Written by Rose(GREATERTOKYO_Explorer)
Tour Tokyo's Brilliant Winter Spots With The Convenient Toei One-Day Pass
Tokyo offers breathtakingly beautiful views in winter when viewed from a high tower building or with its charming illuminations. Use the convenient Toei One-Day Pass to visit several places in one day an make the best out of your time in Tokyo!
For many visitors to Japan, traveling here can be expensive, especially when you want to visit multiple destinations within a day. Aware of this need, Tokyo city has been providing many economical tickets. One of them is the Toei One-Day Pass, which you can use to ride all the busses and subway lines in the Toei network as many times as you want on the day of purchase. The pass expires at midnight (12 am).
The Toei One-Day Pass with the ginkgo leaf symbol of the Toei Subway lines
The Toei One-Day Pass allows access to all Toei Subway and Toei Bus lines, as well as the Toei Streetcar (Toden) Arakawa Line, and Nippori-Toneri Liner. With its extensive route network, the pass covers all the 23 wards of Tokyo as well as the Tama area. It is particularly convenient to travel between major sightseeing spots such as Shibuya, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree.
The Toei bus stops are easy to recognize by their green marking
Winter is the time of Christmas and of the New Year, it's the time for families, friends and lovers to gather and share the joy. To celebrate this festive season, we prepared for you an exciting itinerary to enjoy the beautiful sights and lights in the central Tokyo using the Toei One-Day Pass. Let’s explore!
10:00 – 10:50 -- Shibuya Scramble Crossing
We chose Shibuya, one of the busiest and liveliest districts in Tokyo, as the starting point of our one-day route. Talking about Shibuya, we can't omit to mention the famous Scramble Crossing located in front of Shibuya Station's Hachiko Exit. The scene of hundreds of people rushing through the large crossing surrounded by many high and modern buildings is so iconic that it often appears in movies, travel guides and advertisements related to Japan.
View of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing from the walkway connecting Shibuya Station and the Mark City shopping mall
Either you decide to join the waves of people or just stand by and watch, the sight is amazing! Do try to cross it yourself and see that, though everyone is walking really fast, they never bump into each other. The photo above was taken on a weekday’s morning, which is not exactly the most crowded time. You can imagine how the number of people is multiplied once the night rolls down its curtain.
For me, witnessing such an intense vitality right in the morning had even a better effect than a cup of coffee. Now that we are ready for a busy day, let’s head to our next destination – Nezu Museum.
You will find the bus platform no. 51 for buses heading to Roppongi Hills in front of Shibuya Station's East Exit. Hop on the 10:38 都01 (To-01) bus heading to Akasaka Ark Hills and get off at Aoyamagakuin-Chūtōbu. When you get on the bus, don’t forget to ask the driver for the Toei One-Day Pass (*The Toei Bus One-Day Pass is 500 yen, while the Toei One-Day Pass, which is good also on subway lines and the streetcar in addition to buses, is 700 yen). Please note that bills bigger than 1000 yen are not accepted, so you should have some change prepared.
10:50 – 11:50 -- Nezu Museum
Located close to the Aoyamagakuin-Chūtōbu bus stop, Nezu Museum is an art museum established in accordance with the wishes of Nezu Kaichiro, who had passionately gathered an enormous collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art.
Nowadays, the scale of the collection has expanded to approximately 7,400 works belonging to various genres such as painting, sculpture, calligraphy, objects related to the tea ceremony and others. Many of the artworks in the Nezu Museum collection are designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
The museum building houses six large galleries with wooden floor and furniture, equipped with delicate lighting which brings a warm color and a relaxing feeling to the interior. The great hall on the first floor looks out to the museum’s Japanese garden where visitors are welcome to enter and enjoy the changing scenery of four seasons.
This charming garden is what makes Nezu Museum stand out among other institutions. It is also the home of four traditional tea houses, where tea ceremonies are occasionally held. There is also a picturesque pond lying in the middle of the garden which can be accessed by climbing down the rock stairs in the garden.
Now let’s head back to the main road and find the bus stop Minami-Aoyama-Nanachōme (Minami-Aoyama 7) which is the next stop after Aoyamagakuin Chūtōbu. Take the same 都01 (To-01) bus towards Akasaka Ark Hills and get off at EX Theater Roppongi. Don’t forget to show your Toei One-Day Pass to the bus driver when you get on.
