Today I’m sharing part 2 of my Tokyo, Japan mini travel guide. I’ll start with top things to eat/drink in Tokyo, then provide my recommendations on top things to do. If you have other favorites that weren’t mentioned in this post, I’d love to hear what they are in the comments section below!
P.S. — If you haven’t read up on part 1 yet, which includes my top 2 picks for a day trip in Odaiba (within Tokyo), you can do so here.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:
Jirōmaru Shinjuku Honten:
Jirōmaru is the first place I’ve ever had Japanese A4 & A5 beef (so take this with a grain of salt if you’re a long-time expert on premium grade beef :). The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and consists of a super tiny standing-only room. We waited outside for a good 40 minutes before getting seated, but I personally thought the food and overall experience was well worth the wait! We opted for the “chef special”, which included a few chef-selected cuts of various graded meats and vegetables. We cooked these pieces ourselves on our own mini grills. This is the place for you if you are looking for high quality A4 & A5 beef at a reasonable price (300-500 yen per slice)!
1 Chome-26-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021, Japan
Go to Itamae Sushi for some seriously fresh sashimi! My whole family and I enjoyed the sashimi here, which is fairly price for the quality of fish they serve. There are several other Itamae Sushi locations, and the one we visited was in Akasaka.
Japan, 〒107-0052 Tōkyō-to, Minato City, Akasaka, 3-chōme−8−17 パンジャパンビル １階２階
Tsurutontan Shinjuku (つるとんたん 新宿店):
This restaurant in Shinjuku district is known for their unique udon flavors, served in enormous bowls! The noodles were cooked perfectly al dente and the broth was extremely flavorful. It looks like they have other locations throughout the city, too. I highly recommend checking out this place if you love a good bowl of udon. Make sure to come early, as there is usually a long wait.
Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kabukicho, 2 Chome−26−3 網元ビルB1F
Ramen Nagi is located in Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district. It’s a small ramen joint, and you order first from a vending machine (which only takes cash). Once you’re seated, you give the vending machine ticket to the chef. Most people come to Ramen Nagi for ‘The Special’ ramen, which comes with thick slices of meat, an egg, and a huge sheet of seaweed. The ramen comes in a heavily fish-based broth, much like many of their other ramens (so if you don’t like fish, this may not be for you). It was definitely one of the best ramen I’ve ever had - you won’t regret coming here!
1 Chome-1-10 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021, Japan
Totti Candy Factory Shop Harajuku:
I came to Totti Candy Factory (on Takeshita Street in the Harajuku district) specifically for their signature Harajuku rainbow cotton candy. Cotton candy from Totti is on another level - the rainbow cotton candy is so electric, and not to mention, ginormous! I paid 800 yen for it and it was super soft and sugary. They do sell other sweets in the shop as well. The wait is super short (at least when we went) and a great spot for an Instagram photo, too!
Japan, 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya City, Jingūmae, 1-chōme−16−5 RYUアパルトマン 2F
Daily Chico (デイリーチコ):
Daily Chico is located on the basement floor of the Nakano Broadway shopping center. It was somewhat hard to find at first, because we didn’t realize right away that it was located in the basement of this building. But it was well worth the effort to look for! They are known for their 8-layered soft serve on a cone. You can taste each distinct flavor - ranging from melon, to grape, to ramune! Each flavor was so delicious and unique. This shop is an ice cream lover’s dream!
Japan, 〒164-0001 Tōkyō-to, Nakano City, Nakano, 5-chōme−52−15 中野ブロードウェイ
Reissue is a cozy cafe across the street from the end of the famous Takeshita Street in the Harajuku district. They are known for their adorable 3D latte character art! You select from a book of their most popular creations (or show them a photo of what you’d like). It is very pricey, with the 2D/3D latte art being an additional 400 yen on top of their drink prices. I paid around 1,100 yen total. You’re essentially paying for the art and the experience though, so expect it to cost a premium price. I opted for a 3D pup design, and had a hard time drinking it given how cute it was (*swoon).
