The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary – For Big Kids!

The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary – For Big Kids!

 

You think you know Tokyo, but you haven’t truly experienced the exuberance of Tokyo until you fight a sumo, eat rainbow spaghetti, watch robots dance, make your own udon noodles and go-kart through the streets in an adult-sized Mario onesie…. Tokyo is seriously a big kid’s playground, and if you want to experience the fun side of Tokyo and delight your inner child, check out our ULTIMATE Tokyo itinerary for ‘big kids’ below.

 

What to do in Tokyo, Japan

Day 1

Cook (and eat!) delicious food

Japan is foodie heaven, so why not learn how to make some of the culinary delights from a local? Ayuko at Buddha Bellies Cooking School is a trained sushi instructor, Sake sommelier and professional cook. She shares her passion for food in small, intimate classes, where you will learn to make a range of delicious Japanese food, from udon noodles, to teriyaki and more. The best part though? Eating the food at the end and being pleasantly surprised by how great you can cook Japanese food.

For an in-depth take on the class AND a delicious recipe, check out our Buddha Bellies post.

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The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary
Tokyo Itinerary

Visit Harajuku

Tokyo is known for some of its crazy fashion and characters, and Harajuku is the heart of it all. If you want to buy some funky items (and spend up big), this is the place for it. Here you will also find eclectic ‘op shops’ (thrift stores) and unique stores. The atmosphere is buzzing and if you really want to get amongst the thick of it, try navigating your way down Takeshita Street!

The weird and wonderful Harajuku, Tokyo

 

If all the crowds and characters get a little too much for you, take a short stroll up to Meiji Shrine, where the loudness of Harajuku will feel like another world away. Wander through the tranquil forest-like gardens and temples, purify yourself at the cleansing stations, make a prayer and, if you are lucky, witness a traditional Japanese wedding.

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
What to see in Tokyo

Eat rainbow monster food

After feeling anew, head back to the main part of Harajuku and visit Monster Cafe. This colourful cafe can only be described by imagining a cafe being taken over by psychedelic muppet-monsters and harajuku girls. The booths are like something from Alice in Wonderland and all the food looks like it’s made out of rainbow playdough. Rest assured it isn’t and the food isn’t half bad. Of course, it’s no Michelin meal, but it is fun to taste each coloured cream ‘blob’ on the plate or ice-cream and realise each colour is a different bold flavour. Monster Cafe also have performances at night and at unspecified times during the day, so if you want to see some of the quirky performances, time your visit well (and perhaps book in advance if you want to see a show).

Rainbow food at Monster Cafe, Tokyo
The weird and wonderful Tokyo

Day 2

Fight a sumo (or watch a match)

Sumo wrestling is a national treasure of Japan and a sporting tradition that is still going strong after many centuries. Sumo wrestling tournaments only occur in the odd months of the year, so if you are not visiting during the matches, you can do something even more memorable, fight a sumo yourself! The Asakusa Sumo Experience is a great way to learn the intricacies of sumo wrestling and even attempt to take on one of the masters. And, once finished challenging the sumo wrestlers, you can tuck into a well-earned hearty sumo wrestler lunch.

Want to see and read more about fighting a sumo wrestler (and at the very least, laugh at our attempts)? Check out our post!

Fight a sumo in Tokyo
Fighting sumos in Japan

Visit temples

If you aren’t too exhausted from your morning match, take a leisurely wander through the streets of Asakusa towards Sensō-ji Temple. Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, dating back to 628, and one of Tokyo’s most photogenic. The charming alleys around the temple are also worth strolling through and stopping to try snacks along the way.

Must-visit temples of Tokyo

Watch a psychedelic Robot Show

A visit to Tokyo is not complete with a night filled with neon lights, pyrotechnics and…. dancing robots. Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku highlights the craziness of Japan that we all have heard about and loved. It’s pretty over-the-top and a little cheesy, but you will have a hard time trying not to smile or laugh at the amazing electronic cabaret show before your eyes.

For dinner, you are spoilt for choice, with ramen bars and my favourite chain: Co-Co Curry. You can easily find some good meals for under ¥1500.

To see a short video on Robot Restaurant and get links to discounted tickets, check out our Robot Restaurant Review.

