Review: InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan

This review is a bit short because during our three day stay in Tokyo we spent very little time in the hotel and were running around Tokyo pretty much the entire time doing things like a sushi making class and a food tour through the streets of Tokyo. However, I did manage to get some photos of our room and a little bit of the facilities so I thought that I’d share.

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The location

I honestly wasn’t crazy about the location of the hotel. It’s not too far away from the heart of the city, but I wish we would’ve gone with a property that had more restaurants and things happening just outside the door. Each time we walked to and from the train stations, it sort of felt like there just wasn’t a lot happening in the nearby vicinity.

The good thing is that Tokyo’s excellent public transportation system is conveniently located by the hotel. You’ve got three different modes of transportation nearby: Takeshiba Station (monorail), Hamamatsucho Station (train), and Daimon Station (subway). We used all three of them during our stay and found them extremely easy to use.

Tip: If you’re visiting Tokyo for a short time look into getting the pre-paid Pasmo card that works on all public transit and it will make your life so much easier.

The entrance to the hotel has some interesting sliding doors and very friendly staff members waiting there to help you out.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.
InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.

The InterContinental Tokyo Bay boasts a beautiful lobby complete with chandeliers, flooring, and decor. It feels very luxurious as you make your way to the check-in desk.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay lobby.
InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.

My only complaint is that there really aren’t many places to sit in the lobby, although there’s a lot of open space. There are several restaurants located inside the hotel on this level, although we didn’t have time to try them out.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.

In the middle of the lobby is a large Japanese art piece that was pretty fascinating to me.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.
InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay entrance.

We used 100,000 IHG points to book this room and due to Brad’s IHG Platinum status which he gets with his IHG Rewards Credit Card, we were upgraded to a deluxe corner view king room on the 17th floor. If we had booked the deluxe corner room without any IHG perks and included breakfast (which we got complimentary) we would’ve paid close to $1,000 or more, so I liked the value our points + status got us.

You can see the corner room highlighted in the layout below.

Personally, I loved the room. It had a nice fresh scent throughout, ultra-soft bed and pillows, and everything was clean and in good order.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.
InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.

I loved almost everything about the decor of the room but the off-center headboard drove me crazy once I noticed it. It was really hard to not let my OCD get the best of me every time I walked by.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.

The corner room really opens up when you open up the automated curtains and get the sweeping views of the city and Tokyo Bay.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.

Just outside the room there was a balcony. However, there’s no access to it and it’s only there for emergencies, which is a shame because there was a great view of the river.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
View from the InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.

We were still on US time so we easily woke up in time to watch the sunrise.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room.

This is the view during the day time. You can clearly see the Tokyo Sky Tree, which is the second tallest free standing structure in the world and a beautiful piece of architecture. The river was also busy with boats throughout the day, including what looked like some kind of party cruise boat that docked nearby.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
Tokyo skyline as seen from the InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room on the 17th floor.

The bathroom is quite spacious, complete with two sinks, a bathtub, and a shower. Because of the layout of the corner room, I don’t think the other bathrooms on the same floors are this big.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room bathroom.

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The curtain opens up to a fantastic view of the bay and Rainbow Bridge. One complaint about the bathroom: it was really muggy in there. We happened to visit Tokyo in September during a heatwave and I don’t think there was a proper AC system because that bathroom was almost like a sauna, and I sort of dreaded going in it.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay corner room bathroom.

This was my first time in Japan and thus my first encounter with Japanese toilets.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
Japanese toilet.

While I found all of the controls a bit confusing at first, I soon got the hang of it, and I’ve got to say that we could probably use some of those toilets here in the US. (I’ll spare you the play-by-play.)

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
Japanese toilet controls.

We made our way to the fitness room to get a work out in. And then they say fitness “room” they mean just that. It’s a room with gym equipment in it and nothing more.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay fitness room.

The room at least comes with some nice cardio equipment so it is possible to get a decent work out in. You’ll see yourself on the closed circuit tv in the corner so don’t do anything you wouldn’t want a camera to catch.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay fitness room exercise equipment.

You also have some pretty great views of the river while you exercise, so that’s an added plus. We actually finished watching the sunrise from the gym while working out and it was a great way to start the day.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay fitness room.

Breakfast is served in a nicely decorated restaurant. They had tons of options for traditional Asian cuisine and some American-style options, too. We were there at opening and about 30 minutes later it really got busy in there, although it was a weekend and I’m pretty sure there were some large events going on at the hotel during that weekend.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay breakfast.

We’d eaten so much Japanese food during our stay that I opted to keep it simple and try to piece together my own American breakfast. Overall, it was okay, but nothing to write home about. Had I been a bit more adventurous I probably could have gotten more from the breakfast, but I was convinced that I’d eaten enough raw fish to last me for a while and didn’t want to push my luck too far.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan
InterContinental Tokyo Bay breakfast.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan FAQ

How many points are needed for a free stay at InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan?

Prices may vary based on the type of room and season but you can find standard room redemptions for as low as 47,500 points.

What restaurants are at InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan?

You can find the following restaurants:

La Provence
New York Lounge
Hudson Lounge / Amber
Italian Dining Zillion
Teppan-Yaki Takumi
The Shop N.Y.Lounge Boutique
Chef’s Live Kitchen

How far away is InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan from Narita International Airport?

The hotel is approximately 1 hour from Narita International Airport by car.

How far away is InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan from Haneda Airport?

The hotel is approximately 16 minutes from Haneda Airport by car.

How much does an Uber cost from Narita International Airport to InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan?

You can find Uber rates from Narita International Airport to InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan for as low as $261.

How much does an Uber cost from Haneda Airport to InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan?

You can find Uber rates from Haneda Airport to InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan for as low as $59.

What time is the gym open?

The gym is open 24 hours.

What is the phone number for Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong?

The phone number for Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is +81354042222.

Final word

Overall, the InterContinental Tokyo Bay is a fine hotel with fantastic rooms and beautiful facilities. This hotel is much larger than I was able to capture in this short review and is home to many restaurants, ballrooms, and other facilities. I wasn’t crazy about the location of the hotel but it wasn’t bad by any means since you have multiple public transit options just minutes away. I’d probably try to stay somewhere else next time just to experience another part of Tokyo, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel.

