2013 saw a record high in the number of foreign tourists, probably helped more by the record low yen (thanks to Abenomics) than any number of “Cool Japan” tourism campaigns. These days of sharing, on social networks and websites (not to mention blogs!) require good Internet access though, and that can be both expensive and difficult to find here in Tokyo. There are plenty of spaces that offer free wireless Internet access but few that also offer the use of computers to actually access the Internet on. So in the service of the tourists that plan to visit Tokyo in 2014 I’d like to present one of my favorite Tokyo cafes that offers all the computers you need, Cafe Salvador right in the middle of Tokyo’s own Wall Street, Nakadori. The place, considering the location, is very reasonably priced and you couldn’t ask for better service. If you are in the area and need to rest your legs or update that blog, this is the place to visit!
It is located on Nakadori between Tokyo and Yurakucho station and apart from coffee, snacks and computers, there are also lot of magazines to chose from.
If I have to rank the many tourist destinations in Tokyo and give you the place that should be on the top list of any tourist with the ambition to see Tokyo, it is easily the Asakusa district. I have blogged about this part of the city and the fantastically colorful Sensoji (Tokyo’s first and grandest temple) many times before but I just can’t help myself from pulling up the camera whenever I pass. Everytime I visit I have the ambition to find the odd little spots I have missed earlier, to go for details rather than large open views but I always get blown away by the colors and size of everything. Asakusa is easily the second greatest city attraction (ok, technically the greatest but Gion in Kyoto still wins for pure charm, beauty and dignity) in Japan. You can make several little trips (the place changes atmosphere and color so much during the day) or spend an entire day here from morning to midnight. Luckily most of Tokyo’s backpacker hostels are in the area. Use the tags at the bottom of the post to find more posts about Asakusa!
The many gates of the temple are fantastically photogenic, and the nearby bridge over Sumida river tends to be a popular photo spot with tourists and locals. One local lady even decided to climb the bridge pillars to get a better view! Next to the famous Kaminarimon you’ll also find the number one souvenir associated with the gate: Kaminariokoshi. In the last photo you’ll see a couple checking out the shop just before closing one evening a few weeks ago.
Recently quite a few people have asked me to give them advice on what to see and what to do in Tokyo and it’s always a difficult question to answer. There are just so many things to see and do here. Depending on your age, interest, physical condition you’ll have so many options. For me though, the best things in Tokyo are the simplest, and the most unique are the easiest: just walk around and experience the streets! Of course, if your walking has an interesting destination it is even better. One of my favorite walks, any time in the day, is from Tamachi station on the Yamanote line all the way over to Odaiba via the Rainbow Bridge. Going to Odaiba by train is always a little bit of a hassle so walking there is a great option! What you do is to exit Tamachi station from the Shibaura Exit (east exit), and just walk straight. Once you reach the Tokyo Monorail in the photos down below you keep walking straight but keep, if possible to the right. Eventually you’ll reach the bridge and you’ll have the option of walking the south or the north route. I’d recommend the north for being slightly more scenic and easier to photography (usually no sun into the camera). At the end of the bridge you’ll be at the famous Odaiba district! Lots of things to see there (and shopping). Total walking, about 4km.
I took these photos on a sunny afternoon, halfway on the route at Shibaura Island, and the last image from the top of Odaiba bridge. I have posted plenty of photos of Odaiba and the bridge before, so please browse the blog via the tags if you are interested in seeing more!
As a tourist in Tokyo most people are pretty much limited to getting around on trains and subway, with the occasional use of taxis, trams and ferries. My dream of a zeppelin passenger service connecting Hakone, Odaiba (in Tokyo) and Odawara still hasn’t won the approval of the Japanese government! Actually though, there is also a pretty excellent bus service in the city, filling the gaps between hard to connect stations. For example, the most convenient way of getting from Shibuya to Roppongi, to major centers inside Tokyo and not far away there is no trains or subways and you’d have to do a lot of tricky detours to stay within the subway system to get from Shibuya to Roppongi, if it wasn’t for the excellent bus service! Things have become even more convenient in the last few years as you can now use your train passes on buses as well. In Tokyo’s tourist destination number one, Taito City (home of Asakusa, Kaminarimon, etc.) there is a loop bus system aimed exclusively at tourists, the Taito City Loop Bus, or Megurin for short. Consisting of small frequent buses on three interconnecting routes and tickets for 100 yen per ride or 300 yen for a day pass it’s easy and convenient for local tourists to travel around Taito, and especially the route connecting Ueno station with Asakusa station. Taito is also full of other more minor things to see and do and if you’re into the charms of downtown Tokyo but want to spare your legs it is a good way to just loop around and see so much more of the city in these slow buses than what you can see from the subway or trains. The only trouble is that most of the information is in Japanese! But if you have a local friend to help out, or if you are a local and want to show visitors around, this is an excellent way to spend a day in Tokyo. Besides, the buses are really cute. Here’s a map in Japanese of the routes – pretty impressive!