Tokyo

the east capital

Image de Profil, Avril is Away

Tokyo (“east capital”) has been at the heart of Japan’s government and culture ever since shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa made it its headquarters in 1603. At the time, the city was still called Edo (“estuary”), hinting its origin as a small fishing village. Tokyo would only truly revel as the capital city of Japan in 1868, when Emperor Meiji moved the Imperial Residence from Kyoto to Chiyoda and gave the city the name we now know.

Million people in Wider Tokyo
Million people in the Center
Square Kilometers to Explore

Eager to visit Tokyo ? Learn about the city, its history, and the things you cannot miss whilst you’re there in this guide!

Tokyo is the kind of city so wide you can’t really visit them whole. There will always be hidden mysteries, things you’ve missed, things you wish you had tried. I should know because, after spending nearly a month there visiting something new everyday, and although I can recognize a lot of neighborhoods just by their particular atmosphere, I still feel I could spend 10 years discovering new things about Tokyo every day. But that is just part of the city’s charm.

This “Ultimate” guide to Tokyo does not list all the things worth doing in the city, far from it. What it does, though, is that it gives you full power over the choices you’re going to make when visiting the city. Instead of just giving you a list of things you might or might not enjoy doing, this guide will hint at the reasons why you might or might not want to participate in the said activity.

As such, it includes both things I’ve done and things I haven’t, because I like to travel one way, but that way won’t fit everybody. I’ve thus included both facts about activities and the kind of public they are destined to in their descriptions, hoping they would help you make your trip the best you could possibly have.

useful information

Pre-Scriptum : As conversion rates are more susceptible to change than actual fare, I’ll use the price in ¥en throughout the article. I’ll nonetheless include a conversion table in the 5th tab named “Money & Payment methods in Japan” so give it a look if you wanna know how much money those things represent.

From abroad, you will most likely arrive to Tokyo via Narita airport. There are many ways to transit from the airport to the city, amongst which: 

  • Buses (Limousine bus, Tokyo Shuttle, Narita Access)

There are a few different bus services available. The Limousine bus (don’t trust the fancy name) will drive you and your luggage to the hotel for ¥ 3600 but you need to register for a ticket.

The Tokyo Shuttle costs less than ¥ 1000 and goes from Tokyo Station to the airport (and also requires you to either book a seat in advance or pay an extra).

The Narita Access costs ¥ 1000 but you don’t need a reservation and you can get out at either Tokyo Station or Ginza Subway.

  • Trains (Regular trains or Skyliner)

The cheapest regular trains are that of the Keisei company and cost  ¥ 1030 to Nishi Nippori Station or  ¥ 1040 to Shimbashi. The journey takes an hour and can be quite the hassle if the train is crowded, overheated and you’re dying from the long haul.

Keisei’s Skyliner is a train with reserved seats only that is pretty classious (revolving seats, wow) and much faster. It comes at a price of ¥ 2470 from Narita to Nippori or Ueno Station.

  • Taxis & Helicopter

If you already/still have money to waste, you can book a taxi for yourself for more or less than ¥ 20,000 depending on the company. You can also book an helicopter journey, but hey, you probably wouldn’t read this blog if you could afford that.

The Japanese capital is an extremely large city so you’ll probably find yourself using public transportation a lot when you visit Tokyo.

As opposite to country like France, there is no unified transport company in Japan. In Tokyo, there are 12 major companies operating trains, metros and buses :

A very large variety of Day-Passes exist for every possible combination of lines, but unless you are willing to plan your day in advance (to make sure you only take the correct lines) and intend to move around very intensely, I would not really advise you to purchase them.

Individual tickets can be purchased from vending machines directly in the station and bus fares are usually paid using coins inside the bus. Unless you’re attempting to cross the whole city in one go, fares will usually range from ¥150 to ¥300.

Alternatively, you can pay using IC Cards such as the Suica & Pasmo.

IC Cards require a ¥500 deposit to be granted and will usually only offer very small discounts on fares, but they make transiting from one part of the city to the other much easier.

No more buying tickets, no more fondling your pockets to find them at the gates, no more counting coins in buses, etc … 

Having lost one of those during a trip, I learned that you can actually ask for your name to be printed on the card when you order it so that it can be returned to you if lost in a station.

IC Cards, on top of being pretty cute, are now legit payment methods in many shops and restaurants, making them quite convenient to carry around. A few years back, you’d have had to change IC depending on the region you were traveling in but the system was changed and the Suica now works almost everywhere (you can still collect the different cards for fun though).