Ultimate Guide to Onsens (Japanese Bathhouses)

Japan is one of my favorite countries for food and activities. One of the best things to do in Japan is going to an onsen, also known as a Japanese bathhouse. Visiting an onsen and bathing in one is probably one of the most relaxing activities you could do while you’re in Japan — no matter if you’re in the countryside or city, onsens are everywhere. 

In this article, I explain what an onsen is, what type of standards and expectations you should have for onsens, and where you can visit some of the best onsens in all of Japan.

What is a onsen?

Onsen is the word for a public bathhouse that you will find all over Japan. Bathers will bath naked with their specific gender as males and females have designated baths. Onsens might be standalone while other onsens might be part of ryokans (an inn), which will be called onsen ryokans. Onsens can be cheap or expensive and all you need is your clothes as onsens will provide everything you will need or possibly want before or after your bath. 

Below I go over the standards of onsens and what you might expect at your average onsen or onsen ryokan.

Forest Hotel Fuki inside onsen
Forest Hotel Fuki inside onsen

Standards of onsens

Onsens can come in many shapes and sizes.

Some onsens will offer a very luxurious environment while other onsens offer the bare bones in both facilities and amenities. However, onsens typically are all the same when it comes to offering a changing room, showers, and bath. 

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Everything you can imagine is provided (maybe with a fee)

You might think onsens nickle and dime you when it comes to toiletries or bath accessories, but in reality the fee you pay for the onsen includes almost everything you can think of.

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Soap
  • Hair dryer
  • Combo
  • Hairbrush
  • Towels

Non-essential items below might have to be rented or purchased at cheaper onsens, but are certainly free at averaged priced and more expensive onsens.

  • Face wash
  • Makeup pads
  • Razors
  • Hair iron
  • etc.

In many onsens, you won’t have to rent or purchase non-essential items, but do keep in mind that the cheaper the onsen is, you might have to pay extra for non-essential items.

Most onsen ryokans will offer everything you can think of without the need to rent or purchasing non-essential items.

Sometimes I have found products that are crazy good at more expensive onsens making me wish I could bring it home and at other cheaper onsens the products are just okay. 

You will be naked

The whole point of an onsen is to bathe yourself. So, in retrospect, you have to be naked. Expect most onens not to allow any type of swimwear, so you have to be naked if you want to actually shower and bathe at an onsen.

I am personally self conscious, so the first time going to an onsen I was nervous, but in reality it’s a wonderful experience. It’s something about being with strangers and/or friends that makes bathing in an onsen a wonderful experience to remove all the worries in your life.

If you absolutely cannot bathe nude, you can find onsens that allow swimwear. Unfortunately, they aren’t all that common and typically are found in more touristy places. 

Cubbies or lockers

At any onsen you visit, there will a changing room with lockers or cubbies. Most of the time they are just open cubbies with baskets, where you don’t need a special key to unlock. I’ve never lost anything in these cubbies. I have left my phone and wallet before many of times, but they were always there when I came back to the cubby. It’s probably because Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.

You can change out and into your clothes in this cubby room. In the cubby room, you will usually find a private toilet, towels, sinks, and other toiletries. There are usually even scales to weigh yourself and sometimes cold or hot tea to drink.

Shower before getting into the onsen (bath)

It’s a must to take a shower before getting into the onsen. There will be places where you can either stand or sit while showering. You will find shampoo, conditioner, body wash, mirror, and sometimes face wash at each shower. Showers will also have a bucket where it’s fun to rinse yourself off. I never realized how much of a joy it can be to shower before and after bathing at an onsen.

Some onsens will have dividers between each shower, but in most cases the showers are in a row without a dividers between each one, but typically there isn’t.

Going with your friends

It’s normal to go to an onsen with your friends and not uncommon to see younger and older groups of people bathing together and talking. While you might think going with your friends might be weird, it’s actually pretty fun. You tend to be relaxed because of the water and talk without any distractions. 

Family friendly

Most onsens are family friendly where children or even infants can come into the onsen. Onsen goers have no problem taking kids or even having strangers kids in the baths. Bath toys aren’t usually welcomed, but some family onsens might allow bath toys as they might want to cater more to families than the general population.

Just remember to watch your kids so they don’t get in trouble. You should also take note that onsens can be very hot, so the younger the child or infant, the water might not be so good for them. So, limit your time.

Going alone

Yes, it’s perfectly normal to go to an onsen alone. I have gone to an onsen alone and enjoyed it as much as going with friends. Visiting an onsen is all about relaxation. It’s amazing to go to an onsen and look out of a winder to see something peaceful, I highly recommend trying an onsen alone if you can. 

Private couple onsens

Some private onsens are available at higher end places for an extra fee. These can be awesome if you’re traveling with your partner and want to enjoy a bath and shower within your own privacy. Expect the same onsen experience, typically indoor and outdoor onsen all for you and another person, just smaller.

Unique minerals

There are different types of onsens. You will have natural and articifial onsens. Artificial onsens aren’t bad, but natural onsens are a different world. Natural onsens tend to have unique smells, smoothness, texture, etc. The type of onsens you can encounter would be:

  • Sulphur onsen (硫黄泉, iō-sen)
  • Sodium chloride onsen (ナトリウム泉, natoriumu-sen)
  • Hydrogen carbonate onsen (炭酸泉, tansan-sen)
  • Iron onsen (鉄泉, tetsu-sen)

Sulphur onsens are by far the most common onsen you can find around Japan. Sometimes Sulphur is not the most pleasant smell, but it does make your skin feel amazing and feel relaxed in a unique way. 

With these types of minerals you will tend to have different styles of onsens eggs, which are commonality at natural onsens.

Forest Hotel Fuki outside onsen
Forest Hotel Fuki outside onsen

Onsen eggs

Onsen eggs are basically eggs boiled in the onsen water. Of course they use clean different onsen water that hasn’t touched human skin.

Onsen eggs tend to taste and have a slightly different texture than regularly boiled eggs. In fact, when I first tried onsen eggs for the first time, I was surprised how there was an actual difference. You can typically find onsen eggs at many onsen ryokans, but also at some onsen houses too.

