When my bestie changed our travel destination from NYC to Japan I had no idea what to expect. Goodbye Empire State and hello Imperial Palace. Over the last year I heard of more and more people making Japan their destination of choice and now I can totally see why! Spending most of our time in Tokyo and I can confirm we embraced the weird and kitsch activities – truly embracing our inner Harajuku girl.
There are too many places to list but here is the low down on the must visits:
Disneyland & Disney Sea – Anyone who tells you they didn’t wish of going to Disneyland as a kid is probably lying to you. Rides, junk food and all your fav characters what is not to love? Well Tokyo takes it one step further with 90% of the visitors dressed up in Disney costumes as well. That’s right, Mum and Dad’s everywhere channeling their inner Buzz Lightyear and Belle.
Harajuku – Full of colourful streets and array of quirky cafes, the area is known for youth culture and fashion. Perfect for people watching and cool boutiques, I found myself in awe of everyone’s chic style and even those dressed up like anime characters. Major things to do here are visit the cafes – and I don’t mean for the coffee (there are a range of owl, cat and hedgehog cafes, to name a few), eat delicious waffles filled with cheesecake, fruit or cream fillings, and make sure to visit Takeshita Street – not just for the humour of the name!
Shinjuku – The heart of the city and somewhere I can honestly say we didn’t explore enough. Shinjuku is full of street food, restaurants, entertainment and even some gorgeous Japanese gardens that will have you thinking you’re not in the middle of the bustling city. We truly embraced the night life with a visit to the Robot Restaurant – trust me this is like no show you have seen before. From there we headed to the Golden Gai which consists of six tiny alleys – much too narrow to get even a small car down – lined by almost two hundred tiny bars. The bars are unique in the fact they only seat 5 – 10 people, and serve all the traditional favourites – sake, plum wine and a lot of rum.
Mario Kart – Probably by far my most memorable part of the trip. Having never driven a Go Kart before I can say driving one through the busy streets of Japan and across the famous Shibuya Crossing made the adrenaline flow! Situated in the back streets of Shibuya it’s a great way to see the sights of Japan from a totally different angle, Within 10 minutes the fear of driving on busy streets will subside and you will feel like a celebrity as the people on the streets wave and take photos of you. Choose from a range of characters to dress up as including, Mario, Pokémon & Disney. Tours vary from 1 hour up to 8 hours – for those wanting to spend as long as possible as their fav kitsch character.
Sumo Training – The Sumo festival only runs for a short period during the year but visitors are still able to experience this ancient tradition by visiting a stable and watching the sumos train. I highly recommend it, not only do you experience traditional Japanese culture you learn the intense training, agility and mental strength required to participate in this sport. Training sessions go for approx. an hour with attendees sitting around the ring quietly watching them compete and work out, before the chance to meet the sumos.
There are so many amazing reasons to visit this gorgeous country the offers the perfect mix of traditional and modern. My major takeaway was just how incredibly polite and helpful the people are – I will definitely be back.
Have you visited Tokyo? Tell us your favourite things below.