Absolutely, a must-visit city for everyone- from all “walks of travel”. A city where tradition and modern life get along in balance. I got the chance for a 1 night-1 day stopover in Tokyo during our Japan trip and I would say, though compressed, it was still loaded with fun. We were able to stretch our legs to explore some of the famous tourist spots around the city.
Our first stop was in Shibuya- famed as the busiest intersection in the world. Where else could you get your “Hello Tokyo!” selfie, but here. The flow of people, crossing from different directions, is incredible that you would be asking yourself, “Where are they coming from?”. We only went to explore Shibuya on our first night since we need some rest to recover from our Sapporo trip. Then, we decided to go back to our hotel after dinner.
Since we wanted to maximize our time, we started the next day early and went to Odaiba, a popular shopping and dining district on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. We dropped by The Diver City, famous for its Gundam attraction. Of course, the life-size statue should not be missed out. The size of this Gundam model is huge to make someone think it is the protector of Diver City and probably the first line of defense of Tokyo. Ok, I’m exaggerating! Lol!
Odaiba also offers visitors the “New York vibe” because of the Statue of Liberty replica standing with a background of the Rainbow bridge. But don’t get fooled by some of the photos online. The size of this replica is only about 1/7th of the original one. The walkway near this statue will give you an angle and the feel of being teleported to New York City.
After spending almost 2hrs in Odaiba, we went ahead to visit the Hama Rikyu Gardens. This is a landscaped garden, large enough that you will have a hard time finding your friends around especially when there’s no way that you can contact them. It happened to us. We waisted almost an hour finding everyone. Lol! This garden has also served history. It has been an imperial detached garden, duck hunting ground and a residence of a feudal lord for centuries before it was opened to the public. Some of the structures and equipment here remain preserved by time. There is also a tea house situated in the middle of the sea water pond which serves the traditionally made Japanese rice cake (mochi). One of the must-tries in Tokyo.
With regards to fashion, Japan is also a trendsetter. Expounding that, Harajuku is an area in Tokyo where you can find all the latest and trendiest teenage fashion – though there’s merchandise for adults as well. We got into this street in Harajuku- Takeshita Dori- famous for being the birthplace of Japan’s fashion trends. Outlet stores, boutique shops, and restaurants lined up in this narrow street with their goals of targeting the stylish teenage markets. This area has become well known that it really gets crowded at any time of the day.
Now, if you are more into traditional Japan, just a few hundred meters away from Takeshita Dori is Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sanctified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine is dense with large trees but has established walkways for visitors to explore. Actually, we didn’t include this in our itinerary, but, since this is just across Takeshita Dori and near the JR station, we did a quick visit. Anyway, admission in Meiji Jingu is free.
One thing I observed about Japan is that the sun sets as early as 4PM. At 5PM, it is already dark and makes you feel hungry for dinner. Our day was full, so after visiting Meiji Jingu, we went ahead to look for a place to relax a bit. Since it was too early for dinner, we decided to head to Roppongi Hill. Roppongi is Tokyo’s business district and the home of some of the leading IT companies in Japan. We just roamed around the shopping malls in Roppongi and stayed in a cafe. Haven’t been noticing the time, it was already 8PM when we headed on to our next stop, the Mori Tower, access to the 360-degree view of Tokyo City. The observation deck and Art Museum are on the top floor and can be accessed through admission tickets. I would highly recommend this for first- time visitors, the view of the city lights at the top is stunning and the exhibits at the art museum is interesting as well.
We went down Mori Tower and headed towards Tokyo Tower around 9PM. We enjoyed so much in Roppongi and realized we only had little time left to visit Tokyo Tower’s observation decks. Thus, we decided not to proceed, though, we still had decent photos of Tokyo’s tourist symbol even from the outside. This will surely be one of the reasons why I need to be back in Tokyo- to take a selfie in the Sky Tree. Lol!
We only had a day to explore Tokyo, but we still had the chance to make it as maximized as possible. The last time I went to Tokyo was also a quick one so I never had the luxury of time to enjoy more. Definitely, I will be back and hopefully by then, it will be a more relaxed itinerary. Still, there is a lot I need to explore around one of the visited and loved cities in the world.