When the lockdown ends, and we have the chance to venture out into the big old wide world again, I fully suggest booking a trip to Japan. I became a complete Japan-o-phile after visiting a couple of years ago and was so lucky to return for three weeks last year. Japan is a beautiful country, so I thought it’d be great to put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) to tell you all about the colourful things we got up to:
Tokyo is an amazing place to start your trip, on our last trip we didn’t venture out of the city, as we had so much to do and see! If you do have time to visit other places, then I strongly recommend you visit Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.
Here are my top places to visit in Tokyo:
A place I’d barely heard of before visiting Japan. I found about Ikebukuro, by scrolling to the end of a travel blog and finding the place by chance. It seemed like a pretty cool place, so I thought why not? This quirky and colourful place is based in central Tokyo. The main part is named Sunshine City and if that name doesn’t convince you, then hopefully my pictures will. Filled with the best shops (Tokyo Hands, Daiso), tonnes of good quality arcades, and an aquarium with more fish species than I’d ever seen. The aquarium even had a top floor with an open ring for seals and pelicans to bathe in the sunshine. Definitely not one to be missed.
Odaiba or Tokyo Bay is another beautiful place to visit. They currently home the Mori Art Team Lab Borderless exhibition, which is a true treat for the senses. Immerse yourself in a world of colourful projections! I was told the exhibition would be coming to an end but after further research, it appears that the exhibition is permanent. Odaiba has plenty to offer with an onsen theme park, several large shopping malls (The Fort Venus mall is literally modelled on Rome, fountain and everything!), a rainbow Ferris wheel and even a small version of the Statue of Liberty.
Shibuya & Shinjuku
If you’ve ever looked at any type of Japan travel guide, then I’m sure you’ll have seen Shibuya and Shinjuku pop up on the list every time. I’m going to say something controversial here, they’re pretty cool locations, but they’re not the bee all and end all.
If you find yourself in Shinjuku, you will definitely want to see the Godzilla head on top of a cinema. It’s also foodie galore, so definitely check out all the food the town has to offer. From ramen to soba noodles!
If you visit Shibuya, then of course head on straight over to the CRAZY ramble crossing, but for the real effect, visit late at night to see all the colourful lit up skyscrapers.
A place that I did not visit on my first trip to Japan and regretted it! The home of street food for foreigners in Japan, from melon pan to giant strawberries with fresh custard mochi. The beautiful orange and red temples and pagodas are also a sight to behold. Many people dress in the traditional kimonos here, which just intensifies the traditional Japanese atmosphere.
A guide to colourful places in Japan would not be complete without a mention of Harajuku. Penned famously in Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’, and well-known for everything cute, pink and kawaii.
Takeashita Street is where it all begins. The name does not go amiss with my partner every time we visit (I basically married a child). Start your trip at the beginning of the road, with one of the many fashion shops (We2Go). Then move onto the many independents selling a whole array of cat clothing. Then, venture onwards to the main attraction, food! There are cafes a plenty, but the one place you need to visit to have your proper Harajuku experience is the Totti Candy Factory, for its legendary giant rainbow candy floss and rainbow rolled ice cream. There are so many animal cafes as well, so if animals are your thing then check them out (I saw owl, cat and dog cafes). Make sure to walk down all those side streets too, as there’s so much to see. A special mention for the Kawaii Monster Cafe, although I didn’t visit this time, I did visit three years ago and although the food wasn’t the best I’ve ever experienced, it is possibly one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited.
Special mentions for other activities to look at whilst visiting Tokyo:
Would you like to roam the streets of Tokyo in a go kart, dressed up as your favourite cartoon character? This was one of the most Japan-est (I’m definitively coining that phrase) experiences I’ve ever had. All you need is an international driving license, which you can grab from your local post office and costs around £7. Check out Mari Car here
When you see a temple, “always explore” should be the mantra. A truly beautiful experience to counteract bustling Tokyo city life. My favourites are Yoyogi Park and a small one to the left of Harajuku (at the end of the main road). There were loads of giant koi carp and terrapins.
If you’re going to visit Japan, then visit the madness of Don Quixote. It’s basically a dollar store for everything touristy from food (find your limited-edition Japanese Kit Kats here), to giant squid hats.
See my Instagram highlights and IGTV videos below and let me know if you’d like to hear more about Japan: