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Helpful Advice For Your Trip to Tokyo.
Some Helpful Tips For Picking a Hotel.
I always recommend extensively researching your hotel before booking to make sure you're getting the best price. My personal favorite website to use is Booking.com because in some cases you can book without a prepayment. This can save you some money in the long run because sometimes the prices go up closer to the time you plan to visit.
Typically, once you find a hotel you like you want to use a site that will check other websites prices for the same hotel. Personally, I prefer to use Trivago to make sure I'm getting the lowest price possible. The top 3 things I recommend looking for when staying at a hotel in Tokyo are a centralized location, proximity to the station, and a clean and comfortable environment.
For my stay, I chose the Book and Bed. The hostel was clean and convenient, but in my case not entirely comfortable. My pros were that it's close to the station, about a 2 minute walk from Ikebukuro, it's centralized so typically it's a direct subway to where you want to go, and it was clean and had an excellent common area.The rooms were in the bookshelves which was interesting to see. The common area couches were extremely comfortable and they offered blankets to sleep on.
However, I had a top bunk so it was a bit difficult to get in and out of bed. My biggest downsides were you needed to purchase towels and toiletries,aside from hand soap, and they did not have a refrigerator or laundry area in the hostel.
Book and Bed Tokyo
Book and Bed
Make a Game Plan
Once you've booked your hotel, I recommend getting some ideas of what you want to see in Tokyo. My favorite website to check for travel ideas is Tripadvisor, but if you want to see festivals, which I highly recommend I would suggest taking a look at Go Tokyo. One of my favorite things I saw in Tokyo was one of the drum festivals. I will include some photos below.
Activity 1: Themed cafes
To give you some ideas, here is my game plan from Tokyo. My top Tokyo activities.
I'll start with one of the first activities I did, themed cafes. My personal favorites were the Q-Pot cafe which until August 20th had a Sailor Moon theme, and the Alice cafe. The Q-pot cafe had Sailor Moon themed foods and they frequently do different themes as special events. The Alice cafe was decorated with Queens guards and had themed dishes. Some were served in teapots and others were served on an Alice and Wonderland plate. They also offer you the option to wear white rabbit ears to get into the spirit of Alice in Wonderland. At the entrance, you can also take a picture next to a large replica of a page from the "Alice in Wonderland" book.
I also went to a maid cafe in Akihabara called Animaru. However, I wouldn't recommend that cafe for those with lower Japanese speaking and reading ability as they did not speak much English and there's no English menu. I would instead suggest going to a cafe like Maidreamin If you walk down Akihabara, usually the store front will also mention if they have an English menu. Please make sure that you ask before taking pictures. Usually they have strict restrictions on picture taking. Keep in mind for most cafe experiences to budget at least 3000 yen, maybe more.
Activity 2: Mt. Fuji tour
My second activity on this list was my Fuji tour. While I didn't get the iconic Fuji picture I was hoping for, it was still an excellent tour. The tour I decided on was the fruit picking tour with wine tasting. If you have any fruit allergies, please keep in mind that peaches are in season until roughly Mid-August and then it's grape season.
The tour picks up at Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and the tour lasts about 12 hours so it's an all day event. While on the bus you get the option to buy souvenirs and food at a discounted price. You start out at the Mount Fuji 5th station. The tour includes a bell from the 5th station as a souvenir.
After your stop at Fuji, you go to lunch. The tour includes a lunch which in our case was hot pot, rice, soup, and fried chicken. You also take a cable car up one of the smaller mountains near Fuji and hopefully get some excellent pictures of Fuji. The ticket is included with the tour.
Finally, you go fruit picking and are taken to a small farmers market. Last but not least, you go to the winery and can sample wine or juice.
If this particular tour isn't for you, they also have several other Fuji tours and general Tokyo tours on Expedia. However, when I did my research this one seemed to be the best value for the money at about 9900 yen.
Activity 3: Animal Cafes
Animal cafes are incredibly popular in Japan, especially Tokyo. The most unusual ones I saw were the hedgehog and Owl Cafes. The hedgehog cafes are a bit more affordable of the two, and the most common animal cafe you'll see is cat cafes.
If you're staying at the Book and Bed, there's a cat cafe right next to Ikebukuro station. Again, plan for animal cafes to be a little expensive. I spent about 1600 yen for the cat cafe and about 2500 yen for the hedgehog cafe.
It's an excellent experience that I highly recommend if you're in Tokyo. You can take pictures and can occasionally get unlimited drinks for an extra fee. You will also typically get the option to buy treats to feed the animals.
For the hedgehogs, if you're worried about them being too spiky, they have gloves you can wear. The cafe goes by time slots typically in 10 or 30 minute intervals so the longer you stay the more you pay.
The cat cafe also had a library so you can read in the cafe and they had several outlets to plug in your electronic devices. This cat cafe had the option to pay by 10 minute intervals so it's excellent if you're just looking for a short visit.
Activity 4: Observatories
My next activity is observatories. Specifically, Tokyo Tower at night. While Sky Tower had a lot of shopping and occasionally has good views of Fuji, Tokyo Tower ended up being my favorite view from my entire time in Tokyo.
When I went to Tokyo Tower, the top floor of the observatory was under construction, but the view from the lower observatory was still amazing and the entrance fee was only about 900 yen. They also typically have entertainment there like comedy shows or music, and they have a cafe in the observatory so it's a wonderful place to relax.
Tokyo Tower at night
Activity 5- Imperial Palace Gardens
My final activity was visiting the Imperial Palace gardens. It is amazing for anyone who is traveling Tokyo on a budget. When I went, there was no entrance fee but no guided tour available.
The Imperial Palace Gardens had so much to see and do. You can stroll along the gardens and view soldier barracks and all kinds of building that surrounded the palace. They also have a free museum towards the entrance and all of the buildings have placards that give their history in English and Japanese. They have plenty of seating areas including a wide open grass field. It's a must see for any tour of Tokyo.