I have lived and worked in 3 prefectures (the U.S. equivalent to a state) for almost a year, visited 14 prefectures, and have experienced a wide range of Japanese culture across different areas. I have really enjoyed living in Japan, and would love to come back…….if I didn’t have to work quite as hard as I have this past year. For whatever reason, Japanese people love to work. Seriously. I personally don’t understand the need to stay after hours, come in early, or otherwise slave your life away for a company, but I guess 135 million people do. To each their own.
Other than the work obligation here in Japan, most of my experiences have been extremely positive and I feel like I have the opportunity to share tons of information so other to get the most out of Japan.
Tokyo City Guide
For most of my year in Japan, I lived in Tokyo. I can tell you this: it’s never boring. There are endless things to do.
Here are a few of my favorite blog posts from living in the Tokyo area:
- Climbing Fuji-san
- Eating Poisonous Blowfish
- Wandering around the Suicide forest
- Enjoying the crazy Kawaii Monster Cafe
Tokyo is made up of a series of cities (called wards) within the prefecture. Each one has a particular flavor of Tokyo.
Must-see wards in Tokyo include:
- Akihabara: known for being the anime capital of the city. This area is filled with a mix of anime shops, adult sex stores, infamous “maid cafes” and arcades. Akihabara is home to the Tokyo Animation Center, which constantly has gaming or animation shows, events, and interesting displays.
- Shibuya: Not only does Shibuya have the largest crossing in the world, but they have tons and tons of shopping opportunities and restaurants. Shibuya is by far one of the most lively wards in Tokyo, and will keep you entertained for hours. It’s within walking distance of Harajuku district, Omotesando *which is extremely beautiful during the holiday season, as the whole street is lit up!!!*, and the Meiji Shrine
- Harajuku: Not only will you find crazy fashion and delicious crepes down the streets in Harajuku, but you can see cat street!!
- Roppongi: Get there just after dark and drink until first train at any of the clubs that litter Roppongi’s streets. (I enjoy V2, Jumanji, and Oh Yeah! ) During the daytime, enjoy the artwork that decorates Roppongi’s midtown area.
- Shinjuku: Climb the Tokyo Metropolitan Building (for free) to see a 360 view of the sprawling city, watch a 4D movie at the Toei Cinema, or have a relaxing picnic at one of the largest parks in Tokyo, Shinjuku-gyoen (a spectacular mix of Japanese garden, greenhouse, and teahouse)
- Asakusa: See the prettiest shrine in Tokyo, Senso-ji, visit the oldest theme park in Japan, Hanayashiki, and take a 30 minute walk from Asakusa to the Sky Tree. (You don’t need a map to guide you for that urban frolic….) You can also enjoy my favorite hookah bar, just 5 minutes behind Sensoji Shrine, called Bonji Bar.
Things to Do:
- Visit the Great Daibutsu in Kamakura (just 1 hour by train from Shinjuku)
- Visit any number of animal cafe’s (take your pick from cats, owls, birds, rabbits & hedgehogs, penguins, and more)
- Take a trip to Tsukiji Fish Market
- Check out a Sumo Wrestling Tournament or practice
- Visit Kawaii Monster Cafe
- Go to a show at Robot Restaurant
- Climb the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku District (for free!)
- Experience Shibuya’s famous crossing, with over 10,000 people moving past per day
- Take a relaxing afternoon near Odaiba beach and ride the ferris wheel
Roppongi is full of “gai-jin” aka foreigners. The clubs are very westernized and play lots of electronic music. My favorites include
Shibuya is a personal favorite of my boyfriend and all of his Japanese friends. They love the “live” feeling of throngs of people filling the streets outside of packed clubs. Make sure you grab a drink from the “konbini” (convenience store) to save on the crazy prices of the drinks inside the clubs!
- Club Womb
- T2 Shibuya
- The Ruby Room
- Club Crawl
Shinjuku is another great choice- and close enough to other districts for a quick cab or walk. Japan has no open container laws, so feel free to drink a little on the way. You won’t get in any trouble!
- Tokyo Loose
- Club Voice
Ikebukuro : I have never clubbed in this district, however there is a nice hookah lounge I have frequented quite a few times. It’s quaint, but has awesome hookah.
- Chilling Shisha
If you aren’t in the mood to club, but want to find more of a “western” bar feel, head over to The Hub. There is at least one in every district. They are open until at least first train, which is the perfect way to cool off after a hot night of clubbing.
For a traditional Japanese experience, grab a few friends and head to an izakaya. They serve small snacks and beer, liquors, as well as something called a “sour”. It’s a mix drink with lemon, lime, peach, or other flavors; a personal favovrite of mine!