Monday, November 30, 2015

Our picks of what you can miss in Tokyo and
where to go instead.
There's plenty to love in Japan's famed capital, from the
efficient and sprawling transportation system to the excellent high quality
food, and to the exquisite attention to detail in local products.
But there
are a few things that are over-hyped, offering little bang for big bucks.
ahead and skip these options the next time you tune in to Tokyo.
Tokyo Sky Tree Admittedly, the sleek transmitter tower looks kind of
cool, especially when it's lit up in a special color scheme.
But entry is
expensive ($30 on the day of, more for advance tickets), lines are long, and
the reservation system is unnecessarily complicated if you want to buy a
ticket in advance.
You have to visit during a narrow window of time that will
put a damper on your plans, unless you love highly scheduled vacations.
Instead, check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, which is
free, impressive (designed by famed architect Kenzo Tange), and easy to
Open late, lines are short (you'll rarely wait more than 10 minutes to
go up), and you can also see the nerve center behind Tokyo public works.
Golden Gai The seedy Shinjuku neighborhood famous for its crooked
alleys of dingy-looking drinking establishments has had its moment in the
limelight, and attracts quite a few tourists looking for an authentic dive
The result is a lot of jaded locals, jacked-up prices, and hidden
cover charges.
If you want to drink in an old-fashioned alley, try Harmonica Alley in
Kichijoji or Ebisu Yokocho, a few of Golden Gai's less famous counterparts.
wander and discover your own crooked dive; they're strewn all over the city,
and finding your own is more fun anyway.
Tokyo Disneyland The park isn't even in Tokyo, but in neighboring
suburban Chiba, part of the city's vast gray borderlands.
This excursion
(starting at $57) comes complete with hours-long lines for most of the major
Of course, there's the Fastpass, but almost everyone is using that,
too, which means you get the privilege of waiting in a somewhat shorter line.
If you really must meet the Mouse, then try Disney Sea, a slightly more
adult-oriented park, with different rides than at the main park built around
watery themes like Captain Nemo, the Little Mermaid, and 1001 Arabian
Or, skip the Magic Kingdom altogether and hit up Fuji-Q Highlands, a
popular amusement park unique to Japan built near the base of Mt.
park, which is cheaper by about $15 than Disneyland, boasts several major
roller coasters and a whole host of Japanese character-themed attractions,
with the fantastic iconic backdrop of Japan's famous mountain.
Maid Cafes These establishments feature young women dressed in French
maid costumes, sometimes with the addition of cat ears or another cosplay
element fad, serving overpriced dishes like waffles and omurice (fried rice
omelettes) decorated with hearts and other over-the-top cutesy motifs.
cafes haven't actually been popular domestically for a decade, and are the
realm of tourists and creepy nerds.
There are too many awesome themed cafes in Tokyo to keep track of them all,
with new ones popping up all the time.
Why not try a hammock cafe, a video
game cafe, or a Moomin cafe instead? 5.
Sanrio Puroland Although it may
seem like a good idea to visit the land of Hello Kitty, the park can be an
overpriced nightmare ($31).
Attractions are aimed at very small children, yet
they can be too loud and scary for the target tots.
And while Kitty-chan can
be cute in small doses, the large-scale version is overly saccharine.
The Ghibli museum, by contrast, is a lovely place to spend an afternoon for
both kids and adults, with lots of props from the famous films made by the
prolific Hayao Miyazaki and his Ghibli Studios.
Find rooms and gardens
decorated with bits from My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery
Service, and many more.
If you really need a Hello Kitty fix, Sanrio goods are
pretty much one of Japan's national currencies, and you can get character gear
in just about any department store.
Lock Up This themed izakaya seems to have an identity crisis.
it's supposed to evoke the experience of dining in a prison, staff also
periodically don monster masks and scream at you while distorted music blares
so loudly that you can't finish your conversation.
The food is standard bar
fare with a few weak gimmicks, like shots in test tubes and sushi "roulette,"
with one piece loaded with excessive amounts of wasabi.
Pick any good izakaya instead and revel in the authentic, unforced
Takeshita Dori Once upon a time, this little street in Harajuku may
have been a counterculture haven for rebellious teenagers, but it had already
jumped the shark by the time Gwen Stefani named her line of accessories after
the neighborhood.
These days, you're less likely to see the street artists and
cosplayers that used to populate the area than the tourists who are looking
for them.
You're better off going to Koenji or Shimokitazawa or Nakano, where artists,
musicians, and bohemians congregate for the reasonable rent, thrift stores,
music venues, and tasty non-chain restaurants.
Selena Hoy is based in Tokyo and covers the Japan beat for Travel + Leisure.
Tourist traps to avoid in Tokyo

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