Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji is the biggest fish market in the world and houses more fish than I have ever seen, with types of fish I have never even heard of! We were lucky enough to visit Tsukiji with a local, on our first day in Tokyo. This included getting to watch Andy buy from his regular suppliers and observe as they showed off their finest catch. Andy was also kind enough to explain about the fish he was buying and what he was looking for in different types of fish. When he was buying his selection of tuna for sashimi, the supplier cut into a whole tuna and sliced off a piece for us to taste. It was unbelievable; definitely one of the best things I tasted whilst in Tokyo! Unfortunately, due to the time of year we were unable to visit the tuna auction but Tsukiji was still the most incredible experience and everyone was very welcoming.
Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, which makes in an important part of Japanese culture, as well as an interesting temple to visit. However, because it is so significant it’s also popular with tourists, which makes it very busy. Lining the pathway to Sensoji are stalls filled with tasty snacks and pretty trinkets. We browsed the stalls buying souvenirs for family and we tried a Dorayaki (red bean cake), which was delicious! The temple itself is very impressive and there is a garden you can walk through for a bit of peace and quiet.
Being one of the tallest structures in the world (634m), the Tokyo Skytree boasts spectacular views of the city and Mt. Fuji. Make sure to go on a clear day, as it can be difficult to see Mt. Fuji through the clouds; we went on a great day and we still struggled so see the famous mountain. It costs around £15 to access the first observation deck at 350m and then a further £6 (approx.) if you want to go up to 450m. The queue to buy tickets at the Skytree can be quite long; we waited around 45mins. You can buy tickets online but the page is only in Japanese, it may be an idea to ask a local to purchase tickets on your behalf to save you having to queue. The Tokyo Tower is a lot less crowded than the Skytree, but I liked being able to see the Tokyo Tower in my view.
Sometimes known as the ‘scramble’, Shubuya Crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world. We first visited the crossing in the evening and found that it is very similar to Times Square, NYC because of all the people, buildings and bright lights! I would recommend visiting at night to experience the area all lit up but definitely go back during the day, as there are a lot of shops in this area. There is also a Starbucks where you can enjoy a hot drink whilst watching the organised chaos of Shibuya Crossing.
Harajuku is such a fun place to visit whilst you are in Tokyo. We visited on a Saturday and there were crowds of people, but this only enhanced the experience, as there were more people wearing fantastic outfits. Harajuku is a great area for shopping for all kinds of clothes, but there are also supermarkets and food stalls, as well as souvenir stands. If you are looking for designer clothes, Shinjuku is located a short walk from Harajuku and is where you will find big department stores and shops such as Louise Vuitton and Harry Winston.
Meiji is a Shinto shrine that was built in honour of Emperor Meiji and his wife. Whilst walking to the shrine you will be surrounded by a forest of trees that make you feel as though you have been transported from the city. You will also pass some decorative saki barrels, as well as 2 torii gates when you enter the shrine. Meiji is situated beside Yoyogi Park, which is a huge green space; both the shrine and the park are extremely calming and serene, especially considering where they are located. Meiji Shrine is the perfect way to experience Japanese culture away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Karaoke is a huge part of Japanese culture, and is something that people of all walks of life take part in. There are different varieties of ways to take part in karaoke but mostly it is done in a private room, with a group of people. Our first experience of karaoke was after we had been to a bar and we decided to continue the party by doing karaoke. We were taken by some of our local friends to Karaoke Kan in Shibuya where you pay to use one of their hundred booths. Our other experience was very different but as equally fun; we were taken by another local friend to his private club, where he goes with work colleagues. Food and drinks were served by a waiter and part of the room spun round to reveal a karaoke podium, with wigs and props available to the singer! Karaoke was one of my favourite experiences in Tokyo because it was so much fun!
The gardens of the Imperial Palace are open to the public free of charge, although they are not open Monday’s, Friday’s and on special occasions. The gardens are lovely and there are so many paths and routes that you can wander off into, with each path leading to an array of different beautiful sites. There are small ponds filled with Koi, large grass areas and too many trees to count! The Imperial Palace is a great place to spend an afternoon strolling and relaxing in amongst nature’s beauty. Daimaru shopping centre is located not far from the Imperial Palace and is where you can see some stunning, but expensive, kimonos.