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Solo in Tokyo – Things to do during a short impromptu vacation

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Solo in Tokyo – Things to do during a short impromptu vacation

Don't know what to do on your first time traveling alone in Japan's capital? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Amara Zahra

Amara Zahra

Published on 23 Jul 2020, 12:00

On late February of 2020, I had the pleasure of going on my first solo trip to Tokyo as a product of having too much time on my hands and wanting a change of scenery.

If you’re a busy college student on a budget like myself, most likely you wouldn’t have that many opportunities to really travel, so it is no doubt that you wouldn’t want to waste a single second on this trip.

Solo travel: Why not?

Traveling alone is quite different from being in a group. Having friends with you means you would have an extra set of opinions and ideas on what to do, what to eat, and where to go.

When you’re alone, you’re left to do all the planning. This can be a problem because you might be confused about where to start. Personally, I find it less pressuring to plan alone because I am able to go at my own pace.

There's no harm done to make an itinerary beforehand but you don’t always have to follow it in the end. This is what I did but sometimes I ended up changing my plans for that day last minute.

As long as you’ve got a picture of what you want to do on a specific day so it won’t feel like you’re putting them to waste, you’re good to go!

With that being said, here are a few things you can do during a short, impromptu solo vacation to Japan’s capital.

Take a walk in Ueno Park

Ueno is located in the Taito Ward, the eastern side of central Tokyo. The area is very tourist-friendly as there are many recreation sites like museums and malls, one of them being Ueno Park.

Entrance to Ueno Park
Entrance to Ueno Park
The park is open to the public and free of charge. For a direct path to the park, take the Ueno Park Exit from JR Ueno Station.

I took the liberty of taking a visit as it happened to be very close to where I was staying. The place is very open with many paths loitered with tall trees, making my walk very relaxing despite it being a hot day at the time of my visit.

Hanazonoinari Shrine and traditional architectures in Ueno Park
Hanazonoinari Shrine and traditional architectures in Ueno Park

Aside from nature, the park also consists of many temples, traditional monuments, museums, and even a zoo (however, Ueno Zoo was closed then, so I was unable to visit).

Few of the landmarks I got to see were the Shinobazunoike Temple and the Senbon-torii of the Hanazonoinari Shrine.

Shinobazunoike Temple
Shinobazunoike Temple

I spent about one and a half hours walking around the area to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. You can also enjoy a quick snack since there are some street food vendors around or even have a picnic (but be sure to not litter!).

Museums accessible from the park include Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Museum of Nature & Science, The Gallery of Hyoruji Treasure.

Have a snack at Shinjuku-koen

Ticket to enter park
Ticket to enter park
National Garden If you’re someone who enjoys and appreciates greenery like I do, then the Shinjuku-koen National Garden is a must-visit.

It is just a short walk from Shinjuku Station and Shinjuku Koen-mae Station. The entrance fee to the park for adults is ¥500 and ¥250 for students with a valid ID card.

My favorite spot inside the park is the greenhouse. It was very beautiful! You can see an array of tropical and subtropical flowers. There was even a mini waterfall inside. Being surrounded by all the plants made the atmosphere very refreshing.

Shinjuku National Garden Greenhouse
Shinjuku National Garden Greenhouse

This national garden is also a good picnic spot as it has very open and spacious fields. There are food vendors at several areas inside the park so you don’t have to worry if you’re craving a snack.

I myself tried the soft-serve ice cream and it was very delicious! After that, I took a break from all the walking and sat on one of the benches to have a quick snack and admire the view.

Budget sweet snacks to enjoy at the park
Budget sweet snacks to enjoy at the park
I would definitely say that the best time to visit is during Spring as the park is a famous spot for hanami (花見), the Japanese custom of enjoying the sight of flowers.
Sakura trees in bloom at Shinjuku Park
Sakura trees in bloom at Shinjuku Park

The cherry blossoms hadn’t fully bloomed when I visited, but luckily I managed to get a few shots of some trees that had.

Interested in more activities you can do on a solo trip to Tokyo? Stay tuned for part 2 of my journey!

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Amara Zahra

Amara Zahra

Hi! I'm Amara Zahra, otherwise known as Mara, currently residing in Japan for my undergraduate studies. Writing and traveling are things I really enjoy doing so I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences here!

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