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    Navigating the Wild and the Wonderful: Spend 2 Days with a Local Tokyo Tour Guide

    By Hana Furuhashi

    May 14, 2023

    Spend 2 Days with a Local Tokyo Tour Guide

    For me, there are few things more invigorating or more inspiring than a city that is as complex as it is curious...that is as baffling as it is beautiful. For me, there are few cities on this planet that sparkle and surprise, that excite and energize quite like Tokyo, Japan Tokyo...the world's most populated city. Tokyo...a place that seems to defy time but is also rooted deeply in history. Tokyo...a place you will miss even before you leave it.

    As someone who has called Tokyo home for many years, I have fallen deeply in love with this vibrant city and all that it has to offer. It's a mesmerizing blend of rich traditions and cutting-edge modernity, where centuries-old temples coexist with towering skyscrapers. It's a city where bustling street markets, historic shrines, and serene gardens share neighborhoods together, creating a tapestry of diverse experiences waiting to be discovered. One of the greatest joys I have found in living here is the opportunity to share the magic of Tokyo with those who choose to travel here from far and wide.

    There's an indescribable thrill in seeing the wonder and excitement on their faces as they explore the streets, taste the flavors, and immerse themselves in the unique culture of this metropolis. It's a privilege to be their private tour guide, to introduce them to hidden gems, secret alleys, and local haunts that are often overlooked by mainstream Tokyo private tour guides and city tours that are laid out in guidebooks or the internet.

    • Day 1 - Urban Exploration and Lively Fun!
    • Day 2 - Hidden Gems, History, and Shopping!
    • Tokyo Private Tours with City Unscripted: Join Us for Your Next Adventure!


    Tokyo is a city that reveals its true essence best when you venture beyond the well-trodden tourist paths.

    It's in the maze-like back streets of Shibuya, the quaint neighborhoods of Yanaka, and the chaotic but shadowy nightlife of Golden Gai that you truly get a glimpse of the city's soul. From tiny mom-and-pop shops serving mouth-watering street food to tucked-away temples where you can find a moment of tranquility amidst all the excitement - these are the experiences that capture the essence of Tokyo.

    I believe that every corner of this city has a story to tell, and I have made it my mission to unravel those stories and share them with others. Whether it's guiding you through the neon-lit streets of Shinjuku, taking you on a culinary adventure with one of my food tours, or helping you explore Tokyo through its intricate subway system, I am a dedicated private tour guide who wants nothing more than to create an unforgettable experience that goes well beyond the surface.

    Tokyo is a city of endless discoveries, where ancient traditions and modern innovations collide in a captivating dance. It's a city that is constantly evolving, and yet it remains deeply rooted in its cultural heritage. So...if you're ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through the heart of Tokyo with your own private custom tour guide, then I'm here to be that private tour guide and show you the Tokyo that stole my heart in the same way that I hope it will steal yours.

    Day 1 - Urban Exploration and Lively Fun!

    Stop #1: Morning exploration of the bustling Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko statue

    The bustling Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko statue

    As a local who has spent countless hours wandering the streets of Shibuya, I can promise you that what you have heard about the unique energy and excitement that permeates the famous Shibuya Crossing and the iconic Hachiko statue is all true. These landmarks have become symbols of Tokyo and hold a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors alike.

    We will start our Tokyo private tour together at Shibuya Crossing, where just the sheer magnitude of the bustling intersection is going to be awe-inspiring and help you begin to get an idea of what attracts millions of people to this city every year.

    As the traffic lights turn red in all directions, a surge of people will fill the pedestrian crossing, creating quite the spectacle of human movement. We can either join the masses and immerse ourselves in the (surprisingly!) organized chaos, or we can enjoy watching the throngs of people from an elevated vantage point in one of the nearby buildings' observation decks or coffee shops.

    Regardless of what you choose, you will get to see first-hand the largest symphony of crossing paths in the world, a choreography of pedestrians navigating with precision and grace. It's a true testament to the size of this city as well as the true efficiency and orderliness that characterizes its urban landscape.

    Shibuya has fascinating attractions


    Adjacent to Shibuya Crossing stands the beloved Hachiko statue, a symbol of loyalty and devotion. This bronze statue of a faithful Akita dog pays homage to the heartwarming story of Hachiko, who faithfully waited for his owner at the Shibuya Station every day, even long after his owner's passing. This statue serves as a meeting point for friends, a place to pause and reflect, and a reminder of the enduring bond between humans and animals.

    But beyond the bustling crowds and cacophony of the crossing, there is a hidden charm to Shibuya that locals cherish. As a local private tour guide, I love taking my visitors through the vibrant streets of Shibuya, sharing the history, the stories, and the hidden gems that make this neighborhood so special.

    Stop #2: A visit the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi

    Exploring the Mori Art Museum

    Exploring the Mori Art Museum and the vibrant district of Roppongi is an extraordinary journey into the world of contemporary art, culture, and panoramic city views.

    The museum does not exhibit a permanent exhibit and instead focuses on giving artists from all over a chance to showcase their mediums in this beautiful setting in a building that serves as an art form of its own kind. As we step inside, you will immediately be captivated by the building's sleek and modern design, setting the stage for an immersive artistic experience.

