72 Hours in Tokyo
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Tokyo is such a large city that there’s no possible way to see it all even if you’ve lived there for 10 years, so I’ve broken down the #NeedToSee spots during your time in Japan.
To start: Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world. We had the pleasure of staying with a family whom have lived in Tokyo for a while now, and they gave us the low down on everything we need to know culture wise. The first was safety. There are rarely any places in Tokyo that you won’t feel safe, you could seriously walk around with money hanging out of your pocket and no one would take it. It’s so safe mainly because their police system there is so strict. Their police have the right to come search you whenever they want (and if you aren’t doing something out of line and follow their rules, they won’t search you, so don’t worry about this!) Just remember that while you’re visiting their country, you should follow their rules. The Japanese are so nice, and kind, that if you drop a penny on the street, they will pick it up and give it back to you.
Arguably the biggest tourist attraction is #ShibuyaCrossing located in Shibuya. It's the busiest crossing in the world and is always packed. There’s traffic coming from every direction, and if you want to take a photo do it quickly! There are a couple lookout spots where you can see over it, one of them is the Starbucks. Take the crossing to Shibuya and roam around. There are so many shops where you can see Japanese fashion in large brands such as Forever 21, Zara & Nike (the list seriously goes on). You can get anything from ramen, carrousel sushi, Boba tea to McDonald’s. If you are there at night, you can pop into a convenient store on the side and buy yourself a Chūhai (Chu-Hi). It’s a Japanese drink that tastes a bit sweeter than an energy drink mixed with alcohol. You can walk along the street with your Chu-Hi and admire the scene, or stop into Karaoke Ironman Ginza, and rent a karaoke room with your group! You can rent it out for an hour, and get drinks there for a small pregame for bars.
If you’re to go out at night, go to the Roppongi Hills. It’s the area where the club / bar scene is, and we went to A-Life and One Oak most nights we went out. Usually you will have to pay a cover fee, but sometimes they will give you a slip for 1 free drink, so it evens out.
Another area that people like to bar hop is near #ShinjukuStation (largest train station in the world), called Golden Gai. It’s essentially narrow streets with small bars that could fit up to 12-15 people, so if you’re traveling with a large group then you will take up the whole bar. We didn’t get to spend much time here (because remember, Tokyo is HUGE), but we went to the Robot Restaurant here. My advice for Robot Restaurant is that if you can get a Groupon, or a discount on your ticket then you should go, but if you’re only in Tokyo for a little, I wouldn’t waste your time. It’s very overpriced to buy your ticket, and inside the drinks are even more overpriced. The building itself is full of intricate westernized Japanese designs. The show was around 1.5 hours, and you watch a couple different “acts,” with Japanese dancers on various robots. Once again, not a high priority, but we were there for around a week and figured why not do something this touristy.
Reserve a full day for going to Asakusa Temple. It’s a really popular temple in Tokyo, and shows what “older Japan” looks like. If you are taking the metro from Shibuya, it will be the longest ride you take because it’s the furthest spot from Shibuya (assuming you're staying over there). Before seeing the Temple itself, go to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, and take the elevator to the top. It will give you a bird’s eye view of what the streets leading up to the temple look like. This is also a GREAT photo spot. #AsakusaTemple
When you go back down and start making your way to the temple, make sure you touch the bottom of the large red lantern for good luck! There’s never going to be a good time to get a solo shot, so my suggestion is just try to claim your photo and have your photographer snap away. There are so many cultural shops to get lost in while making you’re way up to the temple, and this is probably one of the best places to get cultural gifts (fans, chopsticks, kimonos etc.), but don’t go too crazy, because there are other places to shop for souvenirs.
When you go toward the temple, there’s an area to wash your hands to “cleanse yourself” before going into the temple. To the side of the temple, is a place where you can find out your fortune. You take the medium-sized brass containers, and shake them until a chopstick falls out. At the top of the chopstick there will be a symbol, and you find the drawer associated with that symbol. It will tell you your “fortune.” All of us got an array of good, bad and just mediocre fortunes. If you get a bad fortune, there’s a place where you can tie it to so that all the bad fortunes go away! The temple itself is really small, and we didn’t spend much time there, but the whole area is amazing and felt exactly like what I imagined Tokyo to be like.
The Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills is where we found another bird’s eye view of Tokyo. The cool part about this building is that it gives you a full 360 view. A fun face about Tokyo is that it’s so large in capacity, and the buildings are so tall, that there isn’t a distinct skyline. When we went to the Mori Tower, it was at night, which was cool to see all the buildings lit up. You pay around 15 Yen, and wait for around 15-20 mins until you take the elevator up to the top. There is an art gallery that is associated with the Mori Tower, so there is a different theme scattered around the deck. It’s all enclosed in glass, and you can get as close to the glass as you want to take photos and see Tokyo. You’re about 52 stories up. #MoriTower
There’s another option to go higher to the helicopter pad on the top of the tower. We didn’t spend much time up there because it was freezing cold, and it was crazy high up, but it was worth the extra 3 Yen to see!
An area of Tokyo we explored was the Shimokitazawa, which is another oriental / artsier neighborhood. We popped around the little shops and got ramen and a dish called Okonomiyaki. This is traditional Japanese street food that loosely translates to “What you like” and “cooked.” This looks like a small, thick pancake topped with various ingredients. At the top, there are thin flakes of squid that mesh with the heat and start moving as if they are “dancing.” To clarify, NOTHING on this meal is moving, but the heat mixed with the thinness of the flakes makes it appear that way. It’s a must get!
The Torii Gates is a Fushimi Inari Shrine. There’s said to be 10,000 gates but with all of the segway’s to other gates, and “sub-gates,” people (Google) say there are over 32,000! You could get lost walking through these gates and admiring their beauty. This is a great spot for photos, and located in the middle of the city!
There are SO many more places to go and see in Tokyo, such as Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, watch the cherry blossoms bloom in season, but that's all more reason to book another trip back to Tokyo. Have fun and Konnichiwa!