12:00 – 13:00 -- Enjoy a Healthy Lunch at SAKURA Shokudo
As soon as you arrive at the bus stop, you will see the tall building complex of Roppongi Hills on the other side of the road. On the B1F of the Roppongi Hills North Tower lies this colorfully decorated restaurant called SAKURA Shokudo, where various combinations of healthy meals are served. With the 3Bs: Brown-rice, Balance and Beauty as their slogan, Sakura Shokudo ingeniously arranges daily meals into a nutritious and balanced menu.
Nothing can beat a nice steamy hot pot dish in a small cozy restaurant like this, while the winter wind is howling its icy breath outside. And that is why my recommendation is this Kanburi Hotpot meal set (*available only in winter).
Japanese amberjacks, which are caught during the winter months from December to February, are called Kanburi. This fish is rich in fat, sweet and tender, and can be enjoyed only around this time of the year.
13:00 – 14:40 -- Unique Views of Tokyo from Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
Roppongi Hills is a complex housing luxurious shops, restaurants and art museums. This is also where you can experience a stunning view of Tokyo from above from the tower observatory. The air reaches its highest transparency in winter, so it is this is probably the best time to enjoy the view over the metropolis.
Tokyo from Above – Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
Being one of the tall buildings in Tokyo, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower proudly rises far above the surrounding buildings at 270 m above sea level (238 m above ground). From the tower, visitors are offered a perfect 360-degree view of the Greater Tokyo area. By purchasing a ticket to the TOKYO CITY VIEW observatory, you can visit all the facilities on the 52nd floor, including the Observatory, the Mori Art Museum, the shop, cafe and restaurants adjacent to the observatory, as well as the museum shop found on the 53rd floor.
When buying your admission ticket for the TOKYO CITY VIEW observatory, show your Toei One-Day Pass at the ticket counter. The Toei One-Day Pass includes the extra value CHIKA TOKU, allowing users to receive discounts on admission fees at popular sightseeing spots. For details on the available discounts, please check the CHIKA TOKU official website.
First, go to the 3rd floor to buy the ticket. You will then be guided directly to the 52nd floor where the TOKYO CITY VIEW observatory is located. The visitors can enjoy a swapping view of the city through the tall glass windows.
Picture courtesy of TOKYO CITY VIEW
If you want a photo of yourself with the city in the background, don’t hesitate to use the photo service, which gives you the chance to have an excellent picture of yourself taken by a professional photographer. The small photo is given for free, and the large version of the picture from the 52nd floor costs 1,300 yen. (For a separate fee, you can use the same service on the rooftop observatory on Saturday, Sunday and public holiday evenings.)
Picture courtesy of Salt Group Inc.
On the same floor with the observatory, you will find Cafe THE SUN and Restaurant THE MOON. At Cafe THE SUN, you can enjoy a menu created in collaboration with the exhibitions held at the Mori Art Museum and the TOKYO CITY VIEW Observatory. At Restaurant THE MOON, on the other hand, you can enjoy not only food, but also cocktails inspired by the Moon in an elegant and more mature atmosphere. It is a great place to celebrate a special occasion with your significant other.
For an extra fee of 500 yen, you can go up to the open-air rooftop SKY DECK and feel how it is to be on the “top of the world”. In winter, light-up events with music are held on the deck from 17:00 – 20:00. You can even sign up for their special First Sunrise Watching event on New Year's Day or their regular Astronomy Club activities which are held on the fourth Friday of every month. There is plenty to discover and enjoy at Roppongi Hills Mori Tower!
Tokyo from Outside – Mori Garden
No, I don’t really mean outside of Tokyo geographically. We are still at Roppongi Hills, right in central Tokyo. However, this garden will give you the feeling of looking at the city from another world.
Walking through the walls of trees in changing colors, you will gradually see a small blue pond at the heart of the garden. The view from here opens to the layers of buildings in the distance, and the contrasts between dark and light, high and low, nature and manmade works make the city look so otherworldly that it will be an unforgettable experience.
15:00 – 15:50 -- The Serene Akasaka Hikawa Shrine
Get on the same bus and get off at Akasaka Ark Hills bus stop to reach Akasaka Hikawa Shrine. Designated a tangible cultural property, this shrine boasts a history of over 300 years.
Even though the shrine is located in bustling Roppongi, the tranquility and peacefulness it exudes are just like an oasis. The shrine lies in the middle of a spacious garden and its tall tree layers block out all the noise of the city, protecting the solemnity of the shrine grounds. Take in the dignified atmosphere of this place.
