Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo Japan

Considered to be one of the most populated crossing in the world during rush hour. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo Japan.

Japan has been very popular as a tourist destination for the past decade and it’s not very surprising. This country has a lot to offer whether it’s new cultural experiences, great food, amazing architecture both modern and traditional and a lot of “only in Japan” experiences (maid cafes anyone? haha).

Oh and you can dress up as Mario to experience real life Mario Kart and drive in the actual streets of Tokyo since it’s only in Japan that they consider Go Karts as an actual vehicle. (Seriously) You can’t do this in any other country.

One thing I can say about Japan though is that it’s quite expensive especially if you compare it with other neighboring Asian countries. But if you try to get cheaper accommodations and not go crazy with shopping and food, then it’s not too bad as well.

I only stayed here for a week so I was limited to two cities particularly Tokyo and Kyoto. In contrast, Tokyo is widely referred to as the modern city where you’ll experience more of the metropolitan city life while Kyoto is referred to as the traditional city where they were able to preserve more of the ancient cultures and architectures from Japan’s very rich history.

For this post, I’ll be focusing on experiencing and shooting Tokyo. Will include Kyoto in the next post.

Tokyo Train system

Travel Basic Requirements:

  1. Pocket Wifi – there are a lot of options for pocket Wifi’s in Narita airport when you arrive and just drop off before you leave. I personally used Global Advanced Communications and got their 75Mbps LTE one which came out to 965Yen or $8.67 per day for 10GB per day. No complains. Internet was fast and I was updating on social media with no problems.
  2. Download Japan Navitime Travel (iPhone)(Android) – this is their subway app that’s going to save you time and confusion. Pair this with Google Maps and you’ll be golden. It can actually be quite confusing in the beginning but once you get familiar with their subway system, it’s pretty straightforward.
  3. Jacket – depending on the season that you visit, this is going to be either super obvious or you’ll completely forget to bring one. I went closer to summer time so it was pretty warm in the day time but quite cold at night time. So make sure to bring one especially if you’re going to be out all day until night time. Plus, it just looks cool for your OOTD photos.
  4. Sunblock – Japan is one of those countries that can be deceptive since it’s a bit cooler so you might not feel the heat but you can get toasted quite easily being that you’ll be exploring all day and will most likely be under the sun most of the time.
  5. Local Currency / Cash – If you’re like me, I buy almost exclusively using my credit card but most of the places here only take cash. That includes the subway system so make sure you carry cash with you.

Golden Gai in Shinjuku

Golden Gai in Shinjuku Tokyo Japan

Pros: Great for nightlife. Bustling. Bars. Night photography.
Cons: Expensive.
Fee: Free to explore
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit.

Located in the heart of Shinjiku, this area is just a small network of alleyways that are all small bars. It’s also quite interesting because the bars here are very small and usually pretty tight and intimate.

It’s quite an experience but as far as my research goes, it’s advisable to have a local or at least someone that can speak Japanese because some bars are known to target tourists who they think they can take advantage of and overcharge you on your bill.

It’s also one of their red light district so as much as I felt very safe walking around here, don’t be surprised if people start approaching you trying to invite you to their bars and even as much as offer you an “experience to have a good time”. I think I was approached maybe 5 times in the time I was walking around haha.

Golden Gai in Tokyo Japan

You’ll see a lot of people just standing here waiting to approach you for a “good time”

Golden Gai Shinjuku in Tokyo Japan

One of the many sake bars in Golden Gai Shinjuku in Tokyo Japan

Golden Gai Shinjuku in Tokyo Japan

A lot of the bars in Golden Gai has these very inviting outdoor ornaments that’s very traditionally associated with Japan

Different Sake displayed outside this bar in Golden Gai Shinjuku in Tokyo Japan

Different Sake displayed outside this bar in Golden Gai Shinjuku in Tokyo Japan

Perfect to walk around the Shinjuku area for some night photography

Perfect to walk around the Shinjuku area for some night photography

Bright night lights in Shinjuku Tokyo

Bright night lights in Shinjuku’s Red Light District in Tokyo

Yakitori Alley in Shinjuku

Yakitori Alley in Shinjuku Tokyo

Pros: Unique. Great food. Great bustling environment.
Cons: None.
Fee: Free (decently priced food)
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit!