Don’t be loud

Onsens are meant to be a quiet environment, and if it’s not a quiet environment it will anger locals, especially regulars. Library talking is okay, but anything louder can be annoying to other onseners. You should also not splash around water if you are with friends or your partner as others around you will definitely not enjoy it. 

While some children can lightly splash around, make sure your child is aware of the onsen culture of relaxation and not running around. 

However, if you and your buddies are the only ones in the onsen with no one else around, you can be as loud and splash around a little bit. Just know that most male and female onsens are right next to each other with a dividing wall, so being too loud could have the other gender get annoyed. 

Tattoos might be prohibited

Yes, that’s right, if you have body ink, an onsen might turn you away. Sometimes other onseners might tell on you by saying to the onsen staff. It’s because tattoos in Japan are usually associated with rebels. While Japan is slowly opening up to the idea of tattoos, many locals might still have a negative connotation of tattoos.

If you have a tattoo, I highly suggest finding an onsen that is accepting to tattoo onseners. 

Onsens are hot

You might not realize it, but an onsen can be very hot. Some are slightly hotter than others. So you need to listen to your body and know your own tolerance. Also, don’t stay in too long as health side effects can occur.

I have been to a few onsens that are extremely hot, almost unbearable. Definitely don’t go to an onsen if you have high blood pressure.

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Yukatas are fun to wear and walk around in onsen towns

Think of a yukata as a more casual version of a kimono. You will typically be given one at onsens, and most definitely be given one to borrow at onsen ryokans. They are typically worn around town, even if you wanted to go out to eat wearing it, it’s okay.

They make yukatas for all ages and body sizes, so you don’t have to worry about it being too big or small.

I personally love wearing a yukata. Think of it as a bathrobe, but much better.

Couple wearing yukata at Ginzan
Couple wearing yukata at Ginzan

Where to find the best onsens in Japan

While you may already know Hakone, you might not realize that there are many onsen towns and villages out there that make Hakone look like an overpriced just okay tourist town in comparison. 

Ginzan Onsen Village, Yamagata

Located in Yamagata Prefecture, Ginzan Onsen Village is one of the most beautiful onsen villages out there. With dozens of natural onsen ryokans, which some allow you to access the onsen without staying. It’s one of my favorite onsen villages in Japan. 

During my first visit to Ginzan Onsen Village, I fell in love. Views from many outside onsens were breathtaking and calming. Then on top of that, onsens here are natural. During the summer it’s not crowded, but during the winter many people visit, as onsens are always better during the winter. 

The whole village is picturesque, and you can walk around wearing your Yakata. Many Japanese all over Japan will go to Ginzan for onsens. In fact, some animes, like Spirited Away, have based the buildings in the anime off of Ginzan Onsen Village buildings. So, you can expect it to be worth your visit, even if it’s only accessible by car. 

Kurokawa Hot Spring Ryokan Association, Kumamoto

Kumamoto is known for its bear mascot, but also known for its wonderful landscapes. Kurokawa Hot Spring Ryokan Association is cluttered with many onsens and ryokans for a relaxing day or two. With over 25 onsen ryokans, you will be able to stay and relax overnight while some allow daily usage of the onsen without staying overnight.

The most beautiful times to visit would be during the fall when the trees change colors and the weather is chilly. During the spring you can see flowers and trees blooming, aka sakura season for sakura trees, normally mid March. My friends that have been here loved it and usually went back annually for some relaxation between semesters at university. 

Kusatsu, Gunma

Kusatsu is probably one of the most famous quality towns for onsens near Tokyo. It holds some of the most beautiful natural onsens in the mountains of Gunma. A short drive away, you also have the Jigokudani Monkey Park, one of the most unique places to visit during the winter as monkeys soak up the onsen water surrounded by snow. 

If you had to stay at any onsen ryokan town, Kusatsu would be great for all seasons as it can cater to outdoor lovers and home bodies as the mountains are some of the most beautiful mountains in all of Japan. I am planning to visit during this March with friends as they really want to go back and it’s on my list of must visits.

Exploring caves of Ginzan Onsen Village
Exploring caves of Ginzan Onsen Village

Final word 

I hope this article gave you a better idea of what an onsen is. Going to an onsen is definitely a recommended to-do for anyone who visits Japan with friends, family, or even alone. If you end up visiting an onsen, tell us what you thought of the experience in the comments below.

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

Where to Stay in Tokyo (The Best Districts)

Tokyo is one of my favorite major cities in the world, as it offers some of the best restaurants, attractions, game centers, high-end shopping, boutique shopping, and history. Tokyo has a convenient transportation system that has a city within the stations all being as clean as the rest of the city, which is more sanitary than any first world city.

Simply put: I love Tokyo, and in this article, I will describe some of the best neighborhoods and districts in Tokyo to stay (whether you’re on a budget with kids or willing to splurge on luxury hotels). I’ll also recommend a lot of unique things to do to really get a sense of the culture and what to expect when it comes to one of my favorite cities.

What is great about Tokyo

You can get almost anywhere in Tokyo within 20 minutes. For example, you can go from Shinjuku to Akihabara, Ginza, Ueno, Roppongi, and other inner-city neighborhoods in about 20 minutes. That is the magic of Tokyo and what makes this one of my favorite major cities in the world.

You can find unique pop culture trends that drive Tokyo. In fact, pop culture drives most of Japan, but Tokyo is where it is most prominent. For example, game centers are huge in Japan partly because the gaming industry in Japan is very domestic driven as many games are driven by the anime industry as well. 

Food is everywhere, even in the five convenience stores in one tiny block. Small basement restaurants offering just bar seating and an aunty cooking homemade food with a limited menu never disappoints.

While you can find all of that said above outside of Tokyo, it’s still a completely different vibe within Tokyo. Tokyo is truly a flagship city. Below, I’ll discuss the neighborhoods that I enjoy the most and the ones that are great to visit every time I am in Tokyo.

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One of my favorite neighborhoods is Akihabara as it’s everything pop culture. Game centers spread out with many shops geared towards pop culture called anime and manga. Geeks, also known as weebs or otakus, flock to Akihabara for both manufacturer and second-hand shops that cover the area where you can find figures from any mainstream or niche anime, movie, or live action TV-series.

You can easily find video game shops that allow you to buy games that are absolute classics or modern games. Playing arcade games at game centers are a joy as is watching fellow master gamers play rhythm games like no tomorrow.

