JAPAN

TOKYO – THE BUSTLING CAPITAL

 

Stay:

  • Kimi Ryokan. Traditional and affordable stay with shared bathrooms; the ladies‘ floors are clean. You can book it here.
  • Shibuya Excel Hotel. Right in the Shibuya area. You can book it here.
  • Villa Fontaine. They have convenient business hotels, e.g. the ones in Shiodome and Nihonbashi. You can book them here.
  • Park Hotel Tokyo. Nice 4* hotel in Shiodome, some rooms have view on the red-lit Tokyo Tower. You can book it here.
  • Famous 5*Hotel Park Hyatt in Shinjuku area sets you back to the movie "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. You can book it here

Eat:

  • Fresh Sushi and Sashimi at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
  • Yakitori, chicken skewers at Omoide Yoko-cho (Memory Lane) close to Shinjuku station.
  • Noooooodles: Ramen (thin curly ones), Soba (thin buckwheat), Udon (thick white ones). Bassanova is known for tasty Ramen and a great Udon place is Shikokuji.
  • You can grab Onigiri – a filled triangular rice snack – in nearly every convenience store (called Konbini).
  • Gyoza: pan-fried Chinese dumplings.
  • Tempura: battered and fried seafood or vegetables.
  • Izakaya: These are Japanese Tapas restaurants. You get a variety of dishes, sometimes served in Séparées.
  • Don‘t miss the food courts in the big department stores!

Drinks and Clubs:

  • Tiny bar in Shibuya, as its name indicates: Tight. There are also other small bars in and around that alley.
  • Two popular bars in Shibuya that you will not forget after visiting: The Red Bar and the Trump Room (club with golden interior).
  • 4-floor Techno Club in the "Love Hotel" Area Maruyama-cho: Womb

 

 

Do & See:

 

  • Museum picks: The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills, offers a nice view over the city. The Nezu Museum designed by architect Kengo Kuma shows Nezu Kaichiro‘s collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art.
  • The Meiji shrine is a green oasis in bustling Tokyo.
  • Yoyogi park is a lively park where you can have picnics (buy a Bento box!) and watch street artists and cherry blossom trees (picnic + cherry blossom watching is called Hanami).
  • Next door you can find the National Yoyogi Gymnasium, which was built by architect Kenzo Tange for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
  • The Tokyo International Forum is a huge steel and glass complex designed by Rafael Viñoly.
  • Looking for games? Then visit one of the many game parlors called Pachinko. Colorful and noisy! Don‘t forget to take a souvenir picture at the Purikura photo boxes.
  • Looking for songs? Book a cabin to sing Karaoke
  • Want to see the Eiffel-Tower-inspired Tokyo Tower?
  • And how about a night cruise in Tokyo‘s Odaiba Bay?

 

Shopping:

  • Shopping area with nice small cafes and restaurants: Shimokitazawa. Another charming shopping street for fashion is Cat Street in Harajuku.
  • To see some luxury retail architecture, check out Tod‘s and Mikimoto by Toyo Ito, Prada by Herzog & de Meuron, Dior by SANAA, Louis Vuitton by Jun Aoki and Omotesando Hills by Tadao Ando. 
  • Ameyoko shopping street is a colorful market along the tracks from Ueno station to Okachimachi station.
  • Tokyu Hands, an amazing shop with thousands of products for all areas of life.


For traveling around Japan as a foreigner (called Gaijin) it is very recommendable to buy the Japan Rail Pass before departure. It allows to travel on the Japan railway system at a good price. Some places here:

  • AWAJISHIMA: Island in front of Kobe where architect Tadao Ando built a beautiful underground Water Temple and the 100 stepped garden at the Yumebutai Conference Center.
  • HAKONE: Enjoy the view on Mount Fuji – maybe even from the edge of an Onsen bath.
  • HIROSHIMA: Historic city with a nice river, be prepared for the peace museum. The peace center and memorial garden were designed by Kenzo Tange.
  • KYOTO: Needless to say, really worth visiting, especially the former geisha neighborhoods and the Katsura gardens. A high-class hotel is the Nikko Princess. You can book it here.
  • MIYAJIMA: Island with the famous Itsukushima shrine.
  • NAOSHIMA: Wonderful island that you can discover by bike. Do visit the amazing underground Chichu Art Museum by Tadao Ando. Admire the pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama and enjoy a special onsen bath experience in the I Love You art onsen. Over night you can stay at affordable Cinnamon. Click here to see an overview map.
  • NIKKO: See the famous red bridge and funny monkey sculptures or even real monkeys bathing in hot wells.
  • OKAYAMA: Here you can visit one of the famous three gardens of Japan, the Koraku-en.
  • OSAKA: Try their speciality dish, Okonomiyaki, it is also fun to do yourself! Don‘t miss the famous Osaka Castle. If you have time you can visit the Sayamaike Museum by Ando. A very affordable hotel for a short stay is the Taiyo with shared bathroom. You can book it here.
  • YAMANKA: A place for more Onsen experiences.
  • YOKOHAMA: Eat in Chinatown and visit the Osanbashi pier by architects FOA.