TOKYO – CITY OF THE FUTURE
Japan has been on my travel bucket list for forever, a destination I dreamt of going for so long. Earlier this year someone asked me which country I want to visit the most, and I instantly said Japan…5 months later I was on a plane flying out to Tokyo. I knew that I will get to visit this country at least once in my life, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon. When the invite from Jungle Travel arrived to attend Japan Travel Up, I couldn’t possibly say no.
First a bit about Jungle Travel. Jungle Travel is a Serbia travel agency, that is best known for organizing uncommon and interesting trips. Recently they started doing Travel Up tours, where they invite bloggers, influencers and photographers and take them on adventurous tours around the world . Japan was a Travel Up concept, where I was together with 11 other influencers/photographers/bloggers. Apart from the travel ups they do ‘normal’ tours, you can see all their tours and trips here and if you are particularly interested in Japan here.
Tokyo and Japan are a world in itself, a must-see destination for everyone that loves traveling. Tokyo, is a city that is hard to describe, it’s a mixture of tradition, culture, history, bright lights, skyscrapers, exquisite cuisine, contemporary, organized chaos…and many more things.
Tokyo, is the capital of Japan, and also the world’s most populous metropolis. Tokyo formerly known as Edo, was a small castle town up until 1868 when the Meiji Emperor moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo (later renamed Tokyo). Today, Tokyo is one of the most metropolitan cities in the world offering unlimited choices of entertainment, culture, fine dining, shopping, museum, gardens and much more. Keep reading to find out what are the must do’s and see’s of Tokyo.
Tokyo is HUGE, no jokes. The fastest and cheapest way to get around is by metro. On a first glance the Tokyo metro system looks chaotic and confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to get around. They have signs in English so it’s not that confusing. Also good to know if you are out at night, is that trains stop at midnight. Tip: if you take the metro early in the morning be prepared for a rush hour like you’ve never seen before; also don’t forget to put you phone on silent when using public transport and avoid talking on the phone or too loudly.
Imperial Palace and Gardens- Home to the Emperor of Japan, surrounded by beautiful gardens. The palace is closed for the public, but it’s definitely a must see.
Senso-ji Temple- located in Asakusa, a 7th century Buddhist temple (one of the oldest buildings in Tokyo). In front of the temple is a shopping street called Nakamise, a great place to get souvenirs and some street food.
Mori Building Digital Art Museum- a digital art museum, that is definitely something you have to see in your life. The light installations are amazing, you are taken away to a whole different world. You can literally spend the whole day wondering from one room to another. My favorite ones were the Crystal World and Black Waves. Tip: prebook your tickets online so you don’t queue there, also if you can, visit it during the week, the weekends are overcrowded.
Akihabara- Tokyo district filled with neon lights, signs, electronic shops, cafe’s. If you are aiming for a very Tokyo photo, this is the location for it.
Enjoy the view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building- 243 meters high, offering a beautiful panoramic view over Tokyo. From there you can see the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Meiji Shrine and if you are luck and get good weather you can even spot Mount Fuji. Also, the entry is free.
Afternoon stroll at Ueno Park- Ueno Park used to be part of Kaneiji Temple, during the Edo period. Today Ueno park is famous for all the museum surrounding it, as well as home of Tokyo Zoo. What is most famous for is during the sakura season, when the cherry blossom is happening.
Get something from a vending machine- every 4 to 5 meters you will spot a vending machine, either for drink, food, ice cream, pastries and what not. Definitely get something from a vending machine, while strolling around town.
Draw a wish from Senso-ji Temple- located in Asakusa, something that you have to do is draw a fortune. You shake a metal cube and a stick falls off, then based on the sign on the stick you have to find the matching drawer, where you take out a piece paper that contains your fortune. If you draw a good or regular fortune you take it home with you, and if you draw a bad fortune you tie it in a knot and leave it.
Get lost in the streets of Harajuku- probably my favorite neighborhood of Tokyo. Home of teenage fashion, cosplay culture, food too cute to eat, toy stores that will draw you in even if you are an adult, unique coffee shops and restaurants, and what not.
Cross the world’s largest crossing- Shibuya Crossing, is the largest crossing in the world, at the same time 2,500 people cross it. The crossing is surrounded by buildings and huge screens (reminded me a lot of Times Square and Piccadilly Circus).
Tokyo at night- Tokyo is very lively during the night as well, neon lights and screens light up the city. Make sure to stroll in one of the neighborhoods of Tokyo such as Shibuya and Akihabara.
Karaoke- this is a must, even if you are not into karaoke or into singing you have to do this. Fun fact: Japan is the birthplace of Karaoke, so you must do it!
Where to eat:
Kawaii Monster Cafe
perfect for: an unforgettable experience
what to eat: rainbow noddles
perfect for: snacks and light meals
what to eat: anything and everything
perfect for: dinner
what to eat: okonomiyaki
perfect for: lunch
what to eat: Ramen
came to food, I wish I had a few more days or weeks haha to try more food. I love Japanese cuisine, so I really wanted to try out more dishes (guess this will be left for next time)
Where to stay:
Hotel Palace Japan- during our trip we stayed in this hotel, the rooms were very small and I have to say the beds were very uncomfortable. The hotel was only a 10 minute walk to the metro and train station but still far from the center. I would suggest finding a hotel near the city center, so you don’t spend too much time commuting.
Now some frequently asked questions:
- We flew Belgrade-Doha-Tokyo; in total we traveled 50 hours (round trip, including 15 hours of layovers)
- Most countries don’t require visa, but you need to check;
- The currency is Japanese Yen, dollars are better to exchange; also not everywhere cards are accepted so have cash with you at all times;
- English is spoken very limited, so rely on Google translate and Google maps for directions;
- Everything is on time, when you need to take a train or bus or anything make sure to arrive a few minutes before;
- The plugs are like the US ones, so you might need an adapter;
- Japan overall is a very safe country for visiting and the people are very friendly and welcoming;
Overall Japan was a dream come true, and Tokyo was everything even more than I expected. I will definitely go back, to explore and discover more of Japan. I was fascinated by the culture, people, landscapes…Japan is a completely different universe. I want to thank again Jungle Travel for taking me on this extraordinary trip, and I cannot wait for the next Travel Up!