Akihabara at night
Akihabara at night

Why stay in Akihabara

Akihabara is for the geeks inside us. It’s great for the people that don’t want to go around clubbing all the time and want to shop pop culture items and play games with fellow geeks. If you want budget friendly, out of the five neighborhoods, this is by far the most budget-friendly.

Things you have to do

Figure shops

Go into a figure shop. I personally collect anime figures, about 50 now, and it’s undoubtedly fun to people watch in there as people find a figure they love. The great thing about Akihabara is the fact that you can find any type of figure shop. Want mecha? There is a shop just for mecha or a floor of a shop dedicated to that. Do you want to see Star War figures? You can, and it’s easier than you might think. 

Game centers 

Game centers are the place to visit alone, as a family, with friends, or on a date as it’s an arcade on steroids. You can find UFO machines (claw games), Dance Dance Revolution, combat fighting games, rhythm games, etc. It’s what arcades used to be like, but 7 stories tall. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Japan, and Akihabara has almost every type of game center.

Specific game centers that are iconic in Japan would be Sega and TAITO.

Maid cafes

Maid cafes are almost as typical as a game center. Maid cafes, or other forms of cafes like butler cafes, are themed cafés complete with maid and butler costumes. Sometimes there will be performances by the staff that range from cute to somewhat interesting to say the least but note this isn’t that kid friendly.

Maid cafe moments
Maid cafe moments

Electronics shops

Electronics shopping in Akihabara goes along with the nerdy ward culture with many unique new and second-hand electronic shops selling almost anything you can think of. No, it’s not like Shenzhen electronics market with many components, but this is specifically manufactured legitimate merchandise that makes you wish you had more money to buy every niche tech gear that is available.

Book shops

Jimbocho is the place to go if you’re a book lover as it’s about 160 second-hand bookstores all in one little neighborhood close to Akihabara.

Watch sumo wrestling practice

Located in Ryogoku, sumo wrestling practice is held within 2 stops from Akihabara. You can watch two giant forces fight in one of the most fascinating and unique styles known to man.

Getting around

Akihabara is one of the biggest stations in all of Tokyo, serving many lines form JR and Tokyo Metro. It’s easy to get around as it’s a hub that is also close to Tokyo Station (city center for all transportation).

Akihabara is only 5 minutes away from Tokyo Station, 17 minutes from Shinjuku, and 22 minutes from Roppongi when taking JR or Tokyo Metro. 

Where to eat in Akihabara

Akihabara isn’t the food capital of Tokyo filled with Michelin starred restaurants, but it still has a few catering to Michelin starred junkies.

Food found in Akihabara will be ramen, udon, sushi, and katsu. You cannot find many places open 24 hours, but there are some options. These types of places will be on the cheaper end as it’s limited service where you order at a kiosk, get a ticket, sit down and hand the ticket to the staff. Within minutes you will typically find your food at the table.


Ishibashi is a Michelin star sukiyaki restaurant located in Akihabara that has been passed down at each generation. The dining experience is very much traditional making you step back in time with a charming family restaurant vibe. No need to dress up too.


The one downside about Akihabara is the lack of luxury accommodations. You can undoubtedly find your fair share of business hotels, ryokan, hostels, guest houses, and Airbnb, but you won’t find a hotel that is similar to luxury hotels in Ginza or Shinjuku. That being said, if you are on more of a budget and want slightly cheaper accommodations for 3 to 4-star hotels, Akihabara is your place.

If you want to use hotel points in Akihabara like Bonvoy, IHG, Hilton, or Hyatt you won’t find any points property.

Remm Akihabara

Remm Akihabara hotel is right at Akihabara station, easy to access, but very small. Rooms, even mid category rooms, aren’t big. I stayed at this hotel back in 2015; I found it charming and cramped. However, the price isn’t bad and averages between $107 to $273 a night.

Airbnb or guest houses 

Airbnb or guest houses is where Akihabara shines as hosts have a video game or anime themed listings that make the geek inside you go bananas. I highly suggest looking in Akihabara for Airbnb if that’s the way you like to go.

Anime decorated Airbnb Akihabara
Anime decorated Airbnb Akihabara


Shinjuku is regarded as the happening place in all of Tokyo that is known for shopping, entertainment, clubs, hotels, and restaurants. It’s the place in Tokyo where you can find good nightlife as it’s the part of the city that doesn’t sleep.

Being the part of the city that doesn’t sleep, Shinjuku is great for bar and clubs where you can find an abundance of clubs that caters to both wild nights out with your friends or a place to meet new people. Just remember, some clubs are better than others.

Shinjuku hosts one of the most prominent red-light districts in all of Tokyo in Kabukicho. Not the most kid-friendly place, but if you are into redlight districts, this can offer a lot, just stay away from sleazy street hustlers.

Shinjukus red light district Kabukicho
Shinjuku’s red light district (Kabukicho)

Why stay in Shinjuku

Shinjuku is geared towards the people that party. Busy during all times of the day, with drunk white-collared workers at night, but that adds more to the fun when you’re out and about after a fun night. If you don’t have kids, this is the best neighborhood for you.

Things to do

Bars and clubs

Clubbing and bar hopping is one activity that is famous in Shinjuku. At midnight it’s common to see people go from one place to another. It’s a place where you can actively find drinks and people that want to have a good time.

Not many nightclubs in Shinjuku, but as always there are new ones popping up. One of the most popular club is WARP Shinjuku for one of the first real nightclubs in Shinjuku. Another would be Decabar Z with it’s toy box feel as it’s very colorful, people dress up in costumes, and have candy themed menu.


Shops in Shinjuku are open later than other neighborhoods. It’s easy to shop after 10pm. Shops include both department, electronic stores, and niche shops. However, it’s not the boutique or high-end shopping capital of Tokyo.

Check out Shinjuku-dori street where you can find many department stores, malls, and electronic stores buzzing late into the night. Also, around Shinjuku station, you will find many shops.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is like any other cities government building, but with an observation deck on the top floor that is entirely free! It’s worth a visit to see Mt. Fuji on a clear sunny day.

Red-light scene

Kabukichō is the red-light district of Shinjuku with many love hotels, host clubs, and what creates the name of Shinjuku as being the “sleepless town”.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens you can find in possibly all of Tokyo.

