Here you’ll find detailed information about my stay in Tokyo, Japan. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section!
Where I stayed
In Tokyo we stayed at Unplan Kagurazaka. Here’s how it fared:
Security 5/5 – each bunk has a small locker where you can store personal items; each dorm room requires a code to unlock the door
Location 3/5 – it’s in a quiet neighborhood so there’s not much of a night life; though it’s about a five minute walk from the closest metro station, it’s relatively far from all the main attractions
Staff 4/5 – very friendly
Atmosphere 3/5 – it has its own cafe that’s open to outside visitors, but there wasn’t a hostel camaraderie
Cleanliness 5/5 – very clean rooms, very clean bathrooms; guests are asked to remove their shoes (slippers are provided for use inside the hostel)
Facilities 4/5 – shampoo/conditioner/bath gel provided for free; washer/dryer available; each bunk comes with a locker, some shelf space, and a reading light; did not have bigger lockers/storage space for larger bags
Overall value 4/5 – if you’re looking for a quiet place to stay, this is a great choice
How I got around
Walking and the metro were the two ways I got around Tokyo. I was the most nervous about reading/understanding the metro system, but that turned out to be incredibly straightforward. Not only are all signs in English, but maps include station numbers and how long it takes to get from one station to another.
We bought individual tickets each time we took the metro (machines have an English option). You can also use a card that you load with money (like the Clipper card in the Bay Area) or buy a pass for unlimited rides over a period of 24 or 72 hours. However this card is only available for the metro and not the trains (they’re run by different companies). Most places are accessible by the metro, so if you think that’s what you’ll use the most, it might be more cost-effective to buy the pass.
If you land at Narita Airport like I did, you can buy a ticket for the Skyrail pass at the airport. After about an hour’s ride, the Skyrail will drop you off at a metro station in Tokyo, and you’ll have to buy a regular metro ticket to get to where you’re going.
We also rented Pocket Wifi—a mobile wifi device—from our hostel for two days for ¥400/day ($3.77/day). Even though a lot of places in the city offered free wifi it came in handy when we were walking around and needed to check a map or had to upload photos.
My trip itinerary
DAY ONE (half day): Reached the hostel around 5 PM. Went out for dinner and tried to stay up as late as possible to combat jetlag.
DAY TWO: In the morning we took a walking tour organized through the Tokyo Tourist Information Center (run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government). The actual tour was free and led by volunteers, however we had to pay the metro fare for ourselves and our guides (total was about $8, totally worth it). This tour turned into a private tour for us since nobody else had signed up. We had two tour guides and walked around the Harajuku and Meiji Shrine areas.
The tour ended around noon, and afterwards we spent about an hour at Kiddyland, a famous toy store. It had four floors and features all sorts of paraphernalia, from Star Wars to Studio Ghibli and more. If you’re into collecting things, this may be a fun place to check out.
We also checked out the Pokemon store. Highly recommend it if you’re a fan. If I had more space in my bag I would have definitely bought more stuff…
DAY THREE: This was my longest day in Tokyo…by the end of it I was completely exhausted. It started off early because I wanted to take a specific Aikido class at Hombu dojo. I was told that finding the dojo would be tricky, so I scouted it out the day before, and made sure I knew how much the mat fee cost and where the changing rooms were.
After a quick nap back at the hostel we were off on another walking tour. This one was a self-guided tour of the Asakusa district. We stopped by the Asakura Museum (would recommend if you enjoy sculptures and/or want to check out the inside of a pretty cool house), and the Tokyo National Museum. The walk alone from the station closest to the Asakura Museum all the way down to the TNM took a good 40 min.
I definitely recommend checking out the TNM, though note that there aren’t too many explanations by the exhibits, so it might be worthwhile to take a tour (they’re offered by the museum) or have a guidebook with you. I would also budget about two hours here since there are several different buildings to explore. An adult ticket cost ¥620 ($5.85).
Afterwards we hung out in the Ueno district, famous for its arcades and pachinko machines, and had dinner at a sushi bar.
DAY FOUR (half day): Our last day in Tokyo was spent at the Asakusa Shrine and Senso-ji Temple. 2 hours was all we needed to explore the neighborhood around these spaces, buy some souvenirs, and get some lunch. Afterwards we picked up our luggage at our hostel and headed for the airport.
If you have questions about something I didn’t address, feel free to ask them in the comments section!