Here is the scenario, you are in Tokyo, Japan on a business trip or you have a few days layover. You don't know anyone except your business contacts in Tokyo. What do you do? How are you going to spend your few days off? What do you want to do? Do you want to do what the guide books says or do you want to do what your Kiwi guide says?
Below are ten ideas I can give you that you can do in and around Tokyo, Japan that they might not talk about in the books but once you make the decision to go you will be happy you did.
1. Go to a public bath. For first timers this can seem weird and even a little daunting but I assure you after the initial shock of naked people walking around, you will love it. I took my cousin a few years ago and he said in the changing room that it was the most bizarre thing that he was about to do in his life. Two minutes later he thought that it was really cool and thought out loud whether something like it would take off in his home town in New Zealand.
2. Take a couple of hours and go to Kappabashi. This is only a five to ten minute walk from Asakusa that I'm sure all of the guide books will say to go to. Kappabashi is the area where you can find all of the fake food. The samples, the displays outside restaurants that show you what is on the menu. They have all sorts of other things too but the sample shops seem plentiful. Be warned though, they are available to buy but can be quite expensive.
3. Go to Tsukishima. This is a man-made island near Ginza that serves monjayaki. This is sort of the local food of the area and I won't lie to you in some cases it looks like that someone has vomited on the hot plate. I assure you that it is very delicious and most of the shops are small so you can really get to know the other customers. My father thought it was the highlight of his trip interacting with the locals.
4. Shoben Yokocho. This is translated as Piss Alley and the reason is that there is only one toilet for the whole street. Now, this is probably in your guide books but it is really cool and like Tsukishima you can interact quite intimately with the locals.
5. Maid Cafes. I have only been to one of these once and it was an interesting experience. For what it is, it is quite expensive for average food at the best and you get to see young women dressed up as maids treating you like you have come home after a long day at work. There is no sexual element to this besides the people who have that kind of fetish and it is a subculture of the Akihabara area of Tokyo where you can buy any kind of electronic equipment that you can think of.
6. If you are in Tokyo during summer I suggest going down to the Shonan coast. It is about one hour out of Tokyo and it is where Tokyoites go to cool off in the Pacific Ocean. Please don't expect the water to be pristine and have golden sand on the beaches. They are packed and the water can be dirty but the interesting thing is that they have, dotted along the beaches tents called umi no ie. These are places that you go and sit down, have a beer, eat something, hire boogie boards and even have a shower. Some of them can be quite elaborate and will have events during the summer like salsa dancing and DJs.
7. If you are into sports and you are from a Commonwealth country I suggest you take in a professional baseball game. For cricket loving people you may not understand the strategies but the actual premise of the game is quite simple, try and score more runs than the opposition. Easy.
8. For those cricket players a trip to the local baseball batting centre would be fun for you. Just like facing a bowling machine you get lots of 20 balls thrown at you and you have to try and hit a home run. It is a lot of fun and you can challenge yourself at 150 clicks. I tell you after facing that my wagon wheel would look like I had hit all of my runs either through all over the slips. Some people out there would suggest that that is my reality anyway, so what is different?
9. Spend a night in a izakaya. These are one of the places in Japan where everyone can really wind down and have a few beers and something to eat. The food is usually shared and some of the places have great variety. My friends love them.
10. The last one is going to be on page one of all the guide books but this is my reason for going to this attraction. Tokyo Disneyland. Yes, you heard me correctly, Tokyo Disneyland. This is a great place and it is a type of place that adults should go at least once in their lives. It is a chance for you to be a child again. To throw away those adult inhibitions and insecurities and just be a kid again.
There it is, 10 places to see in and around Tokyo. There are others I have left out but you can always do your own research for places that you like and explore them.