Robot Resturant

Robot Resturant is not just a restaurant, but a performance theater that has robots and people performing elaborate shows. The great thing about this futuristic show is the fact its kid-friendly making it a good option for families.

Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai is excellent if you want to see narrow alleys of old Tokyo buildings that offer many eateries along with taverns.


Shinjuku Golden Gai

Getting around

Shinjuku Station is one of the busiest stations in the world with an overwhelming three million passengers a day. It’s easy to get around, but during rush-hour, when people are going home from school and work, it’s going to be tougher to ride the metro compared to other wards in Tokyo.

Many bus and train lines are leading you to many parts inside and outside of the city. You can smoothly go to Mt. Fuji or Narita Airport (NRT) with minimal effort from Shinjuku.

Shinjuku station to Tokyo Station takes 14 minutes, 17 minutes to Akihabara, and 9 minutes to Roppongi.

Where to eat

Shinjuku has both high-end eateries and cheaper eateries. With a right amount of eateries that cater to Michelin star followers, it’s easy to find a good quality restaurant in Shinjuku.

You can find almost any type of restaurant here like French, Sushi, Italian, American, Ramen, Udon, Indian, Thai, BBQ, and Izakaya.


Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima is a unique restaurant owned by the grandson of the chef Rosanjin. It’s famous for kombu and katsuo-bushi with dishes made to eat whole. It’s a traditional Japanese with a modern taste. It was delightful to dine here.

Fūunji is a wonderful Ramen restaurant that will take your taste buds away. While there are many ramen restaurants to try in Tokyo alone, this should be used as a benchmark of what ramen should taste like.


With many luxury hotels and business hotels, you won’t have a hard time finding a property that could host you. Plus, you can still find hostels, guest houses, ryokans, and Airbnbs in Shinjuku for cheaper accommodations.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo is old but iconic that ages well. This luxury hotel is easy to use points on, with good sized rooms, club lounge that doesn’t disappoint, with both public and in-room onsens. The location is nicely settled in the heart of Shinjuku next to Tokyo’s government’s buildings with easy access to public transit. This is a category 7 property when using Hyatt points.

Hyatt Regency 

Hyatt Regency Tokyo is a decent 4-star hotel that has a price tag that is easier to swallow compared to the Park Hyatt a few blocks away from it. It’s right next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with easy access to public transit. This is a category 3 property when using Hyatt points.

Hilton Tokyo

Hilton Tokyo is yet another good option when it comes to Shinjuku. Located a few blocks away from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, you have easy access to public transit. You can use your Hilton points at this property.

Ginza and Tokyo Station

Upmarket shopping with every public transit line in and out of the city, Ginza and Tokyo Station (also known as Chiyoda City) is the place to be if you desire connectivity via public transit and luxury shopping. With many luxury hotels, a train station that has shopping comparable to shopping malls, and streets lined with shopping.

Traditionally this was the top place to stay, but Shinjuku took its spot for its nightlife. However, Ginza is very much a lovely area during the day with lots of shopping and easy access to the rest of the city being in the city center physically with Tokyo Station and the number of lines the station has.

Why stay in Ginza/Tokyo Station

Ginza and Tokyo Station is excellent for people if they want to have super easy access to everywhere in and outside of the city with upmarket shopping and luxury hotels all in one of the safest parts of what is already a safe city. If you want to spend money and don’t care about your budget, Ginza is the place to stay. For kid-friendly neighborhoods, this is one of the most kid-friendly places.

Things to do

Premium and luxury shops

Upmarket shopping in Ginza won’t disappoint you. From cosmetics and clothes to musical instruments in flagship stores. If you love high-end brands, Ginza is the place. The main shopping street of Ginza Chuo Dori closes during the weekend, making it a pedestrian-only street. 

Imperial Palace

Visit the Imperial Palace, where the emperor lives at this beautiful Edo period built castle. You can tour the grounds of the palace, which are massive in size and impressively upkeep. The entrance is free which is a nice benefit. The only thing to keep in mind is the imperial grounds have to be booked via the Imperial Household Agency`s website.

Imperial Palace moat and the city
Imperial Palace moat and the city


Upscale art galleries and cafes are a treat with many offering an excellent place to both browse and relax.

Hamarikyu Gardens

Hamarikyu Gardens is a beautiful garden right at the end of the Sumida River leading into the Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station is a beautiful red brick station that is massive in size with very good eateries in the station. It also allows you to be connected to the rest of Japan as it’s the main hub for JR.

Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market was once the official market for seafood wholesales, but as they moved the market it’s still crowded with vendors that are selling delicious seafood. Consider taking a sushi class that might also offer a tour of the fish market for a unique cultural experience. 

Tea ceremony

While you can do tea ceremonies anywhere in Tokyo, Ginza has a few as they are pricey and in need a good environment. So, I would recommend HiSui Tokyo located in central Ginza.

Getting around

When staying near Tokyo Station, you will be amazed at the size of the station and how many layers there are to it. To first-time visitors, remember line colors and that many lines go to the same nearby stations.

That being said, Tokyo Station allows you to go anywhere you want in Tokyo and Japan. And if you aren’t taking JR you can easily access the Tokyo Metro station nearby.

Akihabara is 5 minutes away, Shinjuku is 14 minutes away, and Roppongi is 12 minutes away.

Where to eat

My first suggestion is eating at Tokyo Station or Tokyo Station Yaesu Chikagai as it’s huge with a good amount of special eateries. It’s basically a mall with many independent and franchised eateries in it.

Around Ginza and Tokyo Station you can find many Michelin star restaurants and casual restaurants ranging from French, Italian, Sushi, BBQ, Izakaya, Ramen, Udon, and American. 


インデラ is not exactly in Ginza/Tokyo Station, but it’s close by in a quiet neighborhood. This is one of my favorite curry spots in all of Tokyo. It’s cheap, the curry is delicious, and the homemade pickled condiments are just ever so yummy.

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Ginza is a pricey area to stay as it’s mostly high-end luxury hotels. However, some of the best hotels are located in this area. Sadly, if you want cheaper accommodations, Ginza and Tokyo Station isn’t the best place to look.

