It’s easy to get lost in Tokyo and have the time of your life at the same time. Oh, Tokyo, what can I say? From endless shopping, unique dining experience, to its historic sites, this city is really a fusion of the old and the new. So join me as I navigate this bustling metropolis with its maze-like streets and train system and find out how to get lost in Tokyo, the geek style.
Travel Budget Breakdown
|Hotel||$22 (per day, capsule)|
|Transport||$2 – $18 (Depending on destination)|
|Food||$5 – $20 (per meal)|
|Entrance Fees||$4 – $7 (per tourist spot)|
|Shopping||$9 (clothes) / $27 (shoes) /
$5 – $9 (small souvenirs) / $9 (chocolates)
Here are my top 10 things to checkout in Tokyo:
#10 The ultimate sushi experience
Tokyo boasts a variety of restaurants including some of the well-known ones in the food world. When in Japan, of course, you have to eat some sushi. A little secret from the blogging community is the Banyayoichi in Ueno district, which is fast becoming a popular sushi bar in Japan. To date, only locals dine in this place, mostly office workers who visit it for some drinks. But the staff speaks English and they are happy to assist you with their hi-tech iPad menu showing all the food and drinks they offer. This is some legit Tokyo experience. Geek Rate: Aeolus worthy (1 out of 5 stars)
(Note on Geek rate: I don’t like sushi so that’s why).
#9 See the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Besides the glittering tall buildings and a bunch of Japanese office workers crossing the street, nothing’s going on here. But I admit that the sheer number of people walking in pedestrian lanes in the middle of the city, at the same time, was mesmerizing. Head out of the Shibuya Station and you would easily find this spot. Climb one of those tall buildings surrounding the Shibuya Crossing to get a better view of the streets below or better yet, join the hundreds of people crossing the pedestrians and record it on video, going around and around until you’re satisfied. Just make sure you’re not being an inconvenience to anyone as these people are busy going to and from their work. Geek Rate: Aeolus worthy (1 out of 5 stars)
(Note: Beside the Crossing is the famous Hachiko statue, a meeting place of millennials in Tokyo. Try to have some new friends there).
#8 View the city’s skyline at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Save your Yen in paying up for fees just to have a view of the entire Tokyo skyline. Climbing up this building is free and the view is amazing. The spot is also well lighted at night so there are some good photo spots for you. Sadly, due to the outbreak of COVID, as per this writing, the building is temporarily closed to the public. Geek Rate: Thief worthy (2 out of 5 stars)
#7 Feel the Tokyo 2020 Olympic spirit at the New National Stadium
While the Olympics in Tokyo is in jeopardy, it doesn’t hurt to visit and be at awe with the magnificence of this new stadium built specifically for the Summer Games. This site was also used as the main stadium for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games with a 68,000 seating capacity. You can also buy some souvenirs at the store located on the stadium grounds. Geek Rate: Thief worthy (2 out of 5 stars)
#6 Go back in time in Senso-ji Temple
A little walk from Asakusa station and you will find the Senso-ji Temple located in Asakusa district. It is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples.
The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.
Asakusa is where the atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives. During the Edo Period (1603-1867), when the district was still located outside the city limits, Asakusa used to be Tokyo’s leading entertainment district, the site of Kabuki theaters and a large red-light district.
The place is well lit even at night. On the side street, you could find some shops that, like other stores in Japan, close way too early, but their rolling steel doors have these cool Japanese art decor that’s worth seeing. Geek Rate: Mortal worthy (3 out of 5 stars)
#5 Pay a courtesy call to the Emperor at the Imperial Palace
A short walk from Tokyo Station you can find the Imperial Palace of Japan. The Imperial Palace here in Tokyo is home to Japan’s emperors since the Meiji Restoration. It opens at 9 AM and closes around 3 PM so there are some short window hours for you to visit the place. Still, even from afar, you could see the palace, even if the bridge leading to it is closed. The cherry blossoms at the side of the palace is also a popular tourist destination in spring and are most beautiful during the night when the place is all light up. Geek Rate: Mortal worthy (3 out of 5 stars)
(Fun tip: the walk along the streets leading to the park and the palace is a cool experience).
