If you want to experience a unique culture unlike anything you have witnessed before, then you could never go wrong with a trip to the East Orient. Japan, above all, is known to be one of the best tourist destinations, holding a matchless blend of traditional and modern. Its capital city, Tokyo, is renowned throughout the world for being the most technologically advanced place. Therefore, visitors could be diving into the Japanese culture and history one day and catch sight of the future through technological advancements the next.
In this article, we will present to you 10 of the greatest places to enjoy on your next visit to Tokyo, along with a few helpful Japanese phrases, for the perfect journey. Let’s get started!
1. Tokyo City View and Sky Deck
Tokyo City View is an observation site situated in the heart of Tokyo, featuring an indoor deck 250 meters above the sea level, as well as a 270 meters altitude Sky Deck.
The open-air Sky Deck rooftop is a special spot that offers the visitors a chance to feel the wind and enjoy the 360-degree views of Tokyo in the starry night.
It will cost 1,800 JPY for observatory access and additional 500 JPY for Sky Deck access. As the equivalent of $20 total, it is considered a very small price to pay for such an astounding experience.
2. Gambling Entertainment
Presently, there are no legal casinos in Japan, as they used to be prohibited. Luckily, a new law was adopted recently, allowing casinos to be opened as part of Integrated Resorts. While waiting for the phenomenon to happen, if you are a gambling aficionado visiting Japan, there are two options:
- The first alternative is to entertain yourself with online casino games and get yourself some awesome prizes, for a session with twice the benefits.
- The second choice is the parlour games. These are different types of gambling the Japanese like to do and will surely add to your Tokyo experience.
You have probably noticed Pachinko (パチンコ) in Japanese movies, documentaries, or anime. It is a combination between a pinball and a slot machine and is in fact, not considered to be gambling. It is also the only item that is not regulated by the government, becoming unique among the rest.
Usually, Pachinko parlours can also have slot machines, called “Pachislot”. These parlours are massive, loud, and brightly lighted buildings, very easy to spot in the city. Pachislot is the most popular game of chance played in Japan, accounting for around 40% of the recreation section of Japanese leisureKeiba (Horse Racing).
The next most popular luck game is “Keiba” (競馬) or Horse Racing in Japan. Most Keiba events are conducted by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), which is controlled by the government. There are ten tracks operated by the JRA across Japan and races are held every weekend.
You can head to one of these locations to watch the race and place your bets or you can go to one of the several “WINS”, the JRA’s off-track betting facilities.
As opposed to Pachinko, horse racing entices the hard-core gamblers, so visiting the racing venues or betting facilities is quite an experience.
Next on the list, we have “Takarakuji”, the Japanese lottery that comes in plenty of pf shapes and sizes. Out of every gambling games in this country, this is the simplest one to play. The easiest type is scratch cards. They come in different forms, with similar rules as other countries. Another type of lottery is the one where you select several numbers and you may win by correctly guessing some or all. Loto 6 and Loto 7 are particularly popular. The regular type of lottery is also available, where the numbers are already marked on the ticket. And last but not least, there is the Jumbo Takarakuji, a special lottery only held 5 times annually. These are available chronologically and almost every month has a lottery correspondent. The year begings with “Valentine”, “Dream”, “Summer”, “Halloween” and ends with the “End-of-year” Jumbo.
3. Bar Hop in Golden Gai
Golden Gai is a region in Shinjuku formed of six alleys, tightly crammed with independent bars. According to tourists, it is a great place to have a drink (or 2) and time travel to the older Tokyo. Half of the experience is wandering and choosing a bar that attracts you.
Every small entrance is individual, with themes that vary from hospitals to toy trolls. Some are covered in stickers, some are aged and damaged, and others are pristine and freshly painted.
There are over 200 bars to choose from, so don’t let that discourage you from visiting the region, for each location can lead to very unique experiences.
One of Japan’s major sports is sumo wrestling. Chances are you have never watched a sumo match live, but a visit to Ryogoku district, where matches are fierce and frequent could change that.
However, sometimes it is difficult to find tickets but there’s a better alternative. You have the opportunity to take a closer look at the athletes doing their morning practice in their sumo stable (beya). There are some rules to follow if you want to be a fly on the wall: no photos, no chatting, no food or drinks inside the stable, and most importantly, do not move around once the practice has started.
Morning practices begin at 5:00 AM and last up to 3-4 hours. There are three free locations that allow visitors: Kasugano Beya, Kokonoe Beya, and Hakkaku Beya.
5. TeamLab Borderless
Produced in partnership with the local urban landscape designer Mori Building Co. Ltd., the astonishing light displays are housed in their own building, distributed over two floors in a massive space in Tokyo’s Odaiba district.