Robot Restaurant is a must-see in Tokyo!
Robot Restaurant, Tokyo, Japan

Day 3

Hakone Day Trip and Hot Springs fun

If the hustle and bustle of Tokyo gets a little too much, then a relaxing day trip to Hakone will set you right. Only 2 hours from Tokyo, Hakone is home to some relaxing onsens (hot springs) and amazing views of Mount Fuji. You can take a boat ride out on Lake Ashi, visit the Hakone Shrine and unwind in one of the hot spring resorts. If you are after an onsen with a quirky twist, Yunessun Kowakien onsen park is a great place to visit. You can rotate between unique baths filled with wine, sake, coffee and more, enjoy some fun outdoor baths and slides or, for the traditionalist, relax in the traditional outdoor (read: naked) onsens. There is a restaurant at the attached hotel, but we found a really lovely soba restaurant beforehand by wandering from the train station through the town and over the bridge and stumbling upon Hatsuhana Soba Honten. Note: Japan have a pretty strict ‘no visible tattoos’ policy in a lot of onsens and it also applies to this onsen park.

Check out our post to find out how to get to Hakone and read about the unique Yunessun Kowakien onsen.

Yunessun onsen park

Check out the busiest street in Tokyo & Whiskey Alley

To fit two extremes in the one day, serene to hectic, head out for a fresh sushi dinner at Sushi Zanmai in Shibuya, cross the busiest street in Tokyo and finish with a night cap in Nonbei Alley – An ambient alley filled with tiny whiskey bars that can hold 5 people at a time (but that doesn’t stop the locals from squeezing more in for a raucous night out).

Visit Tokyo's busiest street
Nonbei Alley, Shibuya

Day 4

Hoon through the streets Mario-style

Let the big kid really let loose and spend your fourth day in Tokyo by go-karting through the streets, MarioKart style. MariCar offer 2 and 3 hour accompanied laps of Tokyo, dressed as your favourite cartoon character. This is the coolest way to see Tokyo and will leave you amazed that this is legal. It also turns you into the attraction, with many pedestrians stopping to take quick photos of you as you wait at the traffic lights.

Check out our video and post of MariCar here!

Shopping for interests

After a cheap lunch in one of the train station eateries, it’s time to flex your bank account. If you love cooking, make your way to Kitchen Street to pick up all the tools and utensils you need to create a Japanese feast at a bargain price. The important thing to note however, is that all the stores only accept cash, and the atms are few and far between (best bet is a 7eleven). If you prefer shopping for electronics, Akihabara or even Shinjuku have plenty to offer (we liked the electronic department stores) and if you want fashion, you can’t miss Harajuku, Shibuya and Ginza.

If you prefer more sightseeing, this is the perfect opportunity to visit the Imperial Palace and grounds. Conveniently located in the heart of Tokyo, the site has beautiful gardens, remains of the Edo castle and the Imperial Palace itself. For the history buffs, you can take organised tours to visit parts of the Imperial Palace.

And to top off the ultimate Tokyo itinerary, spend your last night enjoying the incredible neon views from one of the rooftop bars.

Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Where to stay in Tokyo

We loved staying in Shinjuku, as it is very central and well connected by the metro. Super Hotel Shinjuku Kabukicho was good value, with daily breakfast and cute amenities offered for free (for female guests). If you want a unique experience, book a night at Book and Bed Capsule Hotel. Japan is famous for capsule hotels, and this one has a unique bookish charm – not for the light sleepers of claustrophobics though! For something a little risqué, but not too naughty, Hotel & Spa An Shinjuku is for adults-only fun. The rooms are fitted out with a fancy bathroom, luxurious toiletries and even your own in-room karaoke! For more choices, check out booking.com

Book and Bed, Tokyo

How to get around

A JR Pass is great for travel throughout Japan and covers all JR operated trains (including the bullet train). Alternatively, Tokyo is well connected by the metro and is a ‘walkable’ city.

What to eat

Tokyo has no shortage of places to eat. Our picks are Co-Co Curry House, the crazy little Ramen places (you’ll know them when you see them) and and even convenience stores and train stations have excellent food that is reasonably priced. We’ve also written some delicious suggestions on What to Eat in Japan and even picked out some of the most Insta-worthy foods.

What do you think? Is this the ultimate Tokyo itinerary? What else would you add?

This post contains some affiliate links. Booking via these links won’t cost you any extra, but will help us to keep bringing you fun travel ideas and inspiration!

Want more travel inspiration?

The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary – For Big Kids!

  You think you know Tokyo, but you haven’t truly experienced the exuberance of Tokyo until you fight a sumo, eat rainbow spaghetti, watch robots dance, make your own udon noodles and go-kart through the streets in an adult-sized Mario onesie…. Tokyo is seriously a...

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun – Big kid fun outside Tokyo

Imagine bathing in a pool of sake, having buckets of it flung into your face while young people scream in glee around you. You might be tempted to think this is some sort of foam party with a bunch of university students, but it’s actually one of the many quirky...

