My Top 5 Tokyo District’s you should know

Takeshita Street of Harajuku – Instagram

5. Harajuku / Omotesando

Harajuku is the most fashionable place to be. The place, where young Japanese designers open up their little shops, and fashionistas meet up for the Fashion Walk. If you’ve ever heard of “Kawaii“, this is where the Kawaii culture is beeing embraced to the fullest. (Harajuku is home to the Kawaii Monster Café for a good reason)

The “Takeshita Dori” – Takeshita Street is a shop filled little street right in front of the Harajuku station. If you pass the street, you will soon arrive in Omotesando. A quiet bigger street with lots of Luxury Brands at the main street, but if you just walk through side passages & through the neighbourhoods, you can explore many little shops. Take the chance to get a piece there, because it probably exists only once! (Takeshita see above!)

Of course there are many other shops like H&M etc. Definitely take a look at one of many thrift shops. Japanese take very good care of their clothes, they might look like they were never worn! And if you’re lucky, you’ll even find a cheap, second-hand Dior Dress! (Honestly, you can!)

If you’re done shopping and need to relax, you can take a break in one of many Cat Cafés. In case you’re not into cats, you can try the Dog, Hedgehog, Bunny or Owl Café (& Many more).

Western looking Ginza

4. Ginza

Ginza is a place to go, if you have money – there are lots of department & foreign luxury brand stores, luxury restaurants and car shops (more like car ‘showrooms‘). If you don’t like that “high fashion”-thing like I do, I’d still recommend you to go! In some department stores, you can go up to the rooftop and have a crazy amazing view over Tokyo, without having to buy something. I even found a shrine once on top of a building! (Ginza SIX GARDEN)

You can also find some very luxurious Japanese Brands, decoration their stores in a very beautiful traditional Japanese way.

Akihabara – (source my instagram)

3. Akihabara

Anime fans may already know this place – Akihabara is the Anime – and electronic district of Tokyo. You can find all the nerdy stuff here. If you’re a gamer, this is also the place to go. There is a huge amount of electronic stores, enough to build your own computer! And also, of course anime & manga stores and even a couple of cosplay stores.

The famous Maid Café’s which are always a big thing in TV documentarys about how crazy Japan is, this is where they are located. If you’re looking for a culture shock, definitely come here! (I’m a huge Anime fan, so this was more like heaven to me than anything near a “shock”)

Shinjuku (pic source my instagram)

2. Shinjuku

My actual favorite district of Tokyo since it has a little bit of everything. But especially known for it’s nightlife and entertainment. Lots of karaoke bars, clubs, restaurants and bars. People will tell women to “Take Care” there at night, since there are many outgoing people. But it’s also a nice place for shopping, during the daytime. The station is said to be the biggest train station in Japan.

I always recommend this district, if someone would ask me where to stay in Tokyo. Since the station is so big, you have many entrances to enter all around the station and of course very good train connections. Furthermore, there are many shops that are open 24/7, good restaurants and a shopping district, and it’s all close to the station.

The Robot Restaurant (source Wise.travel)

One famous restaurant around the area is The Robot Restaurant. You can pre-order the tickets, or just go there and ask for availability in front of it, since it’s more like a ‘Robot Show’ than a restaurant.

Besides the nightlife (Kabukicho area), Shinjuku also offers a skyscraper area, including the Metropolitan Government Building. A nice place to have a free & nice view over Tokyo. There’s an elevator bringing you to the observation deck on the 45th floor – for free!

1. Shibuya

SHIBUYA CROSSING

Shibuya is probably one of Tokyo’s most well known districts and home to the infamous Shibuya Crossing. The crossing is known to be the busiest crossing in the world, with over 2.4 Million people crossing this street every day. It is also a famous Movie Scenery spot (such as seen in “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift“, “Lost in Translation“, “Resident Evil“. The crossing, right at the “Hachiko Exit” of the station, is surrounded by big colorful screens, which look amazing day & night.

Shibuya Scramble, with view on the famous shopping center “Shibuya 109” (Pic Source)

Shibuya is also a nice spot for shopping and many restaurants. Especially theme resaurants or theme café’s with extravagant interiors are located in this area. There are also a couple of night clubs around.

You probably saw the movie, or know the true story of the dog Hachiko, who waited at the station everyday, even after his owner has passed away. That’s right, this is the station where that famous dog has waited. They made a tribute in form of a Statue of Hachiko at the station, make sure to not miss it!

「The Japanese Hospitality 日本のお持て成し」

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Shinjuku, Tokyo

You sure may have heard, that the Japanese hospitality is pretty warm. They love to show foreigners their country and are very proud of it.

I can confirm and the reason I can, is my letterfriend. I actually stayed in Tokyo 東京, but she lives in Kōbe 神戸(about 3 hours distance). Anyway, I travelled with the bullet train (Shinkansen 新幹線) from Tokyo to Kōbe. She waited at the Shin Osaka train station for me, and we went to her parent’s apartment together. Her parents were already excited to meet me, they even made a “Welcome to Japan, Sabrina” cake for me! I did’nt expect something like this!

I could spend the night there, it’s been such a dream to sleepover at a real Japanese family. The next morning, Mayo san’s (my letterfriend) mother made us some Onigiri. What a feeling, sitting at the table with a Japanese family, feets under the Kotatsu 炬燵 (low, wooden table frame covered by a futon or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source which keeps you warm) and biting in to a still warm Onigiri おにぎり.

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Rikscha ride through Gion, the Geisha town in Kyōto 

We spent some days together, she showed me the best spots around Kyōto and even visited the Universal Studio Japan (USJ) together with me. During my stay in Japan, i had the best time while traveling with Mayo san. It’s so much easier to travel and enjoy, when you are with someone that speaks the language, in a country where not everyone speaks english.

On my last day, I could experience the Japanese hospitality one last time for my stay. My flight back home was in the morning. I had to take the shuttle from Shinjuku Station 新宿区駅 to the airport. When I arrived at the Shinjuku Station, the shuttle was already full. Luckily, I was early enough to wait for the next one. I thought “hey, I should go to a Japanese supermarket for one last time!” So I started looking for a Family Mart, Seven Eleven or Lawson. When I found one, there was a little stair to reach the store. As you can imagine, my suitcase was pretty heavy so I could’nt lift it up those stairs. On behalf of the low criminality rate in Japan, i thought I’ll just leave it outside for a min. Before I entered the store, i picked my wallet and sorted out my last coins… So, a young, 18 years old girl, no make up & hair done, wearing a training suit and holding a suitcase and looking for her last coins. Must have looked funny, anyway a Japanese lady walked out of the store, holding for a second, then walked away. But she came back and gave me a piece of bread with two hands (respectfully). I took it, also with 2 hands and whispered “Arigato Gozaimasu!”. As fast as she came, the fast she’s gone. This story still makes me smile, whenever I think of it!

Sorry for that long post, here’s a picture of my Mayo san & me in Kimonos.

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My letter friend Mayo san & me in Kimonos