Welcome back! Once again, my trip to Japan was the highlight of my life this far and I was there with the love of my life. Nothing could have been better. No Japan Guide is complete without a thorough discussion about Tokyo. And yeah, Tokyo is incredible. I didn’t end up hitting all the tourist hotspots because we just ended up walking around and enjoying the city. We became regulars at a Japanese curry house franchise, stopped in Shibuya about four times trying to buy stuff and spent our evenings in search of dessert (and we were spoilt for choice). I’ve said it too much, but all the planning is worth it.
1. Getting there
I’ve already covered how to get to Tokyo in my first post here. I prefer the Narita Express because it is medium-cost but very easy for a newbie to get on. You can buy your ticket at the JR office at Narita airport. The ticket costs around 6040 Yen but there is a special roundtrip ticket for tourists that costs 4000 Yen. To qualify for the ticket, just show your passport at the ticket office and make sure you use the return ticket now more than TWO weeks after you purchase the first one. Seats on the Narita Express are reserved and the cars are very spacious. There is a lockable space for your luggage, but we never figured out how to use the locks!
2. Train stations
If you’re using the Narita Express you have the opportunity to get off at one of the following stops: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or Omiya. The train does also go in the direction of Yokohama but I won’t talk about that here. Once you get off at your station you can use your Narita Express ticket to transfer to any JR line. If you need to transfer to Tokyo Metro or any other line you will need to purchase a subway ticket.
For reasons I can’t understand, the railways in Japan are all owned and managed by different companies and it’s very evident at the station. Tickets are not priced equally across companies and if you need to transfer to other lines you will need to exit that section by passing through gates and then enter the other. To make things easy you can buy a Suica or Pasmo card which you then just top up when you need.
For more information about Tokyo’s train lines read about it on Japan Guide.
3. Where to stay
Where you stay in Tokyo largely depends on how much money you have and what you like to do. Accommodation in Tokyo can skyrocket based on when you’re going. A really good idea is Airbnb. While Airbnb is technically not legal in Japan, we used a Superhost and everything went smoothly. Thousands of people are doing the same without problems.
My preference is to stay in a quiet area that is as close to a subway line as possible. We stayed at two apartments hosted by this guy and it was fantastic. The apartments were spotless, the finishings were modern, there was enough space for the two of us and it was incredibly convenient. There was a huge supermarket about 30m away, a convenience store maybe 10m away and a Burger King 5m away! Our apartment was technically in the Shinjuku area so getting to other parts fo Tokyo was just one or two quick subway rides.
If you’ve got money to spend there are many gorgeous hotels around Tokyo, the Andaz looks incredible and the Hyatt is incredibly well-rated so you can expect 6 times the hospitality you would get here!
4. What to do:
You could be like me and roam around or you could go and see one of the many, many sights there are to see in Tokyo:
1. Shinjuku Gyoen
2. Tokyo Imperial Palace (Not actually a palace to see).
3. Tokyo Skytree
4. Tsukiji fish market (You will have to wake up at 4am to see the famed auction though)
5. Meiji Shrine
6. Ueno Zoo
8. Tokyo national Museum
9. Yoyogi Park
And I haven’t even started listing places to eat! So I promise you, there is enough to see. All you need to do is research what you like, because you will find it.
I hope you’re enjoying this series and that it’s helping you plan your trip to Japan (because, you HAVE to go!).