MariCar – The Craziest Way to See Tokyo

There was chaos all around me. Colourful characters swerving and speeding through the streets of high-rise buildings and temples. Blinded by the neon lights and deafened by the roaring electronic soundtrack, I gathered all my focus towards pole position. Despite all...

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun – Big kid fun outside Tokyo

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun – Big kid fun outside Tokyo

Imagine bathing in a pool of sake, having buckets of it flung into your face while young people scream in glee around you.

You might be tempted to think this is some sort of foam party with a bunch of university students, but it’s actually one of the many quirky things that you will experience at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a short trip outside of Tokyo.

The Sake pool at Hakone Kawakien Yunessun

In the sake pool at Hakone Kawakien Yunessun!

Why visit Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

If you’re unfamiliar with Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, let me paint you a picture: it’s an aquatic playground (read water slides and outdoor hot springs), including pools filled with green tea, coffee, red wine, sake, etc. Yep, you read that right.

The town of Hakone is a famous tourist spot due to its natural hot springs. The Kowakien Yunessun (which includes the aquatic centre and nearby hotel) is located on a natural hot spring just outside  of Hakone, and also has an amazing onsen, or traditional Japanese bath house that you can visit. But be warned, the onsen is not for the shy and prudish – onsens traditionally require you to be nude, albeit with a tiny white towel for a degree of modesty (what good is a tiny bit of cloth?).

Which one would you try?

Hakone and the Kowakien Yunessun make for a great day trip from Tokyo and show you a little more of the traditional side of Japanese culture than you might find in Shinjuku or other suburbs of Tokyo.

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Start your engines! Maricar in Tokyo
Ling getting ready to race in MariCar

How to get to Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

There are various options to get to Hakone from Tokyo. For more information on your transport options to Hakone, check out this guide. We were based in Shinjuku during our trip to Japan, but these instructions will work from most stations in Tokyo with just a few amendments.

Our fearless leader explaining MariCar rules

These waters slides look pretty tranquil, but we both worked up a fair amount of steam coming down!

Step 1 – Using our Japan rail pass, we took a JR fast train from Shinagawa to Odawara (free with the JR pass!) and then purchased a separate pass for the Odakyo Railway line to Hakone (a couple of hundred Yen from memory).

Step 2 – Congratulations, you’ve made it to Hakone! Finally, after stopping for a quick couple of (hundred) sushi rolls, we jumped on a bus winding its way up into the mountains to get to the Yunessun (the bus will stop right outside). All up, it’s about 2 hours of travel time, which is really just enough time to thoroughly check Facebook and post some of the previous days photos to Instagram… 🙂

Looking for more things to do in Tokyo? Read about how you can Fight a Sumo here or drive through the streets of Tokyo in a go-kart!

Your other transport options include:

Option 2 – Fast route – for those willing to take a faster, more direct route, the Romance Car option could be the one for you. From Shinjuku station, you will catch an express train with a few limited stops to Hakone Yumoto station, which takes only 85 minutes and costs 2080 yen (not covered by JR Rail Pass). Then simply transfer to the Odakyu line and get the bus (i.e. follow step 2 above).

Overlooking the valley in the Yunessun's famous hot springs

Overlooking the valley in the Yunessun’s famous hot springs

 

Relax in the hot springs…

Once you have had your fun in the sake, coffee, both red and green tea pools and maxxed out on the waterslides, head up the stairs to the natural hot springs which overlook the valley below. The hot springs have been visited by Japanese for centuries and when we were there, the springs themselves were practically deserted and we pretty much had them to ourselves.

The great thing about Kowakien Yunessun, is that you get to experience both the water park fun and relax in the hot springs, all in the one place. Be sure to also visit the Mori No Yu section of the main building – the traditional (read: naked) onsen which has several baths, pools and springs set in an amazing Japanese garden.

Note: Most Japanese onsens usually have a strict ‘no visible tattoos’ policy, and unfortunately this applies at Yunessun and Mori No Yu.

Conclusion

Hakone surprised us. It wasn’t just the way having a Japanese staff member spray a bucket of coffee water in our faces made us feel (yes, that really happened). No, it was far deeper than that. The Hakone Kawakien Yunessun has that perfect mix of fun and relaxation in both a modern and traditional setting. Enjoy!

Want more travel inspiration?

The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary – For Big Kids!

  You think you know Tokyo, but you haven’t truly experienced the exuberance of Tokyo until you fight a sumo, eat rainbow spaghetti, watch robots dance, make your own udon noodles and go-kart through the streets in an adult-sized Mario onesie…. Tokyo is seriously a...

