Tokyo is truly an example city for the world. As a city full of delicious food, kind locals, and beautiful city planning and zoning, Tokyo truly is a traveler’s utopia. Even locals rave about their city and not many want to immigrate anywhere else, because why would anyone want to leave such a perfect surrounding? You could spend months wandering around this city and still discover amazing new places to see. Although I have been to this city three times already, I want to keep coming back and perhaps live in Tokyo one day to fully immerse myself in its day-to-day life.
With current travel restrictions in place, I know it is impossible to really travel anywhere these days. But I’d like to point out some amazing spots that I visited when I was exploring Tokyo, so that you may one day travel there and visit these spots too!
Dress Kawaii in Harujuku
Harujuku district is an area in Tokyo that is known for its elaborate kawaii (cutesey) street fashion. This place is definitely worth a visit because it is a place where you can feel comfortable going all out on your outfit and expressing yourself without feeling any sort of judgement from the people around you. Instead, come here and admire the awesome outfits you will see on this street, and definitely check out some of the amazing food scenes here too!
If you are in a hurry, you must at least give the crepes here a try! One walk down Takeshita Street and you will instantly be captivated by the crepe shops along the street, with a myriad of flavors to select. Some crepes even have a whole slice of matcha cake inside of them - what a DREAM snack! Another very popular spot is the Totti Candy Factory, known for its huge pastel rainbow cotton candy bigger than your face! It is so satisfying to watch the workers make the cotton candy and see the colors get added. Each color is its own ring and the finished cotton candy looks like a cone-shaped cloud.
If you have spare time, you can also walk from Harujuku to Omotesando to experience a whole new vibe! Walk to Tokyo Plaza Omotesando to experience an amazing kaleidoscopic entrance. Look up and you can see yourself, along with others going up on the escalator. It truly feels like you are peering inside a kaleidoscope with all the various panes of mirrors along the walls and ceiling. Omotesando is also known for its high-end cafe and coffee shops, so feel free to grab a fancy cup of joe afterwards to catch your breath!
Walk Down Memory Lane in Shinjuku
Alternatively known as “Piss Alley”, this amazing alleyway is a wonder amidst the bustling streets of Shinjuku. Shinjuku is an area of Tokyo with lots of amazing bars and izakayas, so this place generally attracts a younger crowd. But venture in this alley and you will see some older folks seated at tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants cooking up delicious yakitori (grilled food on skewers) for a lucky few to enjoy. Despite its nickname, this street is absolutely breathtaking in its own way. Cherry blossoms and lanterns decorate the ceilings and corners of this alleyway. It is hard to get a good picture taken at this location due to the number of locals and tourists alike that frequent this spot, but be patient and let everyone pass you and you can get a couple decent shots!
This street is unique because amidst the modern developments in Shinjuku, this alley has remained the same and kept to its traditional style since it was first developed back in 1946 after World War II. Back then, it was mostly families selling household items to help residents with supplies after the war.
Explore Tokyo Station and Walk to the Imperial Palace
Another marvel of Tokyo is Tokyo Station, which literally looks like a Disneyland land from the front. A wide, pearly white street opens up to Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi Central Exit - the busiest station in Japan with more than 500,000 people frequenting this station. This station is also where the Shinkansen (or bullet trains) are located. Go up the escalators of nearby buildings and you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Shinkansen themselves. Or better yet, use the Shinkansen to take a trip to another city! Beware that tickets are definitely pretty pricey, so plan for your trip ahead of time - this is not a train you can ride on whim for fun.
Walking further down from Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi Central Exit, you will see the entrance of the Imperial Palace. The palace itself is well-hidden from prying eyes, but there is a popular spot where you can look into a bridge in the interior of the palace, and it’s a serene sight indeed! In the mornings, you will see a lot of runnings doing a loop around the palace - hat a dreamy morning routine!
Watch Shibuya Crossing From Above
Another great place to check out is Shibuya Crossing for the sheer number of people that cross this street every day. But did you know that you can watch Shibuya crossing from above? Starbucks Shibuya Tsutaya provides the perfect vantage point of the crossing from above! Secure a coveted spot by arriving at this spot right when the store opens - I am sure you can do this with the jet lag you experience the first few days you arrive in the city!
Go to a Neighborhood Family Mart
No matter where you go, you will be able to find Family Marts across the city. These places are the true treasure of being a tourist of Japan, because the items they sell in convenience stores in Japan are way better than the items sold at US convenience stores. The front cashier desk has hot foods for you to order, such as delicious skewers, tea eggs, fried chicken, and more! They also have a refrigerated section FULL of goodies such as onigiri (stuffed rice balls), salads kits, microwavable restaurant quality meals, and sushi. There is also a drink section featuring a myriad of drink options including bottled milk tea. There is even a hot drinks section with items such as warm lemon and honey water and warmed coffee and milk teas. It’s an absolutely amazing experience walking into one of these for the first time!
Hope you like my recommendations!