Written by MATCHA
Let MATCHA Design Your Trip To Japan! Part 1 - Travel Tips for Tokyo
We took up the challenge of designing a trip plan for one of our readers who answered our advertisement. These are all suggestions for a family planning to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara during autumn.
MATCHA launched a public inquiry the other day, asking readers who plan to come to Japan to give us the necessary details in order for us to suggest them places to visit and things to enjoy during their trip.
We selected one submission and we will tailor a trip plan according to the preferences of the applicant.
Theme: A Family Trip to Japan designed by MATCHA
Time: October 9th - 19th
Who is traveling: A family of five (parents, grand parents and a small child)
Estimated cost of the trip: 8000 US dollars
Preferences: Visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka. Experience both traditional and contemporary Japan, wear kimono, eat delicious Japanese food.
This is the first part of our recommended trip plan, focusing on activities and sightseeing destinations worth seeing in Tokyo and its surrounding areas.
The First Travel Tip!
Before coming to Japan, be sure to apply for and buy a Japan Railpass, which will allow you to travel conveniently all around the country. Purchasing 7 day Japan Railpass tickets for four adults will cost around 1200 dollars, which may sound expensive, but in fact you will spare a lot while enjoying higher mobility throughout the regions you intend to visit. If you use mainly the JR lines and keep using subway lines to a minimum, you will be able to spend no more than 1500 dollars in total on transport within Japan. For details, please check our article on the Japan Railpass.
Spend four days in Tokyo
The first thing you will most probably do after your arrival will be checking in at the hotel. For an area that is quiet yet close to destinations that shouldn't be missed in Tokyo, we would recommend for instance a hotel in the Ueno area, which is close to Asakusa.
You should spend your next day around Asakusa, which is within walking distance or easily accessible from Ueno by train. Visit Sensōji Temple with its amazing Nakamise-dōri (souvenir street), try a yukata rental service by Sumidagawa river and take photos around the area. A trip with the Aqua Bus on the Sumidagawa river would also be a nice experience.
Image from 【ASAKUSA】Tokyo Skytree: Top 5 Photo Spots
In the evening, enjoy the beautifully illuminated Sky Tree and the lights of the city. We would also suggest to climb up to the Sky Tree Observatory or at least take a walk through the Sky Tree town Solamachi and visit the elegant shops.
Tips for the Second Day
On your second day be sure to buy a Suica card, in order to get around with ease. We recommend moving around using the JR lines as much as possible (with the Japan Railpass), but use Suica cards for subway and other train lines than JR.
On this day we suggest you go to Shibuya, the heart of the metropolis. Wonder at the scramble crossing and feel the vibration of this area, which is spectacular in itself.
If you watch the crossing from the passage way from the JR lines to the Keiō Line within the Shibuya Station, you will have this amazing piece of public art behind you. It is the famous work "The Myth of Tomorrow" by Taro Okamoto.
While in Sibuya, go see the statue of Hachi, the faithful dog loved by every soul in Japan. Besides taking pictures of the statue, a fun activity will be tracing Hachi's foot prints in the underground corridor of Shibuya station.
In the afternoon, how about visiting Nezu Museum in Omotesandō? In addition to its great collection of Japanese art, especially tea ceremony utensils, the Japanese garden of this museum is wonderful. During October you will be able to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage.
In the evening, you could have dinner at Sasha Kanetanaka, a very unique restaurant. Enjoying Japanese cuisine in a refined environment will become one of the best of memories of your trip.
Tips for Your Third Day in Tokyo
How about spending the first half of your third day in Tokyo strolling around Ginza? You could visit Jugetsudō, a tea shop located above the iconic building of the Kabukiza Theater, where you can enjoy various types of tea. For high quality souvenirs which would delight your dear ones, consider stopping by shops such as Ginza Itoya or Ginza Mitsukoshi, shops that are well-known for their sophistication.
Image from The Smart Way to enjoy Shinjuku
In the evening, we would recommend going either to Shinjuku or to Roppongi. Shinjuku is ideal in case you are interested in acquiring Japanese products - anything from electronic devices to clothing and interior decoration items. You could close the night by enjoying the view of the cityscape from the observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. Or you can consider having dinner at one of these restaurants that offer a splendid view over the city.
In Roppongi you could climb in the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck Tokyo City View located in the Mori Tower and marvel at the impressive sight of Tokyo by night from there. The view of Tokyo Tower from above will take your breath away, and you will understand why this tower has long been considered the symbol of the city.
Roppongi is famous for being an elegant area, filled with public art, as well as for its beautiful illuminations. By spending a few hours in this area you will be able to get a feel of the cosmopolitan city that is contemporary Tokyo.
Fourth Day - A One-Day Trip Out of the City!
On your fourth day in Japan, we warmly recommend you to get out of Tokyo and visit one of the charming destinations in its proximity. You could spend your day at Nikko, for instance, where you can marvel at the lavishly decorated Nikko Tōshōgu Shrine, a world heritage site with a fascinating history. The decorations are not only gorgeous, but are also humorous, making them entertaining both for adults and children.
Image from 【KAMAKURA】What Is “Kamakura-Daibutsu”?
Another option would be Kamakura - an elegant retro city with a rich history, whose charm is enhanced by its beautiful nature. The Great Buddha statue, the Kamakura Hachimangū Shrine, as well as a trip to Enoshima, where you can enjoy the view of the sea, make Kamakura a great destination for a one day trip.
Yokohama, with its access to the sea, famous sightseeing spots such as the Chinatown, Minato Mirai or the Cup Noodles Museum, as well as Odaiba with its various entertainment facilities that can be enjoyed by the whole family are also worth considering.
On MATCHA there are several articles regarding recommended dining places and activities for each of the destinations and areas mentioned in this trip plan, so please use them for reference.
Whatever you choose to do while in eastern Japan, be sure to experience both the metropolitan area and the places outside Tokyo. In the contrast between the busy city and the charming small towns that seem to have a kind of time flow of their own, you will be able to discover Japan's most authentic features.
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