19 May A PERFECT DAY: IN TOKYO
We have a new regular feature! It’s all about getting the local lowdown on a city so you can have the perfect day out. So often when you’re travelling, you’ll find yourself desperate for a decent coffee with no idea where to find one, or looking at 10 restaurants that all look the same thinking, where are the locals? It’s great to see big attractions, but it really makes the day perfect when you can avoid the tourist cafes and get the inside scoop on where you should be going.
So, as the final installment of Ladyland’s Japan Week, we’ve enlisted the help of Will Jackson, an ex-Londoner in Tokyo, to give us all the instructions you need for his perfect day in Tokyo – featuring shrines, sashimi, skyscrapers and geeks! Bring it on…
BREAKFAST AT TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
Directions: From Shibuya, take the Ginza line to Ginza, change to the Hibiya line and get off at Tsukiji station. If you’re starting from Shinjuku, take the Oedo line directly to Tsukiji Shijo station and follow the signs to market.
Start the day bright and early with a trip to Tsukiji Fish Market. This will be suggested in most guidebooks, with good reason. Breakfast can be consumed at any number of restaurants in and around the market, providing you like sashimi.
GO FULL TOURIST AT THE SKY TREE
Directions: From Tsukiji Shijo station take the Toei Oedo line to Kuramae station. Transfer to the Toei Asakusa line and go to Oshiage for the Sky Tree. There is a new ‘express line’, which allows foreign visitors to present their passport and avoid any real queuing, saving the need to book. There are two viewing levels: the upper level, which costs an additional fee, takes the price to about ¥5000 per person, but the view is worth it.
Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリ) is the tallest tower in the world at 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m/2,722 ft). It was completed in 2011 and is used for television and radio broadcasting. The tower has seismic proofing, including a central shaft made of reinforced concrete. The internal pillar is attached to the outer tower structure 125 meters (410 ft) above ground. From there until 375 meters (1,230 ft) the pillar is attached to the tower frame with oil dampers, which act as cushions during an earthquake.
It’s worth having a quick coffee at the ‘Be a Good Neighbour’ coffee stand, located in the Solamachi shopping centre beneath the Sky Tree.
RAMEN FOR LUNCH WITH GEEKS IN AKIHABARA
Directions: After the Sky Tree, take the Hanzomon line one stop to Kinshicho, then the Chuo Sobu line to Akihabara station.
Take a walk around the station area, which is great for people watching and loads of geek stores selling figurines, manga, old computer games, dolls, and all kinds of weird shit!
A gentle walk continuing in the direction of Ueno will help lunch go down. You can take in the sights of Ameyoko market under the arches of the train track while you’re at it, which sells everything from fresh meat and fruit to cheap electronics and shoes.
AFTERNOON – OLD AND NEW TOKYO IN HARAJUKU
Directions: Take the Yamanote line from Ueno to Harajuku. The Meiji Jingu is not far from the station.
Hit the Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) for some respite. Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken, who passed away at the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s a quiet break from the bustle of Tokyo in the middle of a forest, which has been created with over 100 000 trees donated from all over Japan.
Now for some pop culture: head back to Harajuku station, opposite the main entrance is Takeshita Dori (street)
This area is famous for its Harajuku girls who wear cute, over-the-top outfits. These days you don’t see them so much but the street still has its fair share of oddball fashion and pop culture, as well as delicious crepes.
DINNER – YAKITORI AND ALL YOU CAN DRINK BOOZE
Directions: Head back to Shibuya, by train or on foot from Harajuku if you have the energy. Make your way to the small west entrance of the Inokashira line at the station. Here you will find a collection of yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) eateries, billowing smoke onto the the street.
Enjoy a beer or two with some salary men at a yakitori joint. A salary man – サラリーマン is a suited member of the vast, hard-working force of Japanese business. They like to cut loose after a savagely long day in the office.
Hanbei izakaya (bar) is also located in this area, in a basement. Here you can enjoy a drink and eat various fried goods. You can also partake in ‘nomihodi’, allyoucandrink (whaat! all you can drink?!!), for 90 minutes if you’re so inclined.
EVENING – KARAOKE IN SHIBUYA
Directions: Head back towards Hachiko crossing in front of Shibuya station, and choose any direction. Within minutes you will find any number of brightly illuminated ‘カラオケ館’ karaoke buildings.
Once you’ve finished up here, the only logical conclusion to the day is karaoke. Book a room at the reception and let all hell break loose.
Will Jackson is a mild mannered Englishman who has lived in Tokyo for five years. When he’s not teaching English to school kids, you can find him playing bass, eating ramen and getting foreigners drunk at nomihodi bars.