Top 5 unusual things to do in Tokyo
Every good holiday needs some quirky tales to tell on your return home and Japan’s capital delivers more than its fair share. The Travel Tart, otherwise known as Anthony, joins us on the blog today for a look at some of Tokyo’s most unusual experiences.
Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is an amazing city. It’s home to more than the entire population of Australia, but the Japanese have figured out how to move all of these people around effortlessly. But, my favourite things about Tokyo are the funny and unusual sights and experiences that are available there. Let’s check my top five unusual things to do in Tokyo:
1. Buy anything from a vending machine
One thing I noticed about Tokyo was the abundance of vending machines that one could buy almost anything from. And I mean almost anything, not just junk food either. If you can buy something in a normal shop, you can probably obtain the same goods in a vending machine after hours.
For example, how about a bowl of cooked noodles from the noodle vending machine if you’re feeling a bit hungry at the train station? There are also vending machines for clothes, toilet paper, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
My personal favourite is the beer can vending machine. That’s right; there are vending machines in the street that can dispense beer at any time that you want! So if you want beer for breakfast – just walk down the road and slot in a few yen, and you’ve got your carbohydrate intake for the day. Or if you wake up in the middle of the night, why not pop out for a quick drink?
2. Eat at a themed restaurant
Japanese food is superb, but if you want something a little bit offbeat, why not try one of the many themed restaurants in Tokyo? They can often be a thin disguise for a freak show! This is where you turn up to a place where the restaurant is decked out in a theme and the menu usually reflects the surroundings as well.
One that I have been to is called ‘Alcatraz E.R.’, which is like a morphing of a prison and an emergency ward into one. Dining is undertaken in a prison cell, and you can request to be locked up! Hopefully the staff remember to let you out at the end of the night. You can even suck your drink out of a doll’s head, and use a syringe if you really want to.
3. Stay in capsule hotel
Capsule hotels are a popular form of accommodation in Japan used by many travellers and business people looking to save a few dollars. These fibreglass cubes are for those who don’t want or need the normal facilities that hotel rooms provide. The ‘rooms’ are a bunch of capsules stuck together that you can slide (yep, that’s right, slide) into for your snooze time.
Valuables are stored in a separate lockable container in another area for access when you need them. Be warned, they are a little pokey – these things are only two metres long by one and a quarter metres high or so. Not recommended for tall people.
4. Check out the unusual people at Harajuku
If you go to the Harajuku area of Tokyo, you’ll find all sorts of interesting looking people cruising around rebelling against Japanese society. At the square near the subway station, you’ll come across many of the Harajuku Girls – the famous females that dress up in school uniforms and other unpractical gear that most people wouldn’t bother to wear. They usually just stand around, wanting people to have a look at them. But then you spot the odd strange person like this man offering free hugs – wanting to spread some love around the place.
5. Choose something to eat – from a plastic food display menu
This is something quite clever that I discovered whilst walking around the Tokyo streets. Most dining establishments have large plastic food displays outside of their restaurant which shows what you can expect if you walk into the place for a meal. For foreigners like myself (or ‘gaijin’ in Japanese), these displays are very useful for ordering something off the menu, especially if you don’t know Japanese. Ironically, the plastic food displays look almost good enough to eat!
I found these displays brilliant, because as soon as I walked into a local restaurant, I would walk outside with the waiter/waitress and just point to what I wanted. And because these displays were fairly realistic, I knew what I was getting – such as beef, chicken, fish or noodles. Too easy. In fact, you can even visit the factory that actually sells these things (too far? Maybe).
There you go. This is only a small sample of some of the unusual things you can do in Tokyo. But this will get you started.