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun – Big kid fun outside Tokyo

Imagine bathing in a pool of sake, having buckets of it flung into your face while young people scream in glee around you. You might be tempted to think this is some sort of foam party with a bunch of university students, but it’s actually one of the many quirky...

MariCar – The Craziest Way to See Tokyo

There was chaos all around me. Colourful characters swerving and speeding through the streets of high-rise buildings and temples. Blinded by the neon lights and deafened by the roaring electronic soundtrack, I gathered all my focus towards pole position. Despite all...

MariCar – The Craziest Way to See Tokyo

MariCar – The Craziest Way to See Tokyo

There was chaos all around me. Colourful characters swerving and speeding through the streets of high-rise buildings and temples. Blinded by the neon lights and deafened by the roaring electronic soundtrack, I gathered all my focus towards pole position. Despite all the chaos and commotion, I remained calm. I was driven by the will to win. The finish line was mine for the taking. As I swerved and drifted around an incoming banana peel, I took a deep breath, aimed and fired a turtle shell at my opponent in front of me, sending him flying up into the air.

MariCar on the streets of Tokyo, Japan

MariCar – Tokyo’s crazy real-life Mario Kart

Ok, so that’s not exactly how it went down, but the adrenaline, excitement and craziness of driving a small go-kart through the streets of Tokyo, dressed in a Mario character onesie is nothing short of exhilarating. When I first heard about MariCar I thought it would be a fun and quirky experience to wrap up our amazing trip to Japan. I assumed that there would be some kind of cut-off section of the roads or footpaths where we would have somewhat of a token drive. I was wrong. Apart from the character costumes you can wear, there is nothing fantasy or token about it. You will drive a real, modified-for-road go-kart and you will drive it on the road, with all the rest of the traffic in Tokyo.

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Start your engines! Maricar in Tokyo
Ling getting ready to race in MariCar

That sounds dangerous?

By our road standards, it probably is. However, MariCar operate in line with the law and they are strict when it comes to Licences (you MUST present a valid International Licence, issued from your country of residence, to participate). Rest assured, we get taken through safety instructions, (which included, “Don’t hit the other cars”, “Don’t beep your horn unnecessarily”, “Follow the road rules like a normal driver” and “Follow my lead”), however it’s still pretty hard to believe this is actually allowed.

Our fearless leader explaining MariCar rules

Trying to avoid being hit by a merging bus or truck whilst driving 50kms an hour over a bridge really puts your vulnerability into perspective…. and it is brilliant for the adrenaline junkies. Whilst we had no issues, there have been a number of accidents – including go-karts crashing on top of another and others hitting parked cars and police boxes. These incidents have prompted concern from police and the government, even with talks of closing it down (but luckily for us, business is going strong and we got to do it!).

MariCar is a crazy way to see Tokyo
Go-karting with traffic in Tokyo Japan

If driving down the streets of Tokyo on a go-kart and dressed as a cartoon character excites you, how about fighting a sumo dressed in a sumo suit? Read about how you can Fight a Sumo here!

Make no mistake, this is NOT Mario Kart

After being taken to court in February 2017 by Nintendo, the owners have been quite adamant that this is not a copy of Mario Kart, but it’s hard not to find the similarities, especially when you see Mario, Luigi, Toad and Yoshi zoom down the street in go-karts. The owners of MariCar actually won the court case and can still operate, despite Nintendo’s attempts to shut them down. They do have a disclaimer on their website (which I found amusing), including the following:

  1. No racing each other on the streets.
  2. Do not throw banana peals or any other garbage on to the streets.
  3. Do not throw red turtle shells or any other objects to each other.
MariCar in Tokyo, Japan

So what’s MariCar actually like?

All joking aside, MariCar is super fun. When we rocked up to the storefront in Akihabara, we were handed forms to sign and directed to pick a character onesie from the huge selection. The store was abuzz with excited millennials, ready to race. Lockers are provided and if you want to hire go-pros and accessories, there is the option for that also. Once dressed, we were divided into small groups and went through the safety spiel with our fearless leader, before we headed to our go-karts.

Dress as your favourite hero with MariCar

A few practice revs, blinker tests and beeps later, and we were ready to hit the road… literally! It is quite surreal driving on the road in a small 50cc go-kart. You are lower to the ground and there is not much between you and the cars around you. Thankfully, drivers in Japan are sensible, so we didn’t have much to worry about. We followed the signals of our leader to slow down, speed up and drive in single or double file. The go-karts tend to embellish every bump and vibration on the road, so it was a nice relief to have a short pit stop at Odaiba and take the obligatory selfie and enjoy the wonderful views of the Rainbow Bridge and the Statue of Liberty replica.

