I feel like there are a gazillion things to see and places to visit in Tokyo! I swear, I could visit Tokyo over and over again and there’s always something new to discover. During my visits, I’ve been around various districts and they are all so very different.
Dive into the flickering neon light of Akihabara, practice tree bathing in Harajuku or live the 50s life in Shinjuku or Shibamata. There are plenty of ideas for a first time visit to Tokyo.
So to give you a variety of ideas for a Tokyo visit (and not just day trips out of Tokyo), here are my top 100 favourite places to visit in Tokyo – especially if you are planning on spending five days in Tokyo or an entire week.
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Note: Addresses are mostly in Japanese characters so you can find your way easier by asking locals for directions. (It’s best to show addresses in Japanese letters rather than trying to pronounce them, I found.)
English is widely spoken and plenty of signs, such as on the metro, are in English. But don’t go about expecting people to be fluent in English.
Be warned, this crossing isn’t always as crowded as you expect. Also, it’s not chaotic.
Everything works in an orderly fashion even though you can basically cross it in any direction, even diagonally. You can get a decent view from Shibuya JR station. It’s even better from Starbucks.
Address: 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前５丁目３１
Sensō-ji is a super iconic shrine in Asakusa. Around it, you can shop in various passageways and the temple grounds are gorgeous.
If you can, visit during a temple festival to really experience live performances, such as meiko dances, and street food.
Address:浅草寺, 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草２丁目３−1
This one of the THE top places to go in Tokyo and cannot be missed in any Tokyo sightseeing.
Takeshita in Harajuku is a straight street with the most colourful shops introducing you to the quirky and cute Lolita trend as well as glitzy accessories and crazy cool food items.
Pop into the stores, branch off into the alleys and step into the malls to really get a feeling for the place. If you come during late evening, check out the live DJing in the shop window opposite Harajuku station.
Address: 竹下通り, 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１７ 渋谷区 神宮前１丁目
Boat along Chidorigafuchi
To literally float through cherry blossoms or experience the vast area of the Imperial Palace and its parks and moats, you can try to rent a boat at Chidorigafuchi (check out my tips to avoid major queues).
Arrive before 9am to get an early boat and avoid the crowds. During cherry blossom season, this is an absolutely mesmerising spot.
Address:千鳥ヶ淵公園, Inner Circular Route, to, Japan, 一番町 千代田区 東京都 102-0082
This is the prime hanami hotspot in Tokyo. Hanami are sakura festivals and typically entail picnics for cherry blossom viewing.
Grab a bento box from the metro malls, get up early and grab a spot on the blue tarpaulins (or bring your own plastic picnic blanket) and be social.
Ueno Park also has a zoo, museums, shrines, a temple and wonderful cherry tree alleys.
Address:上野恩賜公園, 〒110-0007 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Uenokōen, 8, 台東区上野公園・池之端三丁目, Japan
Skytree is the tallest free standing skyscraper in the world and, like Tokyo Tower, can be seen from afar. You can pay to get up to the top floor, where you have a 360°C view over the city.
There isn’t always a queue but if you are travelling on the weekend or during popular holiday times (especially Golden Week), you might want to consider getting a Skip the Line ticket in advance*.
You don’t need to get to the top to appreciate Skytree. There are plenty of shops and dining facilities on site as well as two metro stations.
Address:東京スカイツリー, 〒131-0045 東京都墨田区押上１丁目１−2
Next to Harajuku, you can escape all the hustle at Yoyogi Park, which feels like a proper forest right in the heart of Tokyo’s attraction-packed districts. In its midst of crooked trees and shady alleys lies Meji Shrine.
It is one of the most renowned shrines in Tokyo and if you’re lucky, you can even witness wedding photos being taken of traditionally dressed newlyweds.
Address:明治神宮, 〒151-8557 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町１−1
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings are the prime spot for sunset photos over Tokyo. If the sky is clear, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.
What’s more: Entrance is free and you have the choice between either of the towers. Just be aware that you might have to wait in line to get into the elevator, so arrive well before sunset to get your timing right.
Also, do stay until after the sun has disappeared because that’s when the crowds do too but the colours of the sky start to really turn vivid. Don’t miss it!
Address:東京都庁, 〒163-8001 東京都新宿区西新宿２丁目８−1
This is probably the most sought after restaurant in town. Naturally, Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant belongs in any foodie’s Tokyo city tour but you cannot just show up. Reserve a ticket first.
