permanently marked with bronze paw-prints with texts in Japanese explaining his loyalty.
5. Nightlife at Shinjuku
Shinjuku remains one of the popular places to visit and easily one of the best spots to shop and eat. The big malls, from Takashiyama to Isetan to Odakyu are all located near to each other. Also worth mention here is Shinjuku’s famous Golden Gai, which was known for prostitution back in the older days. Today, it remains one of the famous spots for nightlife with over 200 bars with different themes.
6. Coffee hunting at Omotesando/Harajuku
To begin with, we alighted at Harajuku Station and began our hunt for the hippiest coffee spot in Tokyo. True enough, at one of the small streets, we found Identity Coffee Bar and therefore kick started our caffeine mode for the day. Next in the line is none than the famous Omotesando Koffee, a true coffee shrine to us caffeine lovers. With a minimalist start up, today Omotesando Koffee is one of the must visit coffee place in Tokyo. There are other independent coffee joints in Omotesando that may worth a mention here but even if you are caffeine intolerant, walking along Harajuku-Omotesando is quite enjoyable.
It was an unplanned stop for me but having to summarize Odaiba, I’d say this place has a lot more than just sightseeing and shopping. Take for an example, you can walk across the beautiful Rainbow Bridge, or take a spin at Toyota Mega Web, or relax at Oedo Onsen. The things that you can do is practically endless, and you probably need to spend more than a week to fully explore Odaiba.
8. Eating in Tokyo
Japanese food in KL is growing recently with plenty of ramen joints and tonkatsu places vying for our attention. Having almost tried each of them, definitely there will be a time for comparison. In Tokyo, we sampled some of the best tonkatsu places – Tonkatsu Wako and Maisen, and they are simply irresistible. We also tried a few ramen joints (most of them are relatively unknown to us) and we loved them! And if you are hunting for yakitori shop, head to Ueno!
9. Get lost in Tokyo’s subway maze
Even with a subway map, it is extremely easy to lose your way at subway stations especially at interchange stations. With dozens of train networks, the ever non-Japanese friendly signboards and the complicated ticket dispenser, riding trains in Tokyo is really a challenge. If you successfully manoeuvred around, congratulations! You have just graduated from the university of train networks.