In recent years, it seems that the number of Australians visiting Japan is on a steady increase. After all, a 10 hour flight to Tokyo doesn’t seem that far when you compare it to nearly a day in the sky for America/Europe, and with Jetstar dishing out sale fares every few months (a friend of mine bought a Syd-Tokyo return for $450 recently), why wouldn’t you splurge just a little bit more than your average domestic trip? For first-timers, many spend the majority of their time in Tokyo, saving up the rest of Japan for subsequent trips. Here are some highlights for first-timers to Tokyo to check out:
For those who like to shop:
- Shibuya – One of the busiest areas of Tokyo with the famous Shibuya crossing. From here you’ll see many giant department stores, and a walk through the backstreets will bring you to many more standalone shops and boutiques. Great for shopping mainstream brands and casual fashion.
Recommended: Shibuya 109
- Ginza – If high end fashion, luxury and glamour is your thing, then Ginza is the place to be. Flagship stores of all the major brands can be found here: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tag Heuer, Cartier, and even more affordable ones like Apple, Swatch and Uniqlo. Walk down the main street on a weekend when it’s closed to cars to marvel at the stature of these giant branded buildings.
Recommended: Ginza Six department store, Uniqlo Flagship store (12x stories), Apple Flagship store (5x stories)
- Omotesando – For those who love luxury but don’t always want to buy mainstream brands. Omotesando is filled with small fashionable boutiques offering pieces from the latest fashion trends.
Recommended: Cat Street, the walk between Meijingu-Mae and Omotesando stations
- Akihabara – Need a new camera or want to browse the latest manga? Check out Akihabara, nicknamed “Electric Town” for the number of electronic products on offer. It’s also well known for the “otaku” culture, loosely translated as “geek”, where you can get pretty much source any comics or figurines of your choice.
Recommended: Yodabashi Camera
For those who want some culture:
- Meiji Shrine – Smack bang in the centre is the famous Meiji Shrine located next to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku. Surrounded by tall trees, chirping birds and tranquillity, it’s easy to forget that you’re in one of the busiest cities in the world.
- Asakasa – Take a walk through the Kaminari Gates, through the Nakamise shopping streets before reaching the Sensoji Temple and the Asakusa Shrine. The area is busy, particularly on weekends, but is a beautiful sight especially with the incense sticks creating small smoke puffs throughout the temple.
For the die-hard foodies:
- Tsukiji Fish Market – Sushi and seafood lovers should stop by the Tsukiji Fish Market for the freshest fish you can find. Visit one of the many sushi restaurants there to watch a professional chef make nigiri sushi right in front of you – you’ll have to come early though as restaurants typically close by midday. For the really dedicated, the tuna auctions at 5am are open to the public on a first come first serve basis and are really something special as restaurants come bidding for giant tuna from fish farmers.
Note: Tsukiji Fish Market is expected to close and move to Toyosu in the near future.
- Department stores – Most large department stores have a restaurant floor that occupies their top floors. If the constant lights and myriad of options on the streets ever get too overwhelming, then heading upstairs is the best for you! Sushi, Tempura, Katsu, Ramen and Curry will almost always be on offer along with other options such as BBQ, Hot Pot, Pizza, Pasta, Burgers, Thai, Korean, Chinese and of course Desserts!
Recommendations: Shinjuku (Lumine 1, Lumine EST, My Lord), Shibuya (Seibu, Mark City)