You can do it online through their page, but if you don’t want to go through the pain of google translating everything or calling, get your ticket through a third party here*.
Address:ロボットレストラン, 〒160-0021 東京都新宿区歌舞伎町１丁目７ 新宿区歌舞伎町１丁目７−１
The district of Shibamata is a more off-the-beaten path track among foreign tourists looking for unique places to see in Tokyo. It has retained its wonderful vintage charm thanks to Taishakuten street.
Wooden panelled restaurants and shops are strung up along the streets leading up to the famous temple. Everything has remained really authentic. But do visit during the day and preferably on the weekend so you won’t find the old shops closed.
Address:柴又帝釈天, 〒125-0052 東京都葛飾区柴又７丁目１０−3
Sleep in a capsule hotel
Capsule hotels are a Japan essential and quite the experience. Don’t be claustrophobic as there is only space to slide in and turn around. You can’t really sit up, but there’s usually enough space so you don’t feel crowded at all.
Luckily, nowadays many capsule hotels allow female guests as well, which is good to know. Not just because women get to experience the capsules as well (and save money on Tokyo accommodation).
But also because it feels so much safer this way. And safety as a solo traveller is crucial. Just double check which gendered capsuled are available before booking one, such as nine hours Shinjuku-North* or MyCube*.
They can sell out pretty fast so book asap. The good thing with Booking.com is that you can adjust your dates later if need be. Click through my links and have a look now.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
Tokyo has been the capital of Tokyo for quite some time but in the past it was referred to as Edo.
During that period, the Imperial Palace of Tokyo especially was of great importance and can still be visited today. Well, some of it.
The parts of the castle’s parks and gardens that are publicly accesible are free to visit and feature gorgeous cherry blossoms in spring.
Address:皇居, 〒100-8111 東京都千代田区千代田１−1
When people hear Cat Street in Tokyo (Yanaka Ginza), they think of the shopping street in Shibuya.
However, there is a street that actually has to do with cats. It is located in the district of Taito, North of Ueno Park.
From Nippori station it’s not even a five minute walk and then you can’t miss it. It’s marked by an alley gate with a big map as it’s so popular.
What makes it so special? Well, all products sold around here are centred around cats. There’s cat food for cats, there’s cat-shaped food for humans and all kinds of kitchenware and souvenirs. In short: Yanaka Ginza is a cat loves dream!
Address:谷中銀座, 〒110-0001 東京都台東区谷中３丁目１３−1
The Cat Street
Speaking of the name Cat Street, in case you want to find this hipster place in Tokyo, hit up Cat Street in Shibuya.
Its shops merge both quirky finds with high street stores. On weekends and late afternoons, you might spot cool street styles, too. But don’t just go around thinking all this is that cool “Harajuku style” magazines and blogs talked about.
There’s actually no such thing as a “Harajuku girl style”. There are way too many distinct subcultures and street styles to warrant such a broad term.
From kawaii Lolita fashion to dark Gothic Lolita and Fairy Kei, there are plenty of cool outfits to be spotted. Your best bet is after school and on weekends.
Remember to always ask nicely if you want to take a photo and respect if if they don’t want that.
Address:キャットストリート, 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前5−１０−10
Tokyo Tower has become an icon of the city. It however, isn’t actually all that special as red and white TV towers seem to be standard across Japan.
Address:東京タワー, 〒105-0011 東京都港区芝公園４丁目２−8
Tokyo Takarazuka Revue
In case you want to see a very fabulous and dramatic yet sophisticated Japanese-style drag show, get a ticket of the Takarazuka Revue – either at their main performance venue or the Syktree.
Essentially, it’s always an all female cast enacting the most dramatic soap opera plots in far flung regions of the world and various eras, such as pirates in the Caribbean or Napoleonic times in France, in a musical opera fashion.
You can only get online tickets but need Japanese skills and an address. So get up early and stand in line for tickets on the day if you do want one. I did and it was no problem at all. I just didn’t understand a word of the performance but had fun nonetheless.
東京宝塚劇場 , 〒100-0006 東京都千代田区 有楽町１丁目１−3 東京宝塚ビル内
Roppongi Hills was created as an innovative urban planning concept. Housing both offices and entertainment and shopping facilities in one concentrated area, it was to act as a mini city within a city.
The main idea was to increase community feel and living quality by eliminating commuting time.
