Enrico Schettino is a manager with an education out of the box, He made important studies, several working experiences and a strong idea that has became his job. After being a dj for 14 years and Valtur trainer on national level, he creates a website called discoNapoli.it, that had thousands of connected people in 2005 (idea developed then by Facebook). A law degree, lawyer and the notary exam, “I made the written exam, that then was nullified
for the board’s frauds, I interpreted what happened as a destiny’s sign and I decided to leave the legal’s career to dedicate myself to an activity that had a worldwide success”. So the chain Giappo was born. After the first one, I opened ten more Giappo both in direct form and in franchising. “ The idea of sushi came from my travels, inspiration’s source for me: Miami, London, Milan, Hong Kong and Tokyo”
He decided to share with us his travel to Tokyo.
A travel to Tokyo is an experience everybody wants to do, attracted by this far reality, but not always chosen for vacation, because it is expensive, far, or for the small information about it. For this reason I decided to put in this article all my knowledge: for those who want on vacation and in order to understand this world better, since everybody should learn a lot from it.
Important information before leaving:
-In winter is cold, in summer is hot, exactly like here. The climate is comparable to Milanos’.
– euro is loosing its value, on euro correspond to 95 yen
– not everybody speaks english, but almost everywhere there are english signals
– I’m at your disposal for any information, in front of a good sushi and an hot tea or asahi, obviously at Giappo.
On your arrival:
The price to go to Tokyo centre from Narita airport is about 3000 yen, both by bus and Narita Express Train.
You can find discount with the metro, ask in the airport.
There are some hotels with the limousine bus stop in front of the hall, inform yourself if you want this comfort
Metro could seem crazy, but afterwards you’ll understand how it works, and it’s not difficult if you have always a map with you.
Keep always in mind some things:
– every line has a colour, and every colour has progressive numbers indicating the different stops
– a district may have different stops, and every stop has different exit: if you get the wrong exit, even if you took the right stop, you may not find your destination
– There are several companies, as the tickets are different: the more commons are “tokyo metro line” and toei line” that gather different lines, their daily combination costs 1000 y. Then there is jr, that circumnavigates the city, but you can also avoid using the former two, and then there is the line to reach odaiba, which is a line apart
Eating in Japan
You can find cheap restaurant everywhere: don’t be afraid,the japonese often eat outside and for this prices are very low and you can find different options, for all pockets and tastes
You can eat ramen (tagliolini in soup) for maximum 800 yen (there are some disreputable but very good, where you can pay also 350 yen, as in the characteristic street of shiniuku vulgarly told “urinal”
As alternative there are tonkatsu (fried pork chop)for 1000 yen, soba or udon for 800 yen, yakitori (chicken skewers) for about 150 yen, vakiniku (grilled meat)for at least 1000 yen, or a great donburi ( rice with different ingredients such as raw fish) for 600-1000 yen
Kobe meat is so famous as rare to find; it seems only a legend the fact that these cows are bread with beer and massages: this meat goodness it’s due, for the expert, to the food they eat.
If you want sushi you can eat some piece in a Standing Sushi, a restaurant where you can have standing sushi or in a kaite sushi: the most cheap solutions to taste it. I recommend kaiten since is the best solution, letting you choose what you see, regulating on how much you want to spend, enjoying in collecting colored dishes. Not by chance it’s the formula used in most of Giappo in Naples. I recommend one of the small places surrounding the tsukiji fish market, in which the must, since the long line outside seems to be daiwa (expect a small restaurant with a counter and some stools), in alternative the chain zanmai, or a panoramic and memorable restaurant with view on Tokyo, on odaiba mall fifth floor. In the fish market there is also who sells really unique specialties: raw octopus with wasabi are memorable.
Sushi can variate in prices according to quality and position: any couple of nigiri, ha san average price of 150 yen, but you can also find at 100 as 250 yen
Absolutely to try the okonomiaki: they calli t the japanese pizza but it has nothing to do but for the form. The preparation’s way is particular: it is made on the center of the customer’s table. It is nothing special, very basic but good! It is about 800 yen, but not every restaurant make it, some are specialized only in this dish: there are very good ones in Asakusa district.
In the same way you can prepare other dishes as well, with your hands, on your table, on a simple hotplate: from still alive clams to the kitchen
In the end there are a lot of characteristic corners in the metro, where sushi is not the best one, but you can taste very good onigiri, prepared in every way, onigiri, for examples are the triangular ones in the cartoon, with a heart of fish inside.
It could be useful passing by at 7pm, since every night arrive the discounted food: 200/400 yen discount for the last hundred boxes before closing
Dessert are not a japonese specialty, or at least comparing to ours. For this reason in the Giappo restaurants there are both typical japonese dessert and local, or a mix between the two traditions.
For those who want to taste american food, in every japonese city there all the famous fast food such as: Mc Donalds’, Starbucks, KFC, First Kitchen, Excelsior Cafe, Wendy’s, Mos Burger, Freshess Burger, Mister Donut etc
The japonese people
Neat ,laborious, kind, elegant, honest, intelligent, fool
These are the adjectives coming in my mind when I think about them: these are all compliments, but there is also a negative side. Everything is excessive and as in every excess, it’s not always positive.