3-chōme-25-7 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
TOP THINGS TO DO:
STAY OVERNIGHT AT FIRST CABIN TSUKIJI, A LUXURY ‘CAPSULE’ HOTEL:
Upon booking our trip to Tokyo, Japan, my sister and I knew that one of the things we wanted to experience was to stay at a capsule hotel. For those who aren’t familiar, you may be wondering, ‘what is a capsule hotel?’ It’s a type of hotel that originates in Japan, featuring rooms (known as ‘capsules’, or ‘pods’) that are roughly the size of a small bed. These capsule pods are stacked side-by-side, and vertically on top of each other.
My family and I thought this concept was fascinating, but we also didn’t want to stay in such tiny accommodations. We still wanted to be comfortable and have enough room to safely store our luggage within our own rooms. First Cabin Tsukiji was an aviation-themed capsule hotel that was not only affordable (we paid ~$54/person for a ‘Superior’ cabin), but also impeccably clean and spacious. First Cabin Tsukiji included gender-separate floors, Japanese-style public bath areas and private shower stalls, a ton of amenities (such as earplugs, a TV with headphones, towels, slippers, and shower/soap in the bathrooms), a common luggage storage area and a lounge area. Keep in mind that First Cabin Tsukiji doesn’t have any sound-proofing — if you’re sensitive to noise and have chatty floor-mates, you’ll want to make sure that you grab a pair of the hotel’s free earplugs. Also, there can only be one person per room, and since the floors are segregated by gender, you won’t be able to stay or book a room right next to your partner/friend/family member of the opposite gender.
2 Chome-11-10 Tsukiji, 中央区 Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
VISIT SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN:
Shinjuku Gyoen is a massive, beautiful park with several main gardens. You pay a small entrance fee (500 yen), and get access to a whole day’s worth of rose gardens, greenhouses, Japanese gardens, and more. It’s open from 9am - 4:30pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays. I recommend allotting 2-3 hours to explore and to get lost in nature. It would’ve been so nice to pack a lunch to bring for a picnic here. Check out the beautiful shots I took of this park below!
11 Naitōmachi, Shinjuku City, Tōkyō-to 160-0014, Japan
TAKE PART IN THE SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE CROSSING:
Shibuya Scramble Crossing is one of Tokyo, Japan’s top landmarks, and is known as the most busiest intersection in the world! We watched the crossing during the evening from a popular Starbucks across the street (which is where the below photo was taken). It was amazing to see and hear hundreds of people moving about at once, in one tiny intersection, along with the bright street lights, digital billboards, and lively city sounds. Personally, I don’t think I’d go back, unless I was with someone who was visiting Tokyo for the first time. It is definitely one to check off the bucket list, though!
Japan, 〒150-0043 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya City, Dōgenzaka, 2-chōme−2, Unnamed Road
VISIT SENSO-JI TEMPLE (浅草寺) & SHOP AT NAKAMISE STREET:
Located in Asakusa, Senso-ji Temple is a major tourist attraction, as Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Nakamise street is the street full of shops that lead up to Senso-ji temple’s Kaminarimon (also known as “thunder gate”). The shops are full of traditional Japanese souvenirs and delicious street food! There are several buildings in the courtyard of this location, including a 5-story pagoda and a small garden. Within the courtyard, there’s also a giant burner where people come to pray with incense, and a spot where you can get your fortune read for a small fee! Pro-tip: Bring cash if you plan on shopping and eating at the stalls on Nakamise street.
2-chōme-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 111-0032, Japan
TAKE A PHOTO AT TOKYU PLAZA OMOTESANDO’S MIRRORED ESCALATOR ENTRANCE:
Right across from the LAFORET shopping complex, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is a multi-story shopping center with THE coolest mirrored escalator entrance. To be absolutely honest, I only came here for the photo opp - not to check out the shops inside of the shopping complex. The ceiling at the entrance looks like a mirrored fun-house kaleidoscope. The busy streets and crowds of people outside actually makes the photo that much more complex and interesting! We snapped a few quick photos here and rode the elevator back down to the main street.
4-chōme-30-3 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
I hope you enjoyed part 2 of my Tokyo, Japan mini travel guide! If you’ve been to Tokyo, I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below! If you wish to go or are planning to go, what’s the top thing you want to do while you’re there?