MariCar's Pitt stop in Tokyo

But, a man (or woman) has got to ride, so back on the road we went! These babies are small, but still pack a punch. We almost hit 60kms/hr at some stages and really felt the adrenaline rush. In a city of 13 million people, we quickly became the attraction for tourists and locals alike, with many people waving at us from passing buses and even stopping in the middle of crossings to take photos of us. Every time we stopped at the lights, Guy and I would laugh in amusement at how crazy this actually was (and wonder how it could be legal!). All in all, it was an exhilarating experience and one we would definitely do again next time we are in Japan!

MariCar in the streets of Tokyo
Dress as your favourite character with MariCar Japan!

What more crazy things to see in Tokyo, Japan? Why not check out Robot Restaurant!?!

The deets

Where: Maricar operate from a few sites in Tokyo and Osaka. You can find details of their stores on their website.

When: MariCar offer a number of 2-hour and 3-hour laps around the city throughout the day and evening. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date times and to make a booking.

Cost: Prices start from ¥8,000

Important!

If this sounds like something you MUST do when in Japan, make sure you have your International Drivers’ Licence organised. They won’t let you participate if you don’t have one (and you have to organise it before you go to Japan).

Dressing up as characters with MariCar Japan
Ling and Guy doing MariCar in Tokyo

What do you think? Crazy, or a MUST-DO in Japan? But more importantly, what character would you dress up as? 

Let us know in the comments below!

Want more travel inspiration?

The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary – For Big Kids!

  You think you know Tokyo, but you haven’t truly experienced the exuberance of Tokyo until you fight a sumo, eat rainbow spaghetti, watch robots dance, make your own udon noodles and go-kart through the streets in an adult-sized Mario onesie…. Tokyo is seriously a...

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun – Big kid fun outside Tokyo

Imagine bathing in a pool of sake, having buckets of it flung into your face while young people scream in glee around you. You might be tempted to think this is some sort of foam party with a bunch of university students, but it’s actually one of the many quirky...

MariCar – The Craziest Way to See Tokyo

There was chaos all around me. Colourful characters swerving and speeding through the streets of high-rise buildings and temples. Blinded by the neon lights and deafened by the roaring electronic soundtrack, I gathered all my focus towards pole position. Despite all...

How to travel light for two weeks in a carry-on [Packing tips and Cabin Zero backpack review]

How to travel light for two weeks in a carry-on [Packing tips and Cabin Zero backpack review]

I hate wandering through beautiful European streets, Asia’s packed markets or the concrete jungles of America while dragging around overloaded suitcases.

So on a recent trip to Japan we attempted to go for two weeks in just a carry-on with what we now believe is the BEST travel backpack. And it WORKED.

Magical sunsets Raja Ampat

How to pack for a trip (and how most people actually do)

When space is limited and comfort is at a premium, a strategy is a must. No emotion here, just cold hard prioritisation. This is what I found helpful.

Break down what you need into categories:

      • Underwear and socks
      • Daily outfits (preferably using jeans/pants/skirt as a base with rotating shirts, etc)
      • Sleeping gear (where possible save space, sleep in the nude, though not recommended for hostel dorm stays)
      • Swimming gear
      • Coats and cold-weather gear (wear these on the plane where possible)
      • Toiletries
      • Shoes (as few as you need for the activities you need to do)

Rule number 1 – Folding is out, rolling is in.

Rolling your clothes reduces the overall footprint of the stack of clothes and when every millimetre counts, this can really pay dividends. This works particularly well for t-shirts, shorts, dresses but not so much for thick denim jeans, continue to lay these ones flat.

Rule number 2 –   Using all available space

You would probably be surprised by how much extra you can fit inside you’re the little nooks and crannies when packing a bag. A tip we always use is to stuff socks, belts, etc into shoes within your bag. Also look to use the space in between your rolls – there will generally be decent space both above and below where the rolls will meet for you to stuff smaller items.

Rule number 3 – Bundle like items together

Taking shirts for example, they are all generally the same size, mostly the same shape, etc. So it makes sense to lay them out together, roll them up and pack them as one rather than rolling a mixture of jeans, skirts, shirts, and jackets. This will also make it easier when you need to get straight to something as you will know exactly where in which roll to find them.

