Tokyo for First-Timers

Japan being one of our favourite visited countries and Tokyo one of our top five visited cities (if it’s possible to make such an important decision); here are a few of our top tips for first time visitors to Tokyo.

  • Do download a metro map directly to your phone. This will prove to be necessary when navigating the maze of lines throughout the city and beyond.
  • In addition, download Microsoft Translator – a wonderful app that helps bridge any gap between your spotty Japanese and the local’s patchy English (or any other native language you may have).

  • SAKE Damimasu, Asakusa. We’ve been to this place a few times. It’s half liquor store (or sake store) and half bar, where you can buy snacks to complement your beverage of choice. Last time we visited we enjoyed a delightful sake sampler, and reveled in being surrounded by friendly locals straight from the office.
  • EAT SUKE 6 DINER, Asakusa. A wonderful airy café perfect for a healthy breakfast. Soothing atmosphere and friendly staff. Recommended.
  • TEMPLE Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is a big tourist attraction and can be quite rowdy, but worth a visit for it’s beautifully vivid colour combinations.

  • GOOD VIEWS  – We chose this over the Tokyo tower, as it is newer and higher. However, it is also more expensive. My brother recommended the Tokyo tower as an alternative, as it is only a fraction of the cost. He described it as “excellent”.
  • ASAHI BREWERY – While the beer hall itself has evidently left many underwhelmed, do have a crisp glass of the good stuff on the adjacent building.
  • SUMO  – Check out some sumo practice. It means getting up very early, but worth it for the remarkable spectacle of human fortitude and circumference.
  • FISH MARKET – Tsukiji Fish Market – If you queue up early, you can sometimes see the tuna auction. We’re talking 4/5am. You can also delight in a breakfast of fresh sashimi. Score! Be warned that this particular market is soon to be relocated to the Toyosu waterfront in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

  • PARKS AND CULTURE Museums, a zoo, a flea market… and much more. Ueno Park is only a metro stop or two away from Asakusa. There are some markets along the backstreets in Ueno where you can pick up a rare bargain, as well as some great little restaurants.
  • HIGH END TOKYO – Ginza District for elegant eateries, high-end shopping and coffeehouses galore.

  • MEIJI JINJU TEMPLE and SAKE BARRELS A pleasant excursion through woodland, where you can photograph the famous mounted sake barrels.
  • HARAJUKU – originally famous for it’s quirky dressers (somewhat like London’s Camden market), it’s now more like Hipsterville. Still worth a gander even just to gawp at those in costume.
  • TEA CEREMONY Probably a little pricey, and you may happen upon a cheaper one when you least expect it, but it’s a very quintessential Japan experience.

  • ROPPONGI HILLS – Quite the nightlife! Watch out for some of the scams targeting foreigners.
  • SHIBUYA CROSSING – well… it’s famous. And surprisingly well organized. Gaze in awe at the masses of people crossing in such an organized fashion!
  • COOL VINTAGE CRAP Last time I was in Tokyo, I happened upon this gem: Jinbocho I bought some great Japanese prints and vintage alcohol and cigarette advertisements. Definitely a wonderful place to while away a few hours.

  • DAY TRIPS Mt Fuji being one of the more famous side-trips, you can also visit the bustling city of Yokohama, as well as the ethereal Nikko, which is nestled deep in the mountains north of the capital. Hakone is another possible excursion, famous for it’s hot springs it is a popular holiday resort located next to Lake Ashino.



So, do go to Tokyo, have fun, meander down all the back alleys and find all the hidden gems you can! Please do write us at with any other recommendations about the city. Enjoy!

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