Places

Things to do in Tokyo during Golden Week

This year’s unprecedented 10-day-long Golden Week is a chance for people to travel and see the world. Unfortunately, with sky-high plane tickets and sold-out bullet trains, many of us will be staying in Tokyo for long staycation. If you are living in the capital and have seen most of the big tourist attractions, here are 10 more budget-friendly ideas that could fill your schedule.


Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory

 

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Anime fans who want a literal taste of Studio Ghibli can visit this Totoro-themed coffee shop in Shimokitazawa. From its signature adorable Totoro cream puffs to homemade pasta, Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory offers a variety of foods at a reasonable price. Just make sure to take a photo for Instagram before chowing down.

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed on Tuesday (or Wednesday if Tuesday is a holiday)
Nearest stations: Setagaya-Daita; Shimokitazawa
Website: http://www.shiro-hige.com/


Harry Nezumi Cafe

Dog cafes and cat cafes are all the rage in Japan. But just when you thought coffee dates couldn’t get any cuter, here comes a sharp new idea: a hedgehog cafe. Visitors can enjoy a sweet pastry at the Harry Nezumi Cafe while also petting cute little hedgehogs — and guests can even feed them a treat. There are stores in Harajuku, Roppongi and Yokohama, but make sure to book a reservation in advance just in case. And keep in mind they will charge slightly higher prices during Golden Week.

Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Nearest stations: Harajuku; Roppongi; Motomachi-Chukagai
Website: http://www.harinezumi-cafe.com/en/


Gundam Base

 

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“Gundam” fans, strap in and head to Odaiba’s Diver City Tokyo Plaza where a life-size replica of Unicorn Gundam stands at almost 20 meters tall. After you’ve snapped a few pictures of the monumental statue, step into the Gundam Base — a museum and store that was created to celebrate everything “Gundam.”

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nearest station: Daiba
Website: https://www.gundam-base.net/


Suginami Animation Museum

 

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Anime fans who want a look behind the scenes can learn about the creative process behind their favorite shows at the Suginami Animation Museum. Guests can take a tour of the company’s first four floors and take part in a digital workshop. However, the website warns that everything will be presented in Japanese.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Usually closed Mondays but open during Golden Week)
Nearest stations: Ogikubo; Nishi-Ogikubo
Website: http://sam.or.jp/english_home


Nezu Shrine

 

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Too late to book your Golden Week vacation to Kyoto? Fear not. Instead of heading to Kyoto’s Fushimi-Inari Shrine to see its famous red torii gates, people in Tokyo can head to Nezu Shrine, near Ueno Park. One of the city’s oldest shrines, Nezu Shrine is also well known for its abundance of azaleas that bloom in spring.

Hours: Gates open until 6 p.m.
Nearest station: Nezu
Website: http://www.nedujinja.or.jp/


Akasaka State House

 

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Built in 1909 as the Crown Prince’s palace, the Akasaka State House has served as the host for an array of diplomatic activities, including visits from monarchs, presidents and prime ministers from around the world. People who would like to visit this luxurious estate, make sure to check which dates it is open to the public and book your spot in advance. There will also be a special garden cafe set up only for Golden Week that will stay open late.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Garden Cafe will run April 27-29 and May 3-5 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Nearest station: Yotsuya
Website: https://www.geihinkan.go.jp/en/akasaka/akasaka_news/20190427-0506gardencafe/


teamLab Borderless

A favorite amongst the Instagram crowd, teamLab Borderless is an art museum that transcends the concept of boundaries through the use of lights and projections. While it’s a must-see if you’re in Tokyo, make sure you check available tickets online before heading to Odaiba as days are already filling up fast. And charge your phone because you will be taking plenty of photos and video.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Nearest station: Aomi
Website: https://borderless.teamlab.art/


Toto Tokyo Center Show Room

 

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Many travelers coming to Japan are often intrigued — and sometimes scared — of the country’s more advance toilets. If you want a closer inspection, you can head to Toto Tokyo Center Show Room in Shinjuku. Toto, the leader in Japanese toilets, will let guests look at the newest models and even pop a squat if they wish.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (The showroom will be closed April 30 and May 1)
Nearest station: Shinjuku
Website: https://jp.toto.com/showroom/028/index.htm


Strawberry Marche

 

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For those who want a simple excursion from Tokyo, the Strawberry Picking Kitada plantation’s Strawberry Marche may fit the bill — and fill the belly. Visitors can picky as many strawberries as they want during their 30-minute visit, and an express train can take strawberry lovers from Ikebukuro Station to Shin-Tokorozawa Station in just 20 minutes.

Hours: Usually 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nearest station: Take the bus from Shin-Tokorozawa Station
Website: http://ichigo-marche.com/access/index.html


Toshimaen

 

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If Tokyo Disneyland is too rich for your blood, Toshimaen may be a small-budgeted alternative. The amusement park west of Ikebukuro has water slides, a rollercoaster and plenty of smaller attractions as well. If you run out of things to do, you can head to the movie theater next door or relax at the Niwa no Yu bath.

Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Nearest station: Toshimaen
Website: http://www.toshimaen.co.jp/

By Deborah Ariel Pantaleon