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October 8, 2020

Tokyo, Japan | Cherry Blossom Season Photo Diary and Travel Guide

When most people heard we were traveling to Japan, they probably pictured Tokyo – A bustling city with bright lights and night life. While Tokyo has these things, it also has history, temples, and gardens…much like the rest of Japan.

So, let me give you the need-to-know run down on Tokyo.

Sanitation: It is hands down the cleanest city we’ve ever been to. There are no public trashcans. And somehow, you just don’t accumulate garbage. It was a very weird, but awesome, phenomenon.

On top of no trashcans, we also found that most establishments had a place to wash your hands before entering. And then gave you hand towelettes as you were leaving. Cleanliness literally permeates the nation (which we can attest to from our 21 day Japanese road trip).

Tokyo, Japan at night by Annie Miller
Car downtown in Tokyo, Japan by Annie Miller

Getting around: The public transport is extremely easy to use, has a very large network, and is very efficient. There is of course the language barrier, but the help desks lead us in the right direction anytime we were confused – which definitely happened from time to time.

If you use google maps, you can see what subway lines you need to take to get to wherever you’re going. And their system typically allows you to purchase multiple tickets at one time.

Accommodation: Stay at the Blossom Hotel or in the Shinjuku neighborhood. Tokyo is BIG and there are a lot of neighborhoods to choose from. Shinjuku felt very central. We walked or took public transport everywhere.

Price: Tokyo is not cheap. We expected it to be expensive. And it is, in comparison to other areas of Asia. But it was comparable to the U.S. (Portland, Oregon for us). Like most locations, you can find cheap and high end, luxury options for most things.

Time of year: We chose to hit up Japan in the spring. The goal was to avoid “Golden Week.” In doing so, we unknowingly booked during cherry blossom season. Ooops. But also, awesome. March/April was the perfect time to visit Tokyo. The whether was brisk in the mornings and evenings, but got up into the 70’s during the day.

Now, let’s adventure.

We can’t give you much info about night life because the Millers are in bed by 10pm. BUT, we have the down-low on the gardens. TURN UP.

First up is like the “Central Park” of Tokyo.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo, Japan

All of the gardens in Tokyo require copious amounts of walking. Prepare yourself. This first garden would be PERFECT for a picnic. Because it was cherry blossom season, there were photoshoots happening everywhere. Japanese women, men and children dressed up in what I assume was traditional wear getting photos taken in front of the cherry blossom trees.

Typically there would be millions of tourists flooding this park (and all of Japan). Due to the Coronavirus, travel restrictions meant close to no tourists (we came from Australia, before travel bans or quarantines). So, it was a cool experience to see the cherry blossoms and the locals/nationals enjoying the season.

inside the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
A pond inside the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo
exploring Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo
Cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Japan
Visiting the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo

Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park

These two parks are essentially connected. They have separate entrances but the two properties kind of, dance around one another. Regardless, they’re right next to each other, and you should see both.

The best part about these parks and forests is that they are smack dab in the middle of Tokyo. You can go from fast paced city life and skyscrapers to a tranquil oasis with just a few steps.

That was a huge sell for us with Tokyo. You can have both. The perks of a city – all accommodations you can think of; while also having nature and sense of calmness in the same breath.

Entering Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park
Annie Miller exploring the parks in Tokyo, Japan
Visiting Annie Miller inside Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan
A pond inside Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan
enjoying the parks and beauty in Tokyo, Japan
Annie Miller inside Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park

Eats in Tokyo

Can we talk about Tokyo without mentioning the food culture? I think not.

Japanese culture, and vibe, carries through to their cuisine. You can find any food you desire in Tokyo. To be honest, our days looked like: Verve coffee followed by Eggslut, adventure, then Ramen, chill or further adventure…more ramen…CAN YOU BLAME US?

Coffee: Verve coffee shop

Eggslut: quality fast food on a VERY legit brioche bun

Ramen: Ichiran Ramen (ate here everyday – I kid you not), Ippudo, and Udon Shin, and Fuunji. I don’t know if there is bad Ramen in Tokyo…

American Brekki: Sarabeth’s Lumme 2.

Our hotel also had great food. So if you happen to stay at the Blossom, you’ve got a safe bet there.

Enjoying ramen in Tokyo, Japan
Latte of the day in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan cuisine

We were only in Tokyo because of travel ease. Our flights from Australia and what would have been to New Zealand flew in and out of Tokyo. Our travels were cut short and we had to fly back to the states after our road trip. But we did indeed complete our Japanese adventures.

After three days in Tokyo, we took the JR line to Nippori, then got on the Skyliner to terminal 1. That’s where we picked up our car from Budget at the Haneda Airport. From Tokyo we were off to stop number one in our 21 day road trip, NIKKO.

Tokyo is absolutely worth a visit! If it’s on your bucket list, pin this post for later.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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