Japlanning is starting a new series today giving you the information you need to plan the best areas to stay when travelling across Japan. We are starting with the most visited area in Japan and biggest city in the world, Tokyo.
A lot of the team at Japlanning have had different experiences when organising holidays in Japan, the information out there isn’t that vast, and a lot of it is unreliable and outdated, which had led to booking accommodation in some interesting areas across the county in our very early visits. So we have put together this guide to give anyone looking to travel to Japan the information needed to find the best areas in cities and towns to book a place to stay based on their interests.
Today we are looking at Tokyo’s best areas to stay while on vacation.
Tokyo can seem quite daunting when you start planning a trip to Japan. It’s the biggest city in the world with over 13 million people, it can be hard to pin point a great hub to stay in to explore what you want in the city. The best way to start is to decide what are your interests are, and find the best area that has the most things that you will want to experience.
We have broken down some of the key interests people have when coming to Tokyo, and the best hub to stay in to get the most out of your trip.
One of the biggest appeals to people when traveling to Japan is its rich history, spanning thousands of years, and taking a step back into those times. This is one of the great things about Tokyo, it’s the most futuristic city in the world, and yet it’s also filled with so much history that you can go from decades in the future, then turn the corner and be swept back into Japan’s historic Edo period. For those looking to soak up the history that Tokyo holds, a great base is the Ueno area.
Located in northern part of the city, Ueno is old Tokyo, with its neighbour Asakusa, these are great places to stay if you’re looking to get as much exposure to the history and see as many of the temples in Tokyo without having to go too far from your hotel. The area is filled with Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, as well as many museums, including the amazing Edo-Tokyo Museum, which is filled with ancient artifacts and recreations of the Edo period in Tokyo. The Ueno and Asakusa area also has many traditional style accommodations (known as Ryokans), and is much cheaper than most of the rest of Tokyo.
Be warned though that these areas are much quieter, so if you’re looking to enjoy some of the nightlife on offer elsewhere in the city, you may want to find somewhere more central, and come back to these areas during the day on public transport instead, as Tokyo’s rail network usually ends shortly after midnight.
This group does tend to fall a bit into the Temple Trekkers as well, however you may be looking to see more of the culture that a cosmopolitan city like Tokyo has to offer. Well if this is you, you may want to consider anywhere around Tokyo Station in Marunouchi and beyond to Ginza and Roppongi. This area is all considered central Tokyo, and you will find a lot of galleries and other refined cultural landmarks in all of these areas. In Marunouchi, you have the Imperial Palace, and its beautiful east gardens, which are open to the public. Throughout Ginza and Roppongi, you will find high-end designers and galleries ranging from traditional Japanese works, to contemporary art, and everything in between. In fact, you will find the world famous Mori Art Gallery on the top floor of the Mori tower that dominates Roppongi’s skyline. Another destination for the Culture Crusader in Ginza is the historic Kabuki-za Theatre, which is the premier place to see traditional kabuki theatre in Japan.
Another advantage for those staying in this area is the great shopping district in Ginza, as well as some big tourist attractions, like the iconic Tokyo Tower, and the nightlife is big and bright so you’re guaranteed to easily find a way to keep your night going – and not too far from your bed either! Roppongi is known as the international hub of Tokyo, with many corporations and embassies nearby, so it’s nightlife is very international-friendly, with many American and British bars in the area.
Tokyo is known as one of the shopping meccas in the world, so for many visitors, it is a shopping vacation. The question is: where is the must stop shopping in Tokyo? This is a bit broad, depending on your personal tastes, and what you are looking to buy.
For the fashionistas amongst us, the best place to stay is definitely Ginza. Ginza is filled with high-end shopping, and the legendary and historic Japanese department stores you have heard about. If you want to live and breathe in the high-end fashion world Ginza is your go-to.
For many, however, it’s the distinct young Japanese style that has lured you, and for you, the best places to stay will be Harajuku and Shibuya. These are next to each other, and the center of youth culture in Japan. Harajuku is legendary for its hip shops and clothing to suit every random taste on earth, and Shibuya is where trends are born. You will see some crazy fashion in both, and, most likely, see them in the rest of the world several years later. If trend-setting fashion is your thing, make Harajuku your Home-o-juku.
If you're an electronic gadget shopper, consider staying in either Shinjuku or Akihabara, as these areas are flooded with dozens of electronics stores. You’ll have the chance to see where the future of computing and appliances is. If you speak geek, then Akihabara could be just what you seek.
BONUS! All these areas have great nightlife, and will keep you entertained beyond shopping. They’re all centrally located, so exploring other areas is only a train ride away.
Are you and your friends flying off to Tokyo with the idea of drinking, bar hopping, karaoke-ing and clubbing ‘till the first train of the morning? Well here are the best areas of Tokyo for you to stay!
Shinjuku is your number one stop. Home to countless bars, karaoke clubs, and all-night stores, not to mention the neon lights, which will keep you pumped up and partying through the night. If you’re looking for more international folk, Roppongi has a huge nightlife, with dozens of bars and clubs filled with people from across the world.
Very similar to Shinjuku is Shibuya, with a much more youthful vibe, and also flooded with karaoke, bars, theme restaurants and some of the biggest clubs in Japan. It’s another option for the up all nighters amongst us.
Okay, we all know that Japan is mecca for the geekily inclined, and there is only one place that is perfect for your base camp: Akihabara, the electric city.
Set your inner geek free with Manga and Electronic stores as far as the eye can see, as Akihabara is home to all anime, manga, even electronics, video games, maid cafes and more.
Akihabara is home to the JPop super group, AKB48’s theatre, where they perform daily. With multi-story game arcades everywhere, if you're a video game nut, you could live here! You can literally loose hours and days in them, with many open 24-hours - it’s like a casino, except with fun games!
Located just north of the Tokyo station area, the rest of Tokyo is only a train ride away for those who dare to venture out of the arcade.
A lot of international visitors come to Japan with just one place in mind: Tokyo Disney Resort.
If you are planning a multi-day trip to the two Disney parks, the best place to stay is out at the resort. Put simply: the transit time from any of Tokyo’s key areas to stay to the resort will eat up an hour or two each way. It’s easier, and just as affordable to stay at one of the nine on-site hotels on the resort, so you can make your time more enjoyable.
For more information on Tokyo Disney Resort, check out Japlanning’s series of articles on the Happiest Place In Japan, here.
Having a clear picture of what you are wanting to get out of your holiday in Tokyo can help in planning where you want to stay. Make sure you know what you want to get out of your days and nights to pick the best place for you to stay, and make your holiday spectacular.