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What to do/see in Tokyo?

(18 Posts)
SandStorm Sun 30-Nov-14 21:30:37

DH and I are off to Tokyo in Feb for half term. We're almost set on a hotel (but if you know of any bargains…) but if you've been there (or live there), what are the 'must see' and 'must do' things? We're going for the full week as I don't think it's worth going for less time than that.

NotCitrus Sun 30-Nov-14 21:51:14

Asakusa - the old district, buy paper etc.
Shinjuku - all the high tech stuff
Wander through the gardens of the Emperor's Palace
Master the train system
Eat great sushi, shabu-shabu, and much more
Just wander - we ended up in a brand new theme park that was deserted, next to a shopping mall that looked like Renaissance Italy with staff dressed to match and sky and clouds projected onto and rotating on the ceiling. It was mostly aimed for people to get married in but among the bridal shops were bonkers ones like one that sold nothing but cuddly sushi...

Kyoto (amazing station, lots of temples) and Nara (tame sacred deer, largest wooden building in the world) are worth a visit, plus boat tour of valleys nearby, proving that you really couldn't escape restaurants when a barbecue octopus stall on a boat caught up with us.
Enjoy parks and shopping and how the culture slowly becomes more and more foreign. I'd love to go back with someone who speaks Japanese - the fact that no-one really did even in business hotels was a shock, but a phrasebook and big smile and handful of cash got us by.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 01-Dec-14 07:54:41

Where are you flying into?. I would strongly suggest you use the Airport Limousine Bus (orange and white coach) service to take you into Tokyo as taxis from Narita or even Haneda will cost a fair bit. For that reason do not use a taxi.

There are not all that many bargains re hotels in Tokyo. Where are you thinking of staying?.

The metro stations are numbered and announcements on trains are made in English as well. To ensure you're heading in the right direction just look at the station name at the end of the line on the map.

IIRC the gardens of the Emperors Palace are closed on Mondays (as are many of the museums). Do check opening times before setting out.

Do be aware that many Japanese people on the streets do not speak English or if they do its very basic. If you look lost in a station someone will likely try and assist you. There is more of a western influence in the Roppongi are of Tokyo.

Tokyo Skytree is worth a visit on a clear day but you will need to buy tickets on the day of your visit (buying these in advance is only possible if you are a Japanese resident).

Shibuya is full of people and department stores. These tend to open at 10am and stay open till 8.00pm. Do visit the restaurants that are situated on the top floors of many of the department stores because the food there is top notch. Also do see the food halls in the basements of these stores.
Service in department stores is top notch.

Harajuku is worth a visit too but can be particularly crowded on the weekends.

Invest in a decent guidebook along the lines of DK or Lonely Planet.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 01-Dec-14 07:56:08

Staff in the larger chain hotels like Hyatt, Hilton etc can speak English. If finances allow I would look into staying in a international based hotel chain.

Flingingmelon Mon 01-Dec-14 08:20:00

Can't add much to the above except one thing;

When we arrived at the airport we went to the tourist info desk and picked up the most amazing English guide book / free magazine. I think it was called metropolis. It was far more use than our lonely planet and the naps made much more sense.

Oh hang on, two things; go to Ninja for dinner one night, great fun smile

Flingingmelon Mon 01-Dec-14 08:20:55

Can't add much to the above except one thing;

When we arrived at the airport we went to the tourist info desk and picked up the most amazing English guide book / free magazine. I think it was called metropolis. It was far more use than our lonely planet and the maps made much more sense.

Oh hang on, two things; go to Ninja for dinner one night, great fun smile

Minus2seventy3 Mon 01-Dec-14 15:02:11

Have a coffee in Starbuck's and watch the Shibuya crossing. Go to the observation floor/deck in the Mori tower, Roppongi Hills for some awesome views of the Tokyo skyline (go mid/late afternoon, have a beer, and watch the sun set - cityscape changes beautifully).
Plan to fall in love with the place.

fleurdelacourt Tue 02-Dec-14 12:53:57

We stayed in Asakusa - it's such an accessible area near Sensoji and also near lots of restaurants/small shops and several railway/underground lines. It's also v pretty and has lots of pedetrianised streets.

