A Single Girl’s Guide to Tokyo, Japan

January 4, 2019

After coming back from Tokyo, one thing is clear to me: I could spend a year in Tokyo, and it still wouldn’t be enough time for me to feel as if I’ve truly seen everything that Tokyo has to offer. As my photographer in Japan, Jaime, described to me, Tokyo is such a big city with so much going on, that there’s Tokyo natives that still have never heard of certain neighborhoods. I was truly taken aback by just how massive Tokyo is, however I’ve still managed to round up some of my favorite places and advice for visiting as a solo female traveler.

travel blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling at the Meiji Jingu Shrine Shinto shrine in Harajuku Shibuya Tokyo Japan wearing a tan belted Michael Kords robe coat and black pearl strap stilettos long brown hair thick brunette hair curled pigtails traditional japanese architecture gateway minimalist style classic winter coat a single girl's guide to Tokyo, Japan solo female traveler asia
travel blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling a solo girl's guide to Tokyo Japan  solo female traveler travel guide at the Meiji Jingu Shrine Shinto shrine in Harajuku Shibuya Tokyo Japan wearing a tan belted Michael Kords robe coat and black pearl strap stilettos long brown hair thick brunette hair curled pigtails traditional japanese architecture gateway minimalist style classic winter coat outside of Santa Monica Crepes kawaii dessert Takeshita Street harajuku shibuya tokyo japan kawaii fashion american apparel lilac tennis skirt victoria's secret unlined dream angels scalloped lace bustier demure pink rose gold shine dior mitzah tarot twilly boohoo pearl strappy black stiletto what to wear teen girl fashion how to wear a hair scarf girly feminine fashion lolita Icho namiki avenue gaienmae minato ginkgo trees black bodycon dress boohoo tie straps with bow how to style what to wear with black gucci belt leather iridescent metallic purple blue pleated midi skirt long brown curled hair brunette modest fashion flattering college luxury style ootd inspo pearl strap black stiletto heels teamlab borderless mori digital art museum

TEAMLAB BORDERLESS

Japan, 〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto, Aomi, 1 Chome−3−8 お台場パレットタウン

teamLab Borderless is one of those places that sounds like it’s going to just be an overhyped tourist trap, until you experience it for yourself. Located inside the Mori Digital Art Museum, teamLab Borderless is an immersive, encompassing series of digital art installations that will leave you with chills. This is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo, and I’m so grateful that I made sure to make time to go. teamLab also has a newer, more interactive installation in Tokyo called Planets, that I’ve heard is even more impressive than Borderless. To read all about my experience at teamLab Borderless, including the tips you need to know before going, click here.

MEIJI JINGU SHRINE

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan

I would’ve never known about this gorgeous, serene spot if it wasn’t for my lovely photographer in Tokyo, Jaime! Little known to me prior to this, Jaime hosts a photography tour of Tokyo on AirBnB, which you can find here {basically, you’ll get awesome photos of yourself in Tokyo, while seeing some fantastic places}. The Meiji Jingu Shrine is located just a step away from the Harajuku stop on the JR Yamanote line. It’s actually the oldest Shinto shrine in Tokyo. The archway seen in the photo below is the opening to the path that leads to a shrine. It’s only a couple minutes away, so don’t worry, you won’t have to bring your hiking shoes along for this brief excursion. I almost couldn’t believe that this was in busy, bustling Shibuya, as the Meiji shrine was peaceful and calm.



MOSHI MOSHI BOX CLOCK

3 Chome-23-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Something tells me that you’ve probably never seen a clock like this before! Despite its plushie exterior, this clock actually isn’t on a toy store. Moshi Moshi Box is a tourist/visitor’s center in Harajuku that provides information not only for Harajuku, but for the entire Shibuya area. Their plush toy clock has become a landmark for kawaii style since the center opened. The center was founded to help tourists find the best of what Harajuku and Shibuya has to offer, including those things off the beaten path and hidden gems within the area. If you’re like me and into wandering and exploring lesser known spots, this is a great place to start!





UOBEI SHIBUYA DOGENZAKA

Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 2 Chome−29−11 第六セントラルビル1階

Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka is a sushi place in Shibuya where the sushi arrives to your table by…conveyor belt. This place is perfect for anyone traveling alone, and especially for anyone who feels awkward dining alone, as every seat in the restaurant is bar style seating. Your chair faces into an electronic tablet and the conveyor belt your food is delivered on. Once seated, place your order on the tablet in front of you, and wait a couple minutes for the sushi you’ve ordered to zoom down the conveyor belt and stop in front of you. All sushi is 108 yen {$0.97 USD} unless marked otherwise. Even Uobei’s artisan-looking desserts were only $2-3. Being vegetarian, I had my usual cucumber roll and ventured out of my comfort zone to try their corn and mayo maki, which was surprisingly delicious. I ordered 4 rolls total, and only paid roughly $4 USD. Don’t let the inexpensive prices fool you, this place is better than the higher end traditional sushi bar I went to, and is a must-go if you’re in the Shibuya Crossing area.

