We arrived on a Willer Express bus from Sendai to Tokyo Shibuya station on the 23rd of December. From there we caught the Yamatone train Line and then the monorail to our Airbnb in Shinagawa.
The apartment was near Oikeibajo-Mae monorail station in Shinagawa prefecture. A beautiful residential neighbourhood with apartments, kid’s playgrounds and a huge park along one of the canals near the Tokyo Bay area.
Our residential area is on the left, on the right you can see the monorail line
This area is very well located in terms of transportation since Shinagawa station is connected with the local Tokyo trains through Yamanote line, with the Tokaido Shinkansen (to Kyoto), and the Haneda airport through the Monorail.
A Great place to live but a little bit far from Shibuya and Shinjuko for everyday tourism.
Picture of the Shinagawa area
After we left our things in the apartment we walked to Shinagawa station and took the Yamanote line back to Tokyo station. Our destination was the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the Nihonbashi district.
This area, named after the famous Nihonbashi ( bashi = bridge ), marked the eastern end of the Tokaido road, the ancient road connecting Kyoto and Edo, has grown from a busy mercantile area to a large business center of modern Tokyo.
Regrettably I did not take a picture of Nihonbashi, so for this post I took a screenshot with Google maps
Unfortunately, an expressway was build over the river, obscuring most of its traditional charm as well as the view of Fuji san.
Picture of the center of the Tokyo Stock Exchange
We passed through the Tokyo Stock Exchange where you can visit the Market Center and see the Stock Market History Museum with free entrance.
Akihabara from the train station
Next stop, Akihabara in Chiyoda prefecture. This area is well known among otakus due to its countless shops of anime goods, manga, maid cafés and retro video game shops, however its reputation comes from the post war days as a place where you could find household electronic goods. This is still true these days and you can find electronics shops mixed with other otaku famous shops.
Electronicals for sale in Akihabara
I have to say the level of noise here is considerably high. Each shop has it’s own advertising playing, each one louder than the other. Some of these shops, besides the usual confusion of people wandering and chatting inside, have the shop assistants yelling out some current sale and encouraging people to come inside.
The night is starting in Akihabara district
The both of us decided to leave after some time because our brains could not deal with the noise anymore. I admit that I have a considerable low tolerance for noise around me and this place really tested my resilience.
Roppongi & Tokyo Tower
Next stop was the Tokyo Tower, we decided to walk there from Roppongi. Roppongi, famous for night outs, where you can find countless bars, restaurants and nightclubs famous among both locals and foreigners.
If you’re into sushi this is also the place where you can find Jiros’ Sushi Roppongi Hills.
Near Roppongi Hills
Along the way we stopped at a restaurant on the side of the road. We went in and it turned out to be a small Chinese restaurant.
Chinese dinner time
I have a feeling we took the long way there, but eventually we did get to Tokyo tower. This metal structure, modelled after Eiffel Towel, a popular symbol of Japanese economic power after the second world war, now still serves as a broadcast antenna as well as an observatory with a view over Tokyo.
Finally Tokyo Tower
We chose the daily JR daily passes for transportation around the city. Let’s be honest, the Yamanote line is all you will ever need if you have a reasonable tolerance for walking. Along this train line you can find almost all of the main touristic spots you will want to visit.
All of the places we visited on this day can be accessed through the main stations of the Yamanote line: Tokyo Station for Nihonbashi, Shinagawa, Akihabara and Hamamatsu cho for the Tokyo Tower.
To visit Nihonbashi area you exit Tokyo station through the Marunouchi exit and from there walk to the Nihonbashi. Around, you can find the Nihombashi Pier where you can catch boat cruises that will bring old times back to life.
Also you can find museums related to the mercantile tradition of the area, such as the stock exchange museum and currency museum near the Oldest Department Store in Tokyo.
Shinagawa area – The shrines and river can be found near the Shimbamba train station
Shinagawa was an old resting stop along the Tokaido road and because of this many izakayas could and can be found in the area.
Some touristic places here are the path along the Meguro River, as well as the Shinagawa Shrine, where people believe that Ieyasu Tokugawa prayed before heading for the battle of Sekigahara.
Akihabara – Some basic recomendations, make sure to research what you are looking for
Akihabara needs no introduction and those who are looking for anime, manga and gaming goods are sure to make a separate search.
What I can recommend is Mandarake, famous for manga, Super Potato, famous for games, Yodobashi for electronics and house goods ( this shop in Akihabara being especially famous ) and Don Quihote for duty free goods.
I guess it depends on your personal taste but I feel that Akihabara should be visited as you do a shopping center. But don’t get me wrong, I love it for what it is.
Roppongi & Tokyo Tower
Roppongi – We took the longest path there
To get to Tokyo Tower directly, the best train stop in the Yamanote line is Hamamatsu cho, from there it’s a 20-minute walk. If you appreciate the walk, you can get to Roppongi and then follow the sight of the tower on the horizon like we did.
As an observatory over Tokyo, Tokyo Tower although classical, is no longer the most famous since the opening of the higher Tokyo Skytree. Also, the Tokyo City Hall, which has free entrance and in some days a view of Fuji san is a great option.
From Tokyo Tower you can try and visit the Mausoleum of Tokugawa shoguns right behind it.
What would I do differently
If I ever go back, I want to give Akihabara a second chance, a proper second chance. I want to research the best shops properly and try them. I feel that I wandered a little bit too much without any direction and spent all my energy listening to loud commercials and people on the streets.
View of Tokyo map
Green for the Yamanote line, Blue for the monorail and Red for our path, a mix of walking and train.
Our next stop will include us wandering the streets of Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku, in another amazing day.
These posts will probably end up being a little bit longer, but I hope not too boring. Thanks for keeping up with these posts, hope you’ll be back again!じゃねー