Every once in a while, the stars align and your flights happen perfectly to allow for an extra getaway during a layover. It happened to us on our way back from Thailand, and we were ecstatic that we would be able to spend a few days in beautiful Tokyo. On top of that, during cherry blossoms season!
Since we had just spent three intense weeks in Thailand, always on the go, we decided to take a more relaxed approach to this visit. We knew that there would be no way to see everything we wanted, and chose instead to consider this a sneak peak! Here’s how we spent our four days in Tokyo.
We had arrived in Tokyo late the night before and had made our way as quickly as possible to our Airbnb meet up point. Our host was most helpful, gladly meeting us in the middle of the night to walk us back to the apartment! We highly recommend choosing an Airbnb when in Tokyo to save money. It will also give you a more authentic Japanese experience – we had a cute little two-bedroom apartment in the Arakawa-Ku region, complete with the high tech toilet and balcony! Our host even provided us with a portable wifi, which turned out to be extremely helpful!We started our first day with the search for sakura (cherry blossom) trees! After figuring out our way through the train system, we made it to Yoyogi Park.
Walking around the sakura trees with their dark trunk and light pink and white flowers was simply amazing. Despite the insane amount of people, the experience was wonderful and something that can be described as walking in a magical forest. Petals falling like snow in our hair, a subtle flowery perfume, and the light sound of the branches moving in the fresh breeze were immensely calming.
A good couple of hours were spent walking around, admiring the scene and relaxing on that first day. First the park, followed by the thousands of sights found just on our way home. Hello, sensory overload!
That night we ate in a tiny authentic Japanese BBQ restaurant called Akiyoshi, ordering skewers of everything we had never tried before. Delicious!
Ready to book your flights? Make sure you read 7 steps to take before booking your flight!
A trip to Tokyo is not complete without a stop in the Harajuku area! Unfortunately we were there during the week, so there were not many people dressed up in anime characters – we’re told that Sundays are the best for this! But the cute little shops alone gave us a taste of the Japanese anime culture we were looking for.
Our next task was finding souvenirs to bring back home. We wanted chopsticks, but oddly enough were having a really hard time finding some! With the help of Google Translate, two very nice girls offered to show us around all the best shops until we found chopsticks we liked. We were so thankful and although the language barrier was huge, we shopped around with them for about two hours enjoying lots of laughs.
After some more shopping, getting lost, and more shopping, we finished the day in a roll out sushi bar! The sushi plates go around the bar on a conveyor belt and you pick the ones you want. It wasn’t the best sushi we ever had, but the experience was fun. All in all, a good meal!
Our third day in Tokyo started with rain and cold. Thankfully, our Airbnb host was prepared and provided us with umbrellas. We skipped the outdoor activities and opted instead for a visit of the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
Learning the history of Tokyo and Japan from the Edo period was a great way to learn about the Japanese culture. There were great exhibits and the material was thankfully also in English!
The rain was still present when we walked out of the museum so we started looking for a place to eat. Not an easy task when all the signs are in a foreign language. We ended up in a sumo-wrestling restaurant, where we ate the typical sumo wrestler meal. A mixture of meats and vegetables in a broth, it was like a mix between a stew and a soup.
Last but not least, we had a karaoke night at a little private karaoke bar. Our own little room, an iPad to order drinks and a lot of bad singing made for an unforgettable night! We got really into it, and did not want to leave! A tip for the budget conscious, decide on a time stretch before you start and leave when your time is up. It was quite expensive and we were surprised at the end of our night!
Want to visit another country? Check out 8 Reasons Why You Must Visit Thailand!
The fish market is a huge attraction for visitors to Tokyo and we wanted to experience it. Unfortunately, to be part of the auction room you have to get in line around 3AM in order to reserve your spot. We’re not early birds so we opted instead for a reasonable 9AM wake up time and headed to the market area where they do the selling.
Fish, octopus, seaweed and thousands of things we didn’t recognize filled the buildings and surrounding streets. We tried some, bought trinkets for our parents and posed with all kinds of sea life. Definitely a must when you’re in Tokyo, plus it’s easy on the budget!
We headed over to the Tokyo Tower afterwards for some photo ops as it offers a 360° view of Tokyo. A small fee takes you up to the platform where you can admire the view.
Before heading back to our apartment to pack up, we made one last stop to see the sakura trees in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Relaxing in the grass, enjoying the last bit of our vacation and pondering all the awesome things we had done, it was a perfect end to a wonderful vacation!
Budget Travel Blog: Tips and tricks for affordable vacation planning. From cheap hotels to cheap flights and everything in between, prioritizing safety and comfort.
The Dime Travelers
It’s time to ditch your misconceptions about cheap travel and join us on our blog as we show you safe and comfortable ways to travel on a budget. We will guide you through the process of trip planning and share with you what we have learned from our own travels. Our advice and reviews come from personal experience and will offer easy to follow tips and tricks to make your vacation a positive experience you'll want to have again and again.
Let's make your travel dreams come true!