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Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, is one of the world’s most famous cities and one of the leading technological cities in the world. Being able to travel to Tokyo is always high on the bucket list of many travellers who want to experience the fast pace of this beautiful Japanese city. Whilst Tokyo has so much to do and boasts hundreds of activities for tourist to do that they may not experience at home. Tokyo’s best annual sporting event is without doubt the Tokyo Marathon, which sees thousands of runners from all over the world head to Japan to compete in the first Abbott World Marathon Major of the year. During the marathon weekend you will find so much to do, but if your unfamiliar to the city, navigating Tokyo could be a daunting task. However, we’re here to help you, our friend over at the Tokyo Marathon and local resident of Tokyo, Yurie Sato, tells us the best places to go to experience Tokyo’s electric atmosphere. So over to you Yurie…
“Firstly, there’s many ways to get around Tokyo and it’s important that you don’t get intimated by the masses that use the trains or subways, as this really is an efficient system and the most effective way to travel around the city. You may be tempted to just hop in a taxi although it is so much more cost effective and faster to use our ever reliable public trains and subways. If you’re staying in Tokyo for a few days and you plan on doing a lot of exploring, we recommend a Pasmo card: https://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/ . Which is basically a debit card and you can use it for both trains and subways, and sometimes use it to pay for stuff at the stores and vending machines in the subway stations. If you are only exploring Tokyo for one day , a 24-hour Tokyo Free Kippu would be the ideal travel card for you: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/tokyo_free.html
Tokyo and Japanese culture is great at putting together a lot of shops, bars and restaurants which are similar categories into the same area or district of a city, which is why when you ask someone for a recommendation in Tokyo, us locals will usually point you to a specific AREA, rather than just one specific bar, restaurant or shop.
With that in mind, here are some of our staff’s favorite areas within our city
This is a great place for bar crawls. You may have heard of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. While Golden Gai is a safe pick due to the visitors being predominately foreign tourists and most bars have English menus. Kagurazaka is where you get to experience the local and more traditional to Japanese culture bars and restaurants. The area is very popular with business people for a late night drink or bite to eat after they’ve finished work. If you are travelling to Kagurazaka by JR train, get off at Iidabashi Station, and step right into the beating heart of this district! There are numerous bars and cafes lining the sloping street of Kagurazaka, and you just can’t go wrong no matter what you pick, there’s so many to choose from. Our staff picks: Washu Bar FUUGA (Japanese sake bar), Bar kansui (Japanese-style), Café Canal (is a waterfront café and bar which is great for those who just enjoy sitting back and watching the night take shape).
As locals, we all agree that Asakusa is a great place to shop and eat street food. We recommend you visit the Sensoji Temple and shop at the main street in the morning, then for the evening, we advise you to go to the west side of the temple to a bar distrcit called Hoppy Street! A bunch of very casual “izakayas” line this street, most of them with tables and chairs spilling out onto the street itself. In the wintertime, they offer warm foods like “oden”, a warm bowl of soup filled with radish, eggs, fishcakes which all pair beautifully with Japanese sake.
photo credit ©JNTO
This is a good place to go for single travellers and small groups who want to talk to more people. Ginza, is actually a really nice place to dine. Located at an area under the rail tracks, you can find casual restaurants serving yakitori and kushiage, to slightly high-end sushi bars and even oyster bars.
Other well-known bars in the city that are a must vist: Yebisu Bar, which is famous Japanese beer brand and Dassai Bar which is famous for its traditional Japanese sake. Both bars are chains which have numerous locations across Tokyo, with the main locations being by Tokyo Station or in the Ginza district.
However, this shop is known for not being constricted to traditional art designs, which makes them more unique than most of the moku-hanga shops. So for example this is one of the Mario Kart inspired pieces someone has created at the shop what will you create on your visit?
credit Kawaii Monster Cafe
There’s obviously a hell of a lot more to do in such a beautifully unique country but sometimes it’s nice to have local insight into the place you are going to visit! So if you are running the Tokyo Marathon we hope that Yurie’s tips will help you get more from your time in Tokyo.
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