Hi everyone! I’m finally back on home soil and slowly working off that jet lag. I’ve never been more excited to come back and share everything that I’ve absorbed in Japan. I’ve decided to make my Tokyo Guide into 2 parts simply because there is just too much to share in one post. If you have any questions about anything, please do leave a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Shibuya Crossing is one of the most famous and busiest crossings ever! If you are visiting Japan, be sure to make a stop here as its known for its hustle and bustle and up to 2500 people cross this intersection at a time. Shibyua Crossing has also been featured in films such as Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.
- Ultimate Tokyo Travel & Food Guide – Part 2
- Ultimate Tokyo Travel & Food Guide – Part 1
- Japan: Endless Torii Gates
- Japan: Why everyone loves the Instagram Famous Chef @ Kichi Kichi
- Japan: Bamboo Forest in Kyoto
I accidentally fell in love with Rokurinsha’s dipping noodles when we happened to be waiting to board a train at Tokyo Station. We had to catch a fairly early train and we arrived at the station an hour before the departure of our train. Not a lot of shops were opened in the area except Rokurinsha. We read in some blogs that their dipping noodles were quite popular so we decided to give it a try. There’s just something about dipping chilled noodles into a hot bowl of thick soup that is really satisfying. The noodles were a perfect texture and and comes with a slice of pork.
If you’re able to snatch a pair of Sumo Wrestling tickets, then its totally worth going! There happened to be a tournament during the time of visit in Tokyo so we pre-purchased tickets online here. The tournament takes place over a 2 week period so if you are dedicated to grabbing a pair of tickets, your odds are pretty high. There are a couple ways of grabbing tickets but be prepared because these tickets sell out fast! The website is pretty easy to navigate around as its in English. Tickets are available on a predetermined date specified on their website. For us it was on Saturday morning 10AM JST and since we’re behind Japan time, its meant 9PM EST or 10PM EST Friday evening (depending on daylight savings).
When purchasing tickets online, the tickets to “good” matches (dates that are later on the week) are sold out in about 10 minutes and within the hour, all tickets are completely sold out.
Alternatively, if you missed the window to purchase online tickets, you can line up at the ticket booth outside the arena the morning of the match. Tickets are on sale starting at 7:45AM JST with 400 seats up for grabs – cash only and one ticket per person. The Japanese are early risers, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide what time to arrive at the stadium 🙂
When we arrived the day of the match, we went straight to the machines located underneath the “will-call” sign (right side of the entrance – photo shown below) and entered our ticket number that was emailed to us and it generated our tickets. We didn’t need to line up at the ticket booth and it didn’t require us to speak to anyone. We just walked straight in. 1 in and out privilege is allowed.
I find that in Japan, while you can always find affordable food options, you can also find expensive. There is just something for everyone. Ikinari Steak is one of our favourite places to grab a wallet friendly steak. It’s more of a restaurant that you dine in quickly and leave. People don’t usually stay around to chat which is why it makes this place so great – the turnover is quite fast if you do find yourself in a line especially during the lunch rush. Some locations in busier regions of the city sometimes do not offer seating so you eat your entire meal standing up. I think we’ve only encountered this once our entire trip but it was perfect because we were in a rush to catch our flight! Depending on what you order, you might have to order directly at the chef’s kitchen area but all locations have helpful servers that help you.
Their menu offers different cuts of steak and offered at different weights. I usually grab the wild steak at 200 grams for 1130 YEN ($13.50 CAD). It comes with corn and at lunch time, it also comes with soup, salad and rice. Such a steal and I can’t recommend this place enough!
Riding a go kart dressed up as Mario is probably one of the BEST things to do in Japan whilst also getting a tour of the city. I have a valid license in Canada but rarely drive so this was quite scary for me at first but I totally got the hang of it within minutes. You will have to pick up an International Driver’s Permit from CAA but it’s totally worth it! I wrote a blog post about 10 things you should know before real life Mario Go Karting in Japan that you can read here.
Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles
If you’re from Toronto and totally enjoy the shio and shoyu ramens at Konjiki Ramen, then this is the place for you. This soba shop offers quite unique bowls of soba that you can’t really find anywhere else in Tokyo. They offer truffle powder in bowls of noodles and have wonton options on their menu!
Tsuta is a Michelin starred soba shop so you can imagine how daunting the lines can be! However, the one great thing about this place is that they offer tickets that you can grab if you’re an early riser. We went to the ramen shop at 8AM. It looked closed from the outside but there were staff present preparing for the day’s service. You can let the staff know what time you’re planning to come back that day and they will ask you how many bowls of ramen you plan on purchasing. You will receive some tickets confirming your order with the time that you should come back to the ramen shop. You do have to pay a deposit of 1000 YEN ($12.20 CAD) per ticket They are opened from service starting at 11:30AM and offer time slots hourly.When we returned to the ramen shop in the evening, we joined a long line outside the shop but bypassed the line with our tickets. We only waited about 10 minutes before being seated. Surprisingly to us, not a lot of people grabbed tickets in the morning and they had to wait in the queue.
Akihabara is a gamer, manga and anime lover’s paradise. This region in Tokyo is just buzzing with people anytime of the day. Here you can find stores such as BIC Camera and Yodabashi Camera which are 2 large electronic department stores that not only sell TVs and your standard Best Buy electronics, but also much more. Here they have anything from suitcases, make up, curling / straightening irons, high end camera gears, telescopes and literally anything you can think of in between. One of the best things about shopping at these department stores is that there is so much variety and options to choose from. I walked in looking specifically to replace my Apple earphones and found myself choosing between wired and wireless among 50 other brands and many colours.