#4 Nightlife at Omoide Yokocho (Scrap Golden Gai)
Golden Gai is the place where Japanese office workers frequent to drink after work. It soon became a tourist spot and then a tourist trap with overpriced stuff that will leave you penniless afterward. But there’s a good alternative which is the nearby Omoide Yokocho. The price range here is not as expensive and there are fewer tourists too, for now. Geek Rate: Sun god worthy (4 out of 5 stars)
#3 Shopping! Don Quijote, Yodobashi, and Akihabara
Shopping! The most fun thing for you to do in Tokyo, besides eating ramen, is to shop! Don Quijote is this amazing one-stop-shop for all imaginable things from food, to cosmetics, to gadgets, to shirts. You name it, they have it. Don’t expect to score cheap products though, that’s a myth about this place. Yodobashi, meanwhile, is the place to be if you’re looking for gadgets. New Nintendo games not yet to be released elsewhere, are also available here. My favorite by far is Akihabara, a district with its cool anime stores that will bring you back to those childhood days. Geek Rate: Sun god worthy (4 out of 5 stars)
#2 Get lost in Tokyo’s maze-like train system
I swear, even if you’re a master of Google Maps, you will still be lost in Tokyo. Tokyo Station alone has hundreds of exits and I am not kidding. Google Maps can tell you which exit is the nearest to your desired destination, but the challenges are: 1) walking towards that exit, 2) finding that exit, 3) exiting from that exit or worse of all, experiencing those three all at the same time. Riding the stations is equally challenging: trains on the same tracks going towards different destinations, transfers that could be from just beside the platform where you came from, or if you’re unlucky, walking a hundred miles towards the next connecting station. Luckily, Google Maps is very useful when it comes to that challenge. But the experience of getting lost is a thrill in itself.
(Note: Visit and be at awe with the facade of the Tokyo Station, if you could find the right exit).
#1 Gundam, Lego, and Anime in Odaiba City
You’ll need one whole day to visit this place. Odaiba City is home to the huge Gundam robot which transforms during certain hours: 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM. The easiest way to the famous anime robot, which is outside the DiverCity building, is to alight on the Daiba station (U07), not in Odaiba-kaihinkōen (U06). Outside the station, you will be greeted by a cool seaside view of Aqua City. Visit their anime store and Tokyo 2020 store.
From a connecting bridge, you’ll arrive at DiverCity, the building where the Unicorn Gundam stands on its huge outdoor grounds. Inside DiverCity, visit the store where you can try to build your own Gundam robot. Decks is where the wax museum and the Legoland are located, though the latter closes at an illegally early hour: 4 PM! Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)
Geek Guide Data
|People – The Japanese are most courteous people in the world, but not in Tokyo. The people here are just plain busy with their office work so no chance of some warm welcome for tourists here. They could be a bit rude so stay away from them and you’ll be fine. (P.S: Except for that police officer who walked with me up to the train station).|
|Immigration – Stern officers but efficient nonetheless, the line in the immigration counters in Haneda International Airport (the closest gateway to Tokyo) and in the Narita International Airport is short and you’ll get out of the airport in a breeze.|
|Transport – Tokyo’s train system is the best in the world but you need some Google Maps mastery and patience to navigate the maze that is Japan’s subways and railways.|
|WiFi and power plugs – The WiFi connection in Japan is awesome and super fast. Free WiFi in every place! The voltage in Japan is 100 Volt, which is different from North America (120V), Central Europe (230V) and most other regions of the world.|
|Shopping and English – English in this place is almost non-existent, as is the case on most countries in Asia (except The Philippines and Singapore). Trying to communicate will be a challenge but most locals have adapted to the influx of tourists that they can understand a bit of English. This country is a shopping heaven.|
|Weather – Japan has four distinct seasons: March to May is spring; June to August is summer; September to November is autumn; and December to February is winter. Each season has very different temperatures and climates.|