Last but not least, if you have an activated JapanRail Pass, you can use each and every JR operated line in Tokyo so just use some wit when planning your journeys and you’d be able to pay for very few (or no) tickets at all.

The JR Pass is an incredible tool, but nonetheless very expensive. There is literally no way you can make it worth its price simply by taking subways and trains in Tokyo as it is designed to let you hop on Shinkansens (the long distance bullet trains) too. I wouldn’t suggest getting a JR Pass if you intend to stay in Tokyo, and otherwise to only activate the said Pass when leaving town on a Shinkansen (or at least long distance) ride.

Japan, and especially Tokyo, being very popular touristic destination, it is crucial you plan this part of your trip well in advance if you plan on going during bank holiday, new year, etc … Doing so will allow you to find cheaper, better, closer to the center places so don’t wing it.

Accommodation usually represent a significant portion of the price of traveling. As such, I recommend you carefully decide how much you can afford to pay per day. Note that, the Japanese being culturally very clean and tidy, cheaper accommodation doesn’t necessarily mean shabby or unwelcoming.

  • Ryokhan & Minshuku (¥4000 to ¥15 000)

The most traditional approach to accommodation would be booking a Japanese-style inn (Ryokhan) or bed & breakfast (Minshuku). The experience usually comes at a price though, and whilst the more modest places will still be charging the same rates as a western hotel, prices can skyrocket when you’re searching for places with features such as its own hot springs (Onsen).

If you don’t have the lump of cash required for a prolonged stay, you might still want to consider booking a few nights in a ryokhan or minshuku, as accommodation for a day trip for example. I certainly couldn’t afford staying in one for the whole of my trip, but I did book a few nights in a ryokhan in Hakone, and it was totally worth it ! Having your own onsen and the mountain view for yourself is an unparalleled experience.

If you book a minshuku, be prepared to wash yourself in collective showers and baths room, just as you would in an onsen or a sento, as bathing is traditionnaly private. It can seem odd, at first, but you might end up finding it is liberating to realize nobody cares about your body.

  • Hotels (¥5000 to ¥11 000)

Western style or “Business Hotel” can be found near most railway-stations and in strategic neighborhoods. They are usually very comfortable and clean so it’s a go-to for most people. A typical room feature a single (¥5000-7000) or double (¥8000-10000) bed with private toilets (yes, the ones with buttons and stuff !) and bathroom.

I’d recommend that option if you’re traveling in pairs, as a double room will approximately cost as much per person as an hostel would, but with higher accommodation standards. Also note that there is no such thing as a “discount” hotel in central Tokyo so you might wanna consider locations that are a few stations or a few minutes walk away from the heart of the city.

Julie and I stayed in Akabane’s Daiwa Roynet Hotel the first time we went to Tokyo, it was the first time I booked an hotel ever, and gosh I felt like I was a prince. I don’t usually stay in hotels anymore, but if you do, after checking in, keep an eye-out for the way the employees will bow until either you disappear in the lift to your room or their spine break.

  • Capsule Hotels (¥2000 to ¥5000)

Capsule hotels are another type of accommodation we usually associate with Japan. Instead of renting a room, you rent a capsule, which is essentially a enclosed bunk bed with all necessary amenities, like a locker to keep your belongings, electric plugs, a TV and sometimes even temperature controls and such. Included in the price is the use of all the other facilities of the hotel: washing machines and dryers, changing rooms, shared bathrooms and toilets or sometimes sentos where you can both wash up and relax, lounges, etc … They will usually provide a yukata and slippers that you can wear when roaming around the facility.

Capsule hotels came to existence to cater for salary men on business trips, so most of them were designed for men alone, but an increasing number of them offer gender segregated floors to accommodate everyone.

Note that they will almost systematically ask whether or not you have tattoos, as such ink is banned to indirectly prevent Yakuzas (japanese mafia) from being allowed in. I stayed in one of such hotels in Sendai nonetheless, and even though I had to conceal my tattoo when walking around, the experience was definitely worth it.

  • Hostels (¥1500 to ¥3000)

Sometimes called Youth or Backpacker’s Hostel, such establishment offers places in dorms (sometimes also single rooms) and access to shared bathrooms and toilets as well as facilities such as bars, lounges, etc..

Hostels tend to have very friendly and lively atmospheres, as travelers both locals and foreign tend to gather in the said shared space for a drink or such after a long day of traveling. 

