TRAVEL TIPS

Five Things to Do in Tokyo

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY PRAMOD KANAKATH

One of the first things most trav­ellers think about when plan­ning a Ja­pan trip is man­ag­ing the costs. Ja­pan is a pricey des­ti­na­tion in the minds of many and it is true to a cer­tain ex­tent. Trans­port and food, the two most im­por­tant things while trav­el­ling, do not al­ways agree with your wal­let in this North-East Asian par­adise of cul­tures. A cheap break­fast meal at a 7-Eleven may cost you five or six US dol­lars, whereas you can get the same for two or three US dol­lars in most Asian coun­tries. As for trans­port, Ja­pan has a world fa­mous metro rail sys­tem, but mov­ing around in the city with­out care­ful plan­ning might cost you ex­tra bucks.

To help you with your plan­ning, here is a list of things you can en­joy in one of the most vis­ited cities in the world with­out go­ing broke be­fore your de­par­ture flight.

Shibuya Cross­ing

The fa­mous “Scram­ble”, the Shibuya Cross­ing with five ze­bra cross­ings within a ra­dius of a few me­tres, is where the world moves at once in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. There are at least four cor­ners from where you can take a look at the cross­ings be­fore you de­cide which direc­tion to take. If you are com­ing out of the Shibuya sta­tion, you will see a Star­bucks store in front of you. You will see cus­tomers lined up in­side tak­ing pic­tures of you and the other crossers. It is dif­fi­cult to get a seat in this Star­bucks, but there is an even bet­ter and cheaper place to get a great view of the cross­ings. Climb to the top floor of the Mag­net by Shibuya 109 build­ing (to the right of Star­bucks) and en­ter the food court. On this floor you will see sev­eral cafes and an ar­row point­ing to the “Cross­ing View­point”. Pay 500 yen and you can look down on the world as much as you like. Here you can get your photo taken by a fixed cam­era on the wall which fo­cuses on you and the cross­ings below. And here’s the good thing - you can ex­change the ticket for a snack or a drink at one of the cafes at Mag­net 9.

Skytree Tower

Sky­scrapers are def­i­nitely among the at­trac­tions of big cities. We all love to pose for pic­tures with th­ese gi­ant mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural won­ders in the back­ground. And if a sky­scraper hap­pens to be ex­cep­tion­ally tall and shapely there is al­ways a spe­cial in­ter­est. Not just to pho­to­graph it, but also to climb to the top and get those rare aerial views. The Skytree Tower and its sur­round­ings are very in­ter­est­ing to see, es­pe­cially after dark. A bright tower stand­ing above you un­der the night sky is an im­pos­ing sight. There is an open air restau­rant on the fourth floor next to the ticket counter. Get your tick­ets for 2,060 yen per per­son and get into the lift which will take you to the Tembo Deck 350 me­tres above. There is a restau­rant, a cafe and some sou­venir shops on this floor. If you still want to go higher up, pay an­other 1,030 yen and get to the Tembo Gal­le­ria at 450 me­tres. How­ever, the view may not be much dif­fer­ent from the Tembo Deck and, be­cause the win­dows are smaller, tak­ing pho­tos may not be con­ve­nient. If you need a cheaper way to see Tokyo from above, go to the ob­ser­va­tion deck of the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gov­ern­ment Build­ing in Shin­juku.

Ginza

This is a court­yard of sky­scrapers where high-end shop­ping is the norm. How­ever, there are some pop­u­lar shops where tourists can find bar­gains. The pop­u­lar Ja­panese brand Uniqlo has the big­gest of their stores in the world here. It is a 12-storey build­ing where there is plenty to choose from for men, women and kids. The prices are cheaper com­pared to Uniqlo stores in your coun­try. The same street has other fash­ion out­lets like GU which will keep you at Ginza for at least half a day, if not till sun­set. The restau­rants and cafes can be very ex­pen­sive in this part of Tokyo, but you might want to rest your legs and get re­freshed. Walk two min­utes to the left from Uniqlo to­wards the Nis­san Cross­ing and turn left, and there and you will find Le Cafe Doutor, an ex­cel­lent place to grab some rea­son­ably priced cof­fee, juice and bites.

Tsuk­iji Fish Mar­ket

Now comes food, an in­te­gral part of travel. Tsuk­iji Fish Mar­ket opens early morn­ing for busi­ness and this is where lo­cals go. The outer mar­ket is ready for break­fast as early as 5.30am and the nar­row, wind­ing streets here have an in­fi­nite va­ri­ety of snacks and food to of­fer. Most items are cheap, but if you would like to dine in a more com­fort­able place there are small restau­rants which serve sushi, ra­men and soba noo­dle among oth­ers. The price range here is be­tween 100 yen and 5,000 – 6,000 yen, de­pend­ing on the place. The in­ner mar­ket has a tuna auc­tion hall which is open to the pub­lic very early in the morn­ing. The tuna auc­tion is very fa­mous here and you need to queue from very early in the morn­ing to be one of the first 120 peo­ple of the day who will be ad­mit­ted to watch. Many en­thu­si­asts start queue­ing as early as 3am. The au­thor­i­ties are plan­ning to shift the auc­tion and the in­ner mar­ket to Toyosu in Oc­to­ber 2018 and it will be called Toyosu Fish Mar­ket. The outer mar­ket will still be in op­er­a­tion at Tsuk­iji.

Senso-Ji Tem­ple and Nakamise Street

Asakusa is the old town Tokyo and rem­nants of the Edo pe­riod can be seen here. Senso-Ji Tem­ple, or the Asakusa Kan­non Tem­ple (named after the God­dess, Kan­non) is the old­est Bud­dhist tem­ple in Ja­pan. This is one of the most crowded at­trac­tions so get there by about 9.30 in the morn­ing. Spend some time in the tem­ple com­pound, pho­tograph­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture of the tem­ple, the tem­ple gate and the ad­ja­cent pagoda. Nakamise Street lies straight ahead of the tem­ple, stretch­ing for 200 me­tres with more shops on both sides. This is prob­a­bly the best place to buy sou­venirs in Tokyo. Also, the best place to buy a ki­mono if you want to add a tra­di­tional el­e­ment to your Ja­pan trip. Shops here sell them for around 5,000 yen. There are many streets off Nakamise Street where more shops and eater­ies can be found. Try a hot and tasty ra­men or some af­ford­able sashimi.

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