I’m planning the trip of all trips to Japan, flying into Tokyo in mid-March, leaving two weeks later, and I’ve never been so stoked in my life. If you have any ‘must visit’ spots in Japan, post a comment and let me know. I don’t really want to plan a day-by-day itinerary or anything, but I want to get a list of awesome places/shops/restaurants/galleries/etc so that we can make the most out of our trip.
Planning a “What would you do if you lived there” trip mixed with tourist attractions is effing great. So much research and awesomeness you never knew existed.
Nagano/Shibu Onsen to bathe with the monkeys (hopefully) - Link
The Korakukan, a wooden onsen ryokan, stands just below the monkey park, while dozens of ryokan with hot spring baths are located in and around Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen. Shibu Onsen with its narrow streets offers a particularly nice atmosphere.”
The Ghibli Museum - Link
“The museum is in Mitaka, about 20 minutes from Shinjuku. Mitaka is a really nice town - not like the hustling, bustling mess of Tokyo. For example, there’s a pleasant walkway along the river that has some nice greenery along it; there’s no room for trees in Tokyo. Strange buildings, elaborately designed exhibits, original short movies that can only be seen in the Museum. There aren’t any formal routes that you must follow. You should find your own way. We welcome visitors who can enjoy this space from the heart and can lose their way.”
Meguro Parasitological - Link
“Forget the usual superlatives for Tokyo - the highest concentration of pachinko balls in the world, the greatest number of geographically challenged taxi drivers anywhere, etc. - what really makes me want to punch the air in civic pride is knowing that this city is home to the world’s one and only museum devoted to parasites.
Admittedly, the Meguro Parasitological Museum might not appeal to some types, such as those of a squeamish nature or those who have just eaten lunch. But the place is certainly fascinating - vaguely sinister, perhaps, but fascinating.”
Legato - Link
“Legato sits on the 15th floor of a building located almost at the top of the Dogenzaka slope and, with large windows throughout, it commands an uninhibited view of Shibuya and beyond. You can even see the Ferris wheel in Odaiba (until the plug is pulled on the lights).”
Trouble Peach - Link
“The equally enjoyable and equally unpolished Trouble Peach up (very steep) stairs is roomier and lower lit, affording the punters a bit more personal space on weeknights at least. The black-painted walls lend the place a typical Shimokita “live” house feel. Indeed, the place boasts a respectable record collection numbering over 3,000, including classics from generations past, and it beats hands down the background music of less established places. The heavy wooden benches and tables make it clear that the main activity in this place is drinking, however, and with a sizable menu at hand there’s no shortage of refreshments.”
Christon Cafe - Link
” Only in Tokyo could you find the simultaneously ironic and non-ironic Christon Cafe. This “Christian themed” restaurant goes overboard in presenting not only Christian iconography but also gothic themes that will please metalheads and goths alike. Chandeliers and other gothic light fixtures are copiously hung throughout the cavernous and curvaceous main room as well as the split-level side areas. Gargoyles and stained glass windows adorn the walls, along with many images of Mary, angels and cherubs.
There are huge, comfortable sitting chairs - ones that you might expect to see in the smoking room of a great mansion. One of this place’s charms is that even the small tables seem quite luxurious, with their own light fixtures and unique seating. Be sure to check out the red latex booths with red velvet curtains, ideal for a romantic dinner, but perhaps more David Lynch than Jesus of Nazareth.”
Ebisu - Link
“Its small size makes for a comfortable atmosphere and it features many quirky restaurants and bars. Together with the trendy neighboring communities of Daikanyama and Hiroo, they offer high-class boutiques, funky vintage stores and hip patisseries all within easy walking distance from Ebisu station.”
Hakone, Kanagawa - Link
“A town in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, in the Ashigarashimo District, the western more mountainous part adjacent to Mt. Fuji and relatively close to Tokyo.”
Musashino Bekkan - Link
“It’s pretty old fashion. They take your shoes when you check in and you don’t get them until you check out. You get a kimono to wear and cool socks. The rooms are all tatami style. When you eat they bring a table in to your room and set it up; when you sleep they come and set up your beds. It’s also set in this dense ass bamboo forest, it felt the most like old school samurai soap opera. They also make their own Sake.”
Yunessun in Hakone - Link
“The Yunessun is our largest spa resort zone where you can enjoy more than 25 different kinds spa related services and fun water recreational activities (see the complete list below). It is like being at the beach, so bring your swimsuits.
The main Spa facility is called The God’s Aegean Sea and will amaze you with its fantastic aqua surroundings.There is a Mediterranean theme for the amusement spas including the Dead Sea Bath, where your body floats in the bath, along with the Turkish Hamam and the Ancient Roman Baths.”
Museum of Saint-Exupery and The Little Prince in Hakone - Link
“Display Saint-Exupery’s youth age lived town in France such as a chapel and downtown, and you’ll be able to stroll around the town and feel his life time. Also souvenir stores and south France restaurant are included.”
Owakudani Valley, Kakone - Link
“A breath-taking view can be seen from above this volcanic gorge. Jets of sulfurous steam rise from crevasses and hot spring bubbles. Mt.Fuji and the surrounding mountain ranges can be viewed as well.”
The Doraemon Shop - Link
“The Doraemon Shop in ShimoKitaZawa is one of those places, designers would die for to visit if they only knew it existed! If you ever tried to find something in ShimoKita, you know how hard it is to find your way through this labyrinth of tiny back streets, which probably creates the strongest attributes of this area: adventure, discovery and surprise. In one of those windy roads, slightly far from ShimoKita West Exit one can find this funky little shop all stuffed with Japanese dolls, characters, old style Japanese sweets, stickers, batches…. hundrets of boxes just waiting to be opened and rummaged out. This is where the Doraemon Uncle lives! He opens his little magic shop every night: from 6PM until 3AM!”