Tokyo is by far one of my favourite destinations. When we first arrived I was blown away by the neon lights and the general buzz of the city. It genuinely feels like you have stepped into an alternate universe. We spent approximately 7 days in the city and I feel like we barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. Here are my top 6 recommended things to do in Tokyo in no particular order.
1. Visit a Dog Cafe
Cat cafes are so last year. It’s all about the dog cafes for me. There are various dog cafes to be found across Japan, there’s even one in Kyoto solely dedicated to pugs! In Tokyo, we visited Dog Heart cafe in the Shibuya district. It costs ¥950 (approx. £7) for 30 minutes or ¥1550 (approx. £11) for 1 hour. There is also the option to take a dog out walking and prices start from ¥3600 for 1 hour. You will be asked to remove your shoes upon entering the cafe but they will give you a ‘stylish’ pair of Crocs or slippers to wear instead!
2. Sing your heart out at Karaoke (カラオケ)
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a Karaoke session. Needless to say I was in my element being in its country of origin. If it’s your preference to sing privately in a booth with friends there are plenty of Karoke chains across the city, just look out for names such as Big Echo and Karaoke 747. It’s worth noting though that prices can differ quite significantly from chain to chain so it’s worth checking this out beforehand. Some places are open 24/7 so we found ourselves rocking the microphone until 7am. Perfect timing for our hotel breakfast opening. There are also bars where you can sing with strangers. Japanese audiences are particularly supportive so no matter how good or bad you are you will be made to feel like a rock star. One of my colleagues set me the challenge of singing a duet with a Japanese business man. Mission accomplished!
3. Take in the city views at the Park Hyatt Hotel
For all you film lovers, the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt Hotel is where a large part of Lost in Translation was filmed. Full disclosure – a drink will set you back at least £11 but the view of the city is simply breathtaking. I would recommend getting there early, as there is a cover charge applied after 8pm. There is also a dress code and more information on this can be found on their website at: https://restaurants.tokyo.park.hyatt.co.jp/en/nyb.html
There’s definitely no need to feel embarrassed should you choose to stay for one drink only, you will find several people there doing the same thing. For an hour or so it’s a nice to take in the view, sip a well-made cocktail and experience how the other half live!
4. Browse the Shopping District (Harajuku)
Harajuku shopping district is the place to be for any budding fashionista. You will find a range of vintage shops and flamboyant attire. One thing you may notice as you wander around are people dressed in matching clothes. This piqued my interest and I came to learn that this is known as osoroi code (おそろいコーデ). This trend is popular amongst young couples and friends and it is a way of expressing the bond that they share with that person. Once you’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, be sure to try the sugar coma crepes and the the quirky Bubble Tea drink at Angel Hearts. You will find a range of different flavours on offer from oolong tea to melon flavoured.
5. Relive your youth at a Pachinko Parlour
You will most likely hear a Pachinko parlour before you see one. People of all ages flock to these arcades to play the likes of Guitar Hero, Ms Pacman and SuperMario. One of the only downsides for me is that smoking is permitted inside so you will be greeted with a heavy cloud of smoke. Some of the bigger places are divided into smoking and non smoking floors so these are definitely worth seeking out if you are a non-smoker.
6. Spectate at a Sumo Wrestling Match
I wouldn’t consider myself to be a sport lover at all but as the old saying goes ‘When in Rome…’ Tournaments take place 3 times a year in Tokyo (January, May and September). Tickets go on sale around a month before the tournament begins and tickets start around ¥5000 (approx. £35) and can be purchased from http://sumo.pia.jp/en. Matches start from 8.30am in the morning and go on until 6pm. The higher ranking matches start around 2pm so I would recommend turning up from 2pm onwards to see the ‘grand masters’ (Yokozuna). I found the sumo wrestling very entertaining with some matches literally lasting a matter of seconds. Things move at such a fast pace, it will be 6pm before you know it!