Yakitori Alley was one of my favorite places in Tokyo. Located just about 15 minutes from Golden Gai, this place is perfect to have dinner and do some street photography. It’s also a small network of small alleys that are all Yakitori restaurants. Be warned though, you’ll get hungry walking around here because of all that delicious smokey Yakitori aroma.

Pro tip: this place is perfect to get one of your main travel souvenir photo. If you walk to the very end of the alley, there’s an area there with a lot of Japanese light ornaments right outside the restaurants and because of the lighting and how small the alleys are, it looks really nice for a photo spot.

McBilly Sy in Yakitori Alley Tokyo Japan

Just stand in the center of the alley and it looks perfect just like this. Perfect for your instagram or facebook profile photo haha 🙂

Yakitori Alley in Tokyo JapanI met up with my college buddy Jayson, whom I haven’t seen in 9 years, with his wife Jane. It’s also great because Jane speaks pretty good Japanese so it’s nice to have someone translate for you haha. Great to catch up with you guys!

I met Nori who worked in one of the Yakitori restaurants.

We met Nori who worked in one of the Yakitori restaurants.

We met Nori who worked in one of the restaurants there and he was very nice. His restaurant had a huge sign that says “English Menu” available. Others don’t have this option so it could get a bit tricky ordering. The food was decently priced. One “set meal” which included about 6 different Yakitori skewers was about 1100 Yen or US$11.

Interior of Yakitori restaurant

The interiors of the Yakitori restaurants were pretty tight but this was very common and all of the restaurants are essentially the same.

Grilling Yakitori in Yakitori Alley

Grilling Yakitori bbqs in this small restaurant in Yakitori Alley

Yakitori skewers and beer

Some delicious Yakitori skewers and beer 🙂

Yakitori alley Tokyo Japan

It can get pretty hard to get a group photo since the place is so small haha. You can hold the food up while taking your selfie so it’s at least visible haha 🙂

Yakitori Alley Skewers

Lady cooking some delicious Yakitori Skewers

Restaurant in yakitori alley

The restaurants can get a bit cramped but what seems like a huge turn off can be the selling point of this place. It had a really nice intimate vibe and of course, the food was excellent.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo Japan

Pros: Fresh sushi. Street food. Local shopping.
Cons: None
Fee: Free
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit!

Considered to be the largest fish market in the whole world spanning 57 acres, Tsukiji Market can get pretty crowded. All the fresh fish gets delivered here so at 5am, it can already get pretty busy as people line up to get their share of fresh fish.

There are a lot of street food that you can try here ranging from sushis, uni (sea urchin), octopus, squids, oysters to desserts such as Mochi which is a Japanese rice cake. There are also pretty famous sushi restaurants here such as Daiwa Sushi which offers a full course sushi meal for about 4,000Yen or about $40.

I got here about 9am in the morning and just explored the area trying out street foods here and there. It was a good experience and I also saw a lot of tourists just going around trying different food. There is also a tourist information office there that I highly recommend visiting. They give our free maps of Tsukiji Market so it’s a little bit easier to explore.

Lady selling fresh sushi in Tsukiji Market

Lady selling fresh sushi in Tsukiji Market

Lots of street food in Tsukiji Market

Lots of street food in Tsukiji Market

Mochi in Tsukiji Market

One of the best mochi I’ve ever tried in my whole life. Seriously. You should try it when you’re here! Try the custard cream one!

Street food in Tsukiji Market

More delicious street food in Tsukiji Market

Delicious mini octopus in Tsukiji Market

Delicious mini octopus in Tsukiji Market

Flamed smoked oysters

Lots of seafood including this delicious flamed smoked oysters

Preparing sushi in Tsukiji Market

Preparing sushi in Tsukiji Market

People of Tokyo

Love how this girl was so enamored by her Mochi haha

People of Tokyo in Tsukiji market

This guy was really happy leading his friends around holding a huge flag haha

Sushi Katsura in Tsukiji Market

Sushi Katsura in Tsukiji Market

As for Sushi, I found a really excellent alternative called Sushi Katsura, if you want to avoid the really long lines from Daiba Sushi. They are well reviewed and also quite famous as the “best value sushi place” since they are also a bit cheaper 2000 Yen (US$20) vs 4000 Yen ($40) with Daiba Sushi.