If you plan on staying in Hostels, brink a padlock with you, as though many places offer lockers for you to use, others simply provide you with a drawer that you can usually lock using the said pad.

I spent a week in one of such guestrooms in Tsukiji called the Guest, I have a great memory of it. If you decide to stay there, don’t forget to write your name on the beds next to mine before you leave 😉

  • Internet/Manga Cafe (~¥1500/night)

Internet Cafe are another specificity of Japan that, as their name implies, caters to the crowds of manga & game lovers who don’t always want to come back home. There, you can rent a booth for the night, with either soft-mat flooring or comfortable sleeper-chairs, choose the specs of your computer (beware, Japanese keyboard & OS are coming for you!) and store your stuff in a locker. Such cafes usually have dedicated facilities such as shower & laundry rooms, hot beverage & food vending machines, massaging chairs and you can even ask for a smoker booth in a dedicated floor.

You’ll usually have to register with the cafe’s company, which can cost up to ¥1000 depending on the brand, but it’ll be done for life afterwards.

I don’t think those are designed for you to stay long, but they are definitely worth checking out. Julie and I stayed in one once, on our way to Mt. Takao, to save some money on accommodation, and it was one of the funniest night ever. I also stayed in one after a very wild night out in Tokyo, whilst waiting for the subways to reopen.

Airbnb is an online platform which lets people rent spare rooms or their whole home when they are away. A guestroom culture developed on the website and you can now find very good accommodation for much cheaper than other businesses. In Tokyo, you can rent flats or beds even in the most centrals places for reasonable prices. 

Click here to create an account via this link to get 25$ of travel credit for free:  

This is part of Airbnb users’ referral program, which means I also get a 15$ reward if you book your trip using their platform. It’s a win-win 🙂

  • Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is another online platform centralizing people who wants to host and be hosted by other open-minded people around the world.

It is a fantastic human experience and comes at zero cost, so I’d indeed tell anyone to try it out, but keep in mind that Couchsurfing is not a free accomodation platformmore like a social network of people who love traveling, some from home, by hosting, other by going abroad, by being hosted. Some efforts and a show of goodwill will be expected from you, but hosts will usually gladly cook local food for you and show you around town with an insider view.

I’ll write an article about Couchsurfing soon, so stay tuned in if you’re interested 🙂

Now that you have an idea of how much money you’re going to spend on accommodation whilst you visit Tokyo, you should grossly budget the money you’re going to HAVE to spend to survive in the city.

As explained above, transportation can be a bit expensive, as the city is so huge you’ll find yourself riding the subways at least twice everyday to go to and fro the place you stay at. Budgeting three of four ¥250 tickets a day seem reasonable.

Although I wouldn’t personally use them, Day-passes exists for trains (¥750/day on average), buses (¥500/day on average) or even a mix of both (¥1590/day).

Food is probably not going to be a problem, though, as you can find great food for cheap. Convenience store (kombini) obviously sell fresh food to-go, but they also usually have a counter with hot dishes ready to be eaten for just a hundred yens. I’d say that you can fill up properly for ¥300 or so. Ramen stalls and yakitoris can also be found for cheap, prices ranging from ¥400 to ¥950, and will leave your belly bulging with savoury noodles. Restaurants range from ¥1000 to ¥3000 for a meal, depending on the standard and the location (expect to pay more in touristy places and atop huge commercial towers for instance …). You can also cook for yourself, especially if you rented a place with a kitchen for you to use. Depending on your tastes, ¥3000 to ¥6000 per weeks should be enough to keep you well fed.

Note that kombinis are required to dispose of some aliments at the end of the day, so they discount those by night. Do your shopping then, when you go back to your hotel. Don’t worry about the shops closing, kombinis never close !

Obviously, another important part of your spendings will be on activities and visits. Whilst temples are usually free to visit, there are a lot of cool charms that you can buy from ¥100 to ¥900, and you can usually get a calligraphy for your “honorable book of stamps” for ¥300 to ¥500. Goshuincho themselves will usually cost a thousand ¥ens. Attractions such as the Skytree can cost up to ¥2000 whereas others are simply free. All of this makes it hard to really estimate the cost of an average day, but expect to spend between ¥1000 and ¥3000 on activities everyday and you should have a comfortable allowance for your trip.