Neat: so much neat that everybody walks on the left, everywhere, from the metro to the street: it’s not easy to find people sitting in a different position from the standard one: for example with crossed legs. Even if they fall asleep in the metro (it seems everybody does it) they don’t move from their place. I don’t know how they do it
Laborious: always in activity, sometimes frenetic, never mind if a theatre in tokyo’s centre is one of the few buildings from 50 years ago: better demolishing it and built a skyscraper that includes also the theatre
Precise: they are never late: but if they have to close down an activity, it is difficult they give you some more minutes
Kind: if you ask for indication, they change their street to come with you! They hardly say not, in a gushy way, and when you ask for information it doesn’t let you understand the answer
Elegant: sneakers seem to be banned, men almost always wear suit, women wear beautiful coats
Kimono is the ceremony dress, the one to wear on Sunday to go to the temple: it seems like an oxymoron to see middle age ladies dressed for a party, with a Louis Vuitton bag
Honest: misdemeanors doesn’t seem to exist. The shops expose the items on the street and nobody touches it. I don’t know the Japanese law, but there will be severe punishments as they are big deterrent
Intelligent: preparation and capability are evident in their actions
Tokyo has been exploited in every space, as there are three levels: one underground, one on ground level and one in the sky, on the skyscrapers
Technology is famous to everybody, from cameras, to cars they’re leaders in the international markets
Fool: human mind, however polite and used to precise schemes, can opposed and go towards other tracks, at least in trends and leisure
This can last long times (and it’s easy to meet transgressive people wearing handcuffs, or only for few minutes a day (one of the favourite activities seem to be pachinos, such a big multilevel structures, present in every district, full of very noisy slot machines releasing iron small balls. I tried to understand if there was a logic, but I think it’s only about luck)
Other folly are maid cafès: kind of bars, usually in the buildings, where you can drink or eat something, with girls told “otaka”, in a particular atmosphere. A strange dressed girl invites you inside. Other very nice, coloured and kind girls push you to drink. In the end you spend a lot of money for nothing! I think it’s a japonese perversion, going in these places for the girls that should be provoking, but to me they look like a cartoon. After all pornographic mangas represent a big part in japonese comics, and of course it’s not a normal thing. Anyway, there’s nothing pornographic in the maid cafès, for that there ad hoc district in Shinjuku.
Maybe the most normal thing are karaoke, that proliferate as our club: for an Italian it will seem stupid as leisure, but in Tokyo they’re very trendy
For a japanese coming to Italy i twill seem crazy that we still follow the Big Brother on TV.
Everything is relative, for example so far I thought the English were dirty and underdeveloped since they don’t have the bidet, now I think the same about Italian people after seeing the Japanese super technological WC, where the bidet is in theWC, you just have to push a botton and wait for a small tube to splash!
Hotel and accomodation
The choice is wide from the cheaper to the more expensive ones
– capsula hotel: they’re so bright as absurd. A kind of coffin where you can sleep, with every kind of comfort, from pajama to TV. They say they’re a bit noisy, obviously
– love hotel: kind of our motel, with a reinterpretation between elegant and kitsch. Very neat and discrete to make you avoid meeting something in the reception. They have TV showing the rooms
They have different prices if you use it for 30 minutes, or 24 hours.
They’re concentrated in the centre of shibuya, one closet o another, the’re characterisitc and nice, but I don’t think I’d sleep there.
– ryokan: the small japanese houses, with futon and tatami, and a tiny bathroom. A single night is advised as experience, but prices are not that cheap
– hotel: there are a lot, prices are middle high
– business hotel: luxury hotel, often conference’s venues
According to how much you want to spend I recommend the Best Western for those who want a good compromise between quality, price and position, even if rooms are small, Keio to have something bigger with a view, Hyatt or Cerulian if you want to go on the top (they’re all in Sìhinjiku, the most alive and best connected area.
It could be nice also to sleep at Nikko in Odaiba: a breathtaking view (you absolutely have to choose an ocean view room, that is on the bridge. You have to evaluate it because Odaiba is not that central and in the night is not very crowded, but in few minutes you arrive everywhere by metro. The boat tour is very beautiful as it goes under the bridges till Asakusa
Things to do in Tokyo top 10:
1) Eat everything and everywhere, nothing and nobody will delude you, especially the sushi. The best is Tsukiji market and also the market deserves a visit.
2)visit odaiba, from the beach, to the statue of liberty, till its futuristic view by night.
3) Go up to Rappongi, view the city from the city view, tasting a good ice cream, appreciate the Eiffel Tower (Tokyo Tower) where you can also go up, even if it doesn’t offer nothing special except drinking a coffee while listening, when there is, live jazz music. Next to the tower there is the engineering and futuristic exhibition about the cities built on the water
4) visit Asakusa, its temples and the surrounding atmosphere.
5) Go to Shibuya in the night to see thousands people meeting at the main roundabout: I recommend to go on the first floor at Starbucks and enjoy the scene as soon the traffic light turn green
6) Go to Yoyogi park on Sunday to see the street performers shows, even dogs are particular!
