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Tokyo, already Japan’s largest city by leaps, will greet supporters from more than 200 countries at the 2020 Summer Games. Here are 10 of our best ideas for what to do when you’re not taking in the sport.
Countries and sponsors open spaces with a fantastic range of experiences. Fans can find cultural exhibitions, speciality foods, “watch parties” and even athlete meet and greets. Some are private, but many are open to the public for a small entry price (you may need your passport too). These Houses are scattered throughout the Olympic Zones but well worth seeking out—especially for foodies and super fans!<
Hit pause on the high energy of Olympic Village and head for a stroll in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. A 144-acre park of native traditional gardens, it’s home to stunning landmarks like the famous Taiwan Pavilion, which sits next to a tranquil pond. Once an imperial garden, the park is now a beautifully maintained haven from the city’s frenetic energy.
At 634 meters, Tokyo Skytree is the world’s tallest tower. From its 360-degree observation decks, the city’s futuristic skyscrapers and fluorescent intersections span out like artwork. At Skytree’s base are hundreds of shops and restaurants: The adventurous should try the Asakusa restaurant Dojo lidaya, which specialises in dojo, a small fish that's eaten whole. For something more familiar, drop into nearby Asakusa Sushi Ken.
Fan favourite events from past Olympics, these (often free) events are offered by sponsors to provide guests with drinks and nibbles, athlete sightings and more. These are usually announced just before the start of the Games, so make sure to look out for them when you stroll the Olympic Village and Zones.
Tokyo (even when it’s not hosting the Olympics) is the world’s most populated city and there’s nowhere better to spot that than iconic Shibuya Crossing. Go at dusk, when it’s busiest, and head to its Starbucks for a photo of the organised chaos from above.
The sights here are utterly iconic: The temple itself commands the end of a shopping street, while Japan’s second tallest pagoda stands aside. Locals pause near a large incense display and a Shinto shrine.
If you haven’t already lost your voice cheering on the athletes, round up a group for some good (or bad-good) singing. Karaoke-kan — famous for its cameo in "Lost in Translation" — is your typical Tokyo karaoke bar and sits right in Shibuya. Don’t worry, it’s well stocked with cheap and boozy drinks to give you a bit of courage.
Cheering on the athletes can work up an appetite. Sweet tooths can sort that at Kit Kat Chocolatory and Café in Ginza, one of the city’s top shopping districts. Under the direction of one of the country’s top pâtissiers, this sweet spot offers rare flavours, inventive takes on the classic and even a chance to design your own flavour.
Most famous for its iconic cherry blossoms, Nakameguro is worth a visit anytime for its laid-back, creative collection of independent shops and cafés. It’s the perfect antidote to the high-energy Games.
Come away from the Games with an understanding of the host country’s incredible past when you carve out time for Edo Museum. This gem offers gorgeous exhibitions on literature, historic red light districts, traditional life, the ruling class and more. Plus, get panoramic views of the city from its upper floors.
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There are numerous airlines flying to Tokyo but Air New Zealand is the only direct flight from Auckland. Get there in 10h 50m.
We recommend a minimum 10 days to see all the major sights.
Ask your House of Travel consultant about a Japan Rail Pass. They’re comfortable, speedy and easy.
Japanese Yen (JPY)
New Zealanders can visit Japan for tourist purposes for up to 90 days.
Temperate with four seasons. Southern Japan gets a milder winter and hotter summer than the north. Summer hits 30°C+ and winter can drop to zero.
Call 119 for fire and ambulance, 110 for Police and 118 for the Coast Guard.
You can safely drink water from the tap anywhere in Japan.
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