    The museum is located on the 35th floor of this 45-story building and showcases an impressive collection of contemporary art from both local and international artists, pushing the boundaries of creativity and sparking thought-provoking conversations.

    The Mori Art Museum was founded by a real estate developer and opened in 2003, giving the city of Tokyo and all its fans a glimpse into some of the most contemporary exhibitions of works in the world.

    From striking sculptures to avant-garde installations, each exhibit is thoughtfully curated to inspire and challenge visitors. As you wander through the galleries, you'll encounter a diverse range of artistic expressions, from bold and provocative works to subtle and introspective pieces, offering a glimpse into the ever-evolving art scene of Tokyo as well as worldwide. As we exit the museum, we can spend a bit of time exploring the vibrant district of Roppongi, known for its lively atmosphere and eclectic mix of entertainment, dining, and shopping options.

    Roppongi offers something for everyone, from high-end designer boutiques to quirky independent stores and trendy cafes. And since the restaurants in Roppongi vary from upscale Japanese fare to some very popular international restaurants, we will easily find a great place to grab lunch before we continue to explore Tokyo in the afternoon.

    Stop #3: Afternoon in Shinjuku

    Explore the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

    An afternoon in Shinjuku is a delightful way to take a journey through some of the contrasting facets of Tokyo's vibrant character. We can begin our exploration by stepping into the serene oasis that is one of my favorite peaceful spots, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

    After being completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, Shinjuku was eventually re-designated as a national garden after the Second World War and then opened to the public. The gardens blend three different styles together: formal, landscape, and traditional Japanese. Together, these create for each visitor a spellbinding tapestry of beauty in every corner.

    As we stroll along the meandering paths, you'll discover the hidden ponds and bridges, while also marveling at the ever-blooming seasonal plants that paint the garden in vivid colors.

    Red light district


    After we pass some time in this natural tranquility, we can venture into the nearby Kabukicho area, a vibrant district brimming with entertainment, shopping, and dining options. Known by some as the "Sleepless Town," Kabukicho is considered Tokyo's renowned entertainment (or red light) district that offers a captivating blend of modernity and tradition.

    Though some may feel that Kabukicho is a bit "sketchy" for travelers, I think this is an ideal spot to see a less-touristy side of Tokyo, and this is where a private guide can really come in handy. As someone who knows these streets and what to avoid, you can feel comfortable with me as your private guide while you let me take the lead, and you just enjoy the energetic atmosphere and take in the sights and sounds of this iconic district.

    Stop #4:The Metropolitan Government Building's observation decks

    The observation deck gets the best views

    A visit to the Metropolitan Government Building's observation decks is a must before dinner in order to see one of the most breathtaking panoramic views of Tokyo. This iconic landmark consists of three structures, each taking up an entire city block.

    The tallest of the three is 48 stories tall, which made it the tallest building in Tokyo until it was overtaken by the Midtown Tower in 2007. The observation deck is open to the public, and when the weather conditions are good we will be able to see famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, and the Tokyo Dome. The observation decks are divided into North and South, each providing slightly different perspectives of Tokyo's skyline.

    Stop #5: Dinner at Tsurutontan Shinjuku

    Famous for their Udon noodles

    Dinner at Tsurutontan Shinjuku is an extraordinary culinary experience that promises to delight both your taste buds and your senses. Nestled in the bustling district of Shinjuku, this renowned restaurant offers an authentic taste of Japanese cuisine with a focus on udon noodles (last time I counted I believe they had over 50 kinds on their menu!)

    Entering Tsurutontan Shinjuku is like an exhale after a day in some of the most boisterous areas of my city. We will be greeted by a cozy and quiet atmosphere and a friendly waitstaff that never fails to make my guests feel welcome and at home when we arrive.

    But the real star of the show at Tsurutontan Shinjuku is the udon noodles, which are handmade with meticulous attention to detail. Each strand of udon is perfectly cooked, offering a delightfully chewy texture that pairs harmoniously with the flavorful broths and toppings. From classic favorites like the Kitsune Udon (udon with sweet fried tofu) to more adventurous options like the Seafood Carbonara Udon, there is something for everyone to enjoy here. And with a dish presentation as beautiful as the restaurant itself, it will be a great respite from the frenzy outside.

    Stop #6: Nightlife in Golden Gai

    Golden Gai, the center of entertainment and intensity i

    What better way to finish our first day together than a visit to Golden Gai, the center of entertainment and intensity in this city? Welcome to the place for eclectic nightlife in Tokyo!

    Golden Gai, a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Tokyo, is a must-see, but exploring this area with a local guide is highly recommended, as it will be hard to navigate and understand on your own.

    Golden Gai is a maze of narrow alleyways filled with cozy and intimate bars, each with its own distinct personality. The atmosphere is electric, buzzing with the energy of nighttime partiers, all seeking the magic that Golden Gai has to offer.

    What makes Golden Gai truly special is its intimacy, with bars that are so small that they often can only seat a handful of guests inside. The sense of community and camaraderie that permeates Golden Gai is unparalleled, but it will be much more enjoyable if you have a local guide to help you navigate it all.