Let’s have a look at what an average day could look like : 

You wake up in an hostels (¥2000), take the subway (¥250) to Asakusa and visit Sanso-ji where you eat out (¥500), go to Sumida (¥250), visit the Skytree (¥2000), go to Shinjuku (¥250) for food and drinks in an izakaya (¥1500) before you go back to the hostel (¥250). All in all, you’ve spent ¥7000 on a busy day, and definitely not on the cheapest of activities.

As a rule of thumb, ¥5000/day will have you making some compromise and using you wit to cut down costs, ¥6500/day will have you eating out and such but you won’t be staying in a palace, whilst you can pretty much get the whole package starting at ¥8000/day if that’s what you want.

Japan’s currency is the ¥en (in its western notation) and is written with the character 円.

It is much weaker than the Pound, Dollar or Euro and thus comes in dozens, hundreds, thousands, etc… Although the coinage’s very cool (especially the ¥5 coins that are pierced in the middle for good luck), you might end up amassing loads of it so keep using your change or consider bringing it back as travel present (or “omiyage” in japanese, a very appreciated custom).

Here’s a quick conversion guideline : 1$ = ¥108 / 1€ = ¥130 / 1£ = ¥150 (accurate at the time of writing only, check for updates)

  • Cash

Japan is a country with a strong cash culture, so always carry some with you, as some commodities will not accept card payment and ATM accepting foreign cards are usually only found in convenience store (kombini) such as 7-Eleven or in Post-Office.

  • Card Payment

Payment by card is on the rise as a result of western influence and the development of tourism, so you will probably be able to use in most department store, hotel, restaurant and some other structures dealing with tourists. Don’t expect to pay food from a street stall with your card though, and check that your type of card is accepted in Japan before you go.

  • IC Card

IC Cards such as the Suica (other cards being available in other regions) are electronic wallets that you can credit to pay for transports “as-you-go”. They are also increasingly accepted in kombini and in a lot of railway-station-business and infrastructures such as food stalls and lockers.

How do I get ¥ens ? 

There are multiple ways of getting your hands on ¥ens, from home or directly from Japan. As a general rule thought, I’d suggest you convert domestically.

Ask your bank for ¥ens and they’ll convert money from your account into ¥ens and deliver it in cash. Depending on your bank, its size and location, this might be the most profitable option, as you can get the bank’s rate and no conversion fee.

You can also purchase the currency from an exchange office, a business specialized in the trading of currency. They usually either charge a fixed commission or keep a percentage of the converted sum for themselves, sometimes both. Make sure you understand the fees and the rate applied to your transaction before agreeing to it.

Whatever you do, do not exchange money at the airport (or just the very least to get to another exchange office) as you’ll probably pay way more than you’d have to anywhere else. As a rule of thumb, you’ll usually get more out the deal by exchanging currency in the country you’re from and not the country you’re going to.

In any of those case, don’t be afraid of carrying large sum of money on you, Japan is a very safe country so, as long as you are reasonably aware of yourself and careful with your money, you should have no problem getting to your hotel and fro.

Finally, you can withdraw ¥ens directly from certain ATMs found in kombinis and post office. Just make sure your card is valid abroad, enquire about the fees and thresholds for such transaction & whether or not your bank offers “international options”. Do tell your bank about your trip so they won’t block your card to protect you from fraud, remember your code and you should be allright. When doing so, some ATM will ask whether you wanna use the owning company’s rate or your bank’s : simply select the most favorable (it usually will be your bank anyway).

  • Smoking

Smoking in Japan is not allowed out of designated areas. That means that you should not light a cigarette in the middle of the street, but rather find a smoking area nearby and stay in there while you smoke. Whilst that might seem repressive to us westerners, note that the same is true indoors: many bars and restaurant offer smoke-friendly floors and areas where the air is constantly retreated and ashtrays cleaned so you can smoke peacefully whilst enjoying your drink.

tokyo, under the lens

When I first started my guide about Tokyo, I wasn’t aware of how much work it was to create a detailed guide for a city as large and as diverse as Tokyo. I realized I needed more time and space to give justice to the city, and so I decided to start “Under the lens”, a serie of article, each about a district in Tokyo. 

typical activities

VISIT An animal cafe

Animal Cafes are very popular in Japan, the point being that you can have a cuppa and chill whilst playing with cute animals. The most common ones are Cat Cafes or Neko Cafe and can be found in Shinjuku and Shibuya for example.

