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17 Reasons To Visit Tokyo in 2017


Tokyo has been at the top of our bucket-lists for as long as we could remember, but we never made it a priority because as everyone knows - Japan is expensive.

But the other day we sat down and took a long look at our lives: we've been travelling the world for nearly four years straight, in that time we've visited over 40 countries, including renown expensive ones like Australia, Finland and Iceland. Why hadn't we made Japan our priority? 

So we decided to do just that: make Tokyo our next stop, no mater the costs. 

It was SO worth it, if Tokyo is your dream destination, don't let anything hold you back, start planning your trip today! 

Here are 17 reasons to push you over the booking edge:

1. ASAKUSA


Asakusa is what I think of when I think of quintessential Japan: beautiful temples (you must see Senso-Ji), beautiful art pieces and even fake geishas! 

This is probably one of the most touristy parts of Tokyo but definitely still worth a look!

2. MOUNT FUJI 

Although it's massive, thanks to the skyscrapers it's hard to actually see Mount Fuji, to see it you're going to have to get high. 

We recommend going up the Tokyo Metro Government Building - because it's FREE - go on a clear day and you might well see Mount Fuji. Go at sunset for beautiful colours.




Akihabara is the place to go for anything and everything video game, manga or anime related. Even people who aren't that into anime or manga (like me) should definitely still take a trip to Akihabara, again this is quintessential Japan (albeit a completely different type to Asakusa). IT'S SO CRAZY THERE!! Manga, toys, flashing lights, crazy noises, machines, dolls, anime, comic books, owls. You name it, it's probably there. 

4. NAKANO BROADWAY


Another must for anime and manga lovers, but less known and thus less touristy than Akihabara, we both actually preferred this one to Akihabara: Tanbay (lover of all things anime) loved it because it had a better choice of merch and there were rare items you won't find anywhere else. I (little to no interest in anime) preferred Nakano Broadway to Akihabara because there were fewer tourists and the items were much more interesting looking. Plus these creepy af dolls. 


5. YOYOGI PARK


Yoyogi Park is a gigantic park right in the centre of Tokyo. Think Central Park but better because it's in Japan not the USA. It's so peaceful, after a few minutes of walking we couldn't believe that we were in one of the busiest cities in the world! Come here to escape the crazy (it's actually situated next to Harajuku, one of the craziest parts of Tokyo). 

6. MEIJI JINGU SHRINE 


In the centre of Yoyogi Park is Meiji Jingu Shrine - another beautiful Japanese temple. We were there on a Sunday and saw three beautiful weddings! The brides wore these awesome star-wars type headdresses, it was awesome. 



7. SHIBUYA

You'll almost definitely recognise this site because it's one of the most iconic symbols of Tokyo - if you don't have a photo of you stood on Shibuya Crossing, have you even been to Tokyo?!

Shibuya Crossing is just a lot of pedestrian crosswalks, also known as the scramble. It's cool to watch how well it works.

That whole area is again quite touristy, and again well worth checking out. 


8. 100 YEN STORESIs Japan as expensive as they say it is? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Are there ways to not blow your budget? Of course!! One of these ways is with a visit to a 100 yen store - basically like a $1 store but filled with cool Japanese stuff! Shop for souvenirs here! 

Not all 100 Yen stores are created equally though, the one in Harajuku is much cooler than the one near Nakano Broadway. 

9. HARAJUKU

Speaking of Harajuku, this is the place to go if you want to see cosplayers, up-and-coming J-pop bands, quirky shops and so much more!


Actually I hated Harajuku, we went shopping and I wanted to buy everything, but couldn't because everything was so damn small!! Damn my European-child-baring hips and adult sized feet :( 



10. KAMAKURA 

What's a better reason to visit Tokyo than a reason to visit somewhere that's not Tokyo? Lol. Kamakura is actually a 1 hour train ride out of Tokyo and isn't in Tokyo.. but Tokyo is a great place to visit Kamakura from, okay? 

Kamakura is a seaside town and it's awesome!! There you can find many things including a gigantic Buddha, cool temples, the sea and this Bamboo forest!! 

We also found that lots of people wanted to take our photo here, especially kids - something that didn't happen once in Tokyo. 

11. THE TUBE SYSTEM 
I LOVE the underground system in Tokyo. Well kind of. Firstly I don't love it because it doesn't really cover the whole city, like at all. Sometimes we had to walk for 30 minutes to get to the nearest station... 

But what I do love about it is that it's really, really clear - the stops and lines are colour coordinated and number coordinated, so instead of having to know the name of your station, all you need is that number.

Plus everyone is super quiet and considerate on the underground, or at least they were when we were there. One time a woman moved so Tanbay could sit next to me. I love her. 

12. TO WEAR A YUKATA

So I loved kimonos, geishas, yukatas and everything related, but I was worried dressing up in a yukata might be cultural appropriation... 

My general rule with anything offensive is if it's offensive to the party in question then it's offensive (e.g. black people say white people wearing dreads is offensive, thus it's offensive, black people get to call it not white people.) Buttt when we were invited by actual Japanese people to wear yukatas I was like, okay it must be fine. 



White privilege aside, it was so.much.fun wearing a yukata and walking around in one :) we did ours with the Westin and 100% recommend it!

13. VENDING MACHINES 
The good news? Vending machines literally are on every corner. In fact sometimes there's more than one to a corner. 

The bad news is, we didn't see any crazy kinds of vending machines :( the only ones we saw carried drinks, cigarettes or toys. 

Still, it was great to be able to buy a drink literally anywhere at anytime. 