Aman Tokyo

Aman Tokyo is an ultra-luxury hotel that doesn’t disappoint. Being Aman’s biggest property at just 84 rooms, it is one of the most expensive hotels in Tokyo. It caters to food lovers as having different famous chefs making special menus and cooking every month. If you want one of the best city hotel experiences, here is your place.

Aman Tokyo sky lobby and lounge
Aman Tokyo sky lobby and lounge

The Tokyo Station Hotel

The Tokyo Station Hotel is a Small Luxury Hotels property that is right at Tokyo Station. As it’s a partner of Hyatt, you can enjoy earning or redeeming your Hyatt points at this lovely boutique hotel.

Hyatt Centric Ginza

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is Hyatt’s newest property in Tokyo that shines both from being a modern hotel but also from the age as it opened up in 2018. This property you can use your Hyatt points as it’s a category 6 property.

Conrad Tokyo

Conrad Tokyo is Hilton’s luxury brand that caters to the bathtub rubber duckies and modern luxury Japanese design being right next to the metro and Hamarikyu Gardens. Perfect hotel if you want to burn your Hilton points or pay cash as it’s cheaper than some of Hyatt’s offerings.

Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel

Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel was the first hotel I stayed at back when I visited Tokyo for the very first time back in 2015. When it comes to this Ginza Hotel, it’s a premium hotel that has good attentive staff.


Shibuya has the most iconic spot in all of Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing shows up in almost every movie or TV show featuring Tokyo as it’s the crosswalk that hundreds of people cross every minute in every direction.

Shibuya also features one of the most beautiful shrines in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine, along with cosplayers gatherings every Sunday to cosplay in Yoyogi park next to Meiji Shrine. If you love cheap shopping with cute cafes, Takeshita Street is the place to go. While shopping near Shibuya Crossing is cheap as well with lots of small shops selling clothing.

If you were in the mood for upscale boutique shopping, head down Cat Street where you sadly won’t see many cats. If you do want to see cats and drink some coffee or tea with them, head to one of the many cat cafes or even other animal cafes where you can pet and spend time with different types of animals in a relaxing environment.

In fact, Shibuya is my second favorite area to visit in Tokyo after Akihabara.

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo
Shibuya Crossing

Why stay in Shibuya?

Shibuya is for the people that want a unique vibe with cheap shopping along with upscale boutique shops. You can easily find different types of cafes along with simple traditions like cosplaying in the park or shopping at 100 yen shops.

Things to do

Cosplay Sunday

Cosplay in the park every Sunday at Yoyogi Park right next to Meiji Shrine. You can see cosplays from anime, manga, and movies. No matter what type of cosplayer you are, amateur or professional, everyone is welcome to join talking, skits, or just goofing off.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing to experience one of the busiest pedestrian crosswalks that are as iconic as Tokyo itself.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street for cheap shops and cafes. You can find lots of cute outfits that are colorful, popping colors. It’s called Harajuku style. Easily find cheap 100 yen shops while fighting the crowded street on the busy weekend.

Fluffy pancakes are a must, while fluffy pancakes are everywhere in Tokyo, Takeshita Street has many cafes offering fluffy pancakes that are surprisingly wonderful.

Cat Street

Visit Cat Street for upmarket boutique funky shopping street with limited traffic and higher-end eateries.

Animal cafes

Cat cafes or other animal cafes are common in Shibuya. While you can easily find animal cafes all throughout Tokyo, Shibuya has a ton to choose from.

Cheap mall shopping

Mall shopping close to Shibuya Crossing is a popular thing to do as there are cheap department stores with many different styles. You can technically spend a day in Shibuya just shopping department stores by Shibuya Crossing.

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu, aka Meiji Shrine, is a big Shrine that is inexpensive and big in size for both the grounds and the shrine. It’s so beautiful enough that you can visit it multiple times and find a new path you didn’t notice before.

Meiji Gate and forest
Meiji Gate

Getting around

Shibuya is similar to Shinjuku as it offers great connectivity throughout the city with both JR and Tokyo Metro. It’s close to Shinjuku if you want to take any buses outside of the city.

Shibuya to Shinjuku is only 6 minutes apart, Tokyo Station is 18 minutes apart, Akihabara is 24 minutes apart, while Roppongi is 11 minutes apart.

Where to eat

Shibuya has tons of eateries ranging from on a budget to expensive. You can find all types of food and cafes through Shibuya that won’t disappoint you, even Michelin star restaurants are available in Shibuya.


My second favorite Sushi restaurant is Sushi Masuda which is a Michelin two-star restaurant. It’s not exactly in Shibuya, but on the border of Shibuya so no need for public transport as you can walk to.


Shibuya doesn’t have much when it comes to accommodations. While the area is wonderful, it lacks high-end accommodations and typically has business hotels or Airbnb. If you want to use your hotel points at a hotel, Shibuya won’t give you any options.

The Millennials Shibuya

The Millennials Shibuya could be a good option if you’re traveling alone, want a “trendy” public space, and don’t mind capsules. This is probably the most modern capsule hotel in all of Tokyo, maybe even the nicest. It’s on the pricey side, but it certainly shines in peoples feedback.

Airbnb and residences

There are many other hotels in the area, but I personally think they are a little bit pricey for the property. Therefore, Airbnb, guest houses, or residences really shine in this area.


This small lively entertainment district filled with shopping, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants is more elegant than Shinjuku as it’s more laid back. Roppongi is near Tokyo Tower, so skyscrapers get great views of Tokyo Tower. Michelin star restaurants are through Roppongi along with other great eateries.

Interested in art galleries, museums, and theaters, Roppongi has many for you to visit. Roppongi Hills complex has over 220 restaurants in one area for you to choose from. You honestly won’t go hungry in Roppongi.

Why stay in Roppongi?

If you want Shinjuku nightlife, but laidback, Roppongi is your place as it is similar nightlife as Shinjuku while being more family-friendly and laid back with less drunks walking around club or bar hopping at night, but still with some awesome nightclubs like ageHa. If you’re looking for kid-friendly neighborhoods, this is one of the best.

Things to do


Museums are key in Roppongi as there are a bunch. You can go to museums like the Mori Art Museum, National Art Center Tokyo, and Suntory Museum of Art.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower is a cute red and white Elfiel Tower that is actually fun to visit as it gives you views from above. It’s most beautiful at night as Tokyo Tower has specific themes before entering throughout the year.

