6 Things To Do In Tokyo

August 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Uniquely Far East

The region of Asia has plenty of unique islands, but one that seems hard to choose from the multitude of things to do in is Japan. Tourists usually start out in Tokyo, the country’s bustling capital and its largest metropolitan area. Here you are able to experience six classic Japanese experiences that you simply can’t afford to miss out. Here they are for your perusal!

Eat Ramen

Photo credits – mahiro1322

Photo credits – mahiro1322


The Ramen noodle is found world-wide in various low-quality ultra-inexpensive forms. It’s at the core of Japanese cuisine and even if you’re not a foodie, no doubt you’ll find yourself enjoying a pile of it during you trip. Each prefecture has its own style of Ramen – Michelle Lee mentions the Hokkaido Ramen as one thing to try in his article 5 Things To Try in Hokkaido. For Tokyo ramen, try Menya Mushai near Shinjuku (long queues at lunch!).

See the Snowy Peak of Mount Fuji

Photo credits – robertpaulyoung

Photo credits – robertpaulyoung

Mount Fuji’s near picture-postcard peak is one of the most beautiful sights mother nature has given Japan. It’s not far from Tokyo so you can easily wander out for a glimpse – although keep in mind that, like any tall mountain, the view can often be obscured by clouds. You’ll see it on the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka, but if you’re feeling particularly brave many visitors opt to go and climb the mountain (particularly in July/August).

Visit a Love Hotel

Photo credits – Gnurou

Photo credits – Gnurou

There’s no need to explain what goes on behind closed doors at a Japanese love hotel, but just seeing one is an experience in itself. The neon, garish signs are hard to miss, and inside the cheap and tawdry furnishings look out of place anywhere apart from here and maybe Las Vegas. Many Japanese families have little privacy in their own homes, so this type of ‘getaway’ isn’t as seedy nor as uncommon as you might think. The Tokyo Journal has printed a Top Ten List of Love Hotels.

Soak in an Onsen

Photo credits – +Hun+

Photo credits – +Hun+

An Onsen (or rotenburo) is essentially a hot spring spa; Japan’s covered in them, and they are the perfect place to relax and let the mineral waters rejuvenate you. An important point to mention is that an onsens are thermal hot springs, whereas a sento is a public bathhouse where the water is heated. Either is a good experience, but many say there are medical benefits from using the spring waters and plus some of the locations are simply spectacular. There are more sentos than onsens in Tokyo, but this flyertalk post has an extensive list of onsen – likely there will be one near your accommodation.

Enjoy the View from the Park Hyatt in Tokyo

Photo credits – wili_hybrid

Photo credits – wili_hybrid

I’m sure there are more film backdrops that you can find elsewhere in Japan, but this one strikes me as a more poignant one – it is where much of the melodrama unfolds in the Hollywood hit Lost in Translation. One thing that isn’t lost is the price – be prepared to pay for this experience, as even a cocktail or snack will pinch your wallet pretty hard. But it’s worth it, especially to come around sunset and watch the red sky fade into a twinkling urban landscape.

Go Shopping

Photo credits – ::sämyii::

Photo credits – ::sämyii::

Tokyo, like many other Asian capitals, is home to shopping mayhem. You can find plenty of high-end electronics and every gadget you could ever possibly want (and many more that you might never want). You can also pick up baskets full of cheesy, quirky, immature but fun gifts – top souvenir choices for me are Kokeshi dolls and stickers, of course. Don’t forget your silk goods, woodblock prints, and high street fashion. Two good areas for window shopping are Shibuya and Shinjuku.

If You Go

When you go to Japan, you’ll no doubt be expecting a cultural shock, depending on where you’re from. So why not brush up on this lengthy (and sometimes hysterical) list of Japanese manners and etiquette before you go?

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About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.

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