The Setagaya Boroichi is the grand old lady of Tokyo flea markets. It’s so ancient and so revered, in fact, it holds Intangible Cultural Treasure status! On December 15-16 and … Continue reading Let’s go to Setagaya Boroichi, the most legendary flea market in Tokyo!
Shrines and temples aren’t just for snapping nice pix – there’s serious specialized goodness to be gotten from throwing a coin to the proper powers-that-be! Here’s how to take advantage … Continue reading How to shrine and temple in Japan
You’re craning your neck to see some gorgeous gold-leafed carving, and suddenly you’re overcome with traveler joy. “Isn’t this the most gorgeous…?” Uh oh. Shrine or temple? Because you know … Continue reading Shrine or temple? The Quickie Guide
I used to drag everyone who came to visit me to Ito-ya, the legendary 9-floor stationery shop in Ginza. But when they renovated and got rid of 90% of their … Continue reading Tokyo’s best-kept shopping secrets: The Shimojima gift, paper & packaging emporium
One of the best things anyone can bring back from Tokyo is a love of Japanese food. I don’t know about you, but the thing that surprised me most about … Continue reading How to bring Japan home with you: take a Japanese cooking class in Tokyo!
Thinking about taking an autumn trip to Japan? Dreaming of strolling through divine gardens bursting with red maples, and serene temples robed in fall leaves? I’m with you: it’s totally my … Continue reading Hacking Leaf Season: How to beat the crowds, duck the peak prices, and still see beautiful fall leaves in Japan
These are the festivals and events I would take you to see, if you were in town! • Click here for Know someone who’s planning a trip to Japan? Or … Continue reading Festivals + Events: What’s happening while you’re in Tokyo?
Japan is stuffed with (mostly) more and better goods than anywhere in the world, but there are a couple of things you should definitely bring with you, if you think … Continue reading Stuff you should bring with you, because you can’t get it in Japan
Finding bathrooms in Tokyo is a lot easier than finding them in America, that’s for sure! Here are three surefire places to find them, wherever the urge makes itself known. … Continue reading Where can I find public restrooms in Tokyo?
Yanaka is one of the quirkiest, undiscovered, Old Tokyo neighborhoods in town. Here, new generations of artisans from families that have plied their trades for centuries are finding fun and … Continue reading Curated Walking Tour: Yanaka, where traditional Tokyo is alive and kicking!
People always ask me if they should get a guide in Japan or not, and it’s the one question that I can’t really answer for you! Here’s a quiz to … Continue reading Travel quiz: Should I hire a guide in Japan?
I know. The whole reason you’re on The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had is to figure out how to have fun in Tokyo without someone showing you around. And don’t … Continue reading Problem solved: How to do all the fun Tokyo stuff that’s nearly impossible if you’re not fluent in Japanese
Gokoku-ji is one of my favorite temples, because it’s home to the best graveyard, the best cats, and two of the strangest shrines in Tokyo. First, let’s go see the … Continue reading Gokoku-ji Temple
I know. You think you’re not interested in this fusty old super-Japanese form of entertainment. But you’d be wrong. Here’s why. #1 The actors who play the women’s roles do … Continue reading Should I see a Kabuki performance?
If you’re not convinced you need to see this only-in-Japan entertainment while you’re here, get thee over to Should I see a Kabuki performance? I think you’ll be back. There … Continue reading Kabuki: How to get tickets and see a performance
The Shitamachi Museum will timewarp you back to the Meiji Era (1868-1912), which is after Japan opened to the West, but before any of the world wars took their toll. Like … Continue reading Shitamachi Museum
This magnificent temple sacred to the Buddhist teacher Nichiren is most famous for its Oeshiki Ikegami parade (the Festival of 10,000 Lanterns) in October, but it’s also impressive at other … Continue reading Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple
Salt and tobacco, the two unlikely subjects of this strangely rewarding museum, were both protected by a Japanese government monopoly for many years, and that’s why there’s a museum devoted … Continue reading Tobacco & Salt Museum
This Toyota MegaWeb museum is styled to look like a town where all the cars are rare, famous, or both. There are two floors of vintage cars, race cars, movie cars, … Continue reading The History Garage
I didn’t discover this hidden gem among the Imperial Palace East Gardens (which I’d dismissed as boring! boring! boring! since I’d only been to the one on top of the … Continue reading Ni-no-maru Imperial Gardens
Yanaka is one of the best, undiscovered, Old Tokyo neighborhoods in town, filled with traditional shops and excellent shrines and temples. The Nezu Shrine is my favorite shrine in Tokyo. … Continue reading Nezu Shrine
This museum (which is in Omotesando, not near Nezu Station, go figure) is a jewel of an art museum that showcases beautifully curated exhibits, focusing on traditional Japanese arts and crafts. The price … Continue reading Nezu Museum
The National Museum of Nature and Science is split between the Global Gallery and the Japan Gallery, but it’s the Japanese building that’s a delightfully only-in-Japan view of the natural world. … Continue reading National Museum of Nature and Science
This gem of a temple is home to one of the more unusual Buddhist saints – the Shibarare (pronounced she-bah-rah-ray) Jizo. Legend has it that this saint has a gift for … Continue reading Nanzo-in Temple: Home of the Shibarare Jizo
Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden is a restorative green oasis, set amid the tallest skyscrapers in Tokyo. Beautiful bridges, choice flowers in every season, and lush greenery make this classic Japanese … Continue reading Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden
This garden surrounds a majestic stone mansion, and is typical of the Meiji Era, right after Japan opened to the West. The grounds below the house are still an age-old … Continue reading Kyu Furukawa Garden
Yayoi Kusama might be the most well-known (and eccentric) modern artist living in Japan today, and last year she opened a jewel of a museum to showcase a rotating sample … Continue reading Kusama Museum
If you’d like to see a fire ceremony, make a wish at the dragon fountain, and say a prayer in the hall of the glow-in-the-dark saints, this is the temple for … Continue reading Fukugawa Fudo-san Temple (Narita-san)
If you see nothing else while you’re in Tokyo, see this. It’s truly a world without horizons, and it’s constantly changing and unfolding around you. Technologically, it’s astounding, with some artwork … Continue reading Borderless: The TeamLab Digital Museum
If you aren’t dashing from the plane to feed all your hundred yen coins into gachapon vending machines, you should be! And if you have to ask why… You can only … Continue reading Gachapon hunt! Where to find the best capsule toy vending machines in Tokyo
How do you deal with allergies when traveling in a country where information about food ingredients is written in characters most Westerners can’t read? The first time I lived in … Continue reading How can I travel in Japan if I have food allergies?