    Day 2 - Hidden Gems, History, and Shopping!

    Stop #1: Morning visit to Yanaka district

    A  morning visit to the enchanting Yanaka district

    Our second day will start by taking a delightful morning visit to the enchanting Yanaka district, a hidden gem in Tokyo that radiates old-world charm and a sense of tranquility. Stepping into this nostalgic neighborhood will transport you to a bygone era with its traditional wooden houses, narrow streets, and serene atmosphere.

    Yanaka is the region in Tokyo that most closely resembles what the city was like pre-World War II and the charming Yanaka Ginza shopping street is lined with quaint shops, local vendors, and traditional eateries.

    As we stroll along this lively pedestrian street, you'll find that we are surrounded by a rich tapestry of sights, sounds, and aromas. It is fun to take some time browsing through the various shops, which offer a wide array of goods, including traditional handicrafts, local snacks, and unique souvenirs.

    We may even try a little of my favorite street foods along the way! Yanaka Ginza is more than just a shopping street - it's a vibrant community hub where you can experience some of the authentic local lifestyles and really understand how diverse Tokyo truly is.

    From engaging in conversations with the friendly shop owners, to observing the daily rituals of the locals as they go about their morning routines, you will get a glorious glimpse into the essence of Yanaka's culture and heritage.

    Stop #2: Afternoon in Shimokitazawa

    Thrift your heart out in this district

    I love spending an afternoon in Shimokitazawa, where we will be immersed in the vibrant and creative atmosphere of this lively neighborhood. If you like vintage shops and indie culture as much as I do, this is going to be a treasure trove of fun! 

    Shimokitazawa is hipster central. Though a few decades ago it tended to be a quiet suburban town a few train stops from Shibuya and Shinjuku it is now the place to hang out for Tokyo’s artsy folk and those who love to people watch.

    An afternoon here promises an immersion into a world of vintage fashion, indie culture, and artistic expression. We can wander the streets and appreciate the unique atmosphere while shopping for one-of-a-kind treasures, and revel in the creativity that defines this vibrant and voracious neighborhood.

    Stop #3: Explore Ameyoko Market in Ueno

    Ameyoko is a treasure trove of tiny shops and vendors

    Exploring the Ameyoko Market in Ueno is an exhilarating and sensory-rich experience that will bring you straight into the hustle and bustle of Tokyo's street market culture.

    During World War II, Japan experienced a massive food shortage, and this area became known as a place where ordinary people could buy, sell, and trade their goods with one another, even without government approval. Today Ameyoko is a treasure trove of tiny shops and vendors that stretches out along the narrow lanes near Ueno Station. From fresh seafood and exotic spices to clothing, accessories, and electronics you can find just about anything here. We will take our time as we meander the maze-like alleys, looking for hidden gems and unexpected treasures that are unique to this area.

    Ameyoko market is a haven for food enthusiasts as well, and we will have no trouble finding plenty of food stalls and small eateries where we can indulge in some delicious treats. Grilled skewers, savory crepes, and delectable Japanese sweets are all part of the scene and the scents and sizzling of hot grills will only add to the funky ambiance of this secret little aspect of the city.

    Stop #4: Dinner at Inshotei

    Inshotei serves delicious kaiseki-style meals

    If you're looking for an unforgettable dining experience in Tokyo, I highly recommend that we do dinner at Inshotei at the end of our second day together. Nestled in a serene and picturesque garden, this traditional Japanese restaurant offers a truly enchanting atmosphere that transports you to a world of tranquility and refined elegance.

    Inshoutei is located in Ueno and serves delicious kaiseki-style meals and is a good place for those looking to try this genre of food. Kaiseki cuisine is a type of multi-course meal that showcases Japanese seasonal flavors and artistic presentation, and Inshoutei is a lovely spot to enjoy it. Each dish is thoughtfully prepared using the finest ingredients and ensuring a harmonious balance of flavors and textures.

    From delicate sashimi and perfectly grilled seafood to exquisite seasonal vegetables and aromatic rice, every bite is a delightful symphony of taste. And - after two long days of traversing Tokyo with me - I think you'll also appreciate the serene garden scene that Inshoutei provides and how the carefully curated ambiance will set the stage for an intimate and relaxing dining experience and ending to our day.

    Tokyo Private Tours with City Unscripted: Join Us for Your Next Adventure!

    Join Us for Your Next Adventure!

    Whether you are looking for a tour that centers on the historic temples and the city's history or you are more interested in the shopping sites or want to experience Tokyo's nightlife from a local's perspective, City Unscripted has you covered.

    All of our private tours in Tokyo are led by a local who will quickly become more than just your own private tour guide...they will learn what your interests and curiosities are, and what side of Tokyo will be most memorable for you.

    If your upcoming travel plans include spending a few days in Tokyo, let City Unscripted help you see this fascinating city in a way you never have before. I hope your next adventure lets you see a city unscripted through a local guide's lens - the way real travel is meant to be.

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    Hello, curious traveler!
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    City Unscripted Tokyo.
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