7)See Tokyo Eiffel Tower. Even from outside since inside there is nothing special
8) Disneyworld and zoo according the time you have: to see a panda is a unique experience, and the Disney park is always wonderful: for sure better then Eurodisney but not on the Orlando’s one level (even if the best in the world are the Universal Studios
9) boat tour along the river (better in the evening)
10) Malls: are everywhere, huge, full of everything, from manga to electronics
Concerning the following information, I report some information suggested by an internaute, more concrete and up to date then Lonely Planet
Tokyo in districts
Tokyo main district, where you can find everything
It’s the young people district, where the entertainment is guaranteed
Fish market’s district
Night life district
Tokyo’s bay quiet area
Elegance, luxury and shopping district
Ancient temples and a nice touristic market, with food and souvenir stands
Dynamic district at few minutes’ train from Shinjuku
Quiet district with a nice park closet o Ghibli museum
Historical streets of shopping in Uenos
The most famous Asia entartainment park
The most recent entertainment park and more suitable for adults
The street in Asakusa to buy restaurant’s item ans not only,
The bizarre young fashion street in Harajuku
Eiffel Tower re production, Tokyo’s touristic’s point
The luxury shop district
A vety quiet area for the best boutique shopping
Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome’s area with, relax and entertainment
The historical alternative and hippie district of Tokyo
A very relaxing district along Meguro river
Maison Ikkoku manga’s places
Monja’s street, Tokyo’s typical dish.
The most famous in the world animation studio’s museum
Shinjuku is the best representing Tokyo’s district , the never sleeping district, where you can find everything
It is my favorite district, I recommend you to stay here if you are on vacation, both because is well connected with all the other districts of Tokyo and since you could stay years without annoying. I know very well this district since I’ve been around it alone several times.
Shinjuku metro station is the world’s most crowded station with over 3,5 billion people every day, that is 150000 people every hour
The first time I went to Japan they told me not to lose myself in this station, and I want to give you the same advice. I think I’ve been around it, but believe me it’s very huge, and it is mostly underground.
There are several stations belonging to different companies, but the main and most famous one is JR’s in which you can also find the famous Yamanote line. There are different exits, I advice you to take note and remember it, since if you take the wrong exit it could be a problem if you don’t know Shinjuku very well.
- East exit: it is Studio Alta, Kabuki-cho, Golden Gai and the most famous street (full of neon and colored lights) exit. If you are in Tokyo for few days take the East exit and don’t worry about the others
- West exit: it is in the skyscraper’s district, besides the hotels, the New York grill, a bus terminal with buses going to Narita and Haneda airports. Follow the signs for West exit or Nishi Shinjuku
- South exit: nothing particolar; you can find shops, restaurants etc..
- New South exit : here you find another bus station, the Takashimaya department store whose inside you find a Tokyo hands
If Shinjuku is the district that never sleeps , it is due to Kauki-cho, the night life and entertainment district
To enter in Kabuki Cho you have to cross a red sign that represent the entrance door to this district. It is not a real door, but simply a sign (during the night it’s bright) on Kabuki Cho’s main street. When I’ll talk about this door, in the article, I will always refer to this sign
It is a district mananged from Yakuza, the Japanese “mafia”, and you can find everything even if the main activities are penny arcades and the different prostitutes’ places. There are not so many clubs, if look for these you have to go to Rappongi. I highline that in Japan foreigners are not allowed to enter the prostitutes’ places, so if you look for this kind of entertainment you’d better take a plane and go to another Asiatic country. Once in a while you can meet black boys stopping foreigners to let them know some girls. You’d better avoid any contact with this foreigners since the night could not end as you hope.
Once told this, in Kabuki Cho, for a foreigner there’s nothing more than in the rest of Shinjuku
There is a funny CD edited by White Rabbit Press (that also produces good Flash Card to lear Kanji) in which the english voice of Max Hodges drives you step by step through the Kabuchi-Cho area. This CD is nothing special but if you like Shinjuku and you want to listen to strange sounds and noises registered in Kabuchi-cho,while the main attractions are depicted, I recommend it to you. I bought it on Kinokuniva seventh floor, close to Shinjuku East exit (JR), but you find it also in other book shops on internet. If you want the download version it is available on White Rabbit Press web site , for 8$
In spite of what some japonese and tourists think, it is not a dangerous place. You just have to bother nobody and nothing will happen. You won’t be totally safe anywhere in the world, nor in an Iceland lost town, but I ca guarantee that you won’t have any problem in Kabuki Cho. The important is not to follow the black boys and do not take pictures of people in the street: if inTokyo and in the rest of Japan if you take someone’s pictures you will receive a smile, this is not the same for Kabuki Cho where prostitutes and Yakuza’s member don’t love to be photographed.
Obviously it’s better to be aware , but also a girl alone can walk in Kabuki Cho in the night: if she’s japanese she will be probably approached by same guys tasking her to drink something, if she’s foreigner nobody will look at her probably.
Yakuza makes money with its pachinko and brothels, but not with robberies and bag snatching. Yakuza’s members avoid problems to happen in the district, for this reason it’s a very quiet area
Don Quijote is a five floor store where you can find every kind thousands objects: socks, make up, toys for kids, vibrators, jumper suits, underwear, watches.
It is not far from Kabuki Cho, but inside it. It is easy to recognize it since on the store’s top there is its logo, a penguin, and on the street there are very close objects that makes you understand that the store is very supplied with everything.