Of course, depending on how hungry you are, it’s definitely worth waiting if you want to try the famous sushi places in Tsukiji Market. My experience was I really enjoyed it here. The sushis were great and it included Uni (sea urchin) which is one of the more expensive offerings.

Katsura Sushi

Really good sushi from Katsura Sushi

Sushi Katsura

The restaurant is divided into several sections. This is what it looks like in one section.

Sushi Katsura

Delicious sushis from Sushi Katsura

Sushi Katsura

More delicious sushis from Sushi Katsura

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo Japan

Pros: Unique. Picturesque. Great shopping
Cons: Can get crowded (did I really need to say that? haha)
Fee: Free
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit.

Also known as the most populated crossing and busiest intersection in the world during rush hour, Shibuya Crossing is one of Tokyo’s iconic locations. It’s widely referred to as the New York Time Square of Tokyo. I thought it was pretty interesting seeing how busy it can really get.

Pro Tip: You can get an aerial view of Shibuya Crossing by going up the Mark City hotel located right by the Shibuya station. You can go up to the restaurant in the 25th floor which is open to the public provided you’re an actual dine-in customer.

Another option is to book a room in Mark City hotel since their hotel hallways starting from 19th-24th floor has a really nice view of Shibuya Crossing. Last option which is the hardest is to make friends with the hotel staff and try to get up there. They are surprisingly very friendly and accommodating. All my shots are from the 19th floor of Mark City hotel.

Mark City Hotel in Shibuya Tokyo Japan

This is what it looks like entering Mark City Hotel in Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya rooftop soccer

You can also get a really interesting shot of this rooftop soccer field from way up. Totally thought of my friend Annie who would enjoy playing here.

Shibuya aerial view

More aerial views in Shibuya Tokyo

Shibuya shopping

Also known as the Time Square of Tokyo, there are a lot of shopping malls and stores here that can satisfy your wife or girlfriend’s urges haha

Shibuya Crossing Before

Shibuya Crossing Before

Shibuya Crossing After

Shibuya Crossing After 🙂

Timelapse Video of Shibuya Crossing

Oh and here’s a timelapse video of Shibuya Crossing. I couldn’t resist since it was so cool seeing how dense and busy this crossing was. They all look like ants attacking food on the floor haha.

Robot Restaurant

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

Pros: Very Unique. Only in Japan. Robots. Girls.
Cons: Expensive.
Fee: 8,000 Yen or US$72
Verdict: Very interesting but skippable.

Robot restaurant is one of those “only in Japan” experiences that you can have. The formula kind of sounds great on paper too, basically a show with huge Japanese robots with dancing girls in skimpy outfits. One of those, I wish I started that idea. There’s not much linear story with the show so don’t expect a broadway show storyline but it was surprisingly “fun”.

The whole experience can be summarized with the statement, “What the hell did I just watched?” haha. And for Japan, that’s actually a recurring theme.

Pro tip: if you’re interested to watch this. Don’t get the show + food. Just eat outside and then just buy the ticket only for the show. Also, if you can try to get seats in the center BUT don’t get front row seats. Personally, I preferred the third row at the back since you’ll get a better view of the whole thing. The front row was just too close especially if you want to take a couple of good photos or videos of the experience.

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Entering the ticketing office for Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

There are two huge female robots right outside that you can take a photo with. Just try to keep it clean haha

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

There are three rows in each side. Surprisingly, I would actually suggesting getting the third row at the back but more towards the center since you’ll have a better view. I thought the front rows were too close.

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

There’s a really huge LCD in the front and back that gives you the backstory

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

You definitely won’t forget where you are while you’re here.

Golden Bathroom Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Even the bathroom is golden and shiny haha

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Pretty cool and fun show

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Cool night lights

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

They also give away these cool Robot Restaurant light sticks. Psych. It’s not a giveaway. You have to give it back haha.

