72 hours isn’t a lot, but I can tell you that it’s enough to see many things in Tokyo if you can wake up early
I always wanted to visit Tokyo and imagined it as a city that never sleeps. It is the world’s largest metropolitan area with nearly 40 million residents.
Tokyo feels as if it was not one city, but a few cities put together. To my surprise, it really didn’t feel crowded in many of it’s districts as it had neighborhoods with low rise buildings where parents used bicycles to take their children to the kindergarten. Other than that, we also experienced how busy it can get in the metro and in entertaining or shopping districts especially in Shibuya.
The main reason why I really loved Tokyo is because it had the past and future harmonically existing together. So let me share with you how I spent 3 days in Tokyo in October, 2018 !
I arrived to the Narita Airport in the morning which is far from the city center and it is an experience on its own to get to a city center hotel from the airport using public transportation. This city has not only one metro/subway company and buying tickets can be complicated when there are more than one company’s metro stops at the same place.
After an early lunch and check in at the hotel, we went to get lost in Shibuya. We walked around the busy streets and walked into a Maid’s cafe. Maid’s cafes are very popular in Japan among locals and tourists too. The girls are dressed up in costume and welcome you in unique ways, their way of serving you is a performance on its own. From time to time they also perform songs and dances, it’s a really fun and Kawaii (cute in Japanese).
When the evening came, we walked to pass the famous Shibuya crossing. We crossed like 10 times, to take pictures and videos There are so many directions, you can’t even decide where to look, it’s funny because there are many people jumping right in just to take the perfect shot. In peak time up to 6,000 people pass through one green light.
We decided to treat ourselves for a little luxury on the first evening, so we headed to the New York Grill Bar in the famous Park Hyatt Hotel. This restaurant and bar may be familiar to you from the move Lost in Translation. The view was fantastic and the food was delicious, but of course, as I mentioned before (link) Japan is very expensive, so a dinner for two costs around $300 here. If you don’t want to spend so much, you may have a drink in the New York Bar, located on the same floor.
We woke up early, left the hotel at 7.30 and headed to Senso Ji, the oldest temple of Tokyo. We weren’t alone who wanted to visit when there are not too many people
The temple was beautiful and I particularly liked that at this time of the day there were more locals than tourists. Near the entrance, there was a small burning sticks place and the smoke made the temple to be even more magical. This smoke said to be healing and brining luck on you, so many people cover themselves in it. I obviously had to try it
After visiting the oldest temple, we walked to Tokyo’s biggest park, the Ueno Park. It’s beautiful, has a large lake and many nice cafes too. I wish we could have spent more time here, but we needed to continue to the Emerging Science and Technology Museum.
It is a very exciting museum and it has cool things inside, but my main reason to visit was the three robots. We tried the lady robot, who was controlled by my husband like this:
Later on, we saw another Robot walking, dancing and even showing off some football skills. This museum is a must visit even for those people who don’t like museums. We also watched here a Dome movie, which explained Stephan Hawking’s Theory of Everything, it was very interesting and fun, you may find tickets here.
If you have more time, you can easily spend up to one day here, there are so many interesting things related to space, physics, robotics and more.
After that we still didn’t have enough of robots and entertainment, so we went to the famous Robot Show. I can’t really tell you what was happening there, but there were people with many types of huge robots dancing, playing a war and what not. It was laud, entertaining and funny in a way. Before the performance you could listen to a band and sip a cocktail. The show lasted 1,5 hours with 3 breaks (those breaks are really needed not to go crazy from all the lights and music)
I thought I can’t visit Japan without seeing a Sumo Competition. Well, Sumo Competition’s are only held 6 times a year, so we couldn’t see that, but I found a place to watch the morning practice. We left the hotel at 6.30 am, enjoyed the half empty subway and watched a 1,5 hour sumo practice which started at 8 am. The practice opened with warm up which was followed by some wrestling and ended with cool down. The practice was rather friendly, but that doesn’t mean the wrestlers were just playing around. They took it very seriously and we weren’t allowed to speak, stand or move. Instead we had to sit in a certain position in absolute silence for 1.5 hour but it wasn’t hard, all visitors were amazed by seeing their practice
It was a really unique experience to watch this and I highly recommend to everybody not to miss it!
After the Sumo, we rushed to the Teamlab. This place is a unique, digital museum with 24 different themes. Each theme is interactive, which means they are constantly moving and changing colors. To visit this exhibition, you must book tickets in advance (HERE). This way, it wasn’t too crowded, you could always find a corner without any other people to take that perfect picture. It is truly a magical world inside, that you never want to leave, it felt so strange to walk back to reality.
After the Teamlab we went to visit a beautiful Shrine (Japanese sacred place), Meji Shrine. This place is located in a gorgeous park and it is a very active temple, we saw a wedding there.
We continued to Akihabara, which is a place famous for gamers and manga fans. We saw a 7 story high SEGA video game center. It was full of local people playing games and we also tried some of the simple ones, such as Mario Kart.
Mario Kart is an experience that you may try in real life! My husband dressed up as Mario and drove with a small gokart around Tokyo for 3 hours
In order to try this, you need to have an IDP (International Driving Permit) which I unfortunately could not obtain prior to my visit, therefore I could not drive, so I spent the evening in a Cat Cafe with a nice Japanese girl instead
The Cat Cafe was fun, with beautiful and special cat species who behaved just like normal cats meaning only showing interest in you when you want to feed them
I feel we really saw a lot in three days. In order to make the most out of our time, we walked whenever we could, which added up to around 15 kilometers each day. When you walk in Tokyo for longer distances, you will see how the locals live, which is really important for me.
I hope you find my three days plan useful, let me know if you have any questions!