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Paradise in Raja Ampat
Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

Choosing the right backpack for travel

How do you choose the best backpack for travel? Here are a few thoughts on the issue:

    • Durability – If you’re going half way around the world, then you’ll want to make sure that the bag you trust with your belongings is tough enough to take the hits on the road. Ideally, I look for large zippers, strong handles and straps (look at the stitching for this), and materials that won’t mark too easily.
    • Style – Because we are the millennial generation, ok?
    • Space – Must be able to fit enough stuff but still be able to get through most airline carry-on size checks (more on this below)
    • Wearability – Personally, I prefer to carry my bags on my back as it leaves my hand free and I hate, HATE carrying suitcases up or down staircases. Padded, adjustable shoulder straps are a must and I like travel backpacks that allow for some air to get to the small of your back as well.

When we got our hands on two of Cabin Zero’s most stylish travel bags, we decided to put them to test. We compared the Urban 42L and the Classic 44L styles during two weeks, 5 hotels, 4 flights, numerous trains and a bus trip through Japan. 

THESE BAGS ARE THE BEST TRAVEL BACKPACKS THAT WE HAVE FOUND!

I used the Urban and Kim-Ling took the Classic for our trip. First up, they are beautiful but in very different ways.

See our quick-look comparison between the Urban and Classic below!

The Urban 42L

For me, the Urban was the perfect mix of stylish, harwearing, waterproof (it was absolutely fine in the rain) and really easy to carry around with both a small side handle, slign shoulder strap AND traditional back straps. I was able to fit all of my clothers for 2 weeks in Japan in the Urban, AS WELL AS my laptop bag with laptop and GoPros x 2. I can’t rate it highly enough and you wouldn’t look out of place strolling down the coolest avenues of the world, including Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Broadway in New York or Shinjuku in Tokyo.

Raja Ampat sunsets

The Classic 44L

For Kim-ling, she LOVED the Classic. Not only because it was super lightweight, but because it came in a range of bright colours, including her favourite – purple. We wore it all around Tokyo, on and off trains, etc and it worked perfectly. Easy to wear, nicely distributing the weight across the shoulders and with a really useful front pocket to store some of the essentials. The beauty of the Classic is that it is has many useful pockets and the interior compartment setup is a little better suited to travel in our opinion.

I choose happiness

If you want to check out more of Japan, be sure to check out things to do before your trip to Japan or how to fight a sumo.

The key question that we had when they first arrived was: Will the CabinZero fit in carry on? My first impression was no, it just looked like a pretty big backpack and I have to admit, I had my doubts.

But the answer is yes, yes it will! We’ve done some digging, and from our own experience and that of other bloggers and travellers, the Classic 44L will fit into carry on with even the most obnoxious of airlines (you know who I’m talking about). We personally used it on ANA, Qantas and Jetstar without any problems whatsoever.

What is it like to travel for two weeks in a carry on?

To be honest, I loved it. I had just what I needed and literally nothing more. It made getting around Tokyo subway stations that much easier and quicker, particularly when running for trains (this happened often) or getting lost for an hour (only once).

It’s also great to have the peace of mind that IF you happen to misplace your Cabin Zero bag, they all have their unique Okoban identifier code that makes it easier to track down (provided you create an account and register your bag).

Conclusion

For us and our style of travel, these bags just worked so well and allowed us to travel through Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa for two weeks living out of just a carry on bag. The Urban is now my go to travel bag for anything longer than a few days, while Kim-Ling has used the Classic for everything from weekend trips to longer holidays.

If you’re looking for a versatile, roomy and stylish travel bag, we highly recommend the CabinZero Urban or Classic. Enjoy!

What are your best travel packing tips? Could you travel for up to two weeks with just a carry on?

Please leave a comment below!

A huge thanks to the guys at Cabin Zero for providing us with the Urban and Classic bags for our review. All views remain our own, of course. 

This post contains some affiliate links. Booking via these links won’t cost you any extra, but will help us continue to bring you the best in travel content, so thank you in advance!

Robot Restaurant Review

Robot Restaurant Review

If you didn’t think the neon lights of Tokyo could shine any brighter, then you haven’t been to Robot Restaurant. You can see the neon signs, wrapped around the building from a block away. Like a magnet, Robot Restaurant draws all the curious explorers in, with its catchy theme song (that’s right, there’s a theme song and it WILL get stuck in your head!) blaring from the speakers, colourful lights flashing and lighting up the street, oh and the huge fembots proudly displayed at the front.

Nightlife in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
What to see in Tokyo

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Robot Restaurant Tokyo review
Fembots at Robot Restaurant

What is Robot Restaurant?

If you are in Shinjuku, it’s hard to miss Robot Restaurant. The best way to describe Robot Restaurant is a cabaret show on LSD; 90 minutes (including intervals) of short 5-minute acts filled with dancing, singing, theatrics, laser lights and pyrotechnics.

