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What are some great destinations to visit outside of the obvious (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto)? Looking for good photography locations or just interesting places to visit..
I did 30 days in japan about 6 or 7 years ago so things change, but my route was to fly in to / start in Tokyo. Got a rail pass so shinkansen was easy - darted south and began in Hiroshima and made my way north from there, eventually ending up back in Tokyo to fly out.
Osaka was easily my favorite place, but even the major cities have their individual charms (Kyoto has height restrictions on buildings so it's a much smaller 'big city'... I loved Hiroshima as well.
Kobe is cool, eat the meat obviously. There's also the hakutsuru distillery there which has a neat little museum/tour of their processes of making sake throughout history.
Getting out to Fuji takes time and I stayed in a little town outside the mountain but in view of it (Kawaguchiko) and it's a nice respite from the major impact / sensory overloads of the urban areas. Also the mountain is quite beautiful.
If you have the rail pass and time, Nagano is a neat place but I wasn't really enthralled by it, however it does offer an opportunity to see a more standard Japanese experience.
Oh, and Miyajima is cool and has the famous floating gate ... also is an island with a ton of deer that just hang out. It looks like they're going to begin renovation on the gate in June of this year so if you're going there soon I'd hit it up before the scaffolding takes over.
If you are in Tokyo but want a little nature within city limits:
Mt. Takao is very pretty this time of year:
They sell really tasty Dango and Fukuro Taiyaki right before you walk up to the top.
There you can see Fuji on a good day.
The city is super "showa" style - they still have some trollies with wooden floors!
many good spots for pics including Katsurahama with Ryoma's statue and the beach.
if you're there on a SUNDAY - there's an amazing market:
Eat Katsu: broiled bonito ((soooo tasty)
This spot is very photogenic if you take the boat to the base, then take the cable car up to the top -
From the cable car, you'll be able to see Fuji-san as well (much better view than Takao-san, but different vibe.
Omiya is now becoming a pretty cool destination. Many younger folks are moving there because its a little cheaper and not too far from Tokyo.
- Hikawa Shrine and the very long road that leads to it - 4 Torii gates, very chill.
- Bonsai Museum and the surrounding neighborhood (very ritzy houses and mixture of small bonsai growers)
is nice as well, but the main street gets mad busy these days.
- Hit the kitain temple
- check out the main street, but also float around on the side streets.
NARA rather than Kyoto
Kyoto is insane with tourists now... Nara can be, but it's way more chill. Little deer walking around everywhere and the temples have a real Miyazaki anime vibe...
If you've got an iPhone there's a couple of good apps to get
- Tokyo Art Beat - Cool arty stuff that you'd only know about if you were local
- TOKYO superfuture guide. You've got to pay for this one but seems worth it so far with recommendations of cool things to see n do
The following was a list a friend compiled when we visited Tokyo & Kyoto a couple of years ago. Be aware some of the 'popup' stores may not exist anymore - like 'The Parking'.
Friend worked at UniQlo as a clothing designer for a while.
Narukiyo Izakaya Shibuya – make reservation and request table seated on the floor. Best asparagus and tomatoes* Entire menu
is in Japanese on a huge scroll – I ordered by pointing to what other people were eating. Super cool, traditional Japanese and
Tama – Japanese/Chinese fusion. Make a reservation or eat at the bar. Chef is awesome have him cook for you off the menu.
Trendy scene, lively, good place to meet people, tell him you know me.
Okei Sushi- Amazing sushi – seats maybe 10 do omakase
Shirube – Izakaya
Sora no Niwa – tofu near Shibuya station
Bongout Noh – Japanese Italian, wine and small plates, open kitchen
Chatei Hatou – old school drip coffee or streamer (young skater kids)
JBS- (on the 2nd
floor) whole in the wall bar with famous vinyl collection run by cool old dude. International designer crowed –
Drunken Alley (Nonbei Yokocho)- old train tracks that has become an area condensed with tiny bars (sit 5-6) Some serve food,
cant go wrong all are cool. Try to find Piano Bar (super ornate maybe most famous of the bunch)
Womb- multi floor club famous for having the best sound system in the world. Electronic music, good DJs, rave (go late)
Sega Arcade- 24/7 late night intense photo booth with props. Weird games, loud Japanese pop, fun people watching
109 – Young, loud shopping mall with crazy clothes, less expensive, local Japanese girls shops here
Yamashita Street – start at the top by the metro station and walk down towards Harajuku st. Young crazy are – no NY equivilant,
girls dress like dolls and talk in weird voices.