Address:六本木ヒルズ, 〒106-6108 東京都港区六本木６丁目１１−1
Todoroki Valley Park
Who knew you could find a forest in the middle of Tokyo? And in one of the most densely populate areas no less.
Put on your hiking boots and walk along the tranquil valley trail for a kilometre. Combine it with a visit to Todoroki Fudo Temple. During Tokyo’s sakura season, you can admire the pink bloom.
Address: 等々力渓谷公園, 〒158-0082 東京都世田谷区等々力１丁目２２
Among the weirdest restaurants in Tokyo ranks Ninja Restaurant. The decoration is inspired by ninja weapons and even waiters dress up as ninjas. You can reserve a table online.
Address:ニンジャ アカサカ, 〒100-0014 東京都千代田区 永田町２丁目１４−３ 赤坂東急プラザ1階
Like the Rainbow Bridge in Seoul, this one shoots lit up streams of water from the bridge into Tokyo Bay.
It’s a beautiful spectacle albeit not extremely spectacular. If you are visiting Odaiba for the day, you should check it out after sunset.
Address:レインボーブリッジ, 〒105-0000 東京都港区
If you want to experience traditional Japanese theatre as one of the best things to see in Tokyo, then Kabuki-za is the place to go in Tokyo.
It is the largest and most prominent kabuki theatre in town. To save you time and check the schedule, get your ticket online.
Address:歌舞伎座, 〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座４丁目１２−15
Fans of all things Hayao Miyazaki will find the Ghibli Studio one of the best places to visit in Tokyo.
It gives you information on the creation process, original drawings and the studio itself looks super cute from the outside. Tickets can be gotten from 7Eleven machines.
Unfortunately, these are in Japanese only and tickets sell out fast. Get them in advance from a third party* if you are not spending 2 to 3 weeks in Japan and are flexible with your sightseeing in Tokyo.
Address:三鷹の森ジブリ美術館, 〒181-0013 東京都三鷹市下連雀１丁目１−83
There are three options to witness a sumo wrestling match in Tokyo. First, you can attend an official sumo wrestling touring tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Second, you can visit a sumo demonstration*.
For both you need to buy tickets. The third option is to come early and gaze into a local sumo training room. This is free but it is neither an actual match nor can you take photos.
Address:両国国技館, 〒130-0015 東京都墨田区横網１丁目３ 墨田区 横網１丁目３番２８号
Book And Bed Tokyo Asakusa
One of the coolest hostels in Tokyo is Book and Bed Tokyo Asakusa. There are various branches in Japan but this one seems to count among the most popular sights in Tokyo when it comes to accommodation.
You are literally surrounded by books as you lay your head. Spaces are small, similar to a capsule hotel. So do reserve a room well in advance now.
Address:浅草店, Japan, 〒111-0034 Tokyo, 台東区雷門２丁目１６−９ パゴダ浅草６F
Day trip to Fuji
You can DIY it yourself and visit Hakone or Kawaguchiko as well, or go on a guided tour to not have to bother figuring out public transportation.
You can only climb all the way up Fujiyama in late August, when the snow is gone. Otherwise, take the bus up to Fifth station, visit the Shibazakura Festival in April/May or explore the region.
Izakayas in Shinjuku
Typical bars in Japan are izakayas. They are usually rather small and can feel crammed but are great to mingle with locals, get your sake and enjoy bar food.
Shinjuku especially is popular for its bars and izakayas. You can even jump on a barhopping tour* to have company and learn more about Japanese customs.
If you aren’t adverse to start your sightseeing day at 3:30am and love fish, Tsukiji Market is a great place to be.
It’s the world’s largest fish market, so people are working and tourists aren’t allowed everywhere. There are two daily auctions and your best bet to not miss out (queues can be ginormous) is to book a guided tour*.
Address:築地, 〒104-0045 東京都中央区築地５丁目２−1
Mario Go Kart
A very unique way to sightsee the best places to go in Tokyo is by Go Kart. But not any Go Kart, but a Mario themed one.
Dress up as Princess Peach, Mario or other game characters and then drive through town with your quirky group. Note: You need a driver’s licence.
Dinner Boat Tour
A little but more fancy and for those who really don’t want to exert their feet anymore, a river cruise* might be a good idea to get your Tokyo sightseeing done. You could even do it in an Edo-style ship!
This way, you can see the glittering Tokyo skyline float by you during a day to night tour and dinner is also taken care of. Bonus!
To learn more about all things samurai, see how they lived, marvel at their weapons and see their typical outfits, head to the