Singing, dancing and theatrics at Robot Restaurant

Prefer to watch a video of the craziness that is Robot Restaurant? Check out our video on YouTube! Don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more travel inspiration!

Opened in 2012, Robot Restaurant was originally created as a fun show for where locals can let down their hair. It didn’t take long to become a popular tourist attraction, and now attracts foreign visitors every night. Apparently the owner spent US$100 million on fit out, which is hard to put into words (nevertheless, money well spent, judging by the sell-out crowds!). The stairwells and “waiting room” are a spectacle in their own right and will intrigue all who enter. I’m talking over-the-top bling with futuristic elements and crazy pyschodelic stairwells that entice the audience to the stage underground. I felt like we had stepped into some crazy world of Willy Wonka, but with robots instead of candy.

The coolest waiting room you'll ever visit - Robot Restaurant
Even the walls are funky at Robot Restaurant, Tokyo
Dancers at Robot Restaurant, Japan

The craziest concert you will ever see

As soon as we booked our tickets to Japan, I knew we HAD to go see Robot Restaurant – and I wasn’t disappointed. Robot Restaurant is unlike any other show we’ve ever seen. It’s all the crazy stuff I love about Japan, wrapped into one colourful and eccentric package. The audience is seated in three tiers on two sides of a narrow room. It’s great, as no matter what row you are in, you will have a great view of the action. The seats are set in twos, joined by a small table, where you can store your drinks, popcorn and bento boxes (all at an extra cost).

Robots and lasers at Robot Restaurant, Japan
Robot Restaurant review - Tokyo, Japan

The performances range from mini rock concerts to theatrical robot wars. The singers and dancers have so much energy (I want whatever they’re having!) and the costumes are something out of a teenage boy’s manga dream. You can expect to see impressive robotic floats of sharks, dinosaurs, snakes and futuristic unicorns. Pyrotechnics and laser beams light up the space, and there’s even a dance number that I’m sure was inspired by Daft Punk.

It's all fun and games until someone is eaten by a Robot

Want to do other crazy things in Tokyo? Why not Fight a Sumo? Read about it here!

Crazy things to see in Tokyo, Japan
Electric performances at Robot Restaurant, Tokyo

It’s a Restaurant, so what about the food?

To be honest, people don’t generally come here for the food. Considering there are so many amazing foods on offer nearby, we decided to skip the food and just indulged in some show drinks and popcorn instead. I think I spotted one couple with the bento box, but it’s quite hard to truly enjoy the food, when you are distracted by the awesome spectacle going on right in front of you.

Robot Restaurant Review, Tokyo, Japan

Speaking of food, why not try making your own Udon Noodles? Read our recipe here!

The dancers at Robot Restaurant are full of energy

Why go?

Unlike many of the themed cafes and restaurants in Japan, Robot Restaurant stood out as a ‘must-do’ for us. Granted, the tickets aren’t as cheap as many of the entry fees for other themed places, but you get 90-minutes of an exhilarating, well-produced show. It’s over the top, tourisy and a little cheesy at times, but that’s part of its charm! It combines all the craziness you expect from Japan, right in the centre of Tokyo electrifying nightlife.

Taiko performances at Robot Restaurant

The details

Robot Restaurant is located in Shinjuku: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo,Japan. It’s pretty hard to miss, with the bright neon signage out the front (you will likely hear it before you see it too!).

There are up to four shows per day at 4PM, 5:55pm, 7:50pm and 9:45pm. See the website for up-to-date times. Note that you have to be there 40 minutes before the show to pick up the tickets (and there’s normally a decent line).

Tickets are ¥8,000 per person, however we’ve teamed up with G’Day Japan to offer all of our readers discounted tickets here!  We recommend booking in advance, as the shows often sell out.

Colourful performances at Robot Restaurant
Robot Restaurant is a must-see in Tokyo, Japan
Robot Restaurant performances, Tokyo, Japan

Have you been to Robot Restaurant? What did you think? Is this the kind of crazy thing you’d love to see in Japan? Comment below!

A huge thanks to Robot Restaurant and G’Day Japan for an awesome night! As always, our opinions are our own.

The Ultimate way to explore Kyoto… in a Kimono

The Ultimate way to explore Kyoto… in a Kimono

Couples who kimono together, stay together, right?

Kyoto is known for its exquisite temples and beautifully adorned geishas, dressed in colourful kimonos and yukatas (a lighter and cooler version of the kimono for summer). It also happens to be somewhere where it’s completely normal for tourists to dress up in said kimonos and yukatas and wander the city. Not one to ever turn down an opportunity to play dress up, I was excited to be made over by Kyoto Kimono Wargo in a yukata and walk the walk, clogs and all!