Harajuku Street – one side is vintage stores and the other side is street wear/world famous sneaker stores
All the beams stores in a row
Sneaker Stores to visit: Kicks Lab, Atmos, Undefeated, Billy’s, Chapter, ABC Mart
Laforet – must see mall on the corner of Omotessando street in Harajuku. 9 floors of eclectic and unique Japanese clothing,
accessories and random other stuff. One of the best places to shop.
North Face Standard – cool store, purple label and namamica
Human Made Store – just out side laforet – NIGOS store
Bar Bonobo – Trendy young bar with dancing and good music. Walk up to the second floor for a super trippy experience where
you can sit down barefoot with a woman who does acupuncture in your ears while you’re having cocktails. Also has outdoor
Curry Up – NIGO creator of bathing Ape Human made and Uniqlo Creative directors Curry shop.
Butter chicken is the bomb
Cat Street: Young cool shopping area – near Harajuku and more high end.
Meji Dori: Beams shops
Stores to look out for: Journal Standard, Beauty and Youth, Champion, Kids North Face, Visvim, Beams trico Field
Patagonia, Adidas originals, opening cer, r newbold
Okonomiyaki Yai Yai – Japanese savory pancake with tables that have grills in the middle of them so that the chef can cook
pancake at your table. Also vegetarian friendly. Fun, lively, young atmosphere near Cat Street must order grapefruit shochu
even if you do not like grapefruit.
More hipster area with great shopping and Yakitori
Nigel Cabourn, Mountain Research, Cow Books, J’antiques, Okura/Mother Natrure, H (Ash) – vintage clothes, walk around the
river to small boutiques
(skewer grilled meat and veggies)
Kushiwakamaru – whole in the wall Japanese Yakitori restaurant with English menu. Authentic, go early can be a big wait
Akira - modern Yakitori, lively atmosphere, sit on the floor *beware of raw chicken sashimi
Tatemichiya – punk izakaya that has a super fun vibe for a night of drinking
T-site : http://tsite.jp/daikanyama/store…
(book shop, Ivy restaurant, upscale cute boutiques)
Okura – very cool indigo store
Tokyo Hands – 9 floor Japanese lifestyle store that caries, art supplies, home goods, stationary, luggage, and lots of weird things
Lunime 1, Lumine 2, Lumine 3- three malls by Shinjuku station that are some how connected. Start at Lumine 3, then Lumine 1
Lumine 2 is less good.
Isetan – Japanese Barneys – awesome contemporary floor of small designers and labels I have never heard of
Golden Gai – 6 blocks condensed with over 200 tiny bars and restaurants that barely can fit 6-8 people – if even. Super intimate
Japanese drinking and dining experience- must go
Park Hyatt Tokyo – where lost in translation is filmed – great for just drinks or dinner
Uniqlo Flagship, Dover Street Market, Sushi by Gari if you can get a reservation
TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
- early AM daily tuna auction at the biggest fish market in the world. (Go before 4 AM - free experience but max capacity is 60
ppl per day. After auction (can also skip auction) go to any restaurant for amazing sushi. Get a tasting menu + add fatty fatty
tuna. Many pottery stores, most shops and restaurants in this area are cash only
- Shabusen (beef or pork dinner shabu-shabu)
Bond Street– Whiskey Cigar bar – very cool but radio is better. Next to Dover street 2nd
- Prada, Comme de Garcon, Yoji, ect.
- Pool Ayoama super cool shop on an old converted pool. Very cool
- Seasonally on Sat/Sun – fresh local food, can eat lunch here too
- 246 Common – outdoor market
- Higashiya – traditional Japanese snacks (mocha, rice crackers) beautiful packaging
- drinks at Tunnel – fun / good music
- Radio – old school establishment, excellent cocktails, one of the oldest if not the oldest bar in Tokyo – Must go AWESOME
- Casbar – members only late night bar, hangout for fashion/design scene
- Trench – small dark cozy whole serving high end cocktails
SHOPS Kapital - 3 are all together near by.
- Smaller closer version of Kyoto (45 min by train approx. cost of transportation 25$) Traditional Japanese experience – opposite
- Spiritual experience, monks, temples dating back to 12th
century, zen gardens, bamboo forests, hike through mountain, walk
through cave in mountain for ice cream and beer, giant Buddha statue
- Allow entire and full day