TOTTI CANDY FACTORY

Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 1 Chome−16−5 RYUアパルトマン 2F

Did I go here originally for the ‘gram? Maybe. Was I incredibly surprised when the oversized rainbow cloud of cotton candy I ordered was unlike any cotton candy I’ve had before? Definitely. Totti’s rainbow cotton candy boasts strong fruity flavors, and a lightweight, angel wisp texture.

CREPE STANDS

So many places for crepes in Japan, so little time. For the best crepes, head over to Harajuku. Erase everything you know about the traditional French confection, because these crepes are served in a cone and almost something between a traditional French crepe and ice cream. Absolutely decadent and full of sugar, crepes are a must try. The crepe stands of Takeshita boast anywhere from 30-50 different filling combinations. I opted for a chocolate dipped strawberry and custard option, Santa Monica Crepe’s “holiday special.”

VINTAGE SHOPPING

A luxury lover’s dream, Japan is well known for its incredible assortment of vintage goods. Specifically, Japan has an outstanding reputation for vintage Chanel, and other luxury designer brands. The Japanese strictly forbid the sale of counterfeit goods, so you can buy with high confidence that you’re getting the real thing. I stopped by Chicago, as mentioned in my Harajuku guide, where I picked up a rare vintage Chanel scarf at a steal. Other popular favorites for luxury items include Vintage Qoo, AMORE Vintage, BrandFirst, and Daikokuya, among so many more. Below is just a small sampling of the assortment of vintage silk kimonos at Chicago.

Chicago vintage store harajuku tokyo japan shibuya silk kimono

TAKESHITA STREET

As I mentioned in my travel guide to Harajuku, here, Takeshita Street is the epitome of all things girly and kawaii. It’s fun to stroll down the street looking at the kitschy accessories and clothing. Stores such as Paris Kids and WEGO offer ultra-affordable prices on unique pieces that you truly won’t find elsewhere. Takeshita Street is also known for its shops full of kawaii purikura photo booths. For all the shops I recommend in Harajuku, including Takeshita, click here!








AKIHABARA

1 Chome Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan {Akihabara Station}

Akihabara is the neighborhood that’s home to all things anime, arcade, and electronic. It’s also the central location for the famous Tokyo maid cafés. It’s best accessed from the JK Keihin-Tohoku Line, JY Yamanote Line, or JB Chūō-Sōbu Line. I stepped off the train to immediately be greeted by the iconic SEGA mega game center. Never have I ever seen more claw machines in one place. I’m still trying to figure out where I can get one of the giant Eevee plushies from the Akihabara claw machines without having to actually win one. Note that many places in Akihabara such as the maid cafés and several stores do not allow photography inside of them. There’s enough games in Akihabara to keep a solo traveler entertained for hours, and several restaurants that have bar style seating overlooking the busy Akihabara streets, again helpful those who are uncomfortable dining alone.

Akihabara SEGA mega game center arcade in Tokyo Japan ward neighborhood busy






SHIBUYA CROSSING

Easily the most touristy spot in this guide, it would be incredibly difficult to go to Tokyo and somehow manage to avoid Shibuya Crossing. Shibuya is not only a major train station in Tokyo for several train transfers, it’s also the largest pedestrian crossing in the world. An estimated 2,500 pedestrians cross Shibuya Crossing at once, making it also the busiest in the world. Between the lights, signs, and sheer number and density of people, it’s like Times Square on crack. Shibuya Crossing is kind of one of those places you have to go to just to say you’ve experienced it. If you’re looking for things to do in the area, the sushi place mentioned above, Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka, and insane megastore Mega Don Quixote {think Walmart x10} are both located in the Shibuya Crossing area. Although I’m typically against going to western food chains while traveling internationally, I’ve found that a lot of American fast food chains have a ton of Japanese options that don’t exist in the States. Wendy’s, for example, has bubble tea, and the Krispy Kreme in Shibuya Crossing has exclusive donut flavors to Japan such as strawberry milk tea, matcha, and milk tea. They’re also cuter than the donuts in the States. I had the milk tea donut at Krispy Kreme and was impressed that they managed to turn that flavor into a donut.

