I recently visited Japan for the first time with my husband, Josh, and our daughter. On our first trip to Japan, I wanted to hire a tour guide in Tokyo. Being immersed in the completely different language, alphabet and culture seemed much easier with a tour guide on our first day. That’s where Yukiko and Triplelights helped out.
TripleLights.com is a tour marketplace that connects tourists with professional tour guides in Japan. The prices are very reasonable and it is specifically for tours throughout Japan.
Yukiko, Tour Guide with Triplelights
After reading the reviews, we decided to hire Yukiko for a custom one-day tour in Tokyo. We are very happy that we chose to take a tour with Yukiko. She did a great job helping us feel comfortable in the bustling city of Tokyo. Yukiko expertly arranged the day and explained how to use the subway system. She told us about the history of the areas we visited and tailored the entire tour to our likes.
A few weeks before we left, Yukiko emailed me with the itinerary and offered suggestions for lunch. She then made reservations for us at a restaurant that she thought we would like (she was right). She also asked which hotel we were staying in and arranged to meet us in the lobby. I had given Yukiko a handful of places that we wanted to see and she arranged everything, figuring out the strategy to fit it all in.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Yukiko met us in the lobby of our hotel, and we took the subway to the Tsukiji fish market. Tsukiji is a huge complex broken up into an inner and outer market. The inner market is closed to tourists until 10:00 am, so the tourists do not disturb the flow of business. We arrived just after 10:00 and Yukiko guided us expertly through the maze and business of the inner market. Even though the main business dealings were finished we were still able to see the remnants of what must have been a very busy morning. We saw small vehicles carrying boxes and crates around and tried to stay out of their way. A few businesses were cleaning their shops and sharpening their knives to prepare for the next day.
The inner fish market is overwhelming to walk around in, and it was nice to have Yukiko guide us.
On the way to lunch, we walked through the Outer market of Tsukiji. Josh purchased Tuna and we sampled it before we headed to the restaurant. In the Outer market there are many stalls inside and outside selling kitchen wares, food and about anything else you can imagine.
Restaurant for Lunch
From there, we walked to a restaurant where Yukiko had previously made reservations. She picked a great restaurant where Josh ordered a sushi platter and our daughter and I each ordered a pork dish. Yukiko explained the dishes offered and ordered for us. The meal was delicious.
After lunch, we walked to the Hamarikyu Gardens and drank tea in a teahouse overlooking the gardens. This is a beautiful sprawling garden surrounded by skyscrapers. A respite in the busy city. Yukiko guided us through the garden stopping at a tea house on a lake.
Tea House in Hamarikyu Garden
Once in the tea-house, Yukiko showed us how to store our shoes in the old “lockers”, and secured a table for us. She explained the tea ceremony as we all enjoyed matcha and wagashi (the treat that accompanies the matcha). The sweetness of the wagashi balances the bitterness of the matcha, to make an enjoyable combination. Yukiko explained how the matcha is made with the wooden whisk and how to hold the tea cup properly (when you pick up the bowl, turn it twice, drink the tea, turn it twice the opposite way, then set it down). The tea-house has impressive views overlooking the lake on one side and a traditional rock garden on the other.
Riverboat along the Sumida River
Next we walked longer along the paths in the garden to the dock. We took the riverboat along the Sumida River to Asakasa. This was a pleasant ride and we saw a great portion of the city this way (as opposed to the subway). A group of school children, wearing matching hats, were also on the boat and it was fun to watch them. It is interesting that some girls were playing the same game that my daughter plays at her school in the US (we call it “sticks”). Yukiko made time on the boat to teach our daughter some Japanese characters. Yukiko had brought along a worksheet to show her how to write the characters. Our daughter loved this!
Next stop was the traditional area of Tokyo called Asakusu (the Japanese pronounce it Ah-sak-sa). Here is the famous Senso-ji Temple. Yukiko explained to us the difference between a shrine (Shinto religion) and a temple (Buddhist religion), and explained the meaning of the pagoda and statues. After learning about the temple and the ceremonies associated with it, we headed down the souvenir street. Yukiko was very patient with us as we looked in the shops that ranged from food to throwing stars to traditional Japanese shoes. She even helped us to look for the perfect souvenirs to bring back for our nieces and nephews.
From Asakusa, we took the subway to Akihabara (Electric Town). This is the place to go for all things electronics, manga and characters. Knowing our daughter would love it, Yukiko led us to a “Gachapon store”. There were hundreds of machines in this one store, and we saw many other stores as we were walking around Akihabara. The name comes from the sound the machine makes when you turn the dial (gacha) and when the toy drops (pon).
Yukiko also led us to a trading card store where our daughter could find THE Pokémon card she was trying to find. We next sought out the famous “Super Potato” store that sells used video games and consoles in every format possible.
The End of the Tour
We ended the tour after Akihabara and Yukiko showed us how to take the subway back to our hotel.
We took this tour on our very first full day in Tokyo, and it was the best thing we could have done. It would have been nearly impossible to see as much as we did without Yukiko’s help. Yukiko did a great job of explaining the subway system, helping us to purchase a pasmo card, and explaining the customs and the history. She is patient and wanted us to enjoy ourselves. Yukiko was outstanding with our daughter who had many questions. We really liked Yukiko’s personality and she speaks English very well. I would highly recommend Yukiko, and Triplelights.com.