Japan Travel

A Beginners Guide To Tokyo, Japan

In the beginning of April I took a short little trip to Tokyo to visit one of my best girl friends. I only had about three days to explore this amazingly huge city! Here are the highlights of my whirlwind sight seeing trip.

Shinjuku Gyoen

This expansive park is stunning to say the least, make sure to get a map so you don’t miss any of the gardens, there are French, Japanese and English landscapes. Stroll leisurely through this gorgeous park, sit underneath the cherry blossoms with a picnic lunch or in its traditional tea house with a good book and take in the beauty.

Menji Shrine

This 200 acre Cyprus forest is a wonderful juxtaposition to the other city parks of Tokyo! Much less flashy, this park transports you to a different time. As you enter the park you are greeted by an enormous wooden tori gate, as you past under it you are engulfed by the shade of 1,500 year old Cyprus trees. When you reach the temple you can write wishes on little pieces of paper and hang them to the prayer wall, or you can put some money in the offering and pray the traditional way: bow your head twice, clap twice, then bow your head again – there are little signs instructing you on appropriate behavior and praying procedures. While I was there I did this and then bought a little fortune and wandered around the grounds. On Sundays it is common to witness a traditional wedding like I did as shown in the picture above!

Sensoji Temple

Probably my favorite stop of the weekend, the Sensoji Temple is a major tourist destination so I was expecting to not like it as much as I did! There is a large market that leads up to the temple, I spent probably an hour alone just perusing the shops and watching different pastries and food being made. There is also a traditional garden and an lovely art museum which I really enjoyed right next to the temple. Take your time and make sure to see it all!

Ueno Park

You could easily spend all day at this enormous park, home to many different shrines, as well as a temple and pagoda. Along with these there are also a couple museums and different gardens. Ueno also has a Peony garden (!!) Peonies are my favorite flower so I was pretty stoked! There was an overpriced fee to see them but the flowers did not disappoint! When I went to Ueno Park it was just on the tail end of the cherry blossom festival, so there was some live music and many different food stalls set up.

Shibuya Crossing

You can’t come to Tokyo and not cross this famous intersection, dubbed by the locals as “the scramble”, due to how chaotically people cross in all different directions! I shamelessly went back and fourth over it at least four times just for the fun of it! When you have had your fun crossing, head to the top floor of the impressively large Starbucks for a better view, and afterwards hit up all the amazing downtown shopping!

Mt. Fuji

Even though its kind of a trek – its totally worth it to witness this mountain in person! You’ll take a cutesy little train to the city near Mt. Fuji, as it rolls along you will get some good views of the countryside along with the mountain. Don’t make the same mistake we did, head out earlier in the morning so you’ll get there with plenty of day light!

Travel Tips!

  • Navigating the train and subway system can seem overwhelming but help yourself by buying a little Suica card which you can top up with how ever much money you want. Then, when you accidentally get off at the wrong stop, you can easily swipe back in and continue your journey instead of standing in line and having to pay for another one way ticket.
  • Use google maps! They surprisingly have a very intricate mapping of the trains and subways as well as detailed instructions, just plug in your destination and use the public transport route.

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  1. We’ve booked to go to Tokyo in February so these tips are really helpful, especially about the suica card thank you!

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