Atago Shrine

Atago Shrine has a beautiful stone walkway leading up to the shrine that is lit up by lanterns at dusk.

Food heaven

Eat your heart away as Roppongi is known for many foodie restaurants and Michelin star guide recommendations.

Underneath Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower

Getting around

Roppongi is easy to get to as H and E lines of the Tokyo Metro operate through Roppongi, but no nearby JR stations. As it only serves two lines, which are still major frequently visited lines, it again connects you almost everywhere in the city with only one connection at most times.

Roppongi to Tokyo Station is 12 minutes away, Akihabara is 22 minutes away, and Shinjuku is 9 minutes away.

Where to eat

Eating in Roppongi is easy. You can find almost any type of food you want. High-end restaurants to casual eateries you can find it all. Your tastebuds won’t go bored in Roppongi with all types of international and Japanese food.


I cannot rave enough about visiting my very first Michelin two-star restaurant, the son of the Sushi master Jiro, my favorite sushi restaurant in all of Tokyo is Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongiten

Sushi Saito with lunch prices that are better than other Michelin three-star restaurants, this is a treat and another favorite Sushi restaurant of mine.

Men giving peace sign
Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongiten group photo with chef (2015)


Roppongi doesn’t disappoint when it comes to accommodations with many favorite hotels by travelers. You can easily find points hotels as well making it easy to use your hotel points or earn them at these properties.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo

Grand Hyatt Tokyo this Hyatt property is connected to the subway offering 10 restaurants at the hotel along with the 220 restaurants in the Roppongi Hills complex. It is a category 6 for using your Hyatt points.

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is not my favorite Marriott property in Tokyo, but if you love Ritz properties (even though I don’t like Ritz brands) this property is wonderful and brings in many Japanese elements into it while keeping the Ritz feel.

You shouldn’t worry where you stay in Tokyo

Tokyo is the easiest city to move around in as there is either JR or Tokyo Metro within blocks. It’s one of the safest cities in the world in one of the safest countries in the world. You can easily find good food everywhere in Japan, let alone Tokyo. There is always something unique in Tokyo to see when you walk around randomly in new neighborhoods.

Each neighborhood is welcoming with its look and feel. Of course, some neighborhoods won’t have people speaking English everywhere, but most of Japan is not English friendly, so get ready to learn the basics like thank you.

In fact, some of my favorite hotels aren’t even in the neighborhoods I suggested. Does that mean my favorite hotels are in better or fun neighborhoods? No, I prefer laidback areas for my accommodation and take a short train ride to the area I want to hang out. Typically, you can go anywhere in Tokyo within 20 minutes by metro so I don’t care about what neighborhood I stay in. I personally care about my accommodation and how budget friendly it is over what is near. Luckily, Tokyo allows everything to be near.

Go out and explore Tokyo neighborhoods.

My favorite hotel in Tokyo

Tokyo has some great hotels that put hotels in other flagship cities to shame. My ideal hotel in Tokyo has to be  The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The property offers the most beautiful views of Tokyo as rooms are only available above floor 30th floor all offering views of the city skyline. If you get a corner room you can have views of both Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower.

Night view of Tokyo
Prince Gallery floor 30th floor base room view

When it comes to food, it also offers great food, for hotel prices, but probably one of the best wagyu burgers I have ever tried. I would say the wagyu burger was better than Aman Tokyo wagyu burger. 

Burger and Frys
Prince Gallery Tokyo wagyu burger

The hotel is located in quiet Kioicho, but like I mentioned before it’s easy to get everywhere as it’s Tokyo. For a Marriott property, this is in my top 5 favorite city hotels in the world.

Daniel’s recommendation

Daniel stayed in the InterConinental Tokyo Bay during his visit to Tokyo. He wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel as he found it clean, well maintained, and beautifully finished room with a yummy breakfast. He even comments about the location is not ideal, but with public transit options, it’s easy to roam around Tokyo.

I really suggest reading his review here as it gives you an insight into this bay hotel and the hotel itself.

Final word

I do hope this article helps anyone searching for their first visit to Tokyo or their return to Tokyo.

If you have any suggestions of places to stay or visit in the areas I suggested please comment below. I would love to know what you have experienced and done in Tokyo. 🙂

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

Food Tour Through the Streets of Tokyo Review

When we visited to Tokyo, we wanted to try out some very cultural experiences and a night food tour through the streets of Tokyo seemed like the perfect option. We spent about four hours trying out all sorts of dishes that I’d never tried (or even heard of) and learned a ton about Japanese culture while exploring different parts of Tokyo that I probably would have otherwise never seen. The experience was definitely one of my favorite all-time things to do when traveling, and I’d highly recommend this tour with Urban Adventures to anyone looking to do a food tour in Tokyo.

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The tour

Our tour started with meeting at the plaza at JR Yurakucho Station at around 5pm. We’d just finished up a Japanese green tea ceremony on the other side of the city and didn’t have much time to spare, so we hopped into a taxi to make our way over to Yurakucho Station.

Tokyo Skytree from taxi
The sun setting behind the Tokyo Skytree.

At Yurakucho Station, we waited for only a couple of minutes in the busy plaza right outside the station. Our guide, Meg, picked us out from the crowd with ease and then found the other couple that we would be going along with. We only had four people total in our tour, but I know they can accommodate additional people if those slots are booked. I really liked only having four people in our group, though, as it allowed us to have a more intimate experience.

Meg first took us through some interesting alleyways underneath the train tacks that were lined with different restaurants and decorated with Japanese lanterns.

Restaurant lined alleyway Tokyo

Some of the alleyways were really picturesque.

Restaurant lined alleyway Tokyo

As we made out way through these narrow corridors (and throughout the entire tour), Meg had endless facts to provide us with about Tokyo, Japanese culture, and of course, food. I honestly kind of wish I would’ve been taking notes, because it was all really fascinating info.

Restaurant lined alleyway Tokyo
Restaurant lined alleyway Tokyo

One of the more interesting sights were the hanging squids and other forms of seafood out on display at some places.

Squid on Tokyo food tour

We then arrived to the first restaurant, a smaller pub-like venue, which I believe is a pretty popular spot in Tokyo. Luckily, the guide takes you there before the rush, so you don’t have to deal with the crowds.

