Looking for the best experience of your traveling life? Then forget Milan, Paris, London, and even New York! Because Tokyo is the latest hip and happening place to visit; such an unconventional Khaleeji destination that will not only open your insights but take you on a trip into another world, something so unlike anything you’ve seen.
Here are the Top Ten things to see in Tokyo, “Hai!”:
If you haven’t heard of it you might have been living under a rock, because believe it or not Harajuku Street is the hottest thing since Times Square New York. What’s so special about this street? Every Sunday afternoon local Japanese people gather up with the craziest costumes from Anime (Japanese cartoons), to fairy tale princess with the odd get-up in between. Tourists as well as locals flock gather up to see what jaunts those costume clad characters come up with. Costumes range from simply colorful to completely outrageous! So don’t be very shocked if you see some bleach blonde Japanese boy walking around there with a 1 meter long sword swinging it everywhere claiming to be samurai, that my friends is a normal sight in Tokyo. Oh and I must warn you there are vampires as well!
If you want to learn about the Buddhist culture in Tokyo then Shijuku is a temple you do not want to miss. This temple is a famous Japanese architectural landscape, not only is it covered with Japanese arts, but it also has one of the biggest “Chochin” (a bell-like Japanese lighting equipment) in all the temples of Tokyo. The best possible time to visit the Shinjuku temple is during the seasonal festivals in Japan. For example between the months of July and August, when the summer festival starts all over Tokyo, and the long road to the temple is filled with mini stores selling various Japanese souvenirs, food and traditional costumes. An interesting and must-buy souvenir would be the “Daruma,” a small Japanese doll that is used as a wishing aid in the Japanese culture, and is believed to help make your wishes come true. All you have to do is wish upon the “Daruma” then draw a black spot on the “Daruma’s” eye. If your wish comes true then as an act of gratitude you draw another black spot on its other eye. Tell us if that ever works though.
Think you visited the coolest restaurant ever? Think again, because Ninja Restaurant is by far out of this world. Visiting the Ninja restaurant is an adventure in itself. As you enter the restaurant do not be surprised if a Ninja jumps down from the rooftop and orders you to follow him/her around. This Ninja guide takes you through the Ninja-village-inspired restaurant, in which you will be asked to pass through secret doors, cross a bridge and then finally arrive at your table. The food there is scrumptious; you can find everything from star-knife biscuits to fruity drinks and Japanese cuisine. But that’s not all; during your meal you will be also entertained by a Ninja performing some magic tricks.
Literally the dream of every technology freak, Akihabara is an area known as “Electronic Town.” Filled with 10 storey high buildings that basically sell the most advanced electronic devices you can imagine, it’s the place to be for anything electronic. You’ll find anything from smile-shutter cameras to USBs that make coffee (no, we’re not kidding). But if you are not interested in technology, and want to experience Japanese pop culture, Akihabara is also an Anime/Manga haven, where floors of most buildings are dedicated to anything that will appeal to the hip and happening Anime/Manga Crowd.
Disney Land Tokyo
Have you ever been to a city with a Disney Land and not paid a visit? Impossible, Disney Land is a must, especially in Tokyo, because well it is Tokyo! All the famous roller coasters and rides are there! Not only that but it has an exclusive Disney park called “Disney Sea”; that’s only found in Tokyo and is unlike any other park in the world. Disney Fans, you’re in for an adventure, be sure not to miss Disneyland Tokyo.
Love to shop? Well Ginza is the place for you! The area is filled with top designer brands (with some products that are Tokyo-edition only) and the biggest department stores in this part of the world. The Rodeo Drive of Japan, Ginza boasts stores like Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Longchamp, some of which are three or more levels high; giving a new spin on boutiques. Not all of Ginza is international though, you will find a great number of high-fashion Japanese boutiques as well as expensive traditional “Kimono” Stores.
If you are interested in Japanese modern fashion and arts, then Shibuya has to be your next stop. Where the biggest crossroad in the world exists, Shibuya is the hot “it place” in Tokyo. The place is filled with hip and trendy boutiques, high-street fashion brands as well as Japanese flea markets. It is mostly considered the hang-out of Japanese teenagers, students and artists, so Shibuya is properly a great place to see the unique and stylish street fashion of Tokyo. If that seems overwhelming, you can always grab coffee at the world-famous Starbucks Shibuya, which boasts amazing views of the crossing, and see the masses cross; the sight of the hundreds of pedestrians crossing the road at this intersection is sure to knock your socks off.
Love the Oscar-winning movies by Ghibli productions (Spirited away, Princess Mononke)? Then visit the Ghibli museum to relive all your top favorite Ghibli creations. The museum is made of rooms each inspired by one of the Ghibli productions. In these rooms you find paintings, sketches, 3D models and so on of the Ghibli productions. There is also a great gift shop that sells all the Ghibli movies, and souvenirs. Note: you must book a ticket in advance to this venue.
To get there you’d have to ride a special metro just for Tokyo Bay. Once there you’ll get to see a miniature of the Statue of Liberty and get to attend the many Japanese concerts that take place there. The Tokyo Bay mall there is filled with stores, restaurants and most importantly an exciting anime convention that you will not find anywhere else but in Tokyo.
An urban part of Tokyo, Roppongi is located in midtown Tokyo and is exactly beside the famous Tokyo Tower. There you’ll find Japanese boutiques and a range of restaurants with numerous cuisines. But what Roppongi is really famous for is their must-visit cinema and their huge sculpture of a spider that everyone is talking about.
Basic Japanese (to make you sound like a savvy tourist):
* Hai – Yes
* Iie – No
* Konichiwa – Hello
* Arigato – Thank you
* Buta o tabemasen – I don’t eat pork (For Muslims)
* Saki wa aramiska? – Is there alcohol in this? (For Muslims)
* Watashi wa nehon go wakarimasen – I don’t understand Japanese
* Ego wa hanashimasuka? – Do you speak English?
* Sumimasen – Excuse me
* Nan-yen desuka? – How many yen (Japanese currency) is this?
* Shashing totetmo iideska? – Can I take a photo?
Tips for Japan (to avoid any surprises along the way):
* Do not rent a car; it will be useless because the traffic in Tokyo is horrible. The subway is a good option as it is extremely safe and clean.
* Most of the cakes and sushi sauces in Tokyo have alcohol in them.
* Japanese food has a lot of pork in it, so be very careful; but no need to worry that much, because there are all kinds of international cuisines available in Japan.
* Go to any Japanese restaurant and ask them for Shabu Shabu, it is a famous Japanese meal that you have to try!
* Most Japanese restaurants do not offer forks, so you better start practicing on your chopsticks!
– Fatma Lootah