Tokyo may not be the first destination that springs to mind when you’re planning a honeymoon, but it’s just as good, if not better (and cheaper), than the stereotypical centers of romance that we know as Paris, the Seychelles and so on. Put those overused tour brochures away and read on to find out the why and how of a Tokyo honeymoon. This is the new land, and language, of rabu.
What are you looking for in a honeymoon?
Most newlyweds want nice views, awesome food, a bit of culture and the chance to make lasting memories with their bae. Tokyo checks all of these boxes. Mountains, lakes, hot springs, beaches (scroll down for more on tropical island vibes), crazy neon cities that never sleep, fireworks, snow, blossoms and trees ablaze in reds and oranges (depending on the season), some of the best food in the world (affordable Michelin star dining, anyone?), and an overall atmosphere of hospitality and safety add up to make Japan’s capital a place that you lovebirds should visit. Stat.
Hot springs and hotels
Japanese people kick back and relax by soaking in the bath—at home, in a public bathhouse, or (and this is first prize) at a hot spring (onsen). Since much of the land is volcanic, you’ll find an abundance of hot springs across the country, and Tokyo is no exception. You can hang out at a hot spring complex for the day or make a full trip of it. Bigger ones come with hotels and restaurants, so you can bathe, feast and sleep as much as you like. Take a look at this list of top Tokyo onsen to see if it’s your jam.
When it comes to regular hotels, Tokyo has no shortage of top-notch (and reasonably-priced) accommodation. There’s everything from backpacker hostels to business hotels (though, honestly, we wouldn’t recommend either for your honeymoon), capsule hotels (ditch those, too) traditional Japanese inns and fancy five-star joints like the Hilton (but you’re a cheapo, right?).
Our recommendation is to stay somewhere like this refurbished villa in Kamata, or the Shibuya Creston Hotel—places that are comfortable without being super expensive. Read our detailed Tokyo Accommodation Guide for more ideas, and have a peek at this cheatsheet for scoring a five-star hotel on the cheap. You might be interested in trying a night at one of Tokyo’s quirky love hotels, too.
Some of the best food you’ll ever eat
While Osaka has the official title of the nation’s kitchen, Tokyo doesn’t do badly in the culinary department itself. Here, you’ll find streets lined with ramen stores, home-style rice and fish meals, curries both Japanese and Indian, pizza to rival the best in Italy, amaze-balls sushi (seriously, you won’t find better), grills, gourmet popcorn, crepes and a whole array of other tasty treats and sweets. There’s even French food, if you want to get fancy.
It’s important to note that if you eat out at night, especially at a restaurant that is leaning towards the lux side of life, the bill might cause some indigestion. Our golden rule is to go all out for lunch—you can scoop a three-course meal for 1,000 yen at noon, where you would pay three times as much for almost exactly the same thing in the evening. You can grab something simple for dinner, like a bowl of udon noodles, a tempura set, or even rice balls from a convenience store.
Gardens, walks, architecture and more
Of course a honeymoon isn’t all fine dining and chill, and you and the better half will be wanting to get out and explore the sights of the city. Tokyo, being a mega metropolis, has something for every interest. Yes, travel blogs say that about every city—but Tokyo really does have a diverse range of things to do.
If you’re into strolls and rambles, there are urban walking routes that don’t cost a cent. All about the mountains? Lace up those hiking boots. More of a museum type? You’ll love what Tokyo has to offer. There are also gardens galore (both traditional and modern), impressive architectural feats (including Tokyo Tower, the local answer to the Eiffel Tower), bizarre robot restaurants and bars with themes ranging from prisons to Christians, game centers and amusement parks, and just about anything else you could think of for fun. Even a giant drain—though you’ll want to make clear to your partner that going down it is not a metaphor for the years to come.
Temples and shrines to seal the Tokyo honeymoon deal
Turn a corner in Tokyo and you’ll stumble across a shrine or temple—there are hundreds of Buddhist and Shinto sacred spots in the prefecture. While the exploration of famous shrines like Meiji Jingu is a must, you can also seek out places that are dedicated to the force that’s driving your honeymoon: love.
Consider becoming one of the thousands of couples who make a pilgrimage (not all at once, thankfully) to Daijingu Shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward to ask for a blessing on their marriage, or just go and see your other-cultural counterparts doing this. Imado Shrine in Asakusa is another popular spot for the partnered-up. You can make your wishes tangible by filling out a wooden plaque called an ema, and leaving it hanging up at the shrine.
Lights and other cool things to look at
Tokyo is a colorful city, with four distinct seasons (as you’ll no doubt hear when you arrive). No matter what time of year you visit, there’ll be something both visually pleasing and romantic upon which to cast your lovestruck little eyes. For a start, summer sees almost-nightly fireworks festivals that are serious business—this country doesn’t play when it comes to their hanabi, or “fire flowers”. Have a look at our Tokyo fireworks guide for an idea of what to expect.
Come fall, Tokyo is transformed into a landscape of gold and glowing reds and oranges, when the ornamental maples, gingko and other trees get ready for winter. It’s a good time to mosey around the parks and take those cutesy we-fies (two-people selfies, yo). Winter can be cold and grey, but the city is lit up with massive illumination displays, which make for super romantic after-dinner sightseeing strolls. And spring, of course, blankets Tokyo in pink as the plum and cherry blossoms burst to life, and is just lovely.
Everything else you could possible want
If all of that isn’t enough to convince you that a Tokyo honeymoon is the best thing for you and your love, we’d like to draw your attention to all the beautiful Tokyo sunsets and sunrises that you could watch together, as well as all of the festivals you could attend, and shopping you could bag. Wondering if Kyoto might be a better choice?
Think again—you can get a taste of the historical capital without leaving Tokyo. And if you won’t budge from your position on tropical islands, Tokyo has you covered there too. You can ferry your way over to Shikine-jima or the other Izu Islands south of the mainland.
Our video guide to the tuna auctions at the shiny new Toyosu Fish Market