Well it’s been exactly one month since my partner Alex and I left for 10 INCREDIBLE days in Japan!
For those that may have missed the updates on my Instagram, Alex organised a surprise overseas trip for the two us to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, AND my 27th birthday – isn’t that just the cutest or what!
I know, you’re probably all thinking “but HOW did he organise it all without you knowing”… Trust me when I say that I had absolutely NO idea, until we got to the Melbourne Airport International Terminal and he told me to look at the departures screen and find flight QF79 – which was flying to Narita, Tokyo!!!
Safe to say I was absolutely in shock and incredibly excited to be going back to one of my most favourite countries!
All up, we were gone for 10 days, with 3 days in Tokyo, and the remainder of the time up in Hokkaido, Sapporo, skiing and snowboarding down some incredible mountains – yes, it was absolute bliss.
Having travelled to Tokyo before, I knew exactly where and how I wanted to spend the 3 days that we had in one of the worlds most fascinating cities.
So, here it is – how to spend 3 days in Tokyo:
Harajuku is an incredibly unique part of Tokyo.
It is known for being the centre of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for adults and some historic sights too.
The focal point of Harajuku is Takeshita Street and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, vintage stores, dog and hedgehog cafes, crepe stands + more.
It’s in Harajuku where you’ll find yourself walking around in absolute awe for most of the time…
Tokyo Dome City
We stayed at the Tokyo Dome Hotel, where I would hands down stay again in a heartbeat!
Alex booked this hotel because of the incredible view you have from each floor. We were on the 36th floor and had such a STUNNING view out towards one side of Tokyo.
On the morning of my birthday, I opened up the curtains and was greeted to the most incredible sunrise of the city, honestly it was so breathtaking…
The facilities, service and the location are all reasons why I would most definitely stay here again.
The hotel itself stands alongside Tokyo Dome City, one of the largest entertainment areas in the city centre, and
Fit with an amusement park (WITH A ROLLERCOASTER), shopping centres, restaurants, as well as other fun things to see and do (including an indoor baseball batting and pitching centre – yes we did this!), Tokyo Dome City is something that you HAVE to experience when you’re in Tokyo.
It’s in Shinjuku where my family and I stayed last time we were in Japan, so I made sure it was on our list for this trip so that I could show Alex all that I loved about the area – the lights, nightlife and amazing restaurants!
Shinjuku is one of the must-visit areas in Tokyo, mainly because of all the entertainment that is on offer – you can eat, shop and play well into the evening, there honestly is so much to see and do!
Top attractions include:
The Robot Restaurant – the craziest restaurant in the world, offering an eccentric entertaining show with robots and dancers with neon lights and music.
The Kabukicho area – known as the biggest red light district in Tokyo where hundreds of restaurants, bars, night clubs and other red light establishments are located.
Golden Gai – a tiny yet atmospheric nightlife alley near Kabukicho, where you’ll find over 200 small bars and eateries crammed, and most of them have only seats for a few customers!
Also, if you have time, visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings, where you can head up to their observation decks (for free!) which offer panoramic views of the city and surroundings.
Oh, and if you’re after a pair of new sneakers, Shinjuku is where you’ll find them! I’ve now found myself purchasing a pair from one of their many sneaker shops each time I visit!
Shibuya is the most energetic area in Tokyo offering countless restaurants, shops and entertainment.
Last time I was in Shibuya I remember spending an hour or so in an 8 floor womens only department store – SHIBUYA109, so I definitely made a beeline for it again once we arrived in the area!
After a bit of shopping, and crossing the iconic Shibuya crossing a few times (if you want to see the crossing from a cool viewpoint, there is a Starbucks cafe right above in one of the buildings where you can get a great view!), we wandered through some of streets and explored the unique shops, and say some very “insta worthy” cafes and restaurants.
Other key attractions in Shibuya include:
Yoyogi Park – one of the largest parks in Tokyo, situated in the north of Shibuya district which consists of spacious lawn areas, ponds and forested areas which are perfect for outdoor activities.
Niku Yokocho – the best place to eat for meat lovers with a low budget, with 26 restaurants mainly serving meat dishes.
Shibuya PARCO – with nearly 200 shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
Stay the Night in a Capsule Hotel
I have always had a capsule hotel on my list of places to stay when next in Japan, and I was lucky that Alex had booked us a night at 9Hours Narita, before we had an early flight from Tokyo to Sapporo the next morning.
