Where to begin with the most populated city in the world? The people and culture are so unique in this North Asian country. Everything is so orderly with perfectly formed unison lines at the subway to silence in the city streets. You almost feel a little tense in this incredibly civil place until you reach gaming havens like Akihabara. The Japanese may be ever so polite and orderly by day but they don't mess around when it comes to fun and games. Tokyo is such a blast from amusement parks, to the nerd capital of the world, to more food than you can imagine. Don't even think about shorting your time here! 4 days minimum in this unique Asian city.
1. Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya is like the Times Square of Tokyo. Jam packed with people and flashing lights, this tourist attraction is a staple of Tokyo you won't want to miss. Similar to Times Square, you probably won't hang around here too long. Swing by to check out the scene or indulge in the many shops and restaurants.
2. Golden Gai bars
Dating back to WWII, this alley of 6-seat bars is a must see. Aim to visit on a Friday night for the best action and choose your favorite bar out of a sea of adorable options. Centrally located in the Shinjinku district, this alley is easily accessible and close to many restaurants and hotels.
3. Eat the world's best sushi, of course (regular or vegan)
It is really easy to find renowned sushi in Tokyo with a simple google search. In fact you may be overwhelmed with options. Sushi restaurants also have many vegan options like cucumber rolls and fresh green salads with avocado. While it is fun to sample sushi for one night, I still recommend keeping it to a minimum given the contaminated waters from Fukishima. I ate at a few Japanese restaurants but also many Korean restaurants to get cleaner nori and sea vegetables.
4. Play Mario Kart in Akihabara
Need I say more? Nothing can be more epic than playing the arcade version of the world's greatest game in it's birth place. Get some change and gear up for a gaming day in Akihabara.
5. Eat fresh mochi
Mochi is such a treat. Forget that gross mochi in the U.S. at ice cream stores that is frozen and full of processed sugar. Fresh mochi in Japan is most often (if not always) gluten free, made with fresh rice flour, and low in sugar. It has a softer texture than what you normally find and makes for the perfect dessert without the sugar high (and crash). Not to mention it's vegan!
6. Take a high speed rail to Hitachi Seaside Gardens
These famous flower fields are located north of Tokyo and change by season. A quick high speed rail will get you there in no time making for the perfect day trip out of the most populated city in the world. The landscape ranges from oversized pink waves that look like a Dr. Seuss character to a field of baby blue-eyed flowers. Regardless of the season you go, expect a uniquely exciting experience.
7. Visit The ghibli anime museum
This adorable museum is based off of Miyazaki Hayao's Studio Ghibli - a famous animation studio in Japan. Located just outside of Tokyo's city center in Mitaka, the museum is charmingly decorated with the characters and themes of the studio's films.
8. See a baseball game at the world famous Tokyo Dome
I admit I didn't know this existed until Kyle's eyes lit up when he saw it. Baseball is huge in Japan and only growing - and this ball park is famously known for it's unique dome-shape and exciting attractions near by. Unlike regular ball parks, this dome is more like a city full of entertainment and fun drawing in locals and tourists alike. Make a day out of the adventure and get tickets to the theme park next door!
9. Soak in the city views while sampling the finest sake at the Park Hyatt
You can't visit Japan without sampling some of Tokyo's finest sakes and the Park Hyatt's restaurant Kozue won't disappoint. Complete with a view of the city skyline and peak of Mt Fuji - what more could you possibly want?
10. Gawk at the crazy different desserts in the Isetan mall (and maybe Even have one)
Japan is filled with luxury malls lined with designer brands and gourmet foods. The basement floor of these malls typically has a market complete with fresh produce, artisanal treats, deli-style salads and sushi, and endless rows of eclectic desserts. Japan goes big with food and even bigger with presentation. The unique desserts range from every type of mochi you can imagine wrapped in banana leaves, French macarons, to popsicle shaped cupcakes.
11. Escape to Mt Fuji
Perhaps the most iconic sight of Japan, Mt. Fuji is a quick ~40 minute train ride away from the city. Sweeping views of the mountain exist at the park near the train stop or take a bus a little further to hike the surrounding area.