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Kimono love in Kyoto
What to do in Kyoto

Seeing the sights and being the sights in Kyoto

Although somewhat gimmicky, renting a kimono, or in our case a yukata, and doing sightseeing is a fun way to explore Kyoto. It gave us the opportunity to really embrace a part of Japanese culture. There is something undeniably romantic about wandering through picturesque streets, lined with traditional wooden merchant houses in full Japanese dress-up. It’s a perfect way to immersive yourself and find a connection to the place. And before you know it, you are part of the sights, and for many passers by, the perfect feature in their keepsake Kyoto photos.

Kyoto kimono photos

Heading to Japan soon?

Check out our checklist of things to do before you go!

Where to hire a Kimono / Yukata

Kyoto Kimono Wargo conveniently have nine stores spotted around Kyoto, and also stores in Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa and Kanazawa. We visited the Gion store in Kyoto, as it was only a 5-minute walk from where we were staying. It also happens to be located near Hanamikoji Dori, one of the prettiest streets in Kyoto (and Geisha central).

Colourful yukatas in Kyoto

Kyoto Kimono Wargo

Walking inside, we are greeted by very friendly staff and shown to the racks of colourful yukatas. Suddenly I was engulfed in a textile rainbow of colour and floral patterns. After choosing a yukata, we are presented with an array of bright obi (the fabric belt) and accessories before being taken to our change rooms to be dressed.

Kyoto Kimono Wargo Gion
Hiring kimonos and accessories in Kyoto
Kimono packages in Kyoto, Japan
Renting a yukata in Kyoto, Japan

Wearing the Yukata

There’s actually quite a bit to wearing a kimono or yukata, with layers of undergarments and special ways of tying everything together. I was wrapped with padding around my stomach (like I needed more!) and a frame before the yukata was added and the obi was meticulously tied in a way to look like a work of art. It felt like I was being wrapped up as a present with the bow on top!

Dressing up in Kyoto

Hair Styling

Then comes the hair styling. You can opt for a hairstyle as an extra, and if you want the full experience, it’s worth it. There are plenty of intricate styles to choose from, and the stylist whipped up something gorgeous in a matter of minutes!

Hairstyle options in kimono rental
Yukata and Kimono packages, Kyoto

Package options

Kyoto Kimono Wargo provide a variety of options to cater to different budgets and tastes, starting from only ¥2,500 (online price). We opted for the Couples Premium Yukata (with the Premium Hairdo as an extra) and really enjoyed the experience. Each yukata plan includes the Yukata, Obi (belt), Kincyaku (bag) and Geta (thongs/clogs).

Rental packages for yukata and kimono
Step out in style in a yukata
The thing I loved about Kyoto Kimono Wargo is that you can return the clothes at any time before the store closes, so you can really make the most of wearing the yukatas around town… which we did…
Riding pubic transport in a yukata be like...
Where to visit in Kyoto
Sightseeing in Kyoto in kimonos
Dressing up in Kyoto
We caught a bus out to Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) and walked through the beautiful grounds before heading back to Nishiki Market for lunch. Then we spent the rest of the day wandering through the picturesque streets of Gion at leisure, but not before taking some fun photos…
Who else loves Kyoto?
Sightseeing in Gion, Kyoto
Exploring the Gion district, Kyoto

Is it comfy?

Honestly, it was comfier than I expected. It was a steamy summer day in Kyoto and the yukatas were light and breathable. We also did A LOT of walking, so our feet were sore by the end of the day (but whether or not it was from wearing the Geta, or just the 24,000 steps we did, I can’t say).

 

Japan has some of THE tastiest food!

Here’s what to eat when you are there!

We saw so many tourists dress up in kimonos and yukatas when we were in Kyoto, almost to the point that tourists stood out more if they weren’t dressed up! It’s especially fun to do as a couple or group of friends. I mean, nothing says ‘I love you’ more than dressing up in couples kimonos and spending a day exploring Kyoto’s beautiful sites and having a bit of fun along the way. If you are in Kyoto and want to really treat yourself to a cultural experience, check out Kyoto Kimono Wargo.

The ultimate way to explore Kyoto
Kimono rental in Kyoto, Japan
Exploring Kyoto in a kimono

Would you dress up in traditional costume and explore a city? Tell us below!

A warm thank you to Kyoto Kimono Wargo for dressing us up for the day. As always, our opinions and cheesy photos are our own.

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