There are a lot of Don Quijote’s branches in Japan, but not all of them are open 24 hours as this in Shinjuku, its proximity to Kabuki Chi, no stop opening and the cheap prices make Don Quijote one of the most particular shops in Shinjuku, I absolutely recommend it .
It’s a dead area during the day and more alive after 8pm, with about 200 bars, anyone can host maximum from five to ten customers. It’s a very characteristic place that I recommend to visit, the best way to get there is to look at Kabuki Cho’s door without entering, go on the right, after 60 mt you will see Dongi Hotte, if you keep on going straight for at least 300mt you’ll see the small street
In Shinjuku I’ve seen the most beautiful bookshops ever. Not far from Studio Alta there are Kinokuniva and Junkudo, two very big book shops in which youcan find also not japanese books
I’ don’t like reading very much, but it’s really amazing entering this book shops as they’re well supplied and there are a loto f travel and photographic books.
I recommend to go on Kinokuniva book shop’s seventh floor not far fromStudioAlta as you will find books for foreigners.
In front of Shinjuku east exit (JR) there is Studio Alta, a building with a maxi screen inside where you can find many shops especially girl’s clothing, but similar building in Tokyo are hundreds. It’s important to know where Studio Alta is since it’s a very important area to meet. If you have to meet same Japanese in Shinjuku, they will probably meet you here.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office
This building is Tokyo’s city hall, even if the idea of city hall you have doesn’t fit to this huge building made of two towers and projected by architect Kenzo Tange. As one of the city’s symbol, this building is present in many movies such as for example in the beginning of Tokyo Decadence in a suggestive and realistic shooting
On top of two towers you can have a city view for free
Shinjuku Gyoen – Shinjuku garden
Shinjuku is not only made by skyscrapers, shops and hotels, but there are also many areas for relax, one of these is Shinjuku garden, in japanese it’s called Shinjuku Gyoen.
It is not very closet o the station, and if you’ve never been there it’s not very easy to get without a ma. For this reason I recommend to watch a map when you’re in Shinjuku, in this way it would be very easy to get there , but it’s not very easy to explain since there are not many reference points.
It is a very big park with entrance ticket; it’s very clean and always with few people. It is nice for some relax and it’s very nice to see the huge park with Shinjuku Skyscrapers coming out behind the trees.
If Tokyo destroys you I recommend to spend a morning here to collect the forces and relax a bit.
OIOI – Marui
On many buildings you can see written “OIOI”, that you have to read Marui. The “O” in japanese has to be read Maru, and for this OIOI has to be read Marui, but not “Marui Marui” since OIOI is a logo
There are many Marui department stores in Japan, with many shops inside. In Shinjuku east there are some, if you like shopping you will surely find what you look for.
Waldo movie theater is a multisala . It’s very big and every day many movies are on program. If you look for a movie theater in Tokyo this could be good for you. To get there take East Exit station and go to Golden Gai direction. Probably you’ll see it or ask for information as it is very famous
To buy technology
Technology stores in Shinjuku during last years have been in competiotion with the ones in Akihabara.I
The most famous ones are Yodobashi and Bic Camera, where you can find everything, but if you look for something particular I recommend to do straight to Yodobashi Akiba in Akihabara.
It’s not worth it to buy tecnology in Japan, nor for the Made in Japan products, and when the change is good. So do not bring with you any shopping lists since you will be deluded
I gave you a wide description of what you can find in Shinjuku but is good to remember that is an evolving district: in few months new skyscrapers and new interesting trading activities can appear
The best way to enjoy Shinjuku i sto walk for few hours without worrying too much about what you’re seeing
Taking JR Line, only two stops from Shinjuku, there is Shibuya district. In Shibuya live about 200000 people but it’s not a residential district, as commercial and leisure
It’s my favourite district, even if to tell the truth I reconsider Shinjuku that took Shibuya’s place in my favourite Tokyo distict’s list
Walking for Shibuya’s streets it seems that the area is “off limits” for those who are more than forty, and the young people’s percentage is very high. Shibuya is always alive at any time both day and night.
Hachikō – the dog’s statue
When you arrive in Shibuya station follow the exit called “Hachiko”. Going out from the station Quando arrivate alla stazione di Shibuya seguite l’uscita chiamata “Hachiko” per trovarvi nel posto dove Shibuya prende vita. Uscendo dalla stazione potrete trovare la statua del cane Hachiko. Spesso questa statua di dimensioni naturali è nascosta dalle persone che ci stanno vicino. E’ infatti un punto molto famoso per incontrarsi, dato che lo conoscono tutti. Io stesso se devo incontrarmi con qualcuno a Shibuya dico “incontriamoci ad Hachiko”. Il problema è che lì è sempre pieno di persone, ma alla fine ci si trova sempre abbastanza facilmente.
Hachiko is a japanese dog lived from 1923 to 1935, belonging to white Akita breeding
This dog has became famous for its affection to the owner, professor Ueno from Tokyo University, who adopted him during its first months.
Hachiko went every day at the station with its owner, and go back to take him at 3pm, when he came back, but unfortunately a day, when Hachiko was two years old, professor Ueno died from heart attack. Hachiko didn’t know anything and went for the rest of its life to wait every day its owner at Shibuya station, after ten years he dead.
