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  1. Japan
  2. Tokyo
  3. Akihabara

Tokyo: New York Times Journeys Afternoon Walking Tour

Product ID: 186909
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Take a trip into The New York Times’ much-loved 36 Hours travel column in one day. Explore the highlights and hidden quirks of Japan’s neon-lit capital. See the Ghost Station, meet a robot, and find out about the Japanese craft beer boom.
About this activity
Duration 4 hours
Printed or mobile voucher accepted
Instant confirmation
Live tour guide
English
Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts

Select participants and date:

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Experience

Highlights
  • Marvel at how the megacity of Tokyo finds new, innovative uses for old buildings to adapt to the constant challenge of a lack of space
  • Explore a historic train station, known as the Ghost Station, and admire the preservation of its old history amid a modern regeneration project
  • Taste 3 craft beers at a brewery alongside some scrumptious local snacks
  • Discover arts venues that are repurposed schools, and see the latest statue of Godzilla
  • Interact in English with the robot Pepper, which has the ability to detect human emotions
Full description
Discover Tokyo's many faces on this small group walking tour with a maximum of 8 participants. Go behind-the-scenes, experience hands-on elements, and interact with locals with New York Times exclusives. Dive into the worlds of craft beer, building regeneration, artisanal products, robotics, and, of course, Godzilla.

Begin your tour in Tokyo’s electronics heartland, known as Electric Town, at the J.R. Akihabara railway station. Stroll through the frenetic, neon-lit streets to nearby Manseibashi Station, and stop to discuss and admire how the city has cleverly repurposed many of its old buildings. Learn how the original station was destroyed by an earthquake in 1923, earned the spooky nickname “The Ghost Station” after its closure in 1943, and was then regenerated in 2013 into a quirky shopping mall where trains still regularly pass through.

Next, head toward the Hitachino Brewing Lab to find out more about the Japanese craft beer boom. This historic company has been making sake since the early 19th century and started making beer in 1994. Taste some of the 10 craft beers that are available on tap, paired with some delicious local snacks, and chat to the brewery staff about how their beer is made.

Follow your beer tasting with a walk through the larger-than-life Akihabara neighborhood, and admire the buildings' riot of color and proud displays of anime images almost everywhere you go. Arrive at 2K540 Aki-Oka Artisan, an urban space under the train tracks that used to be a car park but is now home to 50 shops and cafes focusing on artisan products from across Japan. Have some time to peruse for meaningful souvenirs to take home.

Then, make a stop at Nocra, which is renowned for its lifelike wooden toys from the north of Japan. Spend time chatting to the shop manager about their products, the unusual space, and their admirable aim to not waste anything by shrewdly using the wood scraps left over from furniture.

Just around the corner, learn how Japan is coping with its dwindling population at your next stop, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, a junior high school transformed into an arts center featuring galleries, creative space, a cafe, shops, and a rooftop organic garden due to a drop in Japan’s youth population. Rather charmingly, its name is a numeric rendering of a traditional hand clap used to share happiness and ease stress.

Journey into the high-tech world of robotics by finding out about Aldebaran Akihabara with Softbank, a robot software development company housed at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Meet the company's most famous robot, Pepper, which has been painstakingly designed to help everyday people conduct everyday tasks. Remarkably (or creepily, depending on your point of view), Pepper has the ability to detect human emotions and react to them. Spend some time with Pepper, learn about the processes that go into developing these high-tech robots, and interact with them in English.

Next, take a short subway ride into the heart of Tokyo, and pass by the Imperial Palace where the Emperor and Empress of Japan reside. Focus on the unspoken icon of Tokyo on the next part of your tour: Godzilla. Tokyo is fascinated by Godzilla and isn’t shy about celebrating his notoriety, with statues and street art dedicated to him all over the city. Check out the latest Godzilla statue to spring up in 2018.

Finally, after a busy afternoon of sightseeing, settle in at Matsuso, a typical izakaya (a kind of Japanese pub). Like many izakaya, it’s nestled under the train tracks, allowing commuters to stop in for a quick drink or a snack on their way home from work. Sit down with the bar owner, who previously worked in real estate, and chat about his business and what makes this location under the train tracks so special to the locals.
Includes
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Public transportation fare (metro or train) between Akihabara and Yurakucho
  • Beer tasting set (3 types) and local, seasonal snacks (such as seafood, chicken, pickles, or nuts with Japanese seasoning)
  • Happy hour at Matsusou Izakaya (assorted food and drink)
What’s Not Included
  • Additional food or drink
Not suitable for
  • Children under 12 years

Prepare for the activity

Meeting point

JR Akihabara Station (train station), Electric Town Exit, in front of the Ticket Office/Travel Service Center (Midori no Madoguchi)

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Important information
What to bring
  • Comfortable shoes
Know before you go
• Vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be accommodated. Please notify the local operator in advance if you have any dietary requests
• Travellers under 12 years of age are not permitted to join this tour
• For your New York Times Journeys/Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 8 people
Organized by

Urban Adventures Japan

Product ID: 186909