Tokyo, the city that never sleeps. It’s the perfect city for a quick stop over, eating some delicious food and stocking up on all the kawaii things. Yes, you will soon learn to love vending machines. eating late at night and being super squished on crowded trains.
So why such a short time in Tokyo? Well on the way to Mongolia, with some creative flight bookings we were fortunate enough to do a 24 hour stopover in Tokyo. Just enough time to visit my favorite temple, eat okonomiyaki, visit an owl cafe and generally start relaxing and switch off from our daily lives back home. If you do have more time than I’d strongly suggest at least three days in Tokyo.
The ease of flying to Japan from Australia
We caught an overnight fly from Melbourne to Tokyo (Narita) with Jetstar Australia. At the time of traveling Jetstar was the only airline to fly directly from Melbourne to Narita. Since December 2017 Qantas and JAL have taken over this route. In saying that the Jetstar flight was pleasant and nothing unusual happened. Which really is a great way to start a holiday.
On arrival at Narita Airport, we decided to not carry our big backpacks into Tokyo, instead choosing to store our luggage overnight. It seemed silly to turtle it into town and back out again, as our flight to Mongolia departed the next afternoon. Seriously we were only doing a 24 hour stop over. A quick repack of our daypacks, top up of our Pasmo cards and we were off to explore. As a Melbourne girl I am always impressed and appreciative of airport trains that take you directly into the city. Our first stop was the Ikefukurou Owl Cafe.
Tokyo was in fine form and once again showered me in rain. A lot of rain. So much rain that we had to buy an umbrella. A panda umbrella because why buy anything in Tokyo that isn’t kawaii?
After visiting the owl cafe it was time to recharge the spiritual batteries at Senso-ji Temple, my favorite temple in Tokyo. Senso-ji is Tokyo’s oldest temple. Known affectionately to people all over Japan as the temple of the Asakusa Kannon, it draws some 30 million visitors every year, remaining an important center of worship.
Upon arrival at the Senso-ji Temple you’ll find yourself walking through Kaminarimon Gate and into the market place called Nakamise. Here you can buy knick knacks, snacks (Asaskusa ice cream burger is worth trying) and general touristy items. You won’t find many, if any, religious items to purchase. This leads you from the outer gate to the temple’s second gate, the Hozomon.
The weather really wasn’t our friend that day and combined with slight exhaustion from an overnight flight we opted to spend the early evening in our hostel room, have a nana nap and freshen up before heading out for dinner.
This time around we opted to stay at the Nui Hostel in Kuramae, Tokyo. It was super close to public transport and easy walking distant to Asakusa for our dinner date at Sometaro. Once again the Melbourne girl came out when choosing to stay at Nui. With beautiful wooden features, industrial decor and most importantly a cafe down stairs it was a no brainer. At ¥7,000 a night for a twin room it was rather affordable too. The staff speak English and are really knowledgeable about the city and general tourist questions. Overall it was clean, easy to find and in a quiet location with free WIFI and hot showers.
Tsukiji Fish Market Failure.
Confession o’clock- We stuffed this one up. Stupidly I didn’t do quite enough research on the infamous market. Like most people I knew that it was hard to get in to see the famous tuna auction, it was crazy expensive to eat here and it was worth while going to see. We weren’t particularly interested in a 3am wake up, as suggested by the Nui Hostel staff, and try battle our way into the auction group. We hadn’t booked a walking tour and in all honesty we where on a really tight time line as we had to be back at the airport by mid day to catch our next flight. Blindly we assumed that the market was open to the general public after the auction finishes. Well it doesn’t. The market doesn’t actually open to the general public (read Tourists) until 09:00 am. We arrived at around 7.30am. Yup. By this stage the lines to get into a venue for fresh fishy breakfasts were a good half an hour long. So we opted for a brief walk around the lane ways, saw some life fishes being sent off to their destiny, visited the local temple and decided to head back to Senso-ji for brunch and a walk in the sunshine before hoping back on the train and heading to Mongolia!
While you’re walking around the market you might be wandering about buying a Japanese knife. They are truly a masterpiece. They make a great addition to anyone kitchen or even a beautiful gift for a loved one back home.
Details of our super short trip:
Flights– Melbourne to Narita with Jetstar Australia *note that this is no longer offered as a direct flight.
Accommodation– Nui Hostel, Kurame, Tokyo
Transport– Amazing. We had PASMO cards which are brilliant little credit card devices. Top up and go! You can also use your Pasmo card to purchase food, drinks etc.
If you’re looking for Cherry Blossoms in 2017 take a look at our friend Cory’s Cherry Blossom Forecast
Even though I’ve been to Japan half a dozen times I’ve not really ever gone past Tokyo as an adult. Our next trip we plan on going to Kyoto. A city that I first visited as a 17yo.
Have you been to Tokyo? Let us know your favourite things to do in the land of the rising sun.
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