9am. Breakfast at Sawamura Hiroo
Start your day with Sawamura’s wide selection of bread and coffee. It’s a spin-off of the famous Sawamura in Karuizawa. It’s a good choice if you want an early start as it opens as early as 7am. The bakery section is located downstairs, and it includes croissants of varying flavors and the blockbuster Black Buddha. If you’re not into bread, upstairs is a European-style restaurant.
11am. Explore Shimokitazawa
Dubbed as ‘Little Shibuya’, this neighborhood has its fair share of fashion stalls, cafés, theaters and bars. Because of that, it’s also a glimpse into the western side of the city. It has a good variety of vintage fashion items to boast, together with a small backstreet scene that appeals to the youth. Compared to the cramped and crowded backstreets of Harajuku, Shimokitazawa is a more peaceful alternative.
1pm. Lunch at Gonpachi
Supposedly the inspiration for the film Kill Bill, having your meal at Gonpachi is like dining in a feudal Japanese castle. The interior heavily uses wood and bamboo creating a very rustic setting. It also resembles the old Edo-style aesthetics. Food is served is modern Izakaya style, aimed at both local and foreign taste buds. It remains one of Tokyo’s most popular dining choices.
3pm. Explore Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku
The ‘big three’ districts of Tokyo are just a few train stations apart and are easily accessible on foot. Join in the giant four lanes of Shibuya Crossing and give the world’s most loyal dog, Hachiko, a visit in Shibuya. The fashion district, Harajuku, houses Takeshita Street while offering a glimpse of tradition in a Meiji Shrine and a touch of nature in Yoyogi Park. Shinjuku offers a blend of J-fashion and K-fashion in its very own ‘Korean Town’, also known as Shin-Okubo.
7pm. Dinner at Masudaya
Sukiyaki and relaxation go side-by side in Matsudaya. Shabu-shabu is also an option. The big combo sets are also appealing to those who crave a big meal. This restaurant gives a cozy atmosphere combined with melt-in-your-mouth beef. But the most attractive feature of this place is that it’s an affordable choice, especially for meat lovers.
9pm. Admire the city’s night view
Capture Tokyo’s glittering night skyline for free at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s 45th floor. Located in Shinjuku, the buildings in the area are massive yet admirable. In a city that houses 13 million people, the skyline is also a way to see the city’s remarkable skyscrapers starting with the iconic Tokyo Tower. What differentiates Tokyo’s skyline from others is that it can look endless, a feature that makes this mega-city unique.
1am. All-night Karaoke
A Tokyo experience isn’t complete without hitting the karaoke box. Even if you’re singing isn’t as good as you hope, karaoke in Japan is done in a private room, so you can sing as much as you like, however you like. Finding one shouldn’t be a problem as there are various locations in nightlife districts. The deal includes unlimited song choices (both in English and Japanese) and food and drinks, all fleshed out as you sit on a sofa, or stand, it’s your call. Karaoke Kan is one of the most sought-after choices. You might also recognize it as the place where Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation does his singing session.
Karaoke Kan, 30-8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan +81 3 3462 0785
10am. Breakfast at the local Konbini
While you can find a lot of vending machines in Tokyo that sells many different things, the local Konbini (convenience store) has a wide selection of bento, burgers and noodles. Not only are they cheap, but they’re also everywhere. If you’re rushing to your next destination or have slept in from last night’s activities, the local Konbini food is a great option. It’s also a way to indulge in the culture as the bento box is truly a Japanese creation after all.
12pm. Lunch at Roponggi Hills
There are a variety of giant shopping malls in Roponggi. It is also home to the city’s enormous buildings and sky scrapers. Take your pick of different restaurants ranging from Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisines. While the food prices aren’t cheap, it’s an internalized area after all, the advantage of Roponggi is that they are used to serving both local and international customers. Izakaya-style dining that quietly sits at the backstreets of Roponggi is one of the district’s cheaper choices.
2pm. Explore Roponggi and Asakusa
Asakusa is filled with rich history. Home to the famous Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa has one of the longest outdoor shopping avenues, Nakamise-dori. See your fortune by picking the omikuji. You could also visit the temple, eat traditional Japanese snacks and buy souvenirs. Meanwhile, Ropponggi Hills, Tokyo’s business district, has a magnificent view of the city during the day. Mount Fuji may even be visible. Other must-visits include Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View.
6pm. Explore Ginza and Ueno
Indulge with high fashion shopping in Ginza. It is home to luxury brands and renowned department stores and boutiques. But there are also restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Ueno has Ameyoko Shopping Street, considered to be both a shopping and local food paradise. It has transformed from a black market that existed during World War II to the popular open-air market it is today. Ueno also houses famous cultural sites including Tokyo National Museum and National Museum of Western Art.
8pm. Dinner at a Café in Akihabara
Even if you’re not an otaku or a Japanese pop culture crazed-fan, it’s still a worthwhile experience to dine in one of the district’s numerous cafés. Maid café and cat cafés alike, there is a pool of choices to suit anyone’s cup of tea. It’s also a glimpse into one of the city’s cultural sides, the otaku culture.
The geek capital doesn’t just offer anime and manga but cheap electronics, music and games as well. The vibrant lights of arcades, huge flashing TV screens and enthusiastic travelers make Akihabara a symbol of night life. If you’re into electronics, Yodobashi Camera is the place to go. Mandarake is an eight-floor heaven for all otaku fans and is one of Akihabara’s largest place to purchase goods.
Yodobashi Camera, 1-1, Kandahanaokacho,Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan +81 3 5209 1010
Exhausted after all that walking in Akihabara? Takoyaki is the answer. It’s a must-eat Japanese snack. Sold in stands all over Tokyo, it won’t be a struggle to find one on your way back. Takoyaki is made of little balls mixed with small bits of octopus and minced cabbage. It’s also perfectly cooked to just the right texture.