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Tokyo. Photo: Mostphotos
Tokyo. Photo: Mostphotos

Places

5 must-do's in Tokyo

Carl Hjelm travels to Tokyo with his Japanese wife Ai at least once a year to visit family and friends. Here he gives us his top Tokyo tips. Find peace in a park, friends in a bar och try out the busiest street of Tokyo to get the pulse.

”Electric town” Akihabara, Tokyo

The area around Akihabara Station could almost be described as a geeks’ paradise. This is where otaku (obsessive fans of anime, manga, and cosplay) come on the lookout for bargains and rare items.

After the Second World War, “Akiba”, as the district is known colloquially, developed a reputation as a black market for electronics. Today the area has become a commercial center for Japanese pop culture, but you can still lose yourself among the miles of winding alleyways filled with electronic equipment, components, and cables.

Eat and drink at an izakaya, Tokyo

Tokyo is home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world. In the 2015 edition of the Guide, 267 of the city’s restaurants were awarded stars, 12 of them achieving 3 stars. It goes without saying that world-class eateries are not hard to find.

But there is another, less attention-grabbing side to the city’s restaurant scene. Izakaya are smaller local restaurants, originally sake bars, where friends, work colleagues, and families get together. They have an authentic feel and a relaxing atmosphere and offer a wide range of food and drink. Despite the surprisingly low prices, the quality of the food is faultless. They frequently offer tabehoudai (all you can eat) and nomihoudai (all you can drink) deals – within a time limit of course. Food and drink are ordered slowly over several courses and the dishes are shared by everyone at the table.

Izakaya are everywhere and are easy to find at Shinjuku station (east exit) or Shimbashi station on the Yamanote Line. Look out for the traditional drapes in the doorway and handwritten menus on the street.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

You have no doubt seen the pedestrian crossing at Shibuya before, in the movies or on TV. It is possibly the best-known symbol of busy Tokyo. Try visiting in the evening and let yourself be overwhelmed by the impact of the neon lights and the throngs of people. This is the Tokyo of your dreams, brought to life. The lights stop the traffic at regular intervals – and thousands of people flood onto the street in all directions. Find yourself a seat on the second floor of Starbucks on the north side of the intersection and you will have the perfect view of this ever-changing spectacle.

Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Tokyo

Tokyo can easily become a bit overwhelming for the tourist. After visiting “Akiba” or Shibuya, escape can be found in the form of a stroll through the beautiful park of Shinjuku Gyoen.

If you are visiting Tokyo in the spring, you may be lucky enough to see the spectacular cherry blossom. This park is one of the best places to experience it. The festival is called hanami and is best celebrated with a picnic basket on a blanket under a blossoming tree. You can buy your picnic lunch from the nearby Takashimaya department store (an experience in itself). The park has a lot to offer, including Japanese, English, and French gardens, as well as a Taiwanese pavilion.

Near Shinjuku Gyoen is another park, called Yoyogi. Don’t miss the dancing rockabillies!

New York Bar (Park Hyatt Tokyo)

Enjoying the fascinating view from a skyscraper is a must when visiting Tokyo. So do it in style. On the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel you will find the exclusive New York Bar. Enjoy a classic cocktail against the backdrop of the Tokyo skyline and some pleasant live jazz.

Seem familiar? Perhaps because this was where Bob Harris (Bill Murray) spent his evenings in the film Lost in Translation.

Find the must-dos in Tokyo with this interactive map.

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Last edited: May 20, 2017

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