Living in Tokyo for a few years now, sometimes it’s easy to think that you saw everything that was available in the city, and most of the time I ended up remaining in the same area when I wanted to go out with my friends. I ended up thinking that if I wanted to experience something new, a trip outside Tokyo was inescapable.
But recently, some friends of mine showed me around for a ane day trip around Tokyo, and that’s when I remembered: Tokyo is 20 times bigger than Paris. Time to be realistic, 4 years doesn’t come even close to be enough to discover the huge megalopolis. What was even more pleasant was that I rediscovered some places I thought I knew, until the persons with me showed me otherwise. And that was a rather pleasant discovery to make, as travelling outside Tokyo can be challenging sometimes during busy working periods. So why not rediscover a place you thought you already knew?
Here’s a quick tour about some places in Tokyo that you should definitively see once – or even twice.
First stop: Happo-En. Events and weddings venue are not an idea that comes to mind immediately when planning a tour in Tokyo, but it’s a very clever stop to make. The gorgeous venue is all about the famous Japanese omotenashi hospitality, and walking in the amazing multi levels garden will show a more secret side of Japan.
The small pond at the center will charm the visitor with its colorful carps, a few hundreds of them are swirling around in the clear water. The tasteful Japanese garden offers a quiet and peaceful ballad, with a short alley full of Bonzai. We ate at Enju, a Japanese restaurant where the visitor will find the most traditional Japanese mood, with a delicious and simple local meal and the Kimono ladies watching out for the maximum level of comfort. And of course, the extra bonus: being able to spot a Japanese wedding in the garden, with the specific attire of the Shinto style.
Once you relaxed in this space empty of the usually busy mood of Tokyo, why not hop back in one of the ever-on-time and ever-clean train of Tokyo, and enjoy the ride until you reached one of the biggest attraction of the city : the Sky Tree. When I say biggest, I mean in every definition: the super popular tower is also the highest in the country, offering the visitor the most exceptional view upon Tokyo available. Spotting Mt Fuji in the distance is definitely a possibility, and the stroll at the top level is very much enjoyable with huge windows peering upon the city. The elevators will only need seconds to reach the top and comes back down. At the lowest floors, a myriad of different shops create the perfect opportunity to take a memorable souvenir back for yourself and your family and friends.
Odaiba is a well-known place as well in Tokyo. However while the train is commonly used in order to get there, I strongly suggest to choose the canal solution: getting on the Sumidagawa cruise with the Hotaruna boat is show you a different side of Tokyo, away from the railway. The boat in itself is quite remarkable, with its futuristic design thought especially for the river with its low bridges. Passing underneath these bridges is a charming trip, as it is painted in different colors along the way.
Once in Odaiba, take the time to relax in its wide space, so empty of people when compared to the busy heart of the city. Odaiba offers great options to walk, with plenty of shops, arcade centers, museums and even inner roller coasters. The giant Gundam robot and the Statue of Liberty will lighten up your ballad, the latter being especially nice to see from the small curved bridge that is standing in front.
Odaiba Shotengai is the secret treasure of the place, as the small reconstitution of the Showa period market will give the visitor a glimpse of the life style in Japan a few decades ago. The place is animated, full of old time decoration, games and shops, it provides a true back-in-time experience.
At last, I already knew Shinbashi was one of the best place to head for when in search for a good meal with a great mood. But there was still plenty of places left to be explored of course, and this evening was a kushiya restaurant in the most traditional style of Japan. Menus directly displayed on the red walls, TV on, great warm staff and of course plenty of tasty food on skewers, with sauce to share in the same pot with your friends.
Assuming that Tokyo has shown everything that it has was obviously a mistake. This huge megalopolis is ever changing of course, but even some of the most oldest and amazing spots to see remain a secret and can only be discovered through recommendations. I’ll be looking to forward to explore this city every day, and I’ll definitely need some kind of list to try and remember all the unique places are available in Tokyo.