Staying in Tokyo: a basic guide for a first time traveller
Journeys | 11.02.2020
Tokyo is the biggest city in the world, and for many travellers, a gateway to Japan. It can be hectic navigating your way around, but it's extremely rewarding. Rather than being one huge city, Tokyo is made up of lots of smaller neighbourhoods. Taking time to explore several of them will give you a broader picture of life in the Japanese capital. It's a good idea to get a JR pass so that you can explore the city by the metro, as it's a bit too big to walk around.
In this post, we'll go take a look at Tokyo for a first time traveller.
It's almost certain that you'll end up in Shinjuku at some point of your trip to Tokyo. It's got some of the best shopping, eating, drinking, attractions, and nightlife in the Japanese capital. And we could go on! Not only is it great for exploring the city, but for day trips out too. It's home to Shinjuku station, the largest station in the world – you'll even find a Michelin star restaurant in there! From Shinjuku Station you can travel to several locations in Japan! Back to what you can do in Shinjuku though. Golden Gai is a great place to try some traditional Japanese bars and eateries (although it's not cheap) and Kabukicho is the entertainment and red-light district where you'll no doubt be seduced by the bright lights. Shinjuku is a city in itself, and it's a great part of Tokyo either to stay or visit.
If you've seen Lost in Translation, you'll recognise part of Shibuya and its most famous attraction. The crosswalk – which is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world! Every first-time tourist in Japan should make their way across this unusual zebra crossing, looking up at all the surrounding bright lights. But there's much more to Shibuya than just this!

Shibuya is particularly exciting for the younger traveller. Save the Shibuya 109 department store to your map for the latest in Japanese fashion and culture! It has the second busiest railway station in the world – after Shinjuku!
For the first-time geek traveller in Tokyo, you're probably going to spend most of your time in Akihabara. Visiting this place at night looks like something out of a video game! It's the go-to area for gaming, electronics, manga, and the slightly unusual Tokyo tradition of maid cafes. As you walk around the streets, watch out for Mario Kart tours passing you by!

Make sure to pin Tokyo Anime Center and the Radio Kaikan shop on your maps. They're two of the coolest places in Akihabara! Just be careful in some of the shops, they can quickly turn a bit risqué unexpectedly!
For the upmarket traveller or the flashpacker, you might want to cast your eyes towards Ginza. It's where you'll find flagship designer shops, department stores, and the most alluring cocktail bars in the city. Save the location for Chuo Dori on the weekends – it becomes pedestrianised and you can walk around it at your own leisure. Wondering where to stay in Tokyo? Ginza. It is elegant and more up-class than the other cities because it is strategically located in central Tokyo which makes it a great base for sightseeing.

Another place to put on your Ginza itinerary is the Kabukiza Theatre. After a day of shopping till you drop, you can take in an evening of traditional Japanese dance or drama.
If you remember Gwen Stefani, that may be why the name Harajuku is ringing a bell (the singer released her own perfume with the same name in 2004). While Shibuya might be the centre of youth culture, Harajuku is the centre of alternative youth culture, and the kawaii capital of the world! And it can be pretty crazy! Look out for colourful street art with manga and anime characters, which you can search for with a cute and colourful ice cream from one of the many cutesy dessert shops.

Want to go shopping? Head to Takeshita Street for the coolest vintage shops and most outlandish fashions. Do be aware though, it can be pretty expensive!
Ueno is a great place to base yourself as a first-time traveller in Tokyo without really knowing too much of what you want to do. It's close to the city zoo, the National Museum, and the Metropolitan Art Museum. Best of all, you can easily get around the city from Ueno Station – so make sure you have all of these saved in your map!

It's also one of the prettiest parts of Tokyo, and it becomes even more so during cherry blossom season. During Hanami (the cherry blossom viewing season) take a picnic to Ueno Park and spend the day taking pictures and just basking in how lovely everything is!
Last on our list is one of the most traditional parts of Tokyo – Asakusa. But it blends the modern in too! Two of Tokyo's most popular attractions are located here. One is the ancient Sensō-Ji temple, and the other is the Tokyo Skytree, which will give you an incredible view of the entire city. You may even be lucky enough to see Mount Fuji on a clear day! So, make sure that both of these are saved to your map.

For some entertainment, you also can't miss Hanayashiki Amusement Park. This 19th century amusement park survived the Second World War and it's packed with rides and cafes!
When in Tokyo, we advise you see as many neighbourhoods as you can. It'll give you a wider window onto life in Tokyo and you can get an authentic flavour of the city. Save the top attractions and neighbourhoods so that you can easily get between them, whether that's on foot or by public transport.
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