Other cafe exist with animals like mice, dogs or even goats.
I've never visited one though as I'm not sure the animals really like being locked up in a Cafe full of people annoying them, but a lot of people love them so try it out if you like the idea.

SWING BY GHIBLI MUSEUM

Ghibli ranks amongst the best animation studios worldwide, and rightly so, for the production of films such as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. If you haven't yet seen any of their movie, I seriously suggest you try watching one as soon as you can, but if you have, chances are you're already a fan.

Well, you may have heard about it already but Ghibli as its own museum in Mitaka, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Make sure to book your ticket well in advance as the museum is very famous and sells out well ahead.

Karaoke Parlor in Shibuya Tokyo
Grab a mike in a karaoke

Karaokes are much appreciated by group of friends or colleagues who book them to have fun and a drink after work. 


Karaokes are not public in Japan, instead, you rent soundproof booth fitted with everything you need: microphones, a TV screen and a pad to select the songs. You can usually order food and drinks directly from your booth, but you might wanna consider sneaking in with a few drinks of your own if you’re on a tight budget


Culturally, karaokes are intended to have fun, and locals will usually purposefully sing terribly to make their friends laugh, so don’t try too hard as it might be considered a lack of self-derision and somehow rude. Given my love for singing, you can trust me on this, I learnt it the hard way ^^’ 

GO ON A CRUISE OR HOP ON A RICKSHAW

There are plenty of waterbuses in Tokyo's bay. Whilst they won't provide insider tours of the city, they might be great to get a general idea of Tokyo and its skyline.

Alternatively, you can get into a Rickshaw and have a local drag you in a carriage around town.
I must admit I was a bit weirded out by the idea but apparently most of them are actually well paid and trained and benefit from very flexible hours which makes their job interesting to them.

Speaking Japanese would be a must, as not all rickshaw drivers speak english, but some do and are pretty fluent so chose carefully, as the best part of the experience is the conversation you'll have with them and the great insider tips they can give you.

personal favorites

Kurokawa Onsen, Minamioguni, Kumamoto, Kyushu

Bathe & rest in a Public bath

Public baths in Japan come in two versions: onsens (hot springs) and sentos (artificially heated water).
Whilst both are almost equally enjoyable, onsens boast medicinal properties that sentos don't have, which isn't much of a bother unless you plan on having a full-on thermal therapy in Japan.

Leave your swimsuit home because Japanese onsens are visited naked, which can be a bit unsettling at first, until you realize that the baths are segregated between sexes, that the water and steam will cover you just fine and that nobody gives a damn.

It's an unusual but liberating experience so don't be afraid and try it out !

SPEND THE NIGHT IN A MANGA CAFE

Manga Cafe, also known as Internet Cafe, are a modern development of otaku culture ("otaku" meaning "home", it actually refers to hardcore anime/videogame fan who don't go out as a result of their passion). Basically, people go to theses places to relax, read and play games without any interruption or disturbances, and to be pampered for cheap.

Upon arrival, you'll choose a booth which comes fitted with either soft mat flooring or a reclining chair that you can sleep on (smoking and non-smoking options are usually both available), and a computer. Manga cafe usually features laundry rooms, showers and vending machines with food and beverages.

Whilst staying in an Internet cafe won't be as comfy as an actual hotel, they are nonetheless much cheaper and you can usually check in any time of day or night. In my opinion, staying at a manga cafe overnight is an interesting experience (just like a capsule hotel), but it can actually be a great idea if you're on the cheap or if you've been partying late and the subways are closed (taxis get expensive real quick in Tokyo given the size of the city).

LEARN TO PROPERLY PURIFY YOURSELF upon ENTERING SACRED GROUND

Temples are heavily codified places, which we often fail to acknowledge, fascinated as we are by their calm and beauty.
The big red gates (Torii) indicate the entrance of sacred ground and they are usually guarded by lion-dog statues (Komainu) which are supposed to scare the evil away.
Upon entering, you’ll usually notice a sort of large fountain with ladles sitting on it: this is a purification basin. Learning how to purify yourself before entering the inner shrine is not only a respectful act (as you’d otherwise be carrying your spiritual impurities inside the temple) but also a very rewarding one. In fact, so few are the foreigners who make the effort of learning the quick ritual that it often blows the mind of the locals when they see one who did. I met a handful of people just because they were curious how/why I learnt how to do it, which made my trip even better. I’ve got you covered though, and since an image is worth a thousand words, here you go:

You can spot a sample of Engrish (hilariously bad english translation) on this sign.

collect calligraphy in your goshuincho

If I had one advice to give to anybody willing to discover Japanese culture, it would be to get a Goshuincho.

