After breakfast in the hotel, which had some pretty awesome views, we met up with Kunie who was to be our Tokyo guide for the day. Initially she helped us to sort our train tickets for our onward journeys at Tokyo station which was a great help as it seemed a lot of the workers at the station had limited English. Even with Kunie’s help this task still took over an hour.
With that sorted we started exploring. First stop was the Imperial Palace. This was a strange one because it is on the list of tourist attractions yet you can’t really see much. We were able to walk over and around part if the moat and see the main bridge in but the palace itself is largely hidden by walls and plants. The current Emperor and Empress still live there and open the grounds twice a year for locals to go inside.
Next was Akihabara Electric Town. This is a massive electrical goods store stocking anything electrical you can think of. I bought myself a new camera bag to allow me to carry a spare lens. Fraser wanted to go and see the massive TVs- the 85 inch was pretty impressive.
We went to Oshiage station for a quick drinks break alongside the Tokyo sky tree at one of Kunie’s favourite cafés due to its cakes with cream and flavoured fillings- Kunie and I had strawberry, Fraser had chocolate.
Refreshed we headed to Asakusa to visit the Sensoji temple. At the entrance we were cornered by Japanese schoolchildren all wanting to speak to us as part of their school English projects. Through the main gate was a market selling all kinds of Japanese goods. The temple itself was busy but really interesting. Everything was finished in red including the 5 storey pagoda. Kunie taught us how to find out our fortune, cleanse all injuries, purify ourselves and pray at the temple and also at the shrine next door.
Our next stop was Ginza for lunch. The restaurant was downstairs in one of the department stores. We had a Japanese meal where we cooked our own beef, pork, tofu and vegetables in a boiling broth whilst sat around the preparation area. It was a nice experience and the meats were very good.
After our late lunch we went to Toranomon where we found Japan sword, something Fraser was very excited about. In this shop there was a large selection of Samurai swords and the paraphernalia to go with them. The man working there was highly knowledgeable about the history and symbolism surrounding the swords and explained this at length for us. I am surprised I was able to get Fraser out without buying one.
By this time we were all starting to flag so we proceeded to our last stop of the day, Suidobashi, where the Tokyo Dome is located. In this area is the baseball stadium and an amusement area complete with a roller coaster. The reason for us to go there however was the Moomin Cafe. It was popular with locals and tourists alike and had Moomin themed drinks and food and a small gift shop. During your meal a big cuddly Moomin is brought to sit with you at your table. It was so cute!
One train journey later we were back at our hotel where we thanked Kunie for a brilliant day then passed out.
You could do Tokyo without a guide but with limited time and wanting to see as much as possible it was so useful to have someone navigate for us. I am glad it was a private tour as it allowed us to tailor our itinerary to what we wanted to see. If you don’t want to pay for this there is a free, volunteer run tour service in Tokyo who only charge their expenses (food, travel, entry fees etc). Visit http://www.tokyofreeguide.com. Kunie works for Tonichi travel and was is lovely, helpful and informative throughout the day, I would definitely recommend her.
>the Imperial Palace. This was a strange one because it is on the list of tourist attractions yet you can’t really see much.
There are a few times a year that the public are permitted inside the Palace Inner Grounds (twice a year, the Royal Family greet the public there).
See my post:
That’s amazing you got to go inside, great post. Our guide told us you are allowed in twice a year but obviously we were not there at the same time. We were able to go to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto though so w didn’t completely miss out.
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