Monday, January 13, 2020

Tokyo Sights Using the Toei 1-Day Pass

What's a Toei 1-Day Pass?
A Toei 1-Day Pass is a pass that can be used for unlimited rides on the Toei Subway, Toei Bus (including Tama area), Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line), and Nippori-Toneri Liner. And it only costs 700 yen.

What are the places to visit using the Toei 1-Day Pass?
There are many places to see in Tokyo that can be reached using the Toei Subway, Toei Bus, and the other lines covered by the Toei 1-Day Pass. But you cannot visit all of them in just one day. Or at least I can't (I am too old for Amazing Race type of trips). Below are some places we went to that are just a stop or two or three (on the Toei Subway) from each other.

Tsukiji Outer Market
5AM to 2PM, varies by shop
Closed on Sundays
Nearest Toei Station: Tsukijishijo Station

I never got to visit and observe the tuna auctions in Tsukiji. Now that this famous tuna action has been moved to Toyosu Market, is there anything to see in Tsukiji? There is still the Tsukiji Outer Market with lots of seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, wasabi, mochi, candied strawberries, and other goodies to empty your wallets for and stuff yourself with.

We visited Tsukiji Outer Market in the morning for some fresh seafood for breakfast. We picked a random eatery in one of the alleys in the market and had a meal of baked mackerel with rice and soup, different kinds of sashimi in a bowl of rice (called kaisen don), and a bowl of seared seafood with rice. Good stuff. But we saw so many other good stuff after breakfast that we just had to make room for desserts: different flavors of mochi with fresh strawberry, sticks of warabimochi (very soft, jelly-like mochi), and juicy king crab (if you can consider that dessert)!

By the time we left, Tsukiji Outer Market was crawling with people, tourists and locals alike. The most interesting of them all was the Japanese shopper with a small owl on his shoulder. (Are owls a thing in Tokyo? It's the third owl I've seen in this metropolis! One was a big white owl on the arm of a girl advertising an owl cafe somewhere in Asakusa, and the other one was a brown sleepy one in our hostel, Hostel Owl Tokyo Nippori.)

Baked Mackerel Set (1000 yen)

Kaisen Don (1500 yen) and Seared bowl (1300 yen)

Hama-rikyu Garden
Daily 9AM to 5PM
Admission fee: 300 yen
Nearest Toei Station: Shiodome Station

Hama-rikyu Garden was the family garden of the Tokugawa Shogun. In later years, it became the Detached Palace of the Imperial Family. And in 1945, the garden was donated to the City of Tokyo.

An interesting feature of the garden is its seawater pond called Shioire-no-ike. The water is drawn from Tokyo Bay, right on the eastern side of Hama-rikyu Garden. The water level in the pond changes with the tides of Tokyo Bay. I read that the pond is home to some sea bass and eel. Too bad I didn't think to go look for fish in the pond. The garden also has three teahouses. Nakajima-no-ochaya, right above the water, is open to the public, and guests can enjoy the view while sipping green tea and nibbling sweets (for a fee). The other two teahouses are reconstructions of teahouses from the early 1800s.

We went to Hama-rikyu Garden on a cloudy afternoon. A few minutes into our visit, it started drizzling. We pushed on, praying the clouds wouldn't burst into a heavy downpour. We got to see the pretty trees and the calm pond in the muted light of the dying day, accented by the glowing windows of the surrounding tall buildings. The large raindrops came just as the garden was closing.

Matsu-no-ochaya (Pine teahouse)

Shioiri-no-ike (pond) and Najakima-no-ochaya (teahouse)

Daily 10AM to 830PM
Admission fee: 620 yen
Nearest Toei Station: Daimon Station

The Seaside Top Observatory is on the 40th floor of the World Trade Center Building. The observatory offers an almost 360-degree view at 152 meters above ground. Almost, because on one side all I could see are the glass windows of the building next door. Thankfully, this building does not obstruct the most important view: the Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower can be seen on the northwest corner of the observatory, and, not surprisingly, that's where all the visitors were gathered on the night I visited (and I bet every night as well). The Tokyo Skytree can also be seen on the northeast side, but it's teeny tiny from here.

Tokyo skyline and the Tokyo Tower looking like a Haribo gummy

Nearest Toei Station: Otemachi Station

When my friend suggested we eat at Tokyo Ramen Street, I imagined a street near Tokyo Station crammed with ramen shops. Just my imagination indeed. Tokyo Ramen Street is inside Tokyo Station! This "street" is on the basement of Tokyo Station and is a block composed of eight ramen restaurants. The first one we saw had a really long line. It must be really good. But we were too hungry to wait, and we picked one with a shorter queue (our quick Google search told us all the shops here were worth a try anyway).

We settled ourselves in Oreshiki Jun 俺式, where the specialty is tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen. We ordered their recommendation: tonkotsu ramen with all toppings! Slurp-licious ramen! Not a drop was left in our bowls!

Orishiki Jun's tonkotsu ramen with all toppings (1100 yen)

Other places to go to that are also near the sites mentioned above:
  • Ginza
    • Nearest Toei Station: Higashi-Ginza Station
  • East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
    • Nearest Toei Station: Otemachi Station
    • The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station where Tokyo Ramen Street is
  • Zojoji Temple
    • Nearest Toei Stations: Shibakoen Station and Akabanebashi Station
    • If you're coming from Seaside Top Observatory, Akabanebashi Station is just one stop away.
  • Tokyo Tower
    • Nearest Toei Station: Akabanebashi Station
    • If you're coming from Seaside Top Observatory, Akabanebashi Station is just one stop away.
Tokyo Tower
Was the Toei 1-Day Pass worth it?
The minimum fare on the Toei Subway is 180 yen. With at least four rides, you can get your money's worth!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Sa May Kanto (2019)
Pocket WiFi: Japan Wireless
Keisei Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Tickets
Tokyo Accommodations: Oak Hostel Fuji, Hostel Owl Tokyo Nippori, Centurion Ladies Hostel  Ueno Park
Food for the Eyes and Food for the Mouth at Asakusa
A Day at Ueno Park
Tokyo Sights Using the Toei 1-Day Pass (you're here!)
Teamlab Borderless
Escape to Mount Takao

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