Other than the neighbourhood around our Airbnb house we really didn’t get to see Tokyo until our third day in Japan. On a side note, with the exception of one hotel stay, we are mostly staying at Airbnb accommodations during our trip in Japan. Mostly as it’s more affordable in this expensive country but also for the extra amenities it provides for a family travelling lightly (washer and dryer comes in handy when you’re travelling with 3-4 outfits for 2 weeks).
We only had one day to see Tokyo so we decided to hire a personal tour guide to maximize our time. We love personal tour guides over group tours for several reasons. They often work out to be cheaper; especially when you have more than two people in your group. You go on your own itinerary on your own schedule; which is so helpful when travelling with kids. You receive 100% of the guide’s attention so you never have to worry about losing your guide or not being able to hear what they are saying.
Our Tokyo guide was a sweet retired Japanese lady by the name of Taka-san that we found through a Japanese tour guide service called Triplelights. We loved that she dressed in a traditional kimono for our benefit but worried that she wasn’t comfortable walking around the whole day. She assured us she was quite comfortable. Taka-san was also incredibly patient with us and never once showed frustration even when we took a long time buying train tickets or going past our scheduled time for the tour. Read on for highlights from our day.
Our favourite stop was at Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken.
If you know me, you know I like to eat so of course a highlight has to be lunch. One thing about Japan is that restaurants specialize in a particular type of food. The one our guide took us to was a kusiage restaurant. And no kusiage is not tempura as we learned. The breading is much more subtle than tempura. It was absolutely delicious!
I think one of the highlights for the kids was the forest of shaped and groomed pine trees we passed when we walked to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. The kids loved the idea of climbing on full size bonsai trees.
And the East Garden itself was lovely.
We visited many areas that I have not highlighted so here are some random shots from our day.
Tokyo was not what we expected. Both Marc and I expected the craziness of a large metropolitan city but Tokyo felt more like a mid size city despite having a population the size of Canada. The buildings were mostly low to mid-rise. It was also quiet and orderly but that could be because our impression is skewed having been living in China for the last four months. Marc also says Tokyo has less robots than he expected.