20 unique things to do in Tokyo, Japan

20 unique things to do in Tokyo, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s my selection of 20 unique things to do in Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo is vast and ever-changing. It has been done to death on travel blogs and in guidebooks but you can never quite capture it. For that reason, I didn’t want to write down what we think you ‘shouldn’t miss’ or ‘must see’ places. But here are 20 things I really enjoyed on my last two visits that aren’t your generic big sights.

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Tokyo off the beaten path: exploring Kōenji, Asagaya, Ogikubo, and Kichijōji

Tokyo off the beaten path: Kōenji, Asagaya, Ogikubo, and Kichijōji | PACK THE SUITCASES

We’re lucky enough to have friends in Tokyo, so we try to stay near where they live in Ogikubo. This gives us a unique insight into local life there every time we visit. Here’s a brief summary of things we love about Tokyo off the beaten track. It covers: Kōenji, Asagaya, Ogikubo, and Kichijōji. This area is basically a western section of the Chūō-Sōbu line: one of the most crowded commuter train lines in Japan (which is really saying something).

If you want to visit somewhere in Tokyo without the tourists, where normal people live, and where the huge 20-storey buildings give way to low-rise winding streets, this area is perfect.

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Funchal, Madeira travel guide: things to do, see and eat

Funchal, Madeira travel guide: things to do, see and eat | PACK THE SUITCASES

We’ve been meaning to write this for ages: our ultimate travel guide to the island of Funchal, Madeira, in Portugal. It is one of the few places we keep returning to. Beautiful scenery, food and culture draw us back, as well as (almost) guaranteed winter sun. Here’s where to eat and drink, as well as what to see and do. Hopefully it will convince you that it isn’t just full of OAPs…

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Things to do in Takamatsu, Japan: a brief visit to the home of udon

Things to do in Takamatsu, Japan: a brief visit to the home of udon | PACK THE SUITCASES

We gorged on udon noodles until we could hardly walk round the gardens in Takamatsu, Japan. This is obviously an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Takamatsu isn’t somewhere we’d ever heard of. We’ve actually never heard of anyone going there. But it was on our way back from an incredible long weekend on the art island of Naoshima and our friend Tom was in charge of our lives and knew we would like it so off we went.

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Day trip to Himeji Castle, Japan

Day trip to Himeji Castle, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

We had a day trip to Himeji Castle, Japan as part of our two-week trip in January. It’s considered Japan’s most beautiful castle, towering over the city with its pure white facade and silvery grey tiles. Its exterior has a real castle-based wow factor. Like lots of this sort of thing in Japan, it’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site and official National Treasure.

We also saw loads of cats.

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One day in Nara, Japan: home of the deer selfies

One day in Nara, Japan: home of the deer selfies | PACK THE SUITCASES

As part of our fantastic trip in January, we had a day of deer and Buddha in Nara, Japan. We did this day trip from where we were staying in Kobe. Nara’s Todaiji Temple is one of Japan’s most famous temples, home to a ginormous 15-metre high bronze Buddha. But Nara is most famous for its tame, free-roaming deer, whose cuteness has made the city a popular tourist destination.

You can follow a pilgrimage route to the temple via loads of cute Bambis. And if that doesn’t sound like a good day out to you, we’re no longer friends.

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