During Hachiko’s life all Japan knew about the amazing affection of this dog, and before dying the statue in Shibuya was donated to him.
Thousands people cross the world’s most crowded pedestrian crossing every time the traffic light turns green. It looks banal but it’s really an emotion to cross the street with hundreds and hundreds people. It is exciting to watch the crossing from high especially at rush hour as Friday or Saturday night.
Going out from Shibuya station on Hachiko exit, if you don’t enter in the main road (the one with Starbucks on your right) but you keep on going right to Love Hotel Hill, you can see a big building with the sign “109”
The 109 is a big shopping mall dedicated to fashion, mainly for girls. He opened in 1979 and has a hundred dress and gadgets shops and it’s very crowded as it is very famous for its position at two minutes walking from Shibuya station and it’s often mentioned by the media
Shibuya is a famous district also for the many love hotels on the “love hotel hill”. It’s very easy to get this area. From the station take Hachiko exit, and when you cross the main crossing you’ll see the “109”. After 500-600 mt. Go in one of the street on the right and you will see the many love hotels.
It’s very hard to define Akihabara, it is one of Tokyo most strange and particular district: if you have a passion or a particular perversion. On Akihabara official website you will find a map with the main stores
How to arrive in Akihabara
The easiest way to get Akihabara is to take the Yamanote Line and get at Akihabara, only two stops from Tokyo
If you are in Shinjuku take the JR Chuo Line (orange line) to Ochanomizu and then change on JR Sobu Line (yellow line) to Akihabara; this solution wil take you 20 minutes instead of 30
Manga, souls, otaku, action figure.
There are many stores for action figure, manga and souls’fans. You can find anything you want, every character in every situation. Models, cards and posters. Just go out from JR station and you’ll find the paradise for this gennre’s lovers.
Here a video in which I recommend to go shopping in A kihabara.
In the Akihabara streets is very common to meet girls dressed as maids living discount coupon sto go to Maid Cafè. I’ve never been there but I don’t think is a problem to go in even if you’re foreigners but it’s better to go with a japonese, as Pif in Tokyo Love, an episode of its show “The witness”
It’s not worth it to buy techology in Japan. But you have to go to Yodobashi Akiba. It is a huge electronic store. Open from 9,30 am to 10pm, besides electronics you can find many other products, it also has a restaurants’ floor where you can find also a kaiten sushi managed from Saushi Zanmai, that opened another restaurant (not kaiten) on ground floor. It is in Akihabara east side. Here is a video while I’m having breakfast at Sushi Zanmai in Akihabara.
Akihabara sexy shops have always been similar to other capital’s ones, as soon as Pop Life Department M’S has opened. This sexy shop is a few steps from JR station exit and has different floors, anyone dedicated to a singular object. It is open every day from 10 am to 11 pm, don’t go in with big backpacks since it’s hard to move in the aisle.
There are many shops offering Duty Free item. In Italy VAT is 20% while in Japan only 5%, that is why is not important to go in this kind of shops in Japan since the saving is very low. T
One of the most famous website about japonese technology and strange gadgets is Akihabara news. Every day there are very nice news, I recommend to follow this site!
The Yamanote Line green bridge passes through Akihabara main street. It is a very famous bridge where all tourists take pictures
Roppongi, the night life district
Roppongi is night life district, where there are many bars and clubs
There are many foreigners and I absolutely don’t like this district. Many blacks want to bring you in their places and you also find some prostitutes making you indecent proposals and accepting them you may risk to been robbed.
This district also offers very interesting attractions
How to get to Roppongi
Roppongi is not well connected with the traditional lines. If you are in Tokyo take Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki and then Hibiya Line to Ropongi
From Shinjuku take the Oedo Subway Line that offers a direct connection with Roppongi or in alternative with Tokyo Metro from Shibuya take the Ginza Line to Aoyama Itchome and then Oedo Line to Roppongi
Frauds in Roppongi
Roppongi on daytime is a fantastic district with a relaxed atmosphere while in the night is another thing.
The advices I give you are: never pay with credit card the night in Roppongi, leave your credit cards in the hotel, don’t bring with you too much money and do not follow the black boys bringing you to “meet girls”. There are a lot of Africans boys working as PR for the clubs and don’t create any problem but there are many working for prostitution places in which there are often frauds for the foreigners. The most common fraud is that of unjustified charges on credit card but there also violence and robbery cases. Those are facts documented by Italian Foreign Minister.
If you follow these advices you won’t have any problem. Once told this I proceed illustrating Roppongi district to you, absolutely very good to go around.
It is a building’s complex, the highest one is Moori Tower. In Ropongi Hills you can find shops, restaurants, baby sitting service. This huge city in the city project started in 1986 and was finished in 2003. According to the manager Minoru Mori, who wanted to create Roppongi Hills, this area has been projected to have all the services you need without going too far; all this would be more free time to dedicate to oneself. It is a very futuristic vision of modern Japan not feasible, in which if Roppongi Hills was able to guarantee more free time to its inhabitants, this would be spent to work more instead of improving the quality of life.
