One of the biggest mistakes travelers to Tokyo make is staying on the Yamanote line and visiting only the big places (Shibuya, Shinjuku etc). These places are great don’t get me wrong. Americans for sure, will certainly be blown away by the hustle and bustle of these places. They make Time Square look like a suburban main street. There is just so much more offered in Tokyo though and it takes just a little extra effort to find some great places. Tokyo has an amazing subway system SO USE IT. Here are three of my favorite places in the Tokyo area that can be easily overlooked
Shimokitazawa was one of my favorite places in Tokyo. Japan even. Shimokitazawa takes you away from the madness of Shibuya and Shinjuku. It’s definitely a younger person’s place as its mostly for finding interesting clothing stores and cool cafes and bars. Japan is great for finding clothes. Look down every alley. Many young designers will rent out spaces to sell their clothing. You can find one of a kind clothes in places like Shimokita. Also, cafes people, are a thing that must be experienced in Japan. Much like with baseball, Japan has taken something that used to be synonymous with America, and now does it better than us. Don’t go to Starbucks while you are in Japan. You are in a fucking foreign country. Quit be a pussy and branch out. Shimokitazawa had my favorite cafe in Tokyo. That being said, I have totally forgotten the name of it. All I remember is that they had a large open window with many barrels of coffee beans, and that it was in Shimokitazawa. When you find it, ask for the Vienna coffee (ウィンナ・コーヒーpronounced Wiener coffee. Hehe, wiener) Anywho, if you walk around I’m sure you’ll find it. That’s what is so great about Shimokita, its so dense and maze-like that you can walk around for hours down the same streets and find something new over and over. One time my friend and I found a bar having it’s one year anniversary. All the beer was free for the night, I shit you not. It was called Bug House. Look for it. Shimokitazawa is on the Odakyu line which you can take from Shinjuku station. As daunting as Shinjuku station is to navigate, it is worth searching for. Remember, the Odakyu line is NOT a JR line.
Many of you otaku douche bags want to go to Tokyo for one reason, Akihabara. For those of you who don’t know, Akihabara is otherwise known as the Electric District. It is where all the discount electronics, video game and seven story porn stores are located. Akihabara does have some hidden treasures (Super Potato), but it always left me wanting more. Nakano, is the hidden nerds gem of Tokyo. Out of the north exit of Nakano station lies Broadway. If you walk all the way to the end of Broadway, you’ll find this old ass three story mall. Don’t be fooled by its looks, lest you want to be a fool yourself! Inside houses a treasure trove of, manga, weird Japanese toys, poster stores, music stores and more! I am ashamed that it took me so long to find this place while living in Japan. It is a nerds dream. Non-nerds, don’t write off Nakano just yet. Nakano has some of the best small bars in Tokyo. There is a wide variety of themed bars here. They have 80s bars, 70s bars, casual bars. But for the more adventurous, try a cosplay bar. I actually never went into one and I am kind of sad that I didn’t. Nakano is also the home to a vintage video game bar. You go in and the walls are covered with old video games. You pick which ones you want to play and sit at a table with a bunch of old systems, and play to your hearts content. The selection is huge, and the beer flows freely. You can find Nakano on the Chuo line, which IS a JR train. It’s color is yellow. If there is a train delay, fret not, its probably just someone who jumped onto the tracks. Chuo is a popular suicide line! They know how to clean the mess up quickly.
Alright, so technically, Hiratsuka isn’t in Tokyo. However, if you go to Tokyo in the summer for an extended stay, the heat will at some point get to you. It is about time you go to the beach. Trouble is, Tokyo has 25 million people in it and they are all thinking the same thing. So, if you are less interested in going to a beautiful beach to sightsee, and more interested in not being stepped on every two minutes by a million people on a mile stretch of sand, Hiratsuka is where you need to go. Hiratsuka’s beach is a straight shot east out of the station. There are absolutely no turns to take. Just walk straight towards the ocean and you’ll find it. Be sure to bring sand-shoes though because Hiratsuka’s beach has black sand. Black sand is significantly hotter than your regular white sand, so beach shoes or sandals are a must. It is totally worth it though, because Hiratsuka is not a popular place for Tokyoites. Trust me, you do NOT want to go to a beach that has been deemed popular by someone from Tokyo (Atami 熱海）. That is, unless you want to see hot chicks in bikinis walking around in high heels. Then by all means, go to a popular destination. You will be in heaven. But if you actually want to relax and enjoy the beach, go to Hiratsuka. There will be some hot chicks there too but in much smaller numbers, and they probably won’t have high heels on. You can find Hiratsuka on the Tokaido line, which can be accessed from Tokyo or Shinagawa station. If you really want to hunt for it, Hiratsuka also has a hugggee park with an awesome playground and a soccer stadium. I’m not gonna give you directions to find it, but if you do you won’t be disappointed. I suggest getting wasted on said playground. Meemmmorriiessss
The main tourist attractions of Tokyo are cool. They have the most (and prettiest) people, the biggest buildings and are easy to get to. However, if you really want to experience Tokyo, you can’t stay in these places. Tokyo is a special city for people who like to explore. Half of the fun is trying to find all the cool places (which is why I didn’t give exact directions to any place I mentioned). There is a reason they can cram 25 million people in such a small space. Tokyo is extremely dense. Even alleys can be hiding a super interesting shop or hangout spot. You really never know. And since Japan’s crime is so insanely low, you have nothing to fear in walking down those alleyways. So explore as much as you can, and don’t forget, cool stores are not always on ground level so LOOK UP!