Unique Things To Do in Tokyo
Tokyo is an amazing City, a mixture of Chaos and Peace, filled with a city vibe yet cultural and historical, surrounded by busy streets and tall building but there’s a place for friendly parks and gorgeous gardens.
As tourists, we all are curious to know what experiences we could get from another country that we haven’t tried in ours. So I’m starting a series called: Things to do In Tokyo. Yes, this is only part 1! I’ll be posting more about this as soon as possible.
Let the List Begin!
1. Stay at a Capsule Hotel
Capsule Hotels were developed in Japan, they feature of a large number of small rooms and provides cheap accommodation.You experience sleeping inside a rectangular shaped room (about 2 x 1 x 1.25m), with a television, electric console and lights. Imagine sleeping in a corpse drawer in a morgue (A/N: this is the number 1 reason I tried it, it’s hilarious) and the lights might make you feel like a chick. Even though it sounds weird, it’s actually comfortable.
The opening to your capsule is not locked (that would be scary if you are locked inside) and the luggage is placed outside. Considering you’re in Japan, it’s safe to say no one is going to bother you or your things. Towels and basic toiletries are also provided.
2. Take a bath like a Local
Take a bath at an Onsen or Sento; these public bath houses that are popular in Japan. Or if you’re a little shy a public bathtub at a hotel.
The Capsule Hotel I stayed at has a public bathroom and a tub, which is quite similar. If you’re pretty conservative, like me, this would be another crazy experience. You’re going to get naked (obviously because you’re taking a bath) BUT you’re going to take a bath with naked people and naked people will see you naked (NAKED!!!).
What you will do after getting naked is: You’re going to rinse your body outside the bath tub with a shower or washbowl and you enter the tub which is for soaking only.
My first time was pretty much me in a towel and getting that towel off as a now or never experience. BUT! People, especially the Japanese, are used to doing that so they wouldn’t mind you that much. Remember: they don’t know you! Just don’t try to do this with friends unless you’re ready (haha).
P.S. The experience is heavenly, even if you’re in there with other people, the heat makes you relaxed after a stressful day.
P.P.S. Most tubs are separated by gender. There are also places where you can wear swimsuit but it’s not that common.
3. Pray at a Shrine or a Temple
There are a lot of Shrines and Temples in Japan. But what’s the difference between them is: Shrines is for Shinto while Temples are for Buddhism; two popular religions in Japan. You’ll know if it’s a Shrine if you enter a Torii (Gate) and a Temple has Pagodas. Popular ones are Meiji Shrine (Harajuku) and Sensoji Temple (Asakusa).
Instead of just taking a picture, you could pray for a good fortune. Just follow what locals are doing; bowing, washing hands, offering money and ringing the gong.
You could also buy wooden wishing plaques – EMA (Shinto) and try a fortune telling practice – KauCim Chi Chi Sticks (Buddhism). I actually tried the Chi Chi Sticks and prayed for love life and it was a bad fortune (haha), I knew it wasn’t meant to be, not yet anyway. You tie bad fortunes on a post so that they won’t go with you.
4. Hang out at a Unique Themed Cafe
Japan is bustling with Cafes – be it a maid café, anime themed café or animal café. When you’re there, why not try one?
I visited an owl café at Akihabara to come face to face with owls and kill time. It only costs JPY 1000, which had a free drink and no time limit. It was Forest of Owl where I hung out and petted a few of these marvelous birds; some aren’t tied so they were free to fly within the room. There were also parrots, a rooster, piranhas and NEMO (a clownfish). It was a charming experience, knowing there’s nothing like that in my home country.
5. Bike around Tokyo
Most tourists try using the subway and trains. One way to know more about a country is biking around its streets. I was in Asakusa biked to Sumida for Tokyo Sky Tree and Ueno for Ueno Park and Zoo. I rented a bike for JPY 300 yen (whole day). I never tried biking beyond a kilometer back at home (and it was not a busy place), but doing it around Tokyo was very safe and enjoyable.
Note that you’ll be always keeping left and bicycle lanes are present. If you don’t know where to go, you could always follow others. There are a lot of people biking; young children and grandparents; man wearing a suit; a woman off to work; a mom with her child at her back; or a group of friends.
If you don’t know the rules, most bikers are friendly. There was one time I saw someone biking crossing the cone things but one jii-chan (grandpa) smiled at me and signed to follow him instead. There are bike lanes (as shown in the sign) and you’ll follow pedestrian rules if you’re not biking with the cars, but always be respectful.
When parking, make sure to read the signs or follow where people parked their bikes or you could ask someone. I actually made a few violations (haha) like crossing in another town (because my bike was for Taito Ward only) and parking at a wrong area (I don’t really understand the second one), though since it was my first time I was able to leave with only a warning and JPY 5000 still intact.
It’s a nice way of seeing Tokyo as a Tourist’s perspective (different than being in a subway or train), you’ll see how the traffic goes, the pedestrians crossing only on Go sign (even if there’s no car), vehicles stopping and giving way to pedestrians, the clean streets; the order within the chaos.
This may not be a scratch from things to do in Tokyo. But hopefully if you’re there, you could experience these. And if you have been there but missed some, try it when you get back.
Tokyo is such a warm and friendly place despite the cool weather; it’s a city that makes you set the bar high leaving you wanting for more.
Stay tuned and subscribe for part 2!