The Borderless Digital Museum is the hottest ticket in Tokyo right now, but it’s also the great grandaddy of FOMO. Some days they sell out, so how do you make … Continue reading 12 tips & tricks for maximum fun at the Borderless Digital Museum
As someone who likes to save her hard-earned cash for eating great food and buying tickets to see great stuff, I like to spend as little as is comfortably possible … Continue reading Where should I stay in Tokyo? How to pick a hotel
How to use your phone in Japan without forking over all your savings We’ve all heard the horror stories about crippling phone bills after accidentally using a phone overseas. But if … Continue reading How to use your phone in Japan without breaking the bank
If you have a smartphone, the easiest and fastest way to plot your routes anywhere in Japan is with a train finder app You can get the train app before … Continue reading Navigating around Japan: How to get where you’re going if you don’t speak Japanese
Here’s how I buy bullet train tickets: There are lots of sites that will tell you how to buy a long-distance train ticket in detail (this is a good one) … Continue reading How to buy tickets for the bullet train if you don’t speak Japanese
Some drivers speak English, but don’t count on it. Here’s how to be sure you get where you’re going Your best bet is to hand the driver a written copy … Continue reading How to take a taxi in Tokyo if you don’t speak Japanese
Narita airport must get the worldwide prize for being farthest from the city it serves. Seriously, what the heckin’ heck were they thinking? But sadly, there’s no time to move … Continue reading How to get into Tokyo from Narita airport
Nothing is more mortifying than hearing that the restaurant where you just ate the best lunch ever doesn’t take credit cards… Credit card use is spreading, but outside the big … Continue reading How & where to get cash in Japan
The train system in Japan is one of the best in the world, and you can go anywhere in Tokyo with only a short walk at either end. Subways and … Continue reading Get around Tokyo fast, easy & cheap: How to buy & use a transit card
It’s hard to plan a trip to somewhere before you know how big it is and how hard it will be to get around. Compare Tokyo’s size and population to … Continue reading How big is Tokyo?
Here’s a quick A-Z look at everything I take my friends to see in Tokyo! If you’d rather browse the full descriptions, click here • AKIHABARA AREA The famous electronics … Continue reading Browse Quick Overviews of Destinations A-Z
Tokyo has a reputation for being ultra-urban, but there are actually gorgeous (and huge!) gardens all over town. Stroll around one of these beauties to feast your eyes and restore … Continue reading The most beautiful gardens in Tokyo
Everyone thinks you have to go to Kyoto to see beautiful shrines and temples, but Tokyo boasts some incredibly amazing ones if you know where to look. These are my … Continue reading The best shrines & temples in Tokyo
If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to wander the backstreets and discover a city’s delights for yourself, here are some neighborhoods where you can’t go wrong! Read on … Continue reading Great walking neighborhoods
If you’re looking for experiences that will make your friends back home wish they’d come along, here are my favorites! • ONLY-IN-JAPAN CRAZY • Be astounded by immersive digital art … Continue reading Unforgettable experiences
There’s so much cool stuff to buy in Japan, but Tokyo is huge, and how do you know where’s the best place to shop? Fear not, I’ve got you covered! … Continue reading Where to buy great only-in-Japan stuff
If you’re looking for art exhibits, I’m going to send you back out to the wide web to see what exhibits are in town. But if quirky & entertaining and … Continue reading Museums you won’t want to leave
Yeah, it happens – monsoons and typhoons are A Thing. But don’t let the weather keep you from having all the only-in-Japan fun! Click on the images for great stuff to do … Continue reading What to do in Tokyo on a rainy day
Tokyo is one of the few places on the planet where you can have as much fun at the kid-friendly spots as they do. Feast your eyes on my favorite … Continue reading Fun with kids in Tokyo