Tokyo, there’s no place quite like it.
After a chill week in Japan’s mountain towns, I was ready for some big city living - and big city living is what I got! When our train pulled into Tokyo I had no idea how many strange and eccentric experiences were in store for me. But, as someone who loves an adventure, I said: challenge accepted.
If you’re someone who loves the weird and wonderful too, here’s a list of 5 things you need to hit up during your time in Tokyo.
What’s the best thing to do in Japan in the evening? Karaoke with drinks (and free ice cream) of course! Not to mention, you and your crew will get a private room where you can belt a Disney tune without judgement.
This particular multi-floor joint is located in the heart of Shinjuku and is one of the cheapest karaoke houses in town. If you’re on a budget, go during an “off-time” or go at 3 am like we did. You’ll get cheaper rates because prices fluctuate depending on the number of people ready and raring to sing.
Two: Yoyogi Park on a Sunday
One thing that surprised me about Tokyo was just how much green space there was in the city. Yoyogi is the largest park and the perfect place to have a cheeky picnic with take-away sushi and a can of Sapporo. Follow your feast up with a short walk to the Meiji Shrine.
If you like people watching, you HAVE to go on a Sunday - it’s madness! Many locals spend the day there and you’ll see everything from Elvis enthusiasts to knife and fork lessons to 1-kilo dog parks where pups are dressed in their finest attire (including sunglasses). If we weren’t in such a time crunch, I could’ve spent the whole damn day there.
Three: Tsukiji Fish Market
This one is only for the early risers or those of you who can pull an all-nighter. Whether you’re there for the impressive tuna auction - which only allows 120 visitors per day - or to try straight-outta-the-water sushi at Daiwa Sushi or Sushi Dai, you’ll need to line up at 5 am. The sushi chefs at these two eateries take their jobs very seriously and serve a set menu to one small group at a time. So suck it up and wake up because this is a pretty unforgettable experience.
You’ll see so many kinds of fresh seafood and truly be part of the hustle and bustle of the market. Sellers are hurrying around with mass amounts of seafood on their small trucks and scooters - if you’re feeling brave, ask to jump on the back with the fish and they’ll pull you around the market.
I know this one won’t be for everyone, but we decided to see what the roleplaying café culture was all about and went to Maidreamin in Akihabara. Basically, it’s a tacky café with girls dressed up in frilly “kawaii” maid outfits. Upon entrance, you’ll be gifted with a set of cat ears to wear and be told to address the servers with the simple phrase, “meow, meow.”
Overall, it’s mediocre food and milkshakes, but worth a break from the chaos of Akihabara to see the girls perform a Japanese pop dance: the most remarkable, high-energy performance you’ll ever see. It left us exhausted. Quick warning: you’ll walk out a little poorer. Everything is an upsell and they’ll pitch you hard on all sorts of things like a “happiness combo”, which even gives you the chance to wear your own kawaii outfit and take a photo with the maids. Oh, my.
If you grew up playing Mario Kart like I did, here’s your opportunity to be Yoshi for an hour. You’ll tear up the streets of Tokyo and see the sights in your very own go-kart - aka MariCar.
One tip: you need to plan ahead. I wasn’t able to live out my childhood dream because of this. But, I think I’d go back solely for the experience. Reserve a few weeks in advance and purchase an International Driving Permit before you leave for your trip. You’re welcome!
I know this can’t be all that Tokyo has to offer, so tell me how you get weird in Tokyo in the comments below!