Literally meaning "honorable stamp book", a Goshuincho is the ancestor of passports.
Basically, during the feudal era, visiting a shrine situated on another warlord's territory meant putting your life on the line, as trespassing could be met with execution.

Partly because buddhism doesn't have the christian emphasis on death and martyrdom and partly because you can't pray to much once you've been slain, pilgrims realized they had to figure out a way to prove they were only fulfilling a spiritual duty.

They created small stamp-books, Goshuinchos, in which they could gather the calligraphy of each temple they had visited.

Nowadays, it is still possible to get one (they usually won't cost more than ¥1,000 (which is a bit less than 10 euros)) and to collect stamps from most shrines (each has a unique calligraphy).

Goshuinchos are made in such a way you can get each stamp on the same strip of paper so that you can showcase them all together at home once you go back.

BUY LUCKY CHARMS​ AND GET YOUR FORTUNE TOLD

Okay, you might be starting to see a pattern here. Yes, temples are my favorite thing is Japan. They come in some many variations and with such beauty that it's hard not to love them. Plus there's plenty of things to do inside shrines !

You can light up incense or throw coins to prey for the happiness and joy of your friends and family, buy cute lucky charms (so of which you can even strap-on your phone) or get an omikuji (sacred lot) fortune telling.

To get your fortune told, you'll usually be asked to shake a bamboo-box containing wooden sticks until one of them falls out. Inscribed on it is a number that is associated with a certain outcome, from very lucky to very unlucky. You'll then be given a paper stripe with your fortune telling, that you can either keep close to you (in a purse or pocket) if it's lucky, or tie to a rope or a tree-branch (so that bad luck sticks with the omikuji and not with you) if it's unlucky.

Bear in mind that omikuji usually requires that you give a small donation to the temple, and that most of them are only available in japanese so you'll sometimes have to find someone to translate 'em for you.

SPOT PROSELYTE christians

Christianity was first introduced in Japan during the 16th century by western missionary from Portugal.

They benefited from a relatively tolerant policy under the reign of Oda Nobunaga and were successful in converting the population to their beliefs and to western culture. This last aspect, though, started to raise suspicions concerning the true motives of the missionary and the Christians began to be persecuted. Many were executed - even crucified sometimes - during the 17th century, causing the remaining believers to hide their faith.

Over time, the situation changed, especially after the end of the shogunate as Emperor Meiji introduced freedom of belief in 1871, putting an end to the persecution of Christians whose population as been slowly increasing in Japan since the end of Wold War Two.

Nowadays, you can often spot Christians with huge yellow signs, some times even loudspeakers, trying to convert the masses to Christianity. Funny lads.

day trip ideas

I have personally never been to DisneyWhatever as I don’t think I’m into that kind of amusement park, but I know a few people who have visited the huge Disney resort situated on the other side of Tokyo’s Bay and had a blast there. 

Yokohama is the second most populated city in Japan and situated only 40km away from Tokyo. It is well known for its immense and beautiful international-port, its large Chinese district and Minato Mirai, its entertainment district.

Two giant Buddha statue guard the entrance of Tokyo’s bay.

The Kamakura Daibutsu (great Buddha) is situated in Kamakura’s Kotoku Shrine whilst the other sits in Nokogiriyamas Nihon Temple

Hakone is a peaceful region not too far from Tokyo where you can hike through beautiful mountains and forest or bathe in onsens. You’ll discover a somewhat more authentic part of Japan whilst benefiting from plenty of activities as the area is still pretty touristic.

Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic landmark in Japan (hekk, I’ve got it tattooed on my arm) so making it to the top is a great achievement, especially given the relative difficulty of the climb. 

The official climbing season when all the trails and shelters are open range from July 1rst to September the 10th. The mountain tends to get very crowded during August so I’d suggest you try and go at the beginning of September.

If climbing atop Mount Fuji seems a bit too physical overwhelming for you or the trails are closed, you can still have a great time on the mountain in Fuji-Q Highland. The amusement park is specialized in world-record roller coaster, one of which turning up and down 14 times in less than a minute and a half, the other going from 0 to 300km/h in a few seconds, you get the idea. More accessible attractions are also available if you’re traveling with children or just don’t like this kind of extreme stunts.

