Everything You Need To Do When In Tokyo
As a Hello Kitty obsessive, sushi fanatic and all-round kitsch lover, visiting Japan had always been high on my hit list and I finally got to go in October. I went during the Rugby World Cup, which meant far more loutish British chanting than expected, but still a solid 10/10 experience none the bloody less.
The first thing to say about Tokyo is that it really is another world and the Japanese just do things a lot better than the rest of us. How so? Let’s just say, they’re living it up in 2090 and we’re still struggling in 2001, tbh.
It’s also totally true that they are a super polite nation. This also goes hand in hand with the cleanliness of everything: streets, restaurants and bars. Yes, they have do have heated toilet seats everywhere you go but also, every single public bathroom I used was so incredibly clean. Like, think about going into a random pub or bar in the U.K. – fuckin rank.
Something I instantly fell in love with was Japan’s Kawaii culture: loveable cartoon characters, anime stores, overly kitsch accessories, puppy cafes and pink, pink, pink! At times, this became a little odd, but overall, it added to my deep fascination of Japanese culture.
So with 20kg worth of my own kawaii-ready luggage, I headed to the city of bright lights, sushi bars and used knickers vending machines...TOKYOOOOOO!
Shopping in Tokyo
Anyone who knows me knows I love treating myself. I mean, is it even treating yourself when it’s this relentless?
And just like New York, Tokyo is packed full of the sickest stores imaginable. You’ll see it all: high fashion, luxury designer, pure vintage grails, luxury sportswear, collectible creps, quality denim and big fuck off platform boots. It differs from London and New York as the hypebeast wave is bigger than anywhere else I’ve ever seen: they are literally drippin.
Harajuku and Shibuya are the top spots for all the shops you’d ever want. Levi’s, Bape, Atmos, Opening Ceremony, Supreme…I could go on but you get it.
The reason I slightly preferred Tokyo’s shops, more than New York for example, is their wide range of region exclusives. I missed out on some sick Nike Tailwinds as they were only in men’s sizes, but I copped the flyest mini bag known to man. SUPER KAWAII.
Things to do
The Shibuya Crossing. So, you obviously have to experience this as it’s so insane, but I would say go at night and don’t expect much than a load of people crossing the road LOL. I was personally over it pretty quickly. Luckily though, we were in Tokyo for Halloween – the Japanese go in for Halloween and the place to be to witness thousands of people in amazing fancy dress is Shibuya. It’s wild.
There are loads of these animal cafés around the city, from cats and dogs to owls and yes, hedgehogs. It was, like a lot of things in Japan: a weird but wonderful experience. I had a moment of feeling really guilty about waking up our little mates, but I have to say, it is a lovely environment and the staff were so attentive to the cute creatures. You could definitely tell they were well looked after and they seemed really happy, I swear.
This was the sickest thing ever. An immersive experience that takes you through five different rooms, each completely unique but equally as mind-blowing, it aims to: “explore a new relationship without boundaries between ourselves and the world,” as the exhibition puts it. In one room, Drawing on the Water Surface, the water reached up to the knees and had coy carp projected in neon colours throughout the water, but when you touched the fish they scattered into autumn leaves.
Another room, Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers, hit me as soon as I walked in. Flowers are projected all around the sides and ceiling, while the floor was mirrored, making me feel extremely dizzy. A staff member ushered me to lie down and as I looked up at the ever-changing flowers, I felt the ground come up around me, submerging me even deeper into the flower show. UNREAL.
You’ll see women dressed in adorable, and sometimes borderline sexual, maid outfits in Tokyo, but mostly in the anime hub of Akihabara. Now, although some cafés have sexual connotations around them, going to a maid café myself and experiencing it first-hand, it was far more cutesy than it was sexy. The whole thing is totally mad, weird, odd but hilarious, and very much in line with the kawaii culture of Japan.
We ordered an ice cream but before we were allowed to take a sip we had to wear fluffy cat ears and act out a maid café ceremonial song. We were to make a heart shape out of our hands, sing a little jingle, then put our hands to our chin and make a kitten-like “mmm” sound. Pretty normal.
Similar to Memory Lane in its winding alleys and tiny spots, Golden Gai is a must to tick off the itinerary. There are so many of these drinking dens to choose from and most only seat about five people, so big groups are a no-no. Expect to pay a cover charge of 500-1500 yen per person to just sit down, most bars don’t play any music and all are thick with cigarette smoke.
We spent a few nights at BtoB as it was a larger space and they played the best music. The barman had hundreds of vinyls behind the bar and as he’d play albums, he’d place the vinyl cover in clear sight with a sign that said, “On Air,” so you knew who/what you were listening to. A cute touch I loved. Also, it’s a spot Quentin Tarintino visited so ya know, if it’s good enough for him…
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
And finally, for a bit of serenity away from the city’s 24/7 madness, then check out these traditional gardens and don’t miss out on the Greenhouse – really beautiful.
That's all BBZ. Arigato gozaimasu xx