One of the things that fascinates me so much about Japan is that it continues to come up with brand new, awe-inspiring concepts and attractions yet maintains its culture and traditions authentically captivating. Just this year, I toured Japan three times and every visit kicked off and cusped up in Tokyo – each jaunt a unique one. Spent 7 days during my recent autumn visit in the country’s capital with an intriguing itinerary that never thought I’d wholly enjoy.
Talking about making first moments happen in Tokyo, here are five eclectic mix of old and new attractions that I highly recommend – three classic & time honored, while the other current and state of the art – that is extraordinarily Japan.
(1) Kingyo Sukui
Kingyo Sukui or gold fish scooping is a famous natsumatsuri or summer activity in Japan where a player catches goldfishes from a pool with a paper scooper or “poi.” The game ends only after the paper scoopers get broken.
It was great to have tried Gold Fish Scooping during autumn at Asakusa Nishi-sando, a covered shopping street that’s only about 5-minute walk from Sensoji Temple. This spot made it possible for guests to try this summer activity whole year round.
Price: 300yen for three paper scooper
(2) Daruma Doll Painting
Daruma Doll or Japanese wishing doll is a reminder of what the Japanese call the “gandaru spirit,” embodying the popular Nihonjin proverb: Nanakorobi yaoki which translates to “fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
The classic Daruma Doll is red and round, resembling a head with fierce determination. Though in the present day, many made their very own version of the wishing doll with their favorite inspirational characters painted on the round bodiless doll , but without loosing the doll’s essence of giving its owner the perseverance of taking action and being proactive in working towards his/her dreams.
We did the Daruma Doll Painting at a near coffee+ workshop place in Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. I made a Superman Daruma, a fictional superhero that helps remind me to work on my dreams and achieve them, but never having to step on anyone’s foot.
Try Daruma Painting Experience yourself. You may reserve a class through online booking networks like AirBnB and such for around 2,500Yen. They are open from 11:00AM to 5:00PM daily and is located at 3-25-2 Asakusa, Taito 111-0032, Tokyo Prefecture.
(3) Amezaiku Traditional Japanese Candy-making Workshop
Amezaiku is one of the traditional Japanese crafts where candy is heated to around 90 degrees C and is finely crafted with bare hands and traditional Japanese scissor – cutting, pulling and bending the soft candy to desired a shape.
During our workshop, we were taught to make a rabbit-shaped candy. Instructors demonstrate on how to make the candy sculpture, and they were able to make beautiful bunny lollies in less than 120 seconds.
One of the challenges in doing the Amezaiku workshop is you must be able finish shaping in only a few minutes as the soft candy cools and hardens real quick.
You may book the experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org 2 weeks in advance. Price of the workshop per person is 3,000Yen for adults and 2,500Yen for children.
(4) Aerial Virtual Reality Experience
Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory was one of our stops and for two good reasons – (1) The Aerial Virtual Reality experience and (2) a beautiful view of Japan sunset.
The three main VR attractions that uses the full-sensory cutting edge HTC Vive technology are Tokyo Bullet Flight, Swing Coaster and Sky Escape. Tried two out of the three rides, Tokyo Bullet Flight and Swing Coaster and both got me screaming my lungs out. haha
The Tokyo Bullet Flight will blast you off in the sky as a human cannon ball from the observatory, and then revel in a virtual tour of the most popular attractions of Tokyo. With the wind and extra sensory effects, the experience will seem realistic. The Swing Coaster is a swing style roller coaster speeding through the skies of Ikebukuro, also offering a stomach churning experience with steep dives and sudden turns.
Operating Hours: 10AM -10PM
Address: Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory, Ikebukuro
Entrance: 1,200Yen for Adults, 900Yen for Students, 600Yen for Elementary and Middle School, Toddlers 300Yen
VR Rides: Tokyo Bullet Flight 600Yen | Swing Coaster 400Yen | Sky Escape 500Yen
(5) Teamlab Borderless Tokyo
This digital art museum has become one of the most visited new attractions in Tokyo since its opening just June 2018. This high tech installation takes you inside the art itself and become a part of it, transcending the boundaries between people and the world of art.
I highly advise you to secure your ticket before visiting as they might be sold out. You may get tickets here: https://borderless.teamlab.art/ Ticket Price is at 3,200Yen for Adults 15 and older, and 1,000Yen for children under 3 years old.
teamLab Borderless Tokyo: MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM
Odaiba Palette Town, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Mon – Thu 10:00 – 19:00
Fri, Sat & Holiday Eve 10:00 – 21:00
Sun & Holiday 10:00 – 20:00
Weekdays 10:00 – 19:00
Sun, Sat & Holiday 10:00 – 21:00
* From December 14th to December 31st due to special extension period, 10:00 – 22:00
* January 1-6 10:00 – 21:00
*Last entry 1 hour before the museum closing time.
*EN TEA HOUSE opens 1 hour after the museum door opens. Last order is 30 min before closing.
*Hours may vary depending on the season.
So when you thought you’ve seen and done everything in Tokyo, think again. There’s still lots to do in the capital of Japan. And great news for us living in Cebu as Cebu Pacific Air now flies daily to Narita! Yes, that means it’s easier to fly frequently to Tokyo, flying out of Cebu daily at 7:40AM (PH Time) and arriving in Narita at 1:10PM (Japan Time). Visit www.CebuPacificAir.com now and #MakeFirstMomentsHappen in Japan.
Ending this blogpost with a sample two day itinerary that covers an eclectic mix of activities that is truly Japan. Enjoy!
Day 1: Experience the traditional Japan in Asakusa
08:30AM – Breakfast at Yoshinoya or Matsuya
9:30AM -Tour Sinsoji Temple
11:00AM – Goldfish Catching in Asakusa Kingyo located in Asakusa Nishi-sando
12:00AM – Lunch at Ippudo or other Ramen Places in Asakusa Area
01:30PM – Start with Daruma Doll Painting
03:30PM – Amezaiku traditional candy-making workshop
05:00PM – Have the favorite Melon Pan for Snacks (Available in Asakusa Nishi-sando)
07:00PM – Yakiniku Dinner
Day 2: New and State of the art attractions
08:00AM – Breakfast (eat lots before entering teamlab.. teehee)
10:00AM – TeamLab Borderless
02:00PM – Lunch
04:30PM – Sky Circus Sunshine Observatory Ikebukuro
08:00PM – Dinner