Shibuya Crossing lights tokyo japan center-gai








ICHO NAMIKI AVENUE {GINKGO AVENUE}

Japan, Tokyo, 都道414号線

Appropriately nicknamed “Ginkgo Avenue,” Icho Namiki Avenue located in Minato is known for its distinct cone shape ginkgo trees. The avenue is absolutely stunning, and best seen during November and early December, when the ginkgo leaves turn a gorgeous golden orange color. Go early in the morning for some tranquil, quiet time alone. Benches line the usually busy avenue, so you can sit and take in the scenery. Since I know that loving Shake Shack is pretty much a cult popular in the States, I’m going to throw in there that there’s also a Shake Shack on Icho Namiki with frozen treats exclusive to Japan. See my guide on how to best visit Icho Namiki Avenue, including how to best get there, by clicking here.





TRANSPORTATION

TRAIN

The transportation system in Japan is all levels of interesting. It’s definitely incredibly reliable, and generally efficient. Of all the trains I took, very few arrived even a minute late. There were a couple instances in which I experienced unexpected delays, especially on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line, however a Japanese local friend of mine confirmed that the delay I experienced was the worst he ever heard of. My major frustrations/confusion with the Japanese railway/subway system came simply from how many lines and companies there are. In New York, we typically pay one metro fare and can go anywhere in the city for $2.75 with the exception of the airports. In Tokyo, you’ll pay a new fare every time you transfer a train, and an increased fare based on distance. This is because the different lines in Tokyo are operated by different private railway companies, instead of one public company. Due to this, trains in Tokyo can get pricier than in other cities. Expect to pay up to $5-7 to go one direction, with a minimum fare of approximately $1.50.


Frustratingly, transportation can either be really efficient or painfully inefficient. When meeting up with a few of my friends in Tokyo to go to teamLab Borderless, we accidentally went to their corporate office instead of the actual installation. To get from where we were to the correct location, it was an hour and 20 minutes, and included a bus and train transfer. To drive straight there was 15 minutes, so we opted for calling an Uber instead.


Do yourself a favor and purchase a reloadable Pasmo card instead of purchasing individual paper tickets each time. This allows you to load larger amounts of money onto your card, which helps save time when you’re unsure of exactly how much the fare will be to get from Point A to Point B.


Despite trains in Tokyo being more expensive than other cities, traveling by train or bus is still far more cost efficient than Uber or taxi.


One thing that I found particularly useful about the Tokyo railway system is that each stop on each line is numbered. This system makes it extremely easy to figure out how many stops you have remaining until you reach your destination, especially for foreign travelers who do not speak Japanese. i.e. If the destination you’re at is 16, and you need to reach 22, you can track it each stop without trying to search through a map and count.


Accessing Harajuku required one train transfer from Tokyu’s Den-en-toshi line to the JR Yamanote line. The total cost for the trip one way was 287 yen {approximately $2.58 USD}.

UBER

Uber is a relatively new concept in Tokyo, and because of that, Uber X and Uber Pool are not yet available there. If Uber is your transportation method of choice, you’ll have to opt for Uber Black or Uber Black Van. Uber Black accommodates up to 4 passengers, whereas Uber Black Van accommodates up to 6. The lack of Uber X and Uber Pool in Tokyo make taking Uber in Tokyo very expensive in general, unless it’s split among multiple people.

TAXI

Although I’ve heard complaints of taxis in Japan being expensive, I found that for short distances it’s much less expensive than in NYC. My 12 minute taxi ride was just under $4, whereas the same trip in NYC likely would’ve cost me $7-10 plus tip. If you do prefer to get in a car rather than trying to take a train or bus in Tokyo, I recommend trying to hail a cab instead of calling Uber, as taxis are much less expensive than Uber Black.


Overall, taxi drivers in Japan don’t really speak English, so have the address of the location you’d like to go to pulled up on your phone to show them. This way they can input it into their GPS and get you there easily without anything being lost in translation. When I got in a taxi I was headed to Mega Don Quixote, but when I tried to tell my driver both “Mega Don Quixote” and its nickname, “Mega Donki,” he didn’t know the location. Being able to pull up the address on my phone definitely saved me in that situation! Some Japanese taxi drivers will refuse foreign passengers for the language barrier, which is why it is important to have the exact location if you’re trying to get in a taxi. That being said, both my Uber and taxi drivers were incredibly, kind, helpful, and respectful. Much more so than in any city I’ve traveled to.

SAFETY

Tokyo is ridiculously safe, making it ideal for solo female travelers! Japanese people are very respectful and helpful as a society. When my phone died and I needed assistance reaching my AirBnB, a young Japanese woman was incredibly gracious and looked up the address and directions for me on her phone, then proceeded to lead me directly there without me even asking. This act of kindness kind of completely restored my faith in humanity after only being out in Tokyo for an hour.


