In June, my sister and I spent 8 days in Tokyo full of sightseeing and laughs. It was our first time in Japan and wow, did we fall in love with the place! I can’t wait to go back in the future and also see more of the country.
We went in early to mid-June which is technically the start of the rainy season in Tokyo. The weather stayed dry for most of our stay, but got really hot towards the end (30+ and humid). We did check the following week’s weather forecast when we got home. It predicted thunderstorms every day, so if you’re planning a June trip I would recommend the beginning of the month.
Our first Tokyo experience took place at the airport whilst we waited for the Narita Express train. The flight was delayed by two hours in Dubai and we felt pretty rough after almost 24 hours on the road. I was desperate for a drink but the infamous Japanese vending machines let me down. I inserted the money and pressed every flashing light. What happened? Nothing. The machine simply spat out my money over and over again. I eventually gave up and sat down.
Five minutes later a middle-aged Japanese lady manages to get a drink out of the machine. Seeing my chance, I ambush this poor woman and ask if she can show me how to work the machine. Turns out it only accepts coins, not notes. How often do you get coins when you exchange money before a trip? Basically never. This lady realises that I only have notes and promptly says ‘I’ll buy one for you, which one do you want?’. Wait, what? I was, at the lack of a better word, flabbergasted but very humbly accepted the offer.
Now, to me this goddess of a woman symbolises our entire trip. She just went out of her way to help a stranger. Whilst I appreciate this is perfectly normal in places, I was very pleasantly surprised. I had read about Japanese people’s kindness but was still blown away by how helpful the locals were.
With loud and flashing advertisements everywhere and a constant stream of people, Tokyo is the definition of sensory overload. However, the chaos was also incredibly organised. Everyone walked in a line for each direction on the sidewalks. At the underground stops people waited at the sides for passengers to exit before boarding. I accidentally ended up in the underground at rush hour and spent quite a while essentially sniffing someone’s armpit. But somehow, even that felt less stressful than other places I’ve been. Everyone was really calm, respectful and efficient.
So, we were positively overwhelmed by the Japanese people but what about Tokyo itself? The saying is that when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. I’m pretty sure you could say the same about Tokyo. We spent 8 days in Tokyo and could probably have spent 8 more! This is one big city. My favourite area was Nishi-Shinjuku, where we also stayed. This neighbourhood lies to the west of Shinjuku train station and was calmer than Shinjuku but still within a 10-minute walk to all the action. We also enjoyed the parks; Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen. The tranquility and fresh air provided the perfect break from the intensely crowded streets. Harajuku was a really cool experience and we also relived our childhood at Disneyland. Akihabara was not really our thing; the arcades were fun but some of the manga was pretty off-putting.
We had some incredible food in the city; Michelin-star noodles at Tsuta, fresh street food at Tsukiji Fish Market and hearty tonkotsu ramen at Ichiryu. However, before I went I had only read raving reviews about the food in Tokyo. I would like to mention that we had a couple of pretty mediocre meals too. Not bad, just nothing to write home about. I’m obsessed with different ice cream flavours and tried anything I could get hold of. Cherry blossom had an amazing floral flavour but red bean was my favourite. It had a sweet and smooth flavour with some whole beans mixed in, which tasted sooo nice!
Overall, we had an amazing time in Tokyo and I couldn’t recommend the city enough. I will put together an itinerary for 8 days in Tokyo to show exactly what we got up to. Meanwhile, please leave your thoughts on the post below!
MelDeeApril 7, 2019
We are heading to Tokyo for 9 nights just wondering weather it’s worth buying the JR pass and head out to Kyoto for 2 nights or just save money and concentrate on Tokyo as it will be our first time there.
Would appreciate any Advice thanks
Fountain of TravelApril 8, 2019
I’ve unfortunately not been to Kyoto so couldn’t say whether the city is worth visiting. In terms of time, we definitely had enough to do in Tokyo for the 8 days we spent there (although one day was spent at Disneyland) and felt like we could have spent longer. That said, it depends on what you want to see! Kyoto has a lot of or is close to a lot of high profile sights such as the bamboo forest and Torii gates so you might feel that it’s worth going for those. I’ve got a 6 day itinerary for Tokyo on the blog if you want some idea of what you could fit into 6 days ( https://www.fountainoftravel.com/6-day-tokyo-itinerary/ ). The blog You Could Travel also has a lot of content on Kyoto if you want some inspiration for what to do there (https://www.youcouldtravel.com/destinations/japan/kyoto).