Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Tokyo. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Tokyo and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Tokyo insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Meet a Local Host®
Hello, I am Nobuko. As a Certified National Guide in Japan, I work mainly in Tokyo, taking tourists to modern districts as well Tokyo's traditional local areas. I'd love to introduce you to Tokyo's attractions—a good mixture of new and old scenery, as well as modern and traditional life.
Founded in 628, Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple. According to legend, two brothers found a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, while fishing. They returned the statue to the river, but it in turn kept returning to them, so they built the temple for the worship of Kannon. Consult the oracle inside the temple to have any question answered!
Tsukiji Fish Market
This massive market may have meats and flowers, but the main attraction is the estimated 2,000 tons of seafood handled each day. Arrive early (around 5 am) to see restaurant purveyors and chefs engage in the tuna auction, which ends at 6:15 am. Make sure you try some of the freshest sushi you’ll ever find at one of the on-site restaurants.
Shopping the Ginza is a unique experience—massive department stores, futuristic products, and gracious service are all trademarks. It’s worth a half-day’s stroll around this eye-opening area, even if you don’t plan to buy —particularly on weekends, when a large section is closed to cars.
One of the 23 wards that make up Tokyo, Shinjuku thrives around Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world. This large entertainment, shopping, and business area is a great place to walk around and soak in the atmosphere, do some shopping, or get a birds-eye view of Tokyo at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center. Here you can ascend to the 45th floor of either the North or South observatory for sweeping views of the city, for free!
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Wandering (or lying on a blanket) in a Japanese landscaped garden is a unique experience. From the rush of modernism in mostly urban Tokyo, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a tranquil area filled with countless trees and carefully manicured gardens. In the spring, flowers abound, and you might even catch the short blooming season of the cherry trees.
Akihabara or “Akiba” is known for the hundreds of electronic stores around Akihabara Station and lining Chuo Dori. From large shops on the main drag to small shops on the side streets selling anything from the newest camera’s to secondhand electronic junk, this is a fascinating area to visit, especially for techies! Although many shops offer goods that will only work in Japan, you can find English-speaking shops that offer goods for use overseas. If you do plan to buy, bring your passport and shop duty free for larger purchases.
The traditional Japanese theater form called kabuki began in 1603 and continues to this day. While you may not speak the language, the themes—such as love and revenge—are usually universal enough to understand. You’ll want to see the elaborate costumes and the skill of the performers, who often sing and dance. Shinbashi Enbojyo is the perfect theater to witness this fascinating art form.
Ume no Hana
There are several branches of this chain, but the place to start is the one in Kichijoji. Prior to this meal, it’s unlikely that you ever believed tofu could be prepared in so many tasty ways. You’ll feast in a private dining room—rather unadorned, perhaps austere, but suitable to the task at hand. This is a serious dining experience.
With an expansive beer garden that feels more like a backyard, this bar is the perfect place to relax after a long day. Sekirei is popular with the happy hour crowd, and you may want to join them to escape the throngs of the city. Enjoy a drink beneath a pine tree as dancers in kimonos perform on the lawn. Prices are very reasonable, especially considering the upscale atmosphere.
So popular it spawned a version in New York, Ippudo specializes in ramen with pork-based broths and various spicy accoutrements. This quick meal is vastly different than the American ramen that thrives in collegiate life. Although there’s likely a long line, you’ll make up the time when you wolf down this inexpensive delight.
Don’t leave Tokyo without treating yourself to a seafood meal. The owner of Kaikaya has private purchasing routes for his daily fresh seafood, so indulge in some sashimi or other fish courses. The menu includes English translations, and the friendly staff will explain how dishes are prepared.
Take a step beyond the sake you find in American sushi restaurants. Takara’s sake list is long, and its vibe is decidedly relaxed and welcoming. If you prefer other liquors, there’s a good selection of wine and sherry, and if you’re hungry, the food menu is in English.