Recently, a fellow reader asked for advice about Tokyo, Japan. The question was about how to see and what to do in Tokyo for three days, so one covers as much ground as possible.
WHAT ONE MUST DO IN TOKYO
Don’t leave your passport. During travel, it might seem like a better idea to keep your passport locked up in a safe vault back in the hotel. However, since the risk of getting your passport stolen in Japan is relatively close to zero, the benefits of carrying it around far outweigh the small risk of losing it. There are many discount stores such as Don Quijote and Yodobashi Camera that doesn’t charge tax if you meet requirements and show your passport.(See: Japan Tax-Free Shopping Guide)
Also, technically a police officer is entitled to ask to see your passport at any given moment, so better safe than sorry.
Here are my top three things to visit if you are only here for a limited amount of time.
Stay next to Asakusa Shrine
Asakusa Shrine and Asakusa area is a very picturesque place. It is full of history, culture, souvenir shops, and excellent picture opportunities. Asakusa line ( the red one) is one of the best lines to stay nearby since you can reach all-important destinations traveling to and from there.
Pick up some wagashi while you are at it!
There is an affordable hotel/hostel option, Sakura House Hostel/Hotel, that is right next door to Asakusa Shrine, which makes a stay in Tokyo very convenient and affordable. Read about it here in full detail.
It is the best garden to visit if you are in Japan for only three days. Over all, there are many lovely parks to visit. Shinjuku Park is big, beautiful and has more than one garden type. It is a paid park, about 4$ per person, and has limited hours of operation. If you make it there, you will not regret it.
Pack a small picnic and take something to sit on for the full Japanese experience. On where to get food cheaply read tips below.
Wear Yukata in Oedo Onsen in Odaiba
The best way to see how Japan used to be is to visit their onsen or local hot baths. Oedo Onsen is good for both tourists and locals. It is built in Edo period style to display the Japanese life and customs of 300 years ago. You are going to spend a whole day there. There are plenty of activities to relax and nurture yourself.
When given the Yukata, traditional Japanese robe, keep your underwear on unless otherwise specified.
If you have a tattoo, you might be refused entrance.
Where to eat in Tokyo?
The short answer is: “Everywhere.” The long answer is the following.
Mr. K and I come to Japan to eat. That statement alone is a good indicator that Tokyo and Japan, in general, is the mecca for food. And it is not only sushi that you have to try. It is also ramen, soba, udon, katsu-don, which is their pork or chicken cutlet fried in breadcrumbs on the bed of rice, their Japanese curry, which is not like the Indian curry at all, their baking goods among many other things.
How to eat cheaply in Tokyo?
Mr. K and I are not the only ones who like to eat. Japanese people are also very keen on eating outside as opposed to eating or cooking at home. After all, they are working 25/8, right? So there is a plethora of small stalls, cafes, little restaurants where you order with machines outside that one can have a bowl of pure goodness from 4$ to 7$. I kid you not.
There is also a thing called a dollar sushi. While not all one dollar sushi restaurants are equal, there are some gems out there. Mine is located in Shinagawa. I have found it just by using Google. Magic, right?
These prices exist despite what you might think or heard about Japan. Read these 7 myths and be amazed.
Step 2: Lunch hour is you friend and worst enemy
The best thing about it is that at all times tax is included and tips are frowned upon.
Step 3: Eat like a local
Obviously stay away from touristy places like Shibuya station, Shinjuku, and Tokyo or Roppongi. There are cheap places, but you have to look for one. Usually, they look like nothing special but are worth their weight in gold because of their deliciousness and price.
One simply must try the delicious set meal. It usually costs around $1000 Yen (which is about $10 USD). It is amazing. Picture of it is right below.
The picture below was taken after we went to local Lawson mini mart and bought everything that looked either good or weird. Here is our mini feast. By the way, totally take advantage of the Lawson or 7-11 marts. They are amazing and equipped with everything one might need.
If you are in Tokyo for only three days, do yourselves a favor and skip the Tsukiji market. You can read my post here on why one should save their time and money.
Hope this guide helped you just as much as it helped one of my readers and a future visitor of Japan. Three days is not enough to cover all of Tokyo. However, I think those three places at least give a real glimpse into the local culture and way of life.
Shopping is an entirely different story in Japan. It is both a cultural experience and a tourist attraction. It deserves a separate post.
Do you have a question about Japan or other destinations I have been to? Would you like to know more about Japan? Do not be shy and ask away! Leave a comment down below or share it with your friends!