Last winter, after a few days skiing in Hokkaido, five of the Ski Safari team tried to see as many of Tokyo's sights as possible in 24 hours.
We always recommend a day in Tokyo either side of a Japan ski holiday as it's such a fascinating city. The idea of exploring the largest metropolitan area in the world in a day seemed quite ambitious, but we managed to pack a lot in!
The easiest way to navigate the huge city is by the metro system and while the tube maps can be a bit daunting...
...but it's actually quite easy to find your way around. You can either buy a day pass or just single tickets for each journey, and there are simpler tube maps available. It can get busy but it's all very civilised, with a queuing system to get onto the trains.
Richard had plotted an itinerary using the metro so we could see as many sights as possible in a short time - which we thought we'd share to show how much you can fit in but also give you ideas for places to visit.
We started close to our hotel in Shiba Park, built around the temple of Zōjō-ji, and were lucky to see cherry blossom which had bloomed unseasonably early.
From there we caught the metro to the Meiji Shrine in the Shibuya district. The shrine is located in a 170 acre forest in the centre of Tokyo. It's amazing how quickly you can go from bustling streets and high rise buildings to a tranquil forest.
We then took a stroll down Takeshita Street, a busy, quirky street filled with the weird and wonderful, from candy floss shops to cat cafes - a great place for souvenir shopping.
As rush hour approached, we walked north to the famous Shibuya Crossing via a series of small backstreets filled with independent shops and businesses. Just one or two blocks from the busy main road, it was a lot calmer with few people around. The crossing was a different story! We followed the crowds across to take it in, then positioned ourselves in the Starbucks above the intersection to get a birdseye view.
Before dinner, we stopped off at the Golden Gai district, made up of hundreds of tiny bars, each with only enough room for 5-10 drinkers and each offering something completely different. We settled into a 60's bar for some Japanese beers, where the elderly owner keenly showed off her vinyl collection (despite speaking almost no English). It's a great way to meet new people as the size means you end up chatting to others in the same bar, and I would have loved to try a few more!
Our final stop of the day was the bright lights of Kabukichō, the entertainment and red light district - home to over three thousand bars, nightclubs and more unusual establishments such as robot bars. It was an intense experience with thick crowds and street vendors and bars trying to drum up business, so we escaped into a restaurant for our final bowl of ramen in Japan.
Experience It Yourself
Tokyo is available as a city add-on to any Japan ski holiday along with the capital city Kyoto. To receive a tailor-made itinerary for Japan including skiing and a city stay, request a quotation online or call 01273 224067 to speak to a Japan ski specialist. View our Japan Ski Safaris for our suggested itineraries.