I’d heard and seen images of capsule hotels before, but never really understood how they worked, AND whether you actually got a good nights sleep…
We arrived at 9Hours around 10pm to check in.
Men and women are separated, so after a quick goodbye to Alex, I headed into the womens locker area, where we each had a large locker to place our suitcases and belongings in.
After spending literally half an hour unpacking and repacking my bag so I could get out everything I needed for the evening and next day (I should have put this all in my carry on bag before we arrived!), I then used the shower facilities and got into my cute 9Hours pyjamas that they provide you with for sleeping in (super comfy).
Then, it was time to head into the capsule room, which was SUPER quiet.
Honestly, I was afraid to even walk to my capsule incase I made a sound! It really is a cool sight to see all the capsules lined up, and illuminated.
Inside, there is a mattress with a pillow and bedding, charging ports for your phone, a small shelf for belongings, and a light where you can adjust the brightness – super minimalist which I LOVED!
Each capsule has a shutter or blinds that you can close for privacy. At 9Hours, they also provide specially designed pillows to help you sleep too! Honestly, as soon as my head touched the pillow I was out like a light!
This capsule hotel is anything but typical, and I highly recommend for an extremely unique experience.
We booked a free Asakusa walking tour which we stumbled across when doing a bit of research on Trip Advisor, which was a fantastic 2 hour walking tour led by a Tokyo local around a beautiful area which represents a mixture of traditional and modern side of Tokyo.
It was here where we were guided through Sensoji Temple, which is the oldest temple in Tokyo and the most popular landmark of the city. We learnt the history of the temple and why it really is one of the best sightseeing spots in Tokyo.
We also ventured down Nakamise Shopping Street, which is a small street connecting the front gate and the main hall of Sensoji temple and has a range of food stalls and local shops. We probably spent a good couple of hours after the walking tour retracing our steps and heading into some of the unique shopfronts and stalls that we spotted on the tour.
We also walked down Hoppy Street – a famous drinking district where numbers of small Izakaya bars gather. The name of the street actually refers to the infamous alcohol beverage “hoppy” which you should definitely taste when you’re there.
After wandering through Asakusa, we headed over the river to the Tokyo Skytree (which I have been up before), and spent some time doing a touch of shopping inside – and even found an entire level dedicated to Japanese souvenirs and handmade items!
Other things to consider when travelling to Japan:
Get a subway three day pass when in Tokyo
We did most of our travelling around Tokyo via the subway, which was surprisingly easy to use considering how complex the subway map looks! We purchased three day subway passes whilst we were there, which meant we could travel to all the various districts easily each day.
Staying in at the Tokyo Dome City meant we were close to one of the main subway stations as well.
Bring a portable WiFi with you
Before travelling to Japan, Alex organised the renting of a portable WiFi device that we carried around with us at all times.
This meant that we didn’t have to connect to our mobile data, and we could use it to access maps for directions and stay in contact with each other as well.
Know some of the basic Japanese phrases
Studying Japanese back in high school meant that I knew some basic Japanese phrases, which actually helped us a lot when travelling around.
There are plenty of restaurants, even in tourist-friendly cities, that have no English menus and no English-speaking staff, so learning how to say “hello” and “thank you” in Japanese can help a lot!
There are no bins so be prepared to carry your rubbish
Don’t be surprised if you don’t see many bins around the streets in Japan.
There is actually a very strict garbage disposal law in place in Japan where people have to separate and organise their household trash and only take it out on certain days of the week or month.
This means that the Japanese actually take their rubbish home with them to dispose, rather than in bins on the street, so be prepared to do the same.
Use a cash passport for handling money and have cash on you as well
We used a cash passport to handle our money whilst in Japan, and purchased ours from Australia Post.
Just load it up with the currency you need, and use it just as you would a bank card in stores and ATM’s as well. The best ATM’s to use for this card were in Family Mart and Lawson convenience stores.
We also carried cash around with us for use in smaller boutiques and for paying for subway tickets etc.
Family Mart and Lawson convenience stores sell some great things
We ventured into Family Mart and Lawson convenience stores frequently whilst we were in Japan.
They sell an incredible range of things from fresh sushi and hot food items that are actually delicious (and great if you’re travelling on a budget), as well as snacks, candy, a vast range of drinks, and other items too.
There is SO much more I could write about this incredible country, which is why there’ll be another blog post to come about our time up in Sapporo skiing!
I’m hoping to get this post out in a couple of weeks time, so stay tuned for more Japan spam…