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Well it’s still a cool prop to get your photos with haha

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

There were a lot of huge robots going in and out during the show.

Robot restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

Pretty interesting and crazy show haha

Akihabara Electric City

Akihabara Electric City Tokyo

Pros: Unique. Anime. Gaming. Japanese Culture.
Cons: None
Fee: Free
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit!

If you’re into anime, gaming or Japanese pop culture then no question about it, you need to visit Akihabara. Considered to be their Electric city, this district is a goldmine for everything anime and gaming. There are also a lot of very interesting cafes and offerings in this area such as Japanese Maid Cafes, gaming themed cafes and casinos and even real life gaming such as the real life Mario Kart experience.

Being a fan of gaming and anime myself, I absolutely loved it here. It was quite fascinating seeing huge buildings just dedicated to gaming, comic books and toys. The most popular ones I see are of course Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Mario, Naruto, One piece, Dragon Ball Z and other Nintendo properties.

Akihabara electric city in tokyo japan

Exploring Akihabara electric city in Tokyo Japan

Cool Naruto figurines

Cool Naruto figurines

There were a lot of One piece figurines as well

There were a lot of One piece figurines as well


And of course, it’s not complete without Pikachu

Final Fantasy arcade games

There were really cool Final Fantasy arcade games as well.

Akihabara gaming casinos

I thought it was pretty cool seeing grown men play in the gaming casinos haha

Gundam Cafe in Akihabara

Gundam Cafe in Akihabara Tokyo

Pros: Unique. Gundam themed.
Cons: Expensive
Fee: Medium – Expensive pricing ($8 for a drink lol)
Verdict: Meh. Just take a photo outside but skip it altogether.

If you’re a huge fan of Gundam then this cafe is for you. If you’re not, then there’s really not much else to see here except overpriced drinks and food. It was pretty interesting though since I did grow up with Gundam and remember building these toy robots together.

There’s nothing much different except that the whole cafe was Gundam themed and the menu was also Gundam themed. The drink I ordered was just okay, I didn’t really like it. What I found really interesting though was the bathroom. Yes, you read that right. The freaking bathroom haha. I just found it cool because when you enter the bathroom, the toilet opens up automatically with a wooshing sound and this cool Gundam themed interior.

Gundam Cafe Japan

Pretty cool Gundam statue right outside the cafe

Gundam Cafe menu

Gundam Cafe menu

Gundam Cafe interior

Gundam Cafe interior

Gundam Cafe interior

Gundam Cafe interior

Gundam Cafe drink and snack

The menu was Gundam themed which was cool but of course, they’re quite overpriced and I didn’t really the taste of my drink lol

Gundam Cafe bathroom

Surprisingly I found their bathroom pretty cool. Maybe because I wasn’t really expecting anything and got surprised haha

Maricar Mario Kart Street Racing

Mario Kart Street Racing Tokyo

Pros: Unique. Only in Japan Experience!
Cons: Need International Permit / License
Fee: 4,000-8,000 Yen (US$40-$80)
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must try if you like Mario Kart!

So apparently, in Tokyo they actually consider go karts as an actual vehicle (seriously) so you can drive a Go kart in the actual street of Tokyo. Any other place in the world, you can’t do this. Personally, I don’t think you even need to be a Mario Kart fan to enjoy this.

So if you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, then make sure you apply for an International Drivers Permit so you can take advantage of this. If you’re a local then no need, you just need a Japanese drivers license.

I can’t stress this enough – you NEED an international drivers license and your passport so make sure you apply for one before going here. They are VERY STRICT about it.

The pricing ranges from 4,000-8,000 Yen (US$40-$80) depending on the course you’ll get. The more expensive ones are obviously longer courses but remember, these are all driving around the actual streets of Tokyo and not in some race track. You’ll also have one of the workers guide your group driving so you won’t get lost in the city.