The one minor complaint I have with safety in Tokyo is simply men on the train. Men of all ages in Tokyo will unapologetically stare at you, looking you up and down for the duration of your time on the train. While I certainly felt far safer than I do on trains in NYC, it did make me incredibly uncomfortable. Somewhat uncoincidentally, it has been reported that Tokyo has a growing issue with females being groped on crowded trains. I never had a problem with this, nor was I ever concerned that the men staring would actually act on anything. Just because I didn’t experience it doesn’t mean that it’s not something to be cautious of when traveling to Tokyo, especially solo. Railway companies across Japan, including in Tokyo, have attempted to combat this quickly growing issue by creating “women only” cars. In these cars, only women are allowed to ride in them during certain hours of the day, typically late at night on weekdays and during rush hour. These hours vary between railway companies. Look in the train station for the marked “women only” platforms if you seek to travel in one of these cars.

Regardless of any frustrations I may have had while traveling through Tokyo, the trip was incredible and one of the best adventures I’ve taken to date. I highly recommend Tokyo to any solo female traveler, or really just travel lover in general. The city is so diverse and expansive that it truly offers something for everyone.

xx,

E

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travel blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling a solo girl's guide to Tokyo Japan solo female traveler travel guide at the Meiji Jingu Shrine Shinto shrine in Harajuku Shibuya Tokyo Japan wearing a tan belted Michael Kords robe coat and black pearl strap stilettos long brown hair thick brunette hair curled pigtails traditional japanese architecture gateway minimalist style classic winter coat outside of Santa Monica Crepes kawaii dessert Takeshita Street harajuku shibuya tokyo japan kawaii fashion american apparel lilac tennis skirt victoria's secret unlined dream angels scalloped lace bustier demure pink rose gold shine dior mitzah tarot twilly boohoo pearl strappy black stiletto what to wear teen girl fashion how to wear a hair scarf girly feminine fashion lolita Icho namiki avenue gaienmae minato ginkgo trees black bodycon dress boohoo tie straps with bow how to style what to wear with black gucci belt leather iridescent metallic purple blue pleated midi skirt long brown curled hair brunette modest fashion flattering college luxury style ootd inspo pearl strap black stiletto heels
Travel and style blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling A Single Girl's Guide to Tokyo Japan solo female traveler asia travel guideoutside of Moshi Moshi Box Information Center plush clock in harajuku shibuya tokyo japan kawaii fashion american apparel lilac tennis skirt victoria's secret unlined dream angels scalloped lace bustier demure pink rose gold shine dior mitzah tarot twilly boohoo pearl strappy black stiletto what to wear teen girl fashion how to wear a hair scarf girly feminine fashion
A Single Girl's Guide to Tokyo Japan solo female traveler asia travel guide Angel Crepes Takeshita Street Harajuku Tokyo Japan kawaii neon pink sign logo Shibuya Crossing lights tokyo japan center-gai Akihabara SEGA mega game center arcade in Tokyo Japan ward neighborhood busy Chicago vintage store harajuku tokyo japan shibuya silk kimono
Eva Phan of Eva Darling A Solo Girl's Guide to Tokyo, Japan solo female traveler asia travel guide Icho namiki avenue gaiemmae ginkgo trees black bodycon dress boohoo tie straps with bow how to style what to wear with black gucci belt leather iridescent metallic purple blue pleated midi skirt long brown curled hair brunette modest fashion flattering college luxury style ootd inspo
travel blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling a solo girl's guide to Tokyo Japan solo female traveler asia travel guide at the Meiji Jingu Shrine Shinto shrine in Harajuku Shibuya Tokyo Japan wearing a tan belted Michael Kords robe coat and black pearl strap stilettos long brown hair thick brunette hair curled pigtails traditional japanese architecture gateway minimalist style classic winter coat outside of Santa Monica Crepes kawaii dessert Takeshita Street harajuku shibuya tokyo japan kawaii fashion american apparel lilac tennis skirt victoria's secret unlined dream angels scalloped lace bustier demure pink rose gold shine dior mitzah tarot twilly boohoo pearl strappy black stiletto what to wear teen girl fashion how to wear a hair scarf girly feminine fashion lolita Icho namiki avenue gaienmae minato ginkgo trees black bodycon dress boohoo tie straps with bow how to style what to wear with black gucci belt leather iridescent metallic purple blue pleated midi skirt long brown curled hair brunette modest fashion flattering college luxury style ootd inspo pearl strap black stiletto heels teamlab borderless mori digital art museum
travel blogger Eva Phan of Eva Darling at the Meiji Jingu Shrine Shinto shrine in Harajuku Shibuya Tokyo Japan wearing a tan belted Michael Kords robe coat and black pearl strap stilettos long brown hair thick brunette hair curled pigtails traditional japanese architecture gateway minimalist style classic winter coat a single girl's guide to Tokyo, Japan solo female traveler asia travel guide

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