One of the most exciting cities in the world, famous for its ancient culture, traditions and city highlights. But also it's renowned for technology, shopping, eating and even nightlife. The city offers visitors with a wide range of options whatever you prefer most and many tours are available within the city and the outskirts.Specially to Mount Fuji.
The capitals network is one of the most extensive and complex in the world. Many different transport modes and lines converge into hub stations and connect at the same time with high speed rail links around the country.Understanding how the Tokyo network works might take you some time, but it's fairly basic once you do. English writing and new trains now incorporate led coloured lighting as you go along, as well as determined sounds for precise stations.
First, arriving into Tokyo by plane. There are two main airports. Tokyo Narita, which serves most international traffic and low cost airlines. Tokyo Haneda (HND) is served by the national airlines (ANA and Japan Airlines) for their most domestic and international routes.
Also in Tokyo you will find JR lines (Japan Rail), Shinkansen Lines (High Speed Rail),and busses. It's possible to use them to commute around the city but for convenience it's better to use the metro.There are two metro systems in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metro and the Toei lines. Both reach many different destinations around the city and can be appealing for visitors. Getting the combined metro daily card is a good suggestion. For one day pass it's ¥1000 or for a 24h ticket for the metro of Tokyo only is ¥600. For the metro map of Tokyo, check the map link below.You can pay using single tickets, day passes or using the "Suica" pass. It's a magnetic card which you need to top up and costs 500 Yen.Also you can pay now with Apple pay, if you have the "Suica" App.
Attention! Tokyo transport might be one of the most advanced in the world but it's also one of the most crowded. Certain stations and lines get very busy at rush hour in the morning or after work. It's typical to see trains stopped at stations until every square centimetre of the space has been taken and people will push and push till they are in. If this wasn't enough guards at some stations also help push passengers from the outside in. These situations should be avoided for visitors but be aware of the times!
One of the most interesting cities of the world by it's modern construction, skyscrapers and luminous streets at night. But Tokyo has grown and modernised in very shot time also due devastating natural and man-made disasters. Tokyo has had more than its fair share of historical setbacks and triumphs, mainly intense wars which left the city decimated to rubble. Therefore the amount of historical evidence dating back several centuries is limited. Nowadays the culture is based on it's architecture, a flourishing arts scene and rapid growing economies, always a step ahead.
Because the city is so large below you will find the major districts and what to see in each of them:
Asakusa district, you will find the Kaminarimon which is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji in Asakusa. The gate, with its lantern and statues, is very popular with tourists and hosts a market with all the souvenir and traditional hand-craft Japanese items at good prices.The Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple it is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant.
Also nearby you will see the Tokyo Skytree, an office and shopping centre tower with a restaurant and observation deck with 360 degree views. It's Japan's tallest structure at a full height of 634 metres.
You can access the building for a birds view of the city for free! It's the headquarters of the governor and assembly of Tokyo. It’s just a short distance from Shinjuku station. At 243 meters, it’s also the 2nd tallest building within the city.
The building has two observatories (one for each tower) which are open free of charge to the public. It offers a viewing of the city from the 45th floors, 202 meters above ground. The Observatory is open from 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM. The other tower has a cafe and a bar which is open till 11pm.
Is an important sight not to miss whilst in Japan, and probably it's the best suggestion to visit. It is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m. An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08. It it 100 KM of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs. Therefore being very popular for visitors and climbers. It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site per UNESCO. Also there are important sites to see in the surroundings of the mountain, Shrines, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchiko, Oshino Hakkai hot springs, temples and numerous places to dine, and shop for souvenirs.
To get there, you can go by tour from Tokyo for the most easy and comfortable option. The tours leave in the morning and come back in the evening. They cost about €100 per person including optional lunch. Unfortunately Mount Fuji is so high that most times you will not be able to see the top as it's covered in clouds most of the year with only a 10% of visitors able to see it completely clear. Plan the trip according to the weather but mostly in the summer you will have better chances of seeing it. (tours operate year round and although you might not see the mountain, the organisers try their best to keep you entertained and provide ample opportunities to see many other sites during the day to make it an interesting tour).
Alternatively if you feel more adventurous, you can visit Mount Fuji without spending a lot of money. Avoiding the agencies which take commission and plan everything for you. The best idea is to travel by yourself to one of the lakes, Kawaguchiko, which is closest to the mountains at 2 hours away from Tokyo city. The cost is less than €45 for a return ticket per adult. To get there take a train from Shinjuku station to Otsuki. Then you need to transfer and pay the second train. From Otsuki to Kawaguchiko. You can also get there faster if you pay another 400¥ by taking the Fujisan View Express from Otsuki.
For Japan Rail holder's (JR Pass) you only need to pay from the JR line station Otsuki to Kawaguchiko, because it's a private railway. It's best to go in the morning and take pictures as the sun is high. As you arrive to Kawaguchiko, there is a multitude of options to see the mountain. The chepsast is to walk around the lake and capture the different views of the peak as you see it. To get to the north of the lake it will take at least 1.5 hours walking. You can also go by bus or a tour can be organised from the station as an alternative to walking.Around the lake there are plenty of things to see and do, so even staying one night could be an interesting option. Mount Fuji, is not always visible, therefore depends on the weather a lot. If it's a thick cloudy day in Tokyo, chances are you might not see it. So plan it carefully not to get disappointed.
Space in the city is a major issue and Japanese are experts on how to use every corner and empty space to maximise potential. Japanese rooms are traditionally a mat on the floor, known as futon. These are advertised as traditional rooms when you book so do not get confused as to expect a traditional European queen size bed!
Another option to consider if you are on a budget is staying in Hotels and hostels which offer Capsule type accomodation. These rooms are essentially piled up bed cabins sorrounded in plastic or wood, long enough for one person to sleep and only being able to access the bed through one side, either the end of the bed or the side. Shared bathroom and showers are typical, often being Japanese style also (open showers).
Other peculiarities of the capsule rooms are the fact that there is no posibility to leave your luggage there if you are staying a few days. Each time you must clear the Capsule by 10-11am and leave your belongings in a locker. Also many places make you take off your shoes before going into the Capsule rooms. Capsule rooms can be cheap at €20 per night.
However, if you prefer the spacious Hotel rooms and comfortable normal beds you will have to pay the price. Rooms would be at least €50 per night!
As being such a rapid and growing city with so much to do and see, Tokyo is often a city you will see new things each time you go. For a first time visit and to see the most essential and submerge a little in the culture 5 nights would be ideal, including a trip to Mount Fuji.