Maricar Mario Kart in Tokyo

One of the go carts you can ride in Maricar Mario Kart in Tokyo

Maricar Mario Kart in Tokyo

You can choose your costume from their vast selection of costumes

Maricar Mario Kart in Tokyo

They also have lockers for safe keeping

Maricar Mario Kart in Tokyo

This is pretty much what you’ll look like if you’re a huge nerd like me haha

Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum

Pros: Unique. Very picturesque. Amazing architecture.
Cons: None
Fee: Free
Verdict: Highly recommended. Must visit.

Considered to be Tokyo’s main conventional and art center, Tokyo International Forum is a sight to behold. If you’re into modern art and architecture then this is for you. This massive 11 stories convention center is beautiful and perfect for unique and creative photography as well. I personally enjoyed shooting and exploring here.

There are also different business event conventions happening through out the week here so you can see a lot of different booths selling and providing free samples depending on the specific event happening on that day. There’s also a Shake Shack right outside if you get hungry haha.

Tokyo International Forum

There are different events and business conventions happening here all the time.

Tokyo International Forum

One of the first thing you’ll see entering Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum

Pretty cool architecture

Tokyo International Forum

Right in the top floor, you can also get a really cool shot of the trains passing by since Tokyo International Forum is very close to Tokyo’s main metro station.

Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum entrance

Tokyo International Forum

Right across is Shake Shack. I don’t know why I included this but I love Shake Shack so why not haha

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower from Roppongi Hills Mori Tower

Pros: Very picturesque. Great for night photography
Cons: None
Fee: 900 Yen (US$8) for main deck. 1600 Yen ($16) for both observation decks.
Verdict: Highly recommended. But shoot from afar.

Considered to be the world’s tallest self supported steel tower, Tokyo Tower is an iconic sight in Tokyo. It’s quite beautiful especially at night when it lights up. It’s also considered to be the tallest structure in Tokyo until 2012 before it was surpassed by Tokyo Skytree and it’s 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower which it was modeled after.

You can go up Tokyo tower for an aerial view of Tokyo for a 900 Yen or US$8 fee but personally, I don’t think it’s worth it since you can’t really see the actual tower from that perspective.

Pro tip: Instead of going up to Tokyo Tower, you can just go to Roppongi Hills (which is my next recommendation). It’s not too far and you can have a much better photo of the cityscape of Tokyo with the actual Tokyo Tower in your shot.

Roppongi Hills Mori Tower

Roppongi Hills Mori Tower

Pros: Unique. Very picturesque. Artistic.
Cons: Skydeck closes depending on weather
Fee: 1800 Yen (US$16) + 500 Yen ($5) for Skydeck view
Verdict: Highly Recommended. Must visit!

This was one of my favorite places to shoot at night mainly because it has a nice skyline view of Tokyo with the Tokyo Tower quite visible especially at night. You can also go up to the rooftop deck called Skydeck for a fee 1800 Yen (US$16) + 500 Yen ($5). Take note though that last entry is 7:30pm and that it closes without warning depending on the weather. It was a bit drizzling when I went so it was closed.

Roponggi Hills Mori Art Musuem

Roponggi Hills Mori Art Musuem

Roponggi Hills Mori tower

There are quite a bit of options here at Roponggi Hills Mori tower

Roponggi Hills Mori tower

Also great place to just stroll around and do some night photography

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed my visit in Tokyo. It’s very unique and there are a lot of experiences that only Japan can offer. The city is very clean, organized and very safe. I did not feel unsafe walking around the streets even late at night with my camera. Of course, I am a guy so it might be a little bit different if you’re traveling solo as a girl but just be cautious. It’s very safe here since there are a lot of CCTV cameras everywhere.

The food is absolutely amazing especially if you love sushi and ramen. The only thing really I could really complain about is again the price. It’s a bit more expensive than other Asian countries but so far, this has been my favorite country in Asia to visit that’s a good mix of modern and traditional culture.

I hope that you enjoyed reading and following along and that my post can help you in your own trips to Tokyo, Japan.

I would love to hear from you on what you think about this article and if you have more questions or recommendations!

Follow me and hit me up in Instagram @McBilly for all your questions or comments!

Would also appreciate it if you can share this article to your friends who you think would benefit from this especially if they are planning a trip to Tokyo 🙂

Thanks a lot! My Kyoto trip recommendation is coming up 🙂