A sponsored post.
Paul and I are finally feeling a bit more settled in our new home in Portland, that I’ve finally had some time to sort through my photos and write part 2 of my travel guide for Tokyo, Japan. I was also lucky to partner up with Expedia for this trip as one of their Big World Explorers!
Where to start? This was my second trip and I wanted to spend this trip in Tokyo, because I felt like I just didn’t have enough time the first time around and I really wanted to experience the city like a local and not like a crazed tourist. Here are some more recommendations for things to eat, see and do in one of my favourite cities!
After You Arrive (Narita International Airport) – Arrange to have your Pocket WiFi Rental shipped directly to a 24-Hour Courier Counter at the airport. Just pick up your package and take the next Keisei Skyliner (high-speed train) to Nippori Station (36 mins, $25). Transfer from Nippori Station to a local train to take you to your hotel.
I found this to be the fastest and most efficient way to get straight into Tokyo – it’s also one of the most comfortable! There are snacks and restrooms on-board plus free WiFi for visiting foreigners (make sure to get the code from the ticket booth by showing your passport).
Where To Stay – I chose to stay at Hotel Niwa again because it’s a great little boutique hotel in a quiet part of town and walking distance to three different train stations! I got a fantastic deal on Expedia and a full Japanese breakfast was included every morning of my stay.
Hotel Niwa attracts a lot of business people, tourists and families. So it was really quiet and peaceful at night with no crazy noise or parties. I booked a larger premium room this time and I was so happy to have the extra space. There’s also a 24-hour convenience store around the corner and a grocery store up the street where I stocked up on apples and snacks.
I had a cute little sitting area (above) to enjoy a cup of green tea in every afternoon. There was also free WiFi, complimentary fresh-pressed pajamas and coin laundry machines! Laundry was so key as I was visiting for 10 days. I packed 5 days worth of outfits and did laundry halfway through my trip at the hotel. My room also featured a Keurig machine, complimentary tea, coffee, bottled water and a mini-fridge. The room was spacious for Tokyo standards and I would definitely stay there again.
Japanese Breakfast at Hotel Niwa in Tokyo, Japan
See Asakusa Temple (Senso-Ji) – I deeply regretted missing the chance to see Asakusa Temple during my last visit to Tokyo, that I put it at the top of my list this time around. The building was constructed in 645 AD and is Tokyo’s oldest temple. The temple is also super-close to Tokyo Sky Tree if you’re thinking of hitting both in one day.
Give yourself lots of time to explore all the different market stalls that lead up to the temple. There are tons of fun souvenirs to be found and Japanese snacks like roasted rice crackers, mochi balls, matcha ice cream and red bean filled cakes.
Go for a Fancy Japanese Lunch – Besides ramen and sushi, I was treated to a unique and authentic Japanese lunch at Kozue Restaurant inside the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The lunch bento tasting menu was beautifully presented and featured a variety of different little bites and textures – it was edible art.
My prix-fixe menu included a clear seaweed soup, sashimi, grilled fish, vegetables, squid and razor clam. Not only is the food amazing, you’ll get views of Mount Fuji and a skyline view of Tokyo to accompany your meal. If you have the chance, book a visit to their spa as well – you can read about my visit here.
Do Happy Hour at Yakitori Alley – Need a snack? Omoide Yokocho or Memory Lane is a great place to grab a beer and nibble on a few skewers before your next sightseeing stop. This maze of small shops is near Shinjuku Station where you can order a few skewers at a super reasonable cost before heading on your way. Ask for an English menu, unless you’re feeling adventurous!
Say Hello to Hachiko at Shibuya Crossing – Hachiko is the most loyal dog in the world. He would show up to the station every evening to meet his owner and continued to do so after the owner’s death. The train station employees fed him, gave him water and took good care of him. They even erected this statue for Hachiko after his own death. Say hello to Hachiko on your way to see Shibuya Crossing.
Shopping at Tokyu Hands – One of my favourite shopping experience was at the Tokyu Hands store near Shibuya Crossing. Do yourself a favour, take the elevator to the top floor where there is a cafe. Have a coffee, relax and get pumped up for the best shopping trip ever!
Work your way down each floor of Tokyu Hands looking for all sorts of unique Japanese items, stationery and souvenirs to bring home with you. It’s part craft store, department store and hardware store all-in-one. You seriously never know what you’re going to find.
Hit the Spa! – I definitely recommend hitting a traditional Japanese Onsen water spa on the last day of your trip. It’s a lovely way to relax before a long 13-hour flight home. I chose to visit Oedo Onsen Monogatari near Tokyo Bay and it was awesome!
It’s like a spa theme park for adults with a huge food court, indoor and outdoor water therapies, relaxation rooms and more. I easily spent 3-4 hours here going from pool to pool. They also give you a kimono to wear during your visit. There’s also free WiFi, so I could pretty much just live there if I could.
Healthy Eats at Brown Rice Cafe + Neal’s Yard Remedies – At one point, my body just began to crave veggies and the perfect place for a lovely afternoon lunch is at The Brown Rice Cafe. The restaurant is part of a complex owned by UK brand, Neal’s Yard Remedies. I have a hard time finding their products in the US, so I stocked up like crazy on their skincare products.
If you’re a fan of natural skincare, you will LOVE this line. I personally swear by their soothing and moisturizing toners. They have mini skincare travel kits that are perfect for trying out the brand.
See the Imperial Palace – Not to be missed is a quick little stroll around the park to see the Imperial Palace. It’s currently occupied by the royal family, so you can’t go in – but you can admire the architecture from afar.
Go for Noodles at Tokyo Ramen Street – The BEST place to go for ramen is Tokyo Ramen Street, located in the basement level of Tokyo Station. This underground food court features 8-10 of Tokyo’s best ramen shops.
I chose something a little different and opted to try the vegetarian ramen in carrot broth with red pepper noodles and lots of veggies. It was delicious and incredibly original! But seriously – you can’t go wrong with any of the bowl on offer here.
Check out Tokyo DisneySea – Seeing that this was my second trip, I carved out a bit of time to visit Tokyo DisneySea! It’s a theme park unique to Japan and features all sorts of interesting and new rides you won’t find elsewhere. It was super cool just to wander around a Japanese theme park and see how different the snacks are too! You can read my full post on Tokyo DisneySea here.
Exchange Your Money – The subway in Tokyo is cash only and they won’t take anything but Yen and no credit cards either. So make sure you exchange your money at the airport before you depart or at a bank. It’s much easier this way. Hotels also offer foreign exchange, but usually at skyrocket rates and I found Travelex shops a bit hard to come by.
RELATED: 5 Japan Travel Tips
Jetlag – Coming from Los Angeles, the jet lag hit me HARD. I was asleep by almost 9 PM every night and up at 4 AM. Try to stay up as late as possible on your first night, you’re going to need a coffee by early afternoon to keep going. It definitely takes a few days to adjust. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Overall, I’m SO glad I got a second chance to visit Tokyo all over again! I seriously can’t wait until my next visit and would really like to see Hiroshima and Onomichi on my next trip.
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Have you been to Tokyo or Japan? Any travel recommendations you can make for my next visit? Feel free to ask me any questions about Tokyo in the comments!