Bed down in a bookcase, soak in Hell or visit the instant noodle museum. Eli Orzessek has some quirky suggestions for your to-do list.
Where to eat:
The rail geeks will be in heaven at Tokyo's Curry Station Niagara (in Meguro district) — it's run by one of their own. Surrounded by train-related goods, you can enjoy a bowl of warming curry rice, delivered by model train, naturally.
Where to drink: Hair of the Dogs (in Shinjuku) is a tiny six-seater bar in Golden Gai with a punk-rock theme — look for the Sex Pistols poster on the door. There's a catalogue of classic punk albums you can request and you're sure to meet someone with similar tastes.
Where to stay: Book-lovers can enjoy a unique capsule hotel experience at Book and Bed, which has locations in Ikebukuro and Shinjuko — you'll actually sleep inside a well-stocked bookshelf.
What to see: Go to a baseball game — it's an experience you won't forget. You can catch the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome or the Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium, and you can even bring your own bento and beer.
Where to eat:
Try a variety of different ramen noodles at the
, the world's first fast food-themed amusement park. It houses branches of nine famous ramen restaurants including Kyushu and Hokkaido.
Where to drink: If you're a beer-lover with a penchant for headbanging, head to Thrash Zone (in Kanagawa Prefecture). This bar specialises in hoppy, bitter and strong brews, with metal decor and music to match.
Where to stay: The stylishly stacked modular "cottages" of the Bayside Marina Hotel (in Kanazawa) were designed by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects. Each is placed at an unusual angle so every guest has a different view of the bay.
What to do: Stay on the ramen theme and be sure to check out the Cup Noodle Museum, which tells the sadly little-known history of the instant noodle. You'll leave with a renewed respect for convenience food.
Where to eat:
Jigoku (Hell) Steamed Cuisine (in Beppu) serves the famous dishes of Kannawa Onsen, cooked by the steam of the hot springs. The name may mean hell, but the food is heaven.
Where to drink: Beppu has a reputation of being a sleepy town, but you'll find some nightlife — and some cheap food — on Yasaka St, which is home to many izakaya gastro pubs.
Where to stay: Love hotels are being revitalised for Rugby World Cup tourists, so why not try a Jurassic Park-themed one? The garish Hotel Jzauruss (in Beppu) will help you get your dinosaur on.
What to do: No visit is complete without taking the Jigoku Meguri (Hell Tour) of the thermal lakes, geysers and boiling mud pits of the Oita area. Each Hell area has its own name and most have an ashiyu, or foot bath area, where you can stop for a soak.
Where to eat:
Try the local speciality of goheimochi, which is baked mochi with sweet, red miso dip. You'll find stands selling it everywhere in the mountain areas of Toyota — and it smells so good, you'll know when you're near one.
Where to drink: If you've got a sudden craving for tequila shots over sake, you're in luck. Bar Mexigan offers Tex-Mex cuisine and drinks, plus foreign patrons can get a discount during happy hour.
Where to stay: For another love hotel experience, Hotel and Spa Island has themed rooms and also offers jacuzzis and karaoke. This one is only for couples — no kids allowed.
What to see: As you'd guess, this is the home of the beloved Japanese car brand — see some rare and classic examples at the Toyota Automobile Museum.
Where to eat: Osaka prides itself on fresh seafood and being unusual, so you'll find some deliciously strange places to eat. Fish for your supper from your table at Zauo — once you've got a bite, tell your waiter how you'd like it cooked.
Where to drink: Video game bar Space Station (in Chuo-ku) is an Osaka nightlife staple. You'll find plenty of games to play, ranging from the nostalgic to the current, as well as video game-themed cocktails.
Where to stay: If you wish it could be Christmas every day, this is the hotel for you. Chapel Christmas Hotel (in Yokkaichi) has a year-round festive theme and Santa Claus adorns the door of every room.
What to see:
Shinsekai — meaning New World — is known as Osaka's most weird and wacky district. Here you'll find a retro vibe, with cheap bars, narrow arcades, neon signs and the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower.
flies direct from Auckland to Tokyo daily, with one-way Economy Class fares starting from $619.