We started off with a round of drinks. The other couple went for Japanese beer while Brad and I went for hot sake and our guide went with a bottle of cold sake.

Hot sake on Tokyo Food Tour

I learned a lot about sake. First, “sake bombs” are definitely an American/fratboy invention and not something Japanese people are accustomed to. The thought of mixing sake with beer while barbarically slamming the table to drop a cup of sake from two chopsticks overhanging the glass seemed to humor everyone (understandably so). Second, just as many people drink sake hot as they do cold — I always thought hot sake was the norm. Third, Japanese people serve sake in little glasses, which they use to slowly sip the sake, rather than downing them like big shot glasses. Good to know (now). 

While we downed some drinks the chef labored right in front of us through the glass.

Chef on Tokyo Food Tour
Chef on Tokyo Food Tour

After a few minutes, we were brought two plates loaded with different foods on skewers. On one plate, we had Shiitake mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, fried tofu topped with soy sauce, ginger, spring onions and bonito flakes (dried fish) in one plate. I’m not a mushroom eater but I did try the shiitake mushrooms and didn’t think they were bad at all. The ginkgo nuts had a weird fleshy texture to them but were alright and the fried sushi, even with bonito flakes (dried fish flakes) covering it, was actually delicious. Big props to the chef.

Tokyo Food Tour

Our other plate was really packed with protein. It came with chicken wings, shishitou peppers, asparagus and bacon, pork and shiso (perilla), and chicken breast topped with picked plum paste and shiso, all seasoned with salt, cooking sake, and leek. I don’t think there was a single item on this plate that I didn’t enjoy eating.

Tokyo Food Tour
(No, that’s not a corn dog on the right.)

If you’ve never tasted shiso (perilla), it’s pretty phenomenal. It’s not easy to pin point the taste because it’s got a little bit of an herb taste, cilantro taste, and even a little citrus/mint flavor going on. I’d never had anything like it before but I fell in love with it as did most of us, though the guy next to me didn’t care for it. 

The shishitou pepper we had is seriously fascinating. The peppers are usually sweet but about one out of every ten of these peppers is really spicy! It’s like Russian roulette but with vegetables — you never know what you’re going to get until you bite into it. A guy in the other group was the lucky one to get a spicy pepper and from what I could tell by the redness of his face, it was very spicy.

Tokyo Food Tour

After a couple of sake rounds and trying out all these delicious dishes and seasonings, we made our way to the subway to head to the next destination. Our guide had already pre-paid for our tickets so we got in and out in a breeze.

Subway in Tokyo

The next stop was for sweets. We stopped at this place in Tokyo called Ginza, a popular upscale shopping area of Tokyo, recognized by many as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world.

Crossing in Tokyo

The streets were pretty alive as we were there on a weekend night.

Store fronts in Tokyo

You’ll find all of the big name shops there like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Armani, etc. It’s basically like NYC’s 5th Ave or London’s Oxford Street.

Crossing in Tokyo

It even has one of the crazy-busy crosswalks.

Crossing in Tokyo

Finally, we arrived at the sweet shop, where we ordered something called “anzu daifuku.”

Tokyo Food Tour
The sweets shop.

Anzu = apricot and daifuku is the name of the sweet that has rice cake (mochi) filled with red beans (anko). I really don’t think I could ever explain the taste and texture of the mochi if I tried a million times but of course I’ll try.

Anzu Daifuku Tokyo
Anzu Daifuku

Anzu daifukugot has got this very gooey texture on the outside and then a slightly tart apricot taste that’s balanced by the red bean flavor quite nicely. It took me a couple of bites just to process the weird tastes and textures but it was definitely tasty and I finished mine.

Then it was off to Tsukishima. Tsukishima is known for the large number of restaurants that you find lining the streets. We ate at one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to while there. It’s a lively place where groups of people come together to have a few drinks and cook up a meal together. At this place, it’s like having your own little hibachi grill at your table, except you are in charge of cooking the meal! (If you don’t want the responsibility you can request for someone else to take charge or at least assist you).

Tokyo Food Tour

Our guide helped us pick out some ingredients to combine for our meal and we chose monjayaki. This dish originated in Tsukishima and is what Tsukishima is known for. It’s basically a batter put together of different ingredients that I definitely was not able to discern with my taste buds. The batter is then pan fried until it begins to caramelize, so that you can then scrape of pieces of the monjayaki and eat it as it cooks. The process is kind of difficult to explain but it’s a lot of fun to partake in.

Tokyo Food Tour

We all got to try our hand at cooking.

Tokyo Food Tour

At first the batter looked a little iffy, but once cooked, I realized why so many Japanese people love this stuff. Hint: it’s delicious. 

Tokyo Food Tour

The second dish was okonomiyaki, which is similar to Monjayaki and takes on the same concept of pan frying the batter until it’s ready to be eaten.

Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese savoury pancake and some even call it a Japanese pizza. The batter is made of flour, grated nagaimo, water, eggs, cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients including meat (or seafood) and vegetables.

Tokyo Food Tour

We then finished off our meal by making these chocolate egg rolled omelettes, which were a nice way to end the meal.

Tokyo Food Tour

By the end of the night, I was absolutely stuffed and tired. We’d been roaming Tokyo four over four hours and eaten a fair amount. I’d held off from eating before the tour to make sure I’d be hungry but I still was very full by the end of it.

Our guide Meg really made this experience for us. She’s very talented at her job and has encyclopedic knowledge about Tokyo and Japan in general. She’ll be able to tell you everything you need to know about the foods you’ll try and also help you out with inside tips on things to do and places to see in Tokyo. If you book this tour, hopefully you’ll get her or someone just as talented.

I recommend you to book early in advance as much as possible, though, because these food tours fill up quickly! 

Final word

Wandering through streets and alleyways that we would have never discovered on our own and trying out tons of different Japanese dishes that again, we would have never known about, was a tremendous cultural experience. We learned so much about the city of Tokyo, other places to see, and had a lot of fun and lively conversation through the night. This food tour through Tokyo was the highlight of my time spent in Japan and definitely one of my favorite things to ever to do. I’d rebook this tour in a second and do it all over again, so I highly recommend it to anyone looking do something cultural in Tokyo.