A couple of weeks ago we went to Japan! This country was high on our bucket list and we wanted to visit so many places for the short time we spent there!
The trip to Japan was a total of 10 days, during which we went to Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Himeji castle. There were of course many more places to explore, but we had to leave something for next time, right?
We spend 4 days in Tokyo, which was certainly not enough to see everything in the city, but I would say it´s enough time to see all the main tourist spots and to explore some of the key areas.
Where to stay
During our time in Tokyo we stayed at the New Otani Hotel, which was built for the 18th Olympic games in 1964. Since then, the hotel has led the hotel industry in the country. It is considered one of the most prestigious venues in Japan and it has hosted various important summits, such as the G7.
The hotel not only has a diverse selection of guest rooms, but also 38 restaurants and bars, 33 banquet rooms, shopping arcade, and a first-class service and hospitality!
The hotel is also well-known for its 10-acre Japanese garden with a history of more than 400 years. In the past, this garden has been the property of prominent samurai lords. Despite its location in the center of Tokyo, the garden´s six-meter-high waterfall, koi pond, verdant trees, and seasonal flowers offer a moment of serenity and repose to those who stroll its paths.
We stayed at the renovated part of the hotel and our deluxe Shin-Edo room was extremely comfortable and stylish! The full-height windows provide beautiful views over the rich greenery of the surrounding area, with the Tokyo skyline in the background. We really enjoyed the Japanese style bath that was made of wood, from which you have a view over the Japanese garden and Akasaka Palace. We also loved the fact that the hotel has a very central location, just a few minutes away from the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo train station. If you stay there, I would highly recommend you to try THE SKY – a restaurant located on the top floor of the hotel, from which you have an incredible view over the city and a chance to try various typical Japanese food.
Places to visit
I would also like to share with you some of the must-visit places while in Tokyo. Of course, there are many things to see, but if you are there for a short period of time you have to visit:
- Tokyo Skytree – if you want to see the best 360-degree views over Tokyo you have to visit one of the two levels of the highest building in the city! I would recommend you to go at night, as the lights are incredible, however, during the day you get a better idea about the way in which the city is structured. One thing that impressed me about Tokyo is how many parks and gardens are in the city!
- Imperial Palace – even though it is not always open for visits as the Imperial family lives there, it is nice to see it from distance! It is also great to have a walk around there, as the gardens are beautiful. You can even rent boats and go around the lace, which surrounds the palace.
- Senso-Ji – my absolute favorite temple in Tokyo. It is a beautiful place to visit and in case you do not have time to go outside of Tokyo Senso.Ji gives you the chance to experience the beautiful temple villages that you can find outside of the capital. I also did a kimono dressing experience, right next to Senso-Ji, which gave me the chance to take beautiful pictures in Senso-Ji. If you consider dressing in a kimono, I would highly recommend you to go to Asakusa Sawadaya!
- Akihabara – famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district. It is a very distinct place, that I have never seen before in another country and for me, it is a total must visit spot while in Tokyo. While in this area I would highly recommend you to go to a Maid Cafe, there are many in the area and it is also an experience you would not find in another country!
- Tokyo National Museum – this is the only museum I would recommend you to visit if you have only a couple of days in Tokyo. For me the city is more about exploring the different areas, than visiting museums. However, the National Museum is a must see if you want to learn more about Japanese culture and see some beautiful historical items. We were lucky to see the Imperial Jewelry collection during our visit. The museum hosts different collections in addition to the ones that are in the museum for the whole year. You can check what is on there in addition to your visit, by going to the website of the museum.
The transportation in Japan is quite expensive, so you have to plan your trips well!
If you are planning to travel outside of Tokyo while in Japan I would highly recommend you to get the Japan Rail Pass, which is around 215 euros for 7 days. You can use it on most trains across the country and it will be a much cheaper option than to buy separate tickets. You would have to book it in advance, usually travel agencies in your home country sell the pass. Once you buy it you will receive a voucher with which you will get the rail pass upon arrival at the Airport in Japan. There are tourist information centres at each international airport where you can collect your rail pass.
You can also use the pass in Japan, however, there are various trains and underground in Tokyo for which you have to pay separately, so if you want to use the quickest options to get from one place to another while in Tokyo it is better to pay as you go and not purchase a rail pass if you won´t leave the city.
Tina J x