Discovering Tokyo: An Epic Itinerary in Unveiling Japan’s Spirit

time lapse photography of downtown

Things to Know about Tokyo:

  • Proper bowing is important
  • No shoes inside, no bare feet in homes or tatami-style restaurant 
  • Use the back end of chopsticks for shared food
  • Bring small bowls close to you to eat
  • Don’t go to temples/shrines if sick or in mourning 
  • No shoes in temples, pray in front of sacred objects, and toss coins in offering box
  • Shrines: ladle water on your hands to wash, not contaminating the communal water with yours, place a coin in the offering box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow again, and pray
  • Follow signs regarding pictures, normally not inside temples and shrines 
  • Study some basic Japanese phrases 
  • Carry some yen just in case, get it at 7/11
  • Need passport and return ticket
  • No vaccinations necessary 
  • Wear comfortable shoes and plan some downtime
  • Spring: April-May, temperate
  • Summer: June-August, starts with rain then hot and humid
  • Fall: September-November, occasional typhoons
  • Winter: December-March, somewhat cold
orange temple
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Transportation: in Japan

  • Metro and Toei Subway 
    • Takes Apple and Google Pay
    • Tokyo Subway App to help navigate 
  •  Stand on the left, walk on the right
  • Walking friendly
  • Bike rental
white and green train on rail tracks
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Where to Stay in Tokyo:

Tokyo Activities:

people walking on the street
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Day trips: (Follow links for more information)

  • Kamakura: Seaside Japanese City, Buddhist Zen temples, and Shinto shrine
  • Hitachi Seaside Park: flower fields
  • Arakurayama Scenic Park: Iconic views of Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms, and crimson pagoda
  • Chichibu: Mountains, rocky cliffs, river, temples, night festival and colorful fields
  • Hakone: hot springs, natural beauty, lake with views of Mt. Fuji
  • Nikko: lavish shrine, bridge, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails
  • Okutama: lush mountains, beautiful lakes, and a limestone cave

*Consider a trip to Osaka, it’s only 3 hours away via train

red and gray pagoda temple
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Restaurants:

Foods to Try: 

  • Sushi
  • Ramen 
  • Tempora (fried vegetables, crab, etc.)
  • Yakitori (chicken skewer)
  • Okonomiyaki (savory pancake)
  • Takoyaki (ball-shaped snack)
  • Wagyu Beef
  • Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry)
  • Melonpan (Japanese sweet bun)
  • Soba (noodle)
  • Sukiyaki (a broth-based dish with meat etc)
  • Udon (noodle)
  • Yakiniku (grilled meat)
  • Shabu Shabu (hot pot)
  • Teppanyaki (iron plate)
  • Grab-and-Go Sandwiches 
sushi on brown wooden board
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*Post contains affiliate links

Sources

“10 Best Day Trips from Tokyo: Travel Japan: Jnto.” Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). Accessed April 5, 2024. https://www.japan.travel/en/ca/inspiration/10-best-day-trips-from-tokyo/.

“All You Need to Know about Traveling to Japan for the First Time.” WorldTrips. Accessed April 5, 2024. https://www.worldtrips.com/japan/traveling-to-japan-for-the-first-time?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=BL+%7C+Search+%7C+PRP+%7C+NonBrand+%7C+Travel-Medical+%7C+US&utm_keyword=&gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw_LOwBhBFEiwAmSEQAUNRK6azAdjnNkSny2esz_sTbVLXRPVd_Z-clzGOOSiLY55XB1A7DBoCs4oQAvD_BwE.

JOC, Mr. “Ultimate Tokyo Food Guide: Top Best Foods to Eat in Tokyo.” Just One Cookbook, August 1, 2023. https://www.justonecookbook.com/ultimate-tokyo-food-guide-top-best-foods-to-eat-in-tokyo/.

Melinda Joe, Anna Chittenden. “27 Best Things to Do in Tokyo for Every Type of Traveler.” Condé Nast Traveler, August 25, 2023. https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-things-to-do-in-tokyo.

“Tokyo’s Subway and Trains: How to Confidently Navigate the Tokyo Metro System.” Tokyo’s Trains and Subway: How to Confidently Navigate the Tokyo Metro System – Context Travel, May 27, 2023. https://www.contexttravel.com/blog/articles/tokyos-subway-and-trains-how-to-confidently-navigate-the-tokyo-metro-system. 

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