At this point, you might want to rest for a while from walking. Get on the 16:01 To-01 bus heading to Shimbashi Sta.from either Akasaka Ark Hills bus stop or the Roppongi-Yonchōme (Roppongi 4) bus stop and get off at Shimbashi Sta. bus stop. From Shimbashi walk in the direction of Ginza and head to the stylish café named Café Appartement 301, our recommended teatime spot.
16:30 – 17:20 -- Café & Dining Appartement 301
Behind what looks like the door of a regular apartment, you will find a room that's out of the ordinary. Inside, several lanterns and lamps of various shapes are throwing their dim yellow light on the old-style furniture, dragging the whole space back to a couple of centuries ago, somewhere in Europe.
The concept of Appartement 301 is to recreate two different types of spaces. No. 301 is the girls’ room, with crimson wallpaper, decorated window bars and furniture with colorful flower patterns. Quite in contrast, the boys’ room in No. 302 is furnished with plain sofas, a large rack which covers the whole wall filled with collection sets from all over the world, and a black wallpaper. We can easily imagine that this apartment is inhabited by a wealthy couple who invites us to visit their home.
This place is famous among young couples and especially girls, not only for its fancy yet casual atmosphere but also for its amazing menu. What I ordered was this Appartement French Toast which includes two slices of toast, vanilla ice and a combination of berries and cereals. Doesn’t it look like a basket of wild berries somehow being disturbed by a block of falling snow? It's really tasty too!
17:20 – 17:50 -- The Ginza Streets under the Spell of the Winter
In the evening, the streets of Ginza change into a diamond-adorned corridor of light. The luxurious look of these streets is enhanced even further by the numerous trees covered in thousands of tiny twinkling light bulbs. You can feel the magic of the festive season just by walking along the street and looking at the shops and restaurants. The way from Ginza to Shiodome makes for a very enjoyable walk.
17:50 – 18:20 -- The Big Clock Designed by Miyazaki Hayao
Many of us Ghibli fans must have heard about the giant clock that was designed by our favorite director, Miyazaki Hayao. This stunning clock is installed on the exterior of the Nittele Tower (Nippon Television) in Shiodome. You can actually see it from inside the building if you go to the 3rd floor.
This enormous two-leg clock reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle and watching all of its moving puppets gave me the feeling that the Clock could actually walk on those bird legs. You can watch the show four to five times a day at appointed hours. We were able to watch the 18:00 show. The performance includes the movements of the puppets and other details such as the sound of the clock bell and music. It lasts only 4 minutes but, believe me, it’s totally worth the time you spend to come to visit it. It is like witnessing a legendary machine coming to reality.
From 18:45 -- The Magnificent Marunouchi Illuminations
Our last destination is Tokyo Station and its surroundings which are beautifully illuminated. Take the subway toward Nishi Takashimadaira on the Toei Mita Line from Uchisaiwaicho Station and get off at Otemachi Station. Exit D1 opens right into Marunouchi Nakadori, but before exploring this street, do take a look at Tokyo Station to see how beautifully it is illuminated at nighttime. It appears to me more like a grand palace than a station!
During the winter, the trees on both sides of the Marunouchi Nakadori street form an impressive light tunnel. On Marunouchi Nakadori, there is the brilliant Marunouchi Illumination that glows in an elegant original champagne gold color.
On Marunouchi Nakadori there are numerous restaurants with terraces where you can enjoy dinner while watching the beautiful lights around you. Some of the stores have heaters installed outside, so there's no need to worry about the cold.
One Convenient Pass to See All of Tokyo!
Winter in Tokyo can be cold, but there are plenty of amazing places and activities that can be enjoyed exclusively during this season. With the Toei One-Day Pass, you can ride all the trains and buses in the Toei transportation network. Make the most out of it and discover your own version of Tokyo!
* Please note that the bus schedule might be modified. The hours mentioned in this article reflect the bus timetable as it was in December 2017.
The Toei One-Day Pass Bus Route Summary:
Shibuya Scramble Crossing → Nezu Museum → Roppongi Hills Mori Tower → Mori Garden → Sakura Shokudo → Akasaka Hikawa Shrine → Café & Dining Appartement 301 → Nippon Television Big Clock → Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue
Transportation expenses: 700 yen (Toei One-Day Pass)
Nezu Museum entrance fee: 1,300 yen
Tokyo City View from Roppongi Hills Tower: 1,600 yen (*Admission is 1,800 yen, but with the CHIKA TOKU, visitors get 200 yen discount) (plus 500 yen to Rooftop Sky Deck)
Lunch, snacks, souvenirs, etc.: around 3,000 yen
Supported by Toei Transportation