Japan is perhaps the best country in the world to visit for a number of reasons. To begin with you have the EPIC food scene where you can find the best of both worlds between street food and fine dining. Second, if you’re into the outdoors as I am then you can bet Japan has some of most astonishing landscapes. One can experience all 4 seasons to its fullest as well. Next you have the fashion scene where you’ll spot some of the most well known brands there. Lastly anyone can come witness Japan’s rich culture and see how traditions from thousands of years ago are still being implemented today.
This country was on top of my travel list for quite some time and I wanted to put a together a team of friends who would appreciate this adventure as much as I would. With the help of my dearest homies we strategized and planned out our adventure over the course of 4 months. When it was all said and done, the JP crew and I executed the best trip I have ever been on.
Below you’ll see some of the amazing things I came across during my time in Tokyo followed by Kyoto in the next post.
This is a must do if you plan on visiting Tokyo. Mario Go-Kart tours are offered throughout the week where you’ll have a guide take you to any district of your choice. Depending on the tour you select, the price can range from $50-$70 and the agency offers a go-pro rental service. The best part about the tour is you get to dress up as any character from the video game for FREE. There’s rules in place where you’re not supposed to use your phone while driving or race each other. In our case we kind of, sort of, to some extent broke those rules which I don’t recommend because it almost resulted in a few accidents. So please people listen to your tour guide and remember “No Tokyo Drift!”
(International Driving Permit is required to participate)
“.. Ain’t No Fun!!” Art Gallery by Mark Drew
I followed this artist that I came across one day on Instagram that goes by the name of Mark Drew. His work really caught my eye as it relates to the artist’s love for Hip Hop & Peanuts (aka Snoopy the cartoon). Mark had found a way to combine the two interests into one and since then has shared his works with the world. This trip was perfect timing because I got the opportunity to meet the artist and chop it up with him at his gallery.
When it comes to fashion nobody does it better than the people of Japan. From street wear to business attire, it’s impossible to find anyone who’s not coordinated. Both Japanese male and female have good taste in clothing styles and I quickly noticed trends that have yet to hit the US market. It makes sense that some of the world’s prestigious brands have opened up shop in the streets of Tokyo. I made sure to stop by at some of these stores to pick up some essentials.
Not too crazy about theme parks but this is just one of those things where you say screw it and go with the flow. I went on the Tower of Terror and nearly fainted. After that I was quick to leave and do other activities outside the park.
Arcades in Akihabara District:
Arcades are open 24/7 in Tokyo and surprisingly you see a lot of business folks come here after work to play the games. Best place to experience the action is in the Akihabara district. There’s also many anime stores worth checking out if that’s your thing.
People watching in Shibuya:
The Shibuya crossing is something every tourist should come by to watch. I mainly got the idea to visit after watching several movies that film this iconic crossing. As seen in the movies you see thousands of people cross through here all day everyday. A spot I recommend to enjoy this view and possibly get a time lapse of the area is located on the 2nd floor of Starbucks right across Shibuya train station.
Another huge landmark worth checking out if you’re in the city. You have the option to pay and go up the Tokyo Tower or watch it outside from surrounding buildings. In my case the best view came from the observation deck of the World Trade Center. The observation deck offers panoramic views of the city and highly recommended to go during nighttime to see the tower lit up.
Tokyo Imperial Palace:
The Imperial Palace is pretty cool to see from the outside but unfortunately it’s prohibited to enter the compound’s buildings. It is also very unlikely you will get to see the Emperor as he only makes a public appearance twice a year.
Day Trip to Mount Fuji:
Mt. Fuji is one of the most famous symbols in Japan and I made it my mission to come see this majestic beauty. I was sad that I would not be able to hike the mountain as the main trail to the top is only open during the months of July and August. Any other time is deemed too dangerous as people has died attempting to reach the summit. Mount Fuji can be visited within a day by either booking a round trip tour to the mountain or going on your own by train. Since I went on a bad day where weather wasn’t permitting me to see the peak of the mountain, we decided to use this free local bike rental service and cruise around a town.
Nightlife in Tokyo:
Tokyo is a generally safe city which means you can go out to enjoy nightlife without having to worry about getting mugged or kidnapped. Except I strongly recommend you avoid going out to the Eastern part of Shinjuku district as we were unaware that was the sketchiest part of Tokyo. We saw some dude getting stomped out like a cockroach by a gang of peeps.
Other than that your best bet to party it up is checking out the club scene in either Roppongi or Shibuya district. I would also suggest you avoid following any touts and just do your own research online to see where the best bars are. During my time there I had a blast at this rooftop bar near Shibuya station called “DJ Bar Bridge” where you can enjoy mixes between funk, soul, and hip hop. I also recommend stopping at Scramble Cafe & Bar which plays the most recent hip hop hits from America and is a tourist hotspot that’s open til 5am on Friday & Saturday. The locals sure know how to have a good time and we felt very welcomed when our crew rolled deep to these places.
Not to forget if Karaoke is your thing then it’s not too hard finding a place to show off your singing skills as they’re located on nearly every street.
Getting around the city:
At first sight it can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B. With the leadership role that my friend Diana took upon herself, we were able to figure out the train system fairly quickly. If you plan on jumping from one city to another you may want to invest on a Japan Rail Pass as that can grant you unlimited rides for a certain amount of time. The JR Pass allows access to some bullet trains as well as the Tokyo monorail and other local lines of the JR Bus.
Hope you enjoyed my Tokyo experience. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or shoot me a message.
Stay tuned for my Kyoto recap and Señor Foodie’s Japan Guide to Food.