I treated my first trip to Tokyo as sort of a sampler, traveling around to different parts of the city and getting a feel for the some of the most popular wards and tourist attractions. There is way too much to cover in one trip, and I’d love to see more of the city and to dive deeper into some of the places I visited, but I’ll have to save that for another time.
Shibuya is a trendy area with lots of shopping, nightlife and karaoke (of course). This is Tokyo’s Times Square. At the heart of Shibuya, near the train station, is the Shibuya crossing, which is described as the busiest intersection in the world. Traffic is stopped in all directions at one time, and the intersection becomes one giant crosswalk for about a minute of organized chaos. It is truly a spectacle to see, and it was featured in the movie ‘Lost in Translation.’ This was where I stayed in Tokyo, and it was also where I took my first steps in the city. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but its easy to fall in with the rest of the crowd.
Zojo-ji Temple and the Tokyo Tower
The Zojo-ji Temple is a large Buddhist temple located in the eastern part of Tokyo. It sits at the base of the Tokyo Tower. From what I can tell, most temples and shrines allow you to take pictures outside around their grounds, but not inside the temple. I didn’t go in the Tokyo Tower since it was fairly expensive, but it does add a lot to the Tokyo skyline, and I’m sure it has spectacular views.
Akihabara was one of my favorite parts of the city because it is such a spectacle of lights and arcade games and anime/manga/hentai. It is a uniquely Japanese experience. The sheer number of arcades and anime shops is incredible. In fact, there appeared to be dozens of seven-story buildings overflowing with anime and manga. I wandered into one of the buildings that was targeted for hentai, by mistake. That was…interesting.
Tokyo City Views
There are lots of places to take in a great view of Tokyo, including the Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, and the Park Hyatt. I skipped the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree since they cost money for admission, but I checked the other two out.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has two free observation towers that have great views of the city and the mountains in the distance. You can see Mt. Fuji on clear days. The south tower is the better option since it gives you unobstructed views of the other skyscrapers in the city. The New York Grill in the Park Hyatt is another great place to view the city skyline from up high. This bar was made famous in the movie ‘Lost in Translation.’ It’s not easy to find the Park Hyatt, and it wasn’t cheap either. I spent close to $30 on two beers and an appetizer, but it was worth it to have an hour or more of great views of the city. I believe the beers were around $7 and cocktails and wine in the $10 – 12 range, so you could just nurse one of those for an hour or so, if you didn’t want to spend as much. The night I was there was extra special because a giant orange moon decided to rise above the skyline.