14. FOOD


Initially, Japan was the first country I've travelled to where I wished that we weren't vegan, the temptation to go into a restaurant or supermarket and just pick any weird thing and try it was overwhelming (and subsequently extinguished when I thought about dolphins and whales, and frog being eaten alive). 


[Find out how travel made us go vegan]

ANYWAY, luckily it turns out Tokyo can still be fun for a vegan. Firstly: there are lots of exclusively vegan restaurants in Tokyo, so I got to live out my dream of ordering something I knew nothing about from the menu and eating it (it was tofu and mushroom). 

Secondly, you can still enjoy sushi restaurants if you stick to cucumber sushi and tofu sushi. 

Thirdly, wait, I wrote a whole post about being vegan in Tokyo, check it out here if you're interested: Can You Be Vegan In Tokyo?!


15. IT'S CLEAN, IT'S SAFE, IT'S QUIET

We couldn't believe how clean, safe and quiet Tokyo was!!! 

Admittedly touristy spots like Asakusa, Shibuya and Akihabara were rammed with people, but pretty much everywhere else was surprisingly deserted, we couldn't believe how unlike a city most of the city looked - it looked more like lots of little villages tied together, which it probably is..

There is pretty much no rubbish anywhere - Tanbay said a lot of people take their rubbish home to get rid of it. And it doesn't stop there. You know how in some countries there are designated areas to smoke in inside, or perhaps you're not allowed to smoke inside at all? Tokyo takes it a step further: there are designated areas to smoke outside! Yes you can smoke outside, but only in certain closed off areas :O (no roofs so it's not indoors). 

And it doesn't just stop there, even building sites are clean: dirt is neatly pressed and there is wood put down around the edges to stop it spilling on the pristine streets. 

Would I eat off the street in Tokyo? Yes. Would I feel safe leaving my bag open on the street in Tokyo? Yes. Would I be able to fall asleep on the street? For sure, as long as it wasn't cold..

And talking about people sleeping on the streets - we stumbled across some homeless people in Tokyo. At first we didn't notice them though because in-keeping with neat/tidy/clean Tokyo, they have fashioned makeshift huts out of cardboard boxes and umbrellas, these were genius contraptions - some even had lights and locks. Very interesting. Though still sad of course - many homeless people in Japan are business people who have lost their homes but are too ashamed to tell anyone - lots still go to their office jobs every day. 

16. THE PEOPLE!

Ah we love Japanese people, or at least all the ones we came across in Tokyo... At first we were shocked how no eye contact is made ever, then we were shocked by how insanely helpful all the service people are - i.e. people working in the airport/on the bus/in hotels/ in 7-11 etc. It's like they are too shy to talk to you, but if it's their job to be helpful they will go above and beyond. 

We met up with a Japanese man through an app called Travel Pal, he was almost as obsessed with Germany as Tanbay (German) is obsessed with Japan. It was so cool to meet him and hear more about what it's actually like to live in Tokyo. We highly recommend you meet some locals too, through Travel Pal or through couchsurfing or mutual friends or anything. 




17. THE WESTIN

Last, but certainly not least, is staying at the Westin. We stayed here for three nights and absolutely loved it. You can read our full review of the Westin here. 

USEFUL INFORMATION
FLIGHTS TO TOKYO
Flying to Tokyo is kind of annoying, almost no matter where you do it from it's kind of expensive and the flight is kind of long - even if you do it from South East Asia. If you can tie it in with another trip and fly in from South Korea or Hong Kong - do it! 

We find all the best flight deals around the globe by using the flight comparison site Kiwi. It's awesome. 

And if you're flying in from or flying out to the Philippines fly with Cebu Pacific Air - we flew from Tokyo to Cebu with them and LOVED it. We had a meal and the staff were great. 

WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO
LUXURY
For those looking for a luxury stay, look no further than the Westin, I've said it before and I'll say it again - this place is perfect.



CHEAPO
For those on a budget, check out Agoda. Tokyo isn't really great for budget accommodation, frankly I think it's better to splash out a bit here because of the price/quality ratio. By that I mean I'd rather spend £100 a night on something good, than £40 a night on something crap and not worth it. Don't let your trip be ruined by a bad night's sleep!

In fact, if you book early enough (because demand is higher than supply), on airbnb you might find something that's cheaper than a hotel and has a kitchen (thus you will spend less money on food). Plus if you're new to airbnb I can offer you an airbnb voucher!

Note, that capsule hotels whilst awesome aren't great for couples - most of them are male or female only, so you will have to be prepared to say goodbye to bae for the night, I wasn't. 

Finally, two of my good friends had a lot of success with couchsurfing and Tokyo - they were hosted the whole time and made great friends. Also not great for couples though as most places in Tokyo are tiny and not really equipped for one extra person, let alone two!

SOMEWHERE IN-BETWEEN LUXURY AND CHEAP
Again airbnb is your friend, and you can still find reasonable places on Agoda for less than £100 per night. 

House sitting 
Don't forget that house sitting is always an option, I do often see house sits come up for Japan. It's of course free accommodation (with a friendly furry friend or two), however, the problem with this is being flexible enough to get to Tokyo for whatever dates they need - not always possible. But we've found house sits in Australia, Thailand and all over Europe so you know you can make it work too.

INSURANCE
Yes Japan felt like one of the safest places we've ever been, no that doesn't mean you can skip on having Travel Insurance - never forget it!



INTERNET
Not sure where to eat? Not sure where you're going? Can't speak Japanese? You need internet on the go, don't be crazy and spend thousands on your data roaming, get a mobile internet device like a Tep wireless

CONCLUSION
TOKYO, the best city we've ever been to (I mean apart from Budapest). We loved it so much here and hope you do too!! If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask them in the comments below :D

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ABOUTME

We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.

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