Aokigahara is a beautiful bamboo forest which became sadly famous for the very high numbers of people who committed suicide there. 

Worse, the news about those gloomy statistics triggered a sort of trend, leading to the increase of the number of people who chose to suicide there each and every year.

People now visit the forest in a search for the thrill of seeing dead people, but the authority are making all efforts possible to prevent that from happening.

I guess respect for a person’s drama is a kind of issue here, so it’s your call to make. You can also follow the main paths and just marvel at the beauty of the bamboo forest.

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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post! Tokyo is firmly on my bucket list so some of these tips are really useful to have saved! The karaoke bars definitely sound fun – nice to know my wailing won’t be judged too harshly!

    1. My pleasure, Francesca ! This guide is far from being finished though, I’m working on detailed articles for every major neighborhood so that you can hit the ground running once you get to Tokyo, so don’t be afraid of coming back to it in a few weeks to see new tips ! 🙂

  2. Oooh! I love the calligraphy passport idea! Thanks for the cost breakdown, too. Really helpful.

    1. Goshuinchos are the best, definitely get one if you can ^^ They actually come in various shapes and colours too, depending on where you buy them ^^
      Thanks for the compliments !

  3. WOw! Fantastic post and very informative. Hoping to be in Tokyo soon and looking at your photos and reading your advice has got me licking my lips even more. Didn’t know about the possible name from Ed0 to Tokyo many moons ago. That I didn’t know.

    1. Well I’m glad you learned something ! This is literally the point of my website. I love traveling for those little known facts so I thought I might as well share that passion :3
      Contact me if you want more advice for your trip 🙂

  4. So many great tips & places to see. My husband would especially love staying at a Manga Cafe. He’s a die-hard video gamer! And when we eventually make it to Tokyo I want to get a Goshuinchos. What a unique souvenir to bring home!

    1. Do get a Goshuincho, it’s definitely one of my favorite souvenir ! Be careful with Manga Cafes though as Japanese keyboards can get tricky to use ^.^

  5. I never would’ve thought that trying to sing well at a karaoke would’ve been considered rude! 😂 Great guide!

    1. I know right ? I mean, it might be allright depending on who you go with, but culturally, people will expect you to be funny ^^ Some sort of culture shock at first ^^

  6. A great article. The pictures really make you want to fly to Tokyo and explore the city. Your additional information in the popup I like. They enrich the article very much.
    Thanks, Susanne

    1. Thanks a lot Susanne !
      I’m glad you liked the travel informations as they took me ages to collect ^^

  7. Wow, what an informative post! I don’t really have Tokyo on my list since it is such a big, crowded city but it is good to have this information if I ever find myself there. I also like that smoking isn’t allowed on the streets, but it is disappointing that they allow it indoors at all.

    1. Thanks Delisa !
      Yeah, Tokyo isn’t actually my favorite city in Japan (that would be Kyoto or Hiroshima, it’s hard to choose ^^) but it made sense to start there ^^
      I’ll be writing about smaller, cosier places in Japan too if you’re interested, so keep in tune 🙂
      Also, message me if you want to have a chat about Japan, I might have some advice to share !

  8. GREAT tips for a visit to Tokyo, which I hope to do in the next year or so. Therese (my wife) has visited a number of times. Have bookmarked this post for sure!

    1. Thanks a lot Michael !
      I hope you’ll be able to go next year and that my post will be useful again. I’ll have added even more content by then too ^^

  9. Thanks for this comprehensive guide. I was in Tokyo 40 years ago but my husband hasn’t been. I would live to sing at those karaoke places and take a trip to My. Fuji!

    1. I’m pretty sure you’d be astounded if you went back to Tokyo, the city is changing so fast and is so modern that it must have changed a lot in 40 years ! Thanks for you comment Carol !

  10. 42 million people in wider Tokyo.!. In Delhi we have a population of 18 million and that seemed huge until I read these statistics. It must take time to adjust to so much action 🙂

    1. 18 million people is huge indeed ! The thing with Tokyo is that the different wards end have their own identity and population, but most of the action is concentrated in the center wards.
      Anyway, I think both cities are the kind of place you could spend years in and still discover stuff every so often 🙂

  11. Japan is such a mesmerizing country where history and contemporary technology co-exist. The history of Tokyo makes for fascinating reading. Have never been to Japan but would love to get there and explore Tokyo. This is a very valuable resource for anyone planning a trip to Tokyo for the first time.

    1. Thanks for your review Sandy 😀

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