Early morning outings in Central Tokyo?
September 26, 2014 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Difficulty level: no giant tuna auctions. Help me make the most of my free weekday morning in Tokyo! I travel to Japan once or twice a year for work - yay! I never get any free time to do anything - boo!

For my next trip (mid-November), I have managed an early evening return flight, and am very happy about it. I plan to do some extremely intense shopping before I head to the airport. But, the shops don't open until 10-11ish, and I'll be jetlagged and up by 5:30 or so. I'd like to find some kind of outing (temple? really awesome breakfast place? Um, early morning river cruise?) to do a little exploring for me and an opportunity to show my colleagues around. I speak Japanese and am able to navigate easily. Ideally we'd find something accessible to our Hibiya-area hotel, and open between 7-10ish in the morning.

I've lived in Tokyo in the past and have done many of the tourist things, but would be happy with any suggestions. The only thing I can think of is Mejii Jingu, which is awesome, but I have been there so many times. Let me stop you right now and say that I have no interest in Tsukiji - too crowded, too early, too touristy, plus I've been there already! I really love the city and want to make the most of my extremely limited time. Thank you!
posted by chocotaco to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In my experience (I don't live in Tokyo) Tokyo isn't really an early-rising city. When I have arrived in Ueno or wherever on the overnight highway bus, I have stayed at a "sauna" for a few hours. You get changed into a robe or pyjamas and leave your stuff in a locker. You can have a shower and a bath, and there is typically a common room where you can order comfort food and watch tv. You can also snooze in a recliner in a quiet room.

It would definitely be a unique experience.

Besides that, I would be tempted to walk from Hibiya to Shinjuku, just to say I've done it. I like to walk in the early morning for exercise and relaxation, and walking is an excellent way to not only notice details of your surroundings, but also to create lasting memories. There's something about the slower, meditative pace of walking that seems to affect memory.

Walking from Hibiya to Shinjuku Station would take just over an hour. There are a number of parks and green spaces between Hibiya and Shinjuku, and you would pass the Imperial Palace, Bancho, and the National Diet Building .

Once you got to Shinjuku it would still be just early enough to beat the rush hour crowds and grab a coffee at Starbucks at Takashimaya Times Square.

You would probably have to wait around until after 9 to take the subway back to Hibiya, or perhaps you could do something in Shinjuku (although I doubt anything will be open at 10am).

As an alternate, you could take the subway to Shinjuku and walk back to your hotel. That way you would avoid the rush hour crowds and have a place to rest at the end of your destination before you plan the rest of your day.
posted by Nevin at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Honestly, Tokyo is not an early rising town. I was really shocked when I lived there and there was nothing to do early in the morning besides walk the neighborhoods or visit shrines. (Speaking of which, there are lots of huge shrines and temples to visit, not just Meiji-jingu, but Sensoji-Kannon in Asakusa or even Yanaka Bochi, which is beautiful very early in the morning.)

Two activities near my old neighborhood might work though:

If you're willing to travel a bit, it might be fun to go and visit sumo stables in Ryogoku to watch training. They start hellishly early, though, like five a.m.. Call ahead, bring a gift.

Tokyo Sky Tree is also open from 8 a.m., but again, a bit of a trip to/from Hibiya--but it does put you nearer Ginza, where the best shopping is!
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 11:27 AM on September 26, 2014

Best answer: The best I can come up with is the Sky Tree, open at 8 AM. It's the earliest opening of all the high-up places in Tokyo (earlier than Tokyo Tower, Marunouchi Building and the government building) and if you get clear skies there would be a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji. And the sunrise shining on Tokyo (the sun rises on the opposite side). It's close enough to walk from Sensoji and you can go a little along the river. Also close to Sensoji, there's a public bike rental place (200ish yen for a day, Tsukuba Express Station, open 6 AM). You could bike from there down along the Sumida to Tsukishima. Being a traditional shitamachi kind of place it would have a nice morning feeling. You can get to the Arakawa river from there, which has good biking along most of its length.

All of the famous breakfast places are over in Shibuya/Aoyama. I've never been to them, but places like Bills sound like they do excellent Western breakfasts with Japanese attention to detail. It seems that pancakes are a thing now too. Johnathan's do standard family restaurant breakfasts (I like em) and Komeda Coffee has a famous "morning set". Time Out Tokyo has a list of morning places too.

Apart from that, Rajio Taisou?
posted by nevan at 11:32 AM on September 26, 2014

Response by poster: Rajio Taisou would be hilarious, but my coworkers would be unlikely to see the appeal.... I'm thinking either the SkyTree (if we can get tickets? They want a Japanese credit card for reservations....) plus Sensouji or just a long walk as Nevin suggests would work. It seems like there may be a business opportunity for somebody in doing early morning Tokyo tours - I know the hotel is always filled with jet lagged Americans.

nevan, I am also really excited about the breakfast options, although I'm not sure if we'll manage to squeeze it in. I was always meaning to find Japanese American-style breakfast, since breakfast is my favorite of all meals.

Thank you!
posted by chocotaco at 7:13 PM on September 26, 2014

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