TeamLab Borderless is a group of masterpieces that shape one borderless world. Artworks move out of the rooms, connect with other works, impact, and sometimes intermix with each other with no boundaries. Prepare to immerse your body in borderless art in this complex, three-dimensional 10,000 square meter world. Explore, discover, and set up a new world with others. Most of the entertainment is wandering around the museum, so wearing something comfortable is the key. High heels will tire you out and you won’t be able to enter the “teamLab Athletics Forest” in them.
6. Capsule Hotels
If you are searching for a cheap, yet comfortable place to stay in Tokyo, or if you are just curious about them, capsule hotels are plentiful and can be found almost everywhere around the city. If you are not acquainted with the concept, a capsule hotel offers a small, person-shaped capsule to sleep in, which is decorated with more amenities than you’d expect. Fundamental amenities include light, air conditioner, alarm clock, but some capsule hotels may also offer a TV, power outlet, and radio. While it is not a grand hotel or a casino hotel resort, it is very comfortable. Do you want to have a one-of-a-kind sleep? Check this out and discover the best destination.
7. Vending Machines
No country has embraced the vending machine concept quite like Japan. You will find approximately five million vending machines dispersed all over the country (city or countryside), each filled with both expected and unexpected items. From hot soup, cold beer, hamburgers, and fried chicken, to dirty underwear, work shirts, and electronics, there is so much you can find in a vending machine in Japan. If you are interested in the more distinctive machines, the place to go to is the Akihabara neighbourhood.
Apart from being among the most technologically advanced cities in the world, Tokyo is also one of the oldest civilizations. That is the reason why you must take the time to visit Asakusa’s historical district. You will be able to experience and learn the authentic Japanese culture, visit ancient places of worship and historic architectural pieces. Asakusa can be explored by foot without difficulty, however, you should consider a guided tour on a rickshaw (man-powered vehicle). A 30-minute tour for two persons would cost around 9000 yen, but longer courses are available as well.
9. Aoyama Fashion
Another jewel in Tokyo’s crown is its prestige in the high fashion world. Japan has a unique type of Asian fashion, thus, if you enjoy the clothes or anything from that world, you should certainly visit the Aoyama fashion market. The prices will fit every budget and you will have the opportunity to try on items that you may have never seen before. Additionally, tourists will benefit from tax-free shopping when making purchases of over 5000 yen, the equivalent of $50. Bear in mind that a passport will be required for tax-free shopping.
Japan is where the world-famous type of entertainment called karaoke has begun. No trip to the country is complete until you have let your inhibitions aside and stepped up to the mic. Usually, many Japanese go to karaoke after a few drinks, whether they like singing or not. You may join the local tour “Night-time Karaoke Bar Experience in Tokyo” that will take you to one of Tokyo’s best streets called Izakaya, get tipsy, then go to karaoke for a Japanese-like party.
Bonus: Helpful Japanese Phrases
While some people in Japan do speak English, especially in the touristic areas, it can always be helpful to know some key-phrases before travelling to a certain country.
- Ohayou Gozaimasu
The official way of saying “good morning”.
Both formal and informal way to say “hello”. It can be applicable to morning, noon, and afternoon.
Akin to Konnichiwa, Konbawa is both a formal and informal way to say “good evening”.
- Arigatou Gozaimasu
You will be saying “thank you” many times, so it is the perfect place to start.
“Yes/No”. Hai can also mean that you understand something.
“Excuse me” is an essential expression in any language.
It means “please”. You may use this phrase whenever ordering food, requesting help, or asking for something.
- Kore wa ikura desuka
Ikura means “how much”. Ikura desuka is an expression that can be used even when you don’t know the name of a product in Japanese. Kore means “this” and when it is combined with a small gesturing in the direction of an item, you’re asking “how much is this?”. The shop owner will usually answer by typing the number in a calculator or by writing it down for you.
- Okaikei (onegaishimasu)
“Check, please!” It can be very useful at cafes and restaurants. It can also be combined with “sumimasen”, in order to draw the waiter’s attention.
- Gochisousama deshita
“Thank you for the meal”. This expression is respectful and used after a meal, to show your respect and appreciation.
Using these phrases, you will be able to have many simple interactions in Tokyo.
Japan and especially Tokyo is one of the most incredible destinations on the planet, a world unto itself and an absolute must-see for any travel lover. Sink in the traditional Japanese culture, learn about modern life in the city, and eat the most amazing food. Do remember, tipping is not customary, and it can be considered rude!
Now that you know which amazing places to visit, all that remains is for you to plan your Tokyo vacation.