Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Four Days & Four Nights in Tokyo

Four days and four nights is a pretty decent amount of time to spend in Tokyo. Here is a little glimpse into what we did to maximize our time spent in the city:

Day One:

Take jet lag into consideration! After the almost twelve hour flight from London plus the waiting around for immigration and bag collection as well as the monorail and metro commute to the hotel we were shattered and ended up sleeping for four hours. A little tip, ask your hotel in advance for early check in as you may well need a shower and a nap before exploring.

Once we had freshened up we took the metro down to the area of Harajuku for some shopping and to grab a Japanese Clay Pot for lunch.  This is a pretty cool area of Tokyo, think Tamagotchi, Hello Kitty, sweet stores and candy floss, they have everything here as well as great actual shops to browse. Make sure you take a walk along the crazily busy Takeshita Street, which is pedestrian only. From here we decided to check out the Meiji Shrine, which was another short journey along the metro.

For the evening we chose to take a stroll into Ginza as it was only a 15 minutes walk from our hotel and check out the local restaurants. For our first evening we opted for Tempura, which was delicious! Ask your hotel to recommend you somewhere nearby to your accommodation as you won't want to stray far when you are so sleepy!

Day Two:

As the rain and dark clouds had kicked in we opted against a day trip to our top three outdoorsy destinations of Nikko (think temples, waterfalls and lakes - not so ideal in the mist), Hakone (to see Mount Fuji, have a cable car ride and check out the pirate ship tour - however, again not ideal in low visibility) and Minakami for white water rafting. So, instead we chose to take a day trip to Disneyland, which took about twenty minutes on public transport from our hotel. I have reviewed this separately here: Tokyo: DisneyLAND or DisneySEA

Day Three:

After a much needed rest from the real world at Disney we decided it was time to get stuck back into Tokyo life by taking a day trip. I shall review this separately but the link for booking is here: Day Tour

In the evening we met our friends for a drink in the hotel lobby bar before heading to Ginza. Here we found a tiny (ten seat maximum) restaurant serving incredibly fresh and reasonably priced sushi and sashimi with Asahi Beers and Sake. They also had karaoke so we had a sing off between the Japanese and the Brits, which was amazingly good fun. When searching for food go into the tower blocks and press every lift button having a nose at the restaurant located on each floor. It might take a little while to find one you like but it's a fun experience. Some places don't like groups (we were a six) and others can't communicate so will turn English custom away but most are super accommodating and friendly plus you cannot beat a game of menu roulette.

After dinner we headed for a 300 JPY bar where you buy tokens on the door and all drinks are 300 JPY no matter what you ordered. However, it was pretty touristy and young so at 2am we called it a night and slowly wandered happily and merrily back to our bedroom for some much needed rest!

Day Four:

On day four we got up bright and early to visit the nearby Tsukiji Market. You can stand in line from 3am to experience the tuna auction or can turn up by 10am to see all of the stalls and grab some of the freshest tuna you will ever eat. We chose the latter bearing in mind the late night karaoke session!

Next up was a wander around the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens and a lay down in the bright sunshine before heading back to the hotel and enjoying a Japanese style spa session.

Later that day we all met again at Shibuya Crossing to witness the insanity and found some bars to while away a couple of hours. We also popped into a gaming arcade to watch how seriously this is taken. We then found our way into a maid cafe. It's a slightly odd concept; young Japanese girls dressed in French Maid outfits. You pay to sit and then pay for food and drinks on top. The girls chant at you and you must chant and do the actions back, we were also equipped with bunny ears!

For dinner we visited Kobe Teppanyaji Hakushu. This place is amazing IF you can locate it. Also make sure you reserve in advance; they have two grills that will hold six people each and one bar that holds another four! We all went for the Kobe beef in various fillet and sirloin cuts and weight combinations. The smallest Kobe was 100g of sirloin for 4,500 JPY. You start with a little salad whilst the grill heats up and then it's grilled veg in a couple of different soy based dipping sauces. Next up are beansprouts before the main event. The Kobe beef here is incredible. It's exceptionally marbled and incredibly delicious. Steak will never, ever be the same again! The beef is followed by meat soaked bread, which is then grilled with garlic butter. The best garlic bread you will ever eat!

Finally we took the metro over to Roppongi to dance the night away in one of the many clubs playing popular Western music and serving pretty cheap drinks. We took a cab back to the hotel, which was more reasonable than expected. The drivers are all in suits with driving gloves and our taxi even had a lace lining. It was a very smart way to travel and I do recommend doing this at least once.

I hope this helps you plan your time in Tokyo wisely, there is so much to do and see you could never fit it in, in a few short days!