Tokyo for Cat Lovers

Most of the time I have no set itinerary before I travel. When I had the opportunity to spend 5 days in Tokyo, I was giddy with the sight of cute fluffy street cats, cat knick-knacks, cat themed street art and much more. On top of the local history, food and sights, a lot of my day-to-day goals were to to find cat related points of interest. Hence, in my travel tips you’ll find most things are CAT-centric and budget friendly.

My Top 5 Points of Interest in the Tokyo Area

[1] Gotokuji Temple & Surrounding Shops 
Gotokuji Temple in Setagaya is the birthplace of the Maneki Neko or lucky waving cat. Visit the temple to learn about the history of Maneki Neko, see the array of statues and collect some nice lucky cat souvenirs. Be sure to bring mosquito repellant. On your walk from the station look out for cat statues and artwork along the way. Peek into the shops to find other novelty cat items and snacks. (Note: Gotokuji Station is NOT the same as Gokokuji Station, so be sure to double check your metro route when planning. We accidentally went to Gokokuji Station on our first attempt.)

[2] Jimbocho Nyanko-do Anegawa Bookstore
The Anegawa Bookstore has a large selection of cat themed books and gifts for you to browse. Even your purchase is wrapped meticulously in a cat-themed paper. Take exit A4 from the Jimbocho Station and it is right near the exit. Look for the Bumpodo shop as well a few blocks away for other cute cat related gifts and stationary.

[3] Ueno Park
Pack a picnic and enjoy your time strolling through the large park and people watching. You may see some local cats running around.

[4 + 5] Asakusa & the Imado Shrine
Asakusa has a beautiful temple called Senjoi and the area is also your one stop place for souvenirs. Walk a little bit from the main hub and find our way to the Imado Shrine. Temples will often have a well for you to cleanse your hands before praying.

Getting There & Transportation

  • When you land at Narita Int’L Aiport (NRT), there is an JR express train vs. other slower options that will take you to Ueno Station in Tokyo. We opted for the express train. You can also refer to the Japan-Guide for additional references. There are lockers at the different metro stations where you can keep your luggage or back packs if you want to explore around Ueno before going to your accommodations.
  • Purchasing One-Way Train/Metro Tickets – It’s easy to buy one way tickets at the machine kiosks. Look at the rail map above the kiosk (English is available) and see the fee for traveling from your current station to your destination station. Purchase that amount on your ticket.
  • Purchasing Day Passes – Day passes are different for each metro line. Make you sure you purchases accordingly. For example, if you plan to use the JR line the whole time, make sure you buy the JR Day pass and not the Tokyo Metro day pass. At the time that I went, it was about 600 yen for a daily metro pass.
  • There are 3 main train companies: JR Line, Tokyo Metro and Toei Line.
  • Access the Tokyo Subway Map. I would screenshot it or take a photo of a map at the station on your phone to access when there is no wi-fi available.

Eating Out

  • Vending Machine Menus – Talk about efficiency! You may encounter restaurants that have a ticket machine for you to select and pay for your meal. Present your ticket to the host and your meal will be made and served to you. I would say a must try experience for fun.
  • St. Marc Cafe – a chain cafe with your basic cafe items. A favorite of mine was the croissant with soft serve on top.
  • 7-11/Family Mart – the chain stores actually have a tasty selection of meals for you on the go. Get anything from katsu and onigiri to bento boxes and mochi for a budget friendly price.

Additional Tips

  • Free wi-fi – Certain 7-Elevens, cafes and shopping district will have free wi-fi available
  • Electronic Charging – If you’re getting low on battery cafes or McDonald’s have outlets available
  • Pocket wi-fi- Some Airbnb or accommodations may offer pocket wi-fi as part of their stay. It was definitely a plus for us. It’s a small hotspot device that you charge and carry with you in your bag that gives you wi-fi on the go.
  • Metro Luggage Lockers – a convenient and safe place to store your bags if you’ve already checked-out of your accommodations and have time to roam the city.

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