Japan is absolutely one of my favourite locations I’ve ever been to so it’s only fair I share my top picks for the places I visited during my two weeks here with you so you can also have a wonderful time.
Over my trip, I visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima.
The first place I visited in Japan was Tokyo so let’s start there and expect the other posts soon.
Top Picks for Travel in Tokyo
Sesno-ji is a buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo. You enter this temple through a spectacular gate named the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate). It’s incredibly grand and inviting.
You will then experience Nakamise which a vast shopping street filled with rows of stalls and shops offering Japanese souvenirs. I picked up many an item here, including chopsticks and a sake set. This shopping street leads to Senso-ji’s second gate, Hozomon.
Beyond this gate stands a beautiful, 5 stories pagoda and the temple’s main hall. The temple is rather regal and luxurious, with red interiors and antique handpainted images on the ceilings, as well as a number of statues to gaze your eyes upon. It’s a great piece of history to explore.
Meiji Jingu is a shrine located in Shibuya, Tokyo. It is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife and is surrounded my vast forestry.
You will enter under the two 40ft Torii gates where you symbolically enter a sacred place and leave the every day behind you.
Wandering around the large shrine complex, you can visit the Treasure House, where the emperor and emperoress’s clothes and personal items are kept, Karguraden and several other gates.
Whilst you’re there why not get yourself an omikuji (a Japanese fortune) and find out what your future has in store for you. You will find these at the majority of temples and shrines you visit in Japan and you will either get a good or a bad fortune. If you receive a bad fortune, you’ll need to tie your omikuji to a tree branch or string that is located around the shrine (look for other pieces of paper tied around something if you are unsure) so that you can rid yourself of the negative fortune.
Harajuku is a district within Tokyo which is a hotspot for all fashionable Japanese people, filled with unique and kawaii clothing shops like W<3C and WEGO. If you’re into Japanese fashion like me, you will probably have already heard of these brands and know this is somewhere you need to go already. But for those who don’t, it’s a great place to stroll around and spend some money.
It’s not just fashion though, here you can find the cutest food stalls and shops such as crepes filled with whatever you can think of and massive rainbow coloured candy floss. Even Anime themed cafes are available, like Sailor Moon, are available with themed food to cater to all your kawaii needs.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
Speaking of themed cafes, the one we visited was Kawaii Monster Cafe. My goodness, this cafe is so much fun. The food is rainbow coloured, the tables and decor are split off into sections and themed with multicoloured mushrooms, baby bottles, horse heads tea cups… the list goes on. Everywhere you look there is something to see, it’s such an exciting venue. Even the bathrooms are extravagant with bouncy ball countertops and a rainbow mosaic wall.
Further to the decor, the cafe also provides entertainment. The waitresses dressed in Harajuku-inspired fashion (if you don’t know what that means, please google it because it’s so much fun) double up as dancers and take to the stage to perform a dance routine on a spinning tiered cake. It’s mesmerising. All the colours, the music. It’s an experience I thoroughly enjoyed.
If you are like me and have always been a Pokemon fan, then you will love visiting the Pokemon Centres disturbed around Japan, where you can find all of the official merchandise from the best video game ever created (yes, I said that). The largest store is located in Nihonbashi, Tokyo which has just recently opened so I’ve not actually been to this one but it looks incredible. It has a Pokemon cafe with Pikachu themed food, what more could you want!
There is also a store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo which is also great if you can’t make it to Nihonbashi.
One place that you must visit when in Tokyo is Ichiran Ramen. It is Tokyo’s most popular ramen restaurant and it’s clear to see why. Ichiran Ramen offer Tonkotsu ramen but allows you to personalise your dish how you want by selecting what vegetables you would like in your ramen broth, as well as the type of meat you would like, on a machine which slightly resembles a vending machine.
You are then brought to a small booth where you will be delivered food. But you will never actually see the waiter because they pass your dish through a retractable screen. It’s all very mysterious. If you want anything else, you can fill out a piece of paper which will be collected by a mystery waiter and made for you.
The ramen itself is delicious. It’s bursting with flavour and no other ramen I had on my trip lived up to the taste here. I don’t know about you but when I eat ramen I always find the portions deceiving and think that it won’t fill me up. Well, it’s certainly the same here, so much so that we barely looked like we had eaten any due to how much we had left by the end of our meals.
If you plan on going to Ichiran Ramen, I’d suggest giving yourself plenty of time as it is a busy place often queued out of the door. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s 100% worth the wait.
So those are my top picks for a trip to Tokyo. Hopefully you will find this helpful and if you visit any, enjoy these attractions just as much as I did.
If you want to see even more of Tokyo, then check out my Japan videos over on Youtube here.
Fancy reading a little more about travel? Then why not give my What to do in Cancun, Mexico post a read.