I would definitely try one of the cheap conveyor belt sushi places (kuru kuru sushi) - your hotel reception would be able to advise? They're really good fun - and put yo sushi firmly in its place!!

Tsukiji fish market - worth getting up early for, but you will have to get a cab as public transport won't get you there early enough. Good idea for one of the first days when jetlag might mean you're up early anyway.

IMO not worth getting breakfast included at the hotel. So many cafes/convenience stores that it's cheaper and more fun to eat out.

Shinjuku Koen is a lovely place for a picnic - even in Feb it should be quite mild?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 02-Dec-14 15:05:49

Access to the fish market is nowadays carefully controlled due to previously excessive numbers of visitors. Public access is no longer permitted everyday and at present the auction is closed to the general public.

The following gives more information:-

www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/english/market/tsukiji.html

Taxi drivers generally do not speak much if any English, if you need to use a taxi ask the staff in the hotel to write down the destination address.

SandStorm Tue 02-Dec-14 22:38:01

Wow - so much to see and do! Thank you all for these suggestions. I can see I have a lot of planning to do smile

rocket74 Tue 02-Dec-14 22:43:33

Way too long ago but we stayed one night in an onsen traditional hotel with a hot spring in the mountains. I remember it was a bit of a long journey by train from Tokyo and there were monkeys but the hot spring bath was amazing.
So jealous!!

Pipbin Tue 02-Dec-14 22:48:01

AKIHABRA They are just plain nuts there. It is the centre of technology, gaming, comics and other crazy stuff like that. Go and find a maid handing out leaflets for a maid cafe. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maid_café
Despite how it might appear to our western eyes they are not sexual.

hidinginthecupboard Tue 02-Dec-14 23:21:48

It is a very very long time since I was there but visitors used to be able to buy a weekly train pass from Japan Rail, worth checking out if they still do it as was good value. Above suggestions good also Meiji shrine in Tokyo is lovely, also recommend Kamakura and if you have time Kyoto is definitely worth a visit.
I am quite jealous now would love to go back, maybe one day...

fleurdelacourt Wed 03-Dec-14 09:41:28

and Kyoto is do-able as a day trip if you get the fast shinkansen (nozomi) - about 2 hours each way.

Christelle2207 Sun 21-Dec-14 16:45:36

If you ski or board theres a fab resort you can get to on the shinkansen as a day trip from Tokyo -Gala Yuzawa. Very well organised you'll be off the train, kitted out and on the piste in half an hour. I found the skiing there (despite the fact that 99% pf Japanese board) to be fab and obviously feb is a good month.

MrsFlorrick Tue 23-Dec-14 22:55:47

Love Tokyo grin
DH and I went for a week and wished we had gone for longer.

Yes to Shinkansen and Kyoto visit.
Fish market is great if you can get in. But not essential. So much to do and see.

Just getting on their train next work and wandering the streets and taking in the scenery and the cultures amazing.

Do go and eat at the Yakatory places underneath the rail way arches near the central
Station. You won't find any tourists there just the salary men and women. Food is incredible.

As for museums, they are all great so what ever floats your boat.

Lucky you grinenvy
Can't help with good deal on hotel. We stayed at Mandarin Oriental.

MillyMollyMama Wed 24-Dec-14 00:18:10

We stayed at the Park Hotel. Mid priced business style hotel but it in a good location near to Ginza. Tokyo is short of boutique style hotels and most are business style or luxury.

The Japan Rail card is only available to visitors but is a good deal if you use the railways. We went to Kamakura but used the monorail and then the Enoden line.

To begin with we found Tokyo quite difficult to navigate due to road signs being pretty much absent. Even finding the exit you want from an underground station can be a challenge. For a city with so much neon, our hotel had a sign that was A4 in size. Not easy to find! Definitely second the restaurants in the department stores. Tokyo is huge, so plan your days carefully and have a great time.

HRHQueenMe Tue 30-Dec-14 02:52:08

Just back from Tokyo, spent a week with the children. Great fun, loads to see, had a ball. We stayed in a flat through Air bnb, in Odaiba, which was perfect, easy access to everything and trains on our doorstep every 2 mins. I can give you lots of tips if you want to ask anything specific. You will have a ball! Highlights were Disney, skytree, asakusa, sumida river cruise, the Sushi train and wandering around Odaiba island!

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