Akihabara is also amazing for manga and anime lovers as its just one long street, building after building, floor after floor filled with figurines and cards to buy. They also have cosplay shops and the famous Gundam cafe! If you’re really into arcade games – this is also the area you want to be. I would allocate a full day here if this is something that you and your traveling buddies are really into!
Try a Neopolitan Pasta
The Japanese really love their Neopolitan Pasta and its almost a signature dish at any Italian pasta restaurant you can find in Tokyo. We didn’t specifically research the best place to grab a Neopolitan pasta, as there are so many pasta options around every corner in Tokyo. We winged it but ended up having some great pasta dishes!
Kura Sushi is a chain of conveyor sushi restaurants that offers inexpensive sushi. Most items on their menu are only 100 YEN ($1.20 CAD)! It’s not exactly the best sushi in Tokyo but you get what you pay for and the variety is there. One of my favourite things about Kura is how interactive the whole dining experience feels. You can order by either grabbing plates off of the conveyor belt or you simply order off of the iPad and the food will arrive on a separate conveyor. Each table has its own hot water dispenser and green tea powder if you want to make green tea. The best part is when you’ve finished 5 plates of food, you can slot your dirty plate into a slot at the end of each table and enter into a game to see if you win something from the gachupon machine.
Whenever we visit Tokyo, we always stop at Odaiba because I love shopping at Diver City and Eden is happy with his Gundam statue right at the mall’s entrance! In all seriousness though, there is something for everyone to do. I love shopping at Diver City because it’s a lot less crowded then your average department store and it really makes a huge difference! At the top floor of Diver city, there’s a huge Gundam museum / souvenir shop and you can find every possible figure there. It’s quite impressively large. Right across the Gundam shop is a huge arcade as well!
Besides Diver City, you can check out Odabia Oedo-Onsen Monogatari that is an indoor onsen amusement park. Keep in mind that tattoos are not allowed at this Onsen. There is also a beautiful indoor mall called Venus Fort which reminds me of the The Venetian in Las Vegas. You have probably already seen photos of TeamLabs online – it’s an immersive digital art exhibition located here in Odaiba. Other things to do include a ferris wheel and an amusement park. There are endless amounts of things to do in Odaiba!
Shinjuku feels similar Shibuya – Shinjuku has more or less the same department stores and places to eat as Shibyua but slightly less people. Shinjuku is the place to be if you’re looking for a night out at the local bars and clubs. It is also home to the famous robot restaurant which is located within the red light district.
On the other side of the station is Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku which is a narrow alleyway filled with small bars that serve beer and are known for serving skewers and other bar food items. Some of these shops are as tiny as 6-8 seats and the general rule is that customers who have been dining the longest usually have to leave so other customers can dine as well. Most of the restaurants allow smoking inside even on the upper level.
We found a small bar tucked away and grabbed a few beers, skewers, yaki soba (pan fried noodles) and dumplings. It can be a little expensive but definitely worth a try. If you want to experience a fun bar night out and feel like a local – then Omoide Yokocho is the place you want to be!
Ichiran Ramen is a famous ramen shop chain in Japan with locations across the world as well. The closest location to us here in Toronto is in New York. Ichiran Ramen is most known for their cubicle booths which is perfect for introverts like me. You can literally dine in and enjoy a hot bowl of ramen without speaking to anyone. Customers order their ramen + toppings at a machine located right by the entrance. You slot in your money and the machine will spit tickets out. You hang onto your tickets and find an empty cubicle. Once you’ve selected how you want to customize your bowl of ramen on the provided order sheet, you can press a red button on your table and someone behind the curtain will grab everything from you. The service here is very quick – I would say our usual turnover time here is 20-25 minutes unless you have to wait in line!
Watch a baseball game
Usually on the last day of our trips in Tokyo, we tend to leave it wide open in case there is anything we wanted to revisit. It’s usually pretty chill. We happened to be in Shibuya on our last day and didn’t know what we wanted to do next and we googled to find out that there was a baseball game close by. We took the train to Meiji Jingu Baseball stadium and bought tickets at the door. We paid approximately $50.00 CAD per ticket and scored some decent seats.
I grew up watching baseball with my dad so we really enjoyed the experience. Because there are so many baseball teams in Tokyo and the opposing teams are based somewhat close to each other – the other half of the stadium is occupied by the opposing team’s fan. The chants and cheering for both teams was going strong the whole night.
Unlike The Rogers Centre in Toronto, you can actually bring your own alcohol. However they do make you pour the contents into a paper cup and get rid of the glass bottle or can at the entrance. They offer a different selection of “stadium food” such as ramen and curry! They also have “beer girls” that sell you cups of beer from their backpack keg.
Takeshita Street in Harajuku is a famous shopping street with a lot of colourful & flashy clothes and accessories. There are a lot of cafes with a wide variety of desserts to choose from. If you’ve seen the crazy colourful cotton candy photos on Instagram, this is the place to get them. They also have your not-so-average crepes and fluffy Japanese pancakes here as well. While we were here, Eden and I did spend some time at Purikura (photo sticker machines) stores taking couple photos to fulfill
our my childhood couple dreams.
Well that’s the first of my two part guide to Tokyo. You can find part 2 Tokyo Guide here. Please be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. Feel free to also follow along my Instgram Page where I update daily with what I’m up to.
Written by Grace Yeung
Edited by Eden Yeung
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