Last Minute Date Spot Ideas In and Around Tokyo
Traditional And Modern Inspiration
Where to go when you forgot to make White Day plans.
Ah, March 14th—White Day. Also known as the holiday that many forget, technically it is the day that those who were lucky enough to receive honmei chocos on Valentine’s Day take that special gift giver out on a date.
Uh oh. Has a certain someone neglected to make any plans? Or are you simply looking for some date inspiration? Either way, this is the article for you! Here are some modern and traditional date spots that may give you the help you need to plan that perfect date.
Modern-Day Date Spots
Shibuya Scramble Square
Shibuya is the place to go if you’re looking for modern Japan. A fashion hub for all ages, here you’ll find plenty of interesting sights to see on the ground level, but if you’d like to take things to greater heights (pun intended), head to Shibuya Scramble Square.
Finished in November 2019, Shibuya Scramble Square is a 230-meter-tall skyscraper with an observatory called Shibuya Sky on the 14th floor. From there you’ll find three different zones: Shibuya Sky Gate, which is a transition space from the 14th floor to the 45th floor; Sky Stage, the rooftop observation space; and Sky Gallery, an indoor observation area on the 46th floor.
The observatory is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (depending on the weather) so you can enjoy 360-degree views of Shibuya and most of Tokyo day or night.
Yebisu Garden Place
Perhaps you prefer somewhere modern but lower than the 45th floor? Then Yebisu Garden Place in Ebisu is right for you. A famous date spot since it opened in the nineties, the facility has changed dramatically over the years. Within the complex, there’s the Yebisu Museum of Beer, Yebisu Garden Cinema, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, plus lots of shops and restaurants too. There’s even an indoor observatory on the 38th floor if you’re interested.
There’s one area in particular that is a fantastic date spot if your wallet is deep enough. The beautiful French manor-style building in the central courtyard is home to Japan’s premier French restaurant, bar and gastronomy all managed by none other than Joel Robuchon. The restaurant itself has three Michelin stars and does require reservations so please check their website in advance if you plan on marking a special occasion here.
Maybe you’re ready to take that next step in your relationship and want to set the tone. Or maybe you’re a fan of Japanese dramas and movies and want to visit one of the most romantic spots around? Then visiting the Aoyama St. Grace Cathedral, newly reopened this month, is ideal for you.
It’s considered a lucky spot for couples to visit day or night and has special packages for couples celebrating anniversaries or if you want to propose there too. The area itself is also full of cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as plenty of boutiques in nearby Omotesando as well.
Traditional Japanese Choices
Shibamata (Keisei Kanamachi Line)
A little out of the way for most, Shibamata is instantly recognizable for old Japanese movie buffs as being the home of Tora-san, from the “Otoko Wa Tsurai Yo” film series. There’s even a statue of Tora-san outside the station.
If you follow the main road, known as the Shibamata Taishakuten Sando, you’ll feel yourself going back in time to the Showa era (1926-1989). Old-fashioned shops selling everything from dagashi (Western-style candies) to wagashi (Japanese-style sweets) and classic Japanese meals like soba can be found along this historical road.
At the end of the path however stands Shibamata Taishakuten, a temple founded in 1629. Nitenmon Gate is the main gate of the temple and was carved and built in the late 1800s. While it may not be nearly as popular a tourist spot as Kaminarimon in Asakusa, Nitenmon Gate is still the original structure. It survived not only the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, but also the bombings of World War II, and dozens of natural disasters since.
Within the complex itself for 400 yen, you can view the ancient carved wooden panels of the temple. The panels, all painstakingly carved from a single piece of wood, feature different scenes from the Lotus Sutra. This ticket also grants you access to Suikeien, a famous Japanese garden located behind the temple complex.
Hama-rikyu Garden (Shiodome Station)
Hama-rikyu is a stunning Japanese garden located alongside Tokyo Bay that features tidal seawater ponds. It has an admission fee of 300 yen, but that’s a small price to pay for full access to this amazing treasure in the heart of Tokyo. Originally built as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), it later became a strolling garden and an imperial detached palace before it was opened to the public.
The gardens are beautifully maintained and enjoyable all year long. There’s a 300-year-old pine tree, a teahouse and various historical reconstructions. Plum trees bloom in late winter, then come cherry blossoms in the spring, various flowers throughout the spring and summer, and maple and ginkgo trees in the late fall.
Leave Tokyo Behind
Tokyo isn’t the only place with great date spots. Two that are highly recommended outside the city are Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture and the Atami/Izu area in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Little Edo (Kawagoe, Saitama)
The Kurazukuri (Old Warehouse area) of Kawagoe, also known as Koedo Kawagoe, or Little Edo Kawagoe is a bit of a walk from the station. It’s well worth the effort though, as the Old Warehouse area features rows of preserved Edo-era (1603-1867) buildings. These buildings have been kept as historically accurate as possible and are mainly used as shops selling traditional handicrafts, sweets and souvenirs.
Along the old street, you’ll also find the Toki no Kane Bell Tower, which was first built in the 1600s. The current bell tower was built in 1893. There’s also the Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Alley) where shops sell various traditional sweets but mainly those made from sweet potatoes which are a regional specialty. There are also dozens of restaurants and cafes throughout the area to enjoy, as well as the 1500-year-old Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, where two wedded couples of Japanese gods are enshrined. Is there a better place to go on a romantic outing?
Atami and Izu (Shizuoka)
Both Atami and Izu in Shizuoka are famous honeymoon spots that have evolved into popular tourist destinations. There are both modern and classic style hotels, hot springs inns, galleries and museums aplenty, gardens, beaches and of course, natural wonders too.
It might be a couple of hours’ drive from Tokyo, but if you want to have a weekend getaway, both Atami and Izu are fantastic options.
If you’re interested in seeing what one particularly risque thing to do in Atami is, check out this Atami Adult Museum article on GaijinPot Travel.