It’s a 54 floors building on Roppongi Hills complex, in the namesake district. Inside there are different important companies offices such as Ferrari, TV Asahi, Yahoo, the Grand Hyatt hotel and others. The first six floors contain shops and restaurants while in the other six floors there is Mori Art Museum, a modern and contemporary art museum.
There is an area called Tokyo City View where you can admire the view, it costs 1500 yen to take the elevator, but you can also go by foot. Tokyo City View is open every day from 10 am to 11pm, Friday and Saturday till 1am. The view is amazing, and the elevator is impressing especially for the structure’s modernity, but if you want to save money you can go on Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Tower in Shinjuku, where you can go up for free and the view is much more beautiful.
Few steps from Roppongi Hills there iso ne of the most characteristic Tokyo pedestrian crossing, with street and railways on more levels. It is nothing special but since is often mentioned in guides and manga it’s worth a note
Tokyo Sport Cafe
On Roppongi main road, lookin gthe Tokyo Tower on the left, there is the Tokyio Sport Cafè, a bar where you can follow the sports’ events on TV, you can have a drink in company surrounded by the most important sport celebrities of the world
Hard Rock Cafe
In the heart of Roppongi there is the Hard Rock Cafe, the famous restaurant where you can buy the namesake t shirt
Odaiba is the right district to spend a quiet day both for adults and kids
It is in Tokyo’s bay area and it has been realized during the Japan speculative bubble and everything has been built to be pleasant and innovative
Who stays in Tokyo on vacation come come here for some shopping or to walk in the different areas and admire the Rainbow Bridge, especially at sunset
In 4 hours you can see the main attractions
How to get there
After arriving at Shimbashi Station where also the Jr Yamoanote Line stops, take theYurikamone, a railway line with a monorail above ground tautomatic rain without driver. In few minutes you will be in Daiba where you have to get off.
It is the Majestic bridge you can see from Odaiba. In the night the light it up with different colors. The best place to see it is close to the Statue of Liberty, next to Acquacity mall.
Is a a not very big mall, where on the fifth floor there is a wonderful place where you can eat ramen choosing from different parts of Japan. I recommend Fukuoka’s or the sudhi restaurant all you can eat for 3600 yen
Projected by the japonese architect Kenzo Tange, this building hosts the Fuji Japanese TV and on twenty fifth’s floor there is a big sphere from which you can admiret he view for 500yen. This building’s pictures are on many guides since is a modern and unique building.
It’s a reconstruction of 1700 Italy, or maybe of that time’s mediterranean city. Everything is perfect, in particular the sky changing color, always at sunset time. It’s so realistic to seem to be outodoor
There are fountains and many women shops but it’s a pleasant place for a walk pretending to be in another time. It is in Palette Town area
It ‘s geasy to get there since you can see it from very far. Whenit was open in 1999 it was the world’s higher panoramic wheel, beating only the Yokohama wheel, opened only 24 hours before. Now it lost its record as in the world there are a lot of higher panoramic wheels
Pick the glass cabin in the night. It costs about 1000 yen por person
It’s an amusement park inside a building. The entrance is free but if you want to play you have to pay. Between the things I recommend there are the massage feet machines or you can play baseball with the throwing ball machine or play videogames
Toyota center: the right placet o buy a car! Nothing different from a car showroom if not for some interactive demonstrations. The go kart track it’s only 500 yen, but be aware it closes at 5pm. Next to the track there is a beautiful dog’s shop with some extremely rare puppies.
Tokyo Big Sight
Here are held many events every year, the most famous are Motor Show and International Anime Fair I already told you about
Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Since there are no real onsen in Tokyo, many years ago they opened this theme park with the onsens’ atmosphere. It’s a beautiful place with a very nice atmosphere, but be prepared to e naked. It costs about 3000 yenNon essendoci veri onsen a Tokyo da non molti anni è stato aperto questa specie di parco a tema in cui viene proposta l’atmosfera degli onsen.
Rising science museum
It’s a popular enough museum especially between the tourists enthusiast of technology and future. The museum’s Japanese name is Miraikan and on the official web site you find some information about future events, opening time. If you like this kind of things it’s worth a visit.
Little Hong Kong
On Decks’sixth and seventh floor there is an area called Little Hong Kong where you can find the perfect re production of same streets in Hong Kong
Ginza is the “upper” district of Tokyo, there are fashion designer stores with futuristic architectures, very good and expensive restaurants, mall, etc..è
In a few hours you can walk around the district’s main areas and in same shops and building that I recommend
How to get there
I recommend to use the Tokyo-Metro, Ginza or Marunouchi lines and to choose B9exit, where there is the Sony Building from where I recommend to start your walk
Not very distant fromhere there is Yurakucho station, served by Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku, both JR
From Tokyo station (Marunouchi) if you want you can go walking to Ginza in about twenty minutes as you can see in the video-walking below this pageDalla stazione Tokyo (Marunouchi) invece se lo desiderate potete arrivare a Ginza a piedi in circa 20 minuti come potete vedere nel video-passeggiata che trovate in fondo a questa pagina.
What to see
I recommend to follow the itinerary of the video below in which I show you my walk in Ginza (available during the week)
As I told there are excellence modern architecture’s examples and this could already be enough, but if you want something more you have to enter in some of them.
It’s a several floor building where you can enter for free to admire the latest technologies’ news. The stairs going down from ground floor to -1 (where there is Plaza,a shop for girls) are musical that is every step you take it sounds music. They were very famous when they were built, now nobody notice it.
Fashion designers store
If you can affar it you can choose to enter Gucci or Armani, if buying a Chanel bracelet or a Mikimoto pearl necklace or even a De Beers diamond. Shops are all very closed and you will find all that you want
Mikimoto has two shops in Ginza and it is known worldwide as the king’s pearls , it was him to invent the first cultivation method and they sell the most beautiful pearls in the world.
Every big building you see has plenty of shops inside, it takes a month to enter everywhere. The most famous are: Mitsukoshi, Matsuya, Matsuzakaya, Printemps, Hankyu and Marronier Gate
Between Wako and Chanel there is Ginza Apple Store, it is on several floors and you can try everything they sell. It is more interesting than Sony Building but it’s probably less know for its position
Almost in front of Chanle there is Ito-ya, where you find all that you need to write a letter or a wishing card. Take a round, it’s worth it.
There are no english explications but is a nice museum, but if you are not with kids maybe is a waste of time
Tokyo International Forum and Nakagin Capsule Tower
I talk about it in the page dedicated to this imponent complex hosting different kind of events. The Tokyo International Forum is in Yurakucho, just out of the station. Take a round just to take pictures of the iron and glass dome
Also Nakagin Capsule Tower is in Ginza but if you want to see this strange tower I recommend to go when you are closet o Shiodome, the skyscraper’s area in Shimbashi (about 15-20 minutes walking from Ginza) where you take the Yurikamone line to go to Odaiba
Asakusa is a very famous district as there are many temples, so I recommend it if you are interested in Japan’s historical aspect
I don’t like Asakusa there are always a loto f tourists , the market offers kitsch objects and not cheap; the temples are interesting but nothing compare to what you can see in Nikko and Kamakura
If you are in Tokyo, a walk in Asakusa is not bad, even because in a couple of hours you’ll see everything
How to get to Asakusa
The Metro lines in Asakusa are the Ginza Line, the Asakusa Line, the Tsukiba Express and the Tobu Railways.
According to where you are a line could be better than another, but take in consideration only Ginza line and Asakusa line.
For example if you are in Shibuya or Ginza you can go directly to Asakusa with the Ginza line while if you are for example in Shinjuku or Tokyo, take the JR to Kanda and then change with Ginza line.
When you arrive in Asakusa you’ll note the Kaminarimon, Asakusa main entrance where there are two big statues, as temple’s guard, proceeding you will be on Nakamise Dori, a 200 meters street between Kaminarimon and Sensoji temple where there is the Asakusa tourist market where you can also buy souvenirs. Don’t be shy and taste the rice pastries sold there; there are also stands making other Japanese pastries, with a sweet but delicate flavor, while other retailers propose other very tasting food.
Before entering in Sensoji temple buy for 100 yen some incense sticks to put in a common brazier from which thanks to everybody’s sticks a dense smoke is emanated; you can be purified moving your hand as japanese do. You will stink of incense all day, but you’ll be purified.
The Sensoji is this district’s symbol and is the most famous temple of Tokyo. It was built in the seventh century a.c., but the actual building is a reconstruction following the total destruction during second world war
As I wrote above the tourist’s market even if not offering quality material and not cheap, can be a nice placet to be visited
Very good and cheap pastries. They’re fried and really special. You can find many kind of pastries in Asakusa, all very good
T shirts, bags, everything in japanese style
Ikebukuro is a very active district, and maybe I exagerate, it is similar to Shinjuku.
I don’t like it very much, but a lot of people reading my statement, write to me angry since they consider it a fantastic district. I only go to Ikebukuro if I want to go in Junkudo bookshop or to see Akihabara style shops especially for girls, for the rest I prefer other areas.
How to get there:
Ikebukuro is located north Shinjuku. You can get there with many lines such as JR Yamanote Line, Marunoucho line and Yurakucho line
It’s the most famous shopping mall in Ikeburo, a big 240 meters building with many shops inside. You can admire a wonderful view from the top of the building for 600 yen. Inside there is Namja Town, a theme park belonging to Namco videogames that I don’t recommend to visit (it costs 300 yen and it’s not so good) and an aquarium..
To get here follow the signs at the station
With its ten floors it’s one of the biggest Junkudo’s book shops, or maye the biggest one. The foreigners’ books are on ninth floor. I recommend to go, there are a lot of interesting books about Japan and especially books and photographic catalogues you won’t find elsewhere.
Ci arrivate uscendo dalla stazione in direzione “Sunshine City” ma andando immediatamente verso destra nella grande strada trafficata. Chiedete lo conoscono tutti.
It’s one of Japan biggest manga’s store
It is close to Sunshine City, you can find it easily. Go there if after being in Akihabara you loved what you saw.
Sanrio Gift Gate
On the street to Sunshine City, you find the Sanrio Gift Gate on your right where you can find many Hello Kitty objects
Tokyo fish market
In Tokyo, taking the Hibiya-line from Ginza in only two stops you’ll get to Tsukiji, the fish market’s district
Going out from the metro station in less than 10 minutes walking you will get to an indoor structure in which every day hundreds tons fish to distribute to restaurants and shops. Early in the morning before 6, the tuna’s auction starts. The tuna’s auction is one of the most famous Tsukiji’s attraction, also the hundreds stands selling fish are an amazing thing
How to get there
Tsukiji is on èHibiya Line Tokyo Metro (grey line) only two stops from Ginza.
If you leave from Shinjuku or Shibuya you have to change. The other important districts on Hibiva Line are: Naka Meguro, Ebisu, Roppongi, Akihabara, Ueno.
The advice I give you, always written on Tokyo’s any guide, is to go at the fish market wearing easy clothing and old shoes. Paying attention you won’t get your feet wet but you’d better avoid sandals and expensive shoes since the floor is wet
If you go to Tsukiji with some kids you have to beware. It has never been an accident but those working in Tsukiji usually move on motorcycles that only exist here. There are many going very speedy; sometimes you can find them also in the narrowest street. There are no many tourists in tsukiji and almost all those you meet are workers, so try not to bother anyone. Tourists are appreciated but there are important rules to follow:
- Do not enter in areas with the forbidden entrance sign
- Do not obstruct the traffic
- Do not smoke
- Do not bring heavy luggage with you (use the coin lockers)
- Do not use the flash during the tuna’s auction
- Do not bring too young children or animals
- Do not touch the fish with hands
It is about very simple rules that every tourist should follow since the opening of Tsukiji to tourists only depends on their manners.
Sushi Zanmai is one of that amazing restaurant you discover by chance and that you would keep for you without recommending it to anyone
It is a restaurant’s chain present in all Tokyo and maybe also in other cities
The main restaurant is in Tsukiji, the fish market’s district open 24 hours and always busy, as sushi besides being cheap is really good, but you usually wait no more than5 or 10 minutes
You can seat at the table, where order a fixed menu, or seat at the counter where besides the fixed menu you can order sushi single pieces directly from the chef that prepare them very fresh at the moment
Obviously I reommend to seat at the counter to taste this restaurant’s real spirit at its best
Behind the chefs there is a big aquarium, where once in a while some fish are catched and coke on the moment. This could sound strange but also in Italy some fishshops and trout breeding farm, fishes sre killed in front of you, to guarantee the freshness
The exposed prices are referred to a sushi single piece. The menu I recommend is called “Maguro Zanmai” and costs 1700 Yen and contains a good variety of sushi’s pieces with tuna, that in japanese is called Maguro
Besides this menu, the single pieces you can order are a lot. Since many Italians love tuna sushi, I must say that in Japan sushi restaurant there sre different kind of tuna: O’toro is the fattest and best piece, chutore is quite fat, while akami is the less fat and cheapest, similar to the one used in Italy to prepare sushi
I’m sure that if you taste an Akami piece in Japan or at Sushi Zanmai, i twill be hard to eat suhi in Italy in the future.
Where it is-map
There are Sushi Zanmai restaurants everywhere in Tokyo, below I indicate the main restaurant in Tsukiji opened 24 hours. As you can see it is not far from the station.
To find it you can watch the video below or follow the map. If you have a GPS: N 35 39.958, E 139 46.238.
To buy technology in Japan
Every time I go To Japan there are always people asking me to buy some camera, videocamera, or others techological object thinking it’s cheap
I guarantee you that in Japan technology is expensive
Let’s see then why it’s not worth it to buy technology in Japan
The prices of technology in Japan are more or less the same as in Italy
I don’t know the reason, but I think it is because if an object is made in Japan, it doesn’t mean that out of Japan it has to cost more
In the periods when Euro has been very high over yen and that is 1:170 changing rate, if you buy technology in Japan you could save something, but it was a very low saving
Someone’s cousin has been to Japan for sure and has bought a digital camera for 30 euros while in Italy it is more than 1000 euros, but I challenge you to tell it
If you’re foreigners you can have IVA refunded, that in Japan is only 5%, so you can save not very much
I don’t know who decided it but every state and /or state’s union has a customs
A lot of people don’t take this in consideration and it is for this that once in a while someone has to pay a lot of money
If you comeback too Italy after a journey out of European Union, on your return coul be searched and if you have material bought abroad, they could impose you to pay IVA that is 20% of the bought amount. So if you buy things in Japan you loose money.
Consider there is a tolerated limit for import, for any information visit Customs Agency websiteM for example it is allowedto bring objects till some hundreds euros, besides other additional objects
In Japan you often find mobile offerings for1 yen, that corresponds to less than 1 eurocent, that is free: they’re obviously linked to a subscription
In districts such as Akihabara or during second hand markets you can find very good offerings in Japan, but you can find the some offerings also in Italy
I don’t know exactly how the warranty works for materials bought worldwide
When I bought a camera with warranty “Canon Europe” in Italy everybody told me I would have problems in case of breakdown
I wouldn’t buy too much expensive thing in Japan, to avoid warranty’s problems
Many electronic products can be used both with 100v Japanese power and 220v Italian . To verify this check on the socket or on the transformer, if it is 220v you are ok, otherwise you need a transformer. A problem concerning all electronic devices is the attack, but you can solve it with an adaptor costing a couple euros, you can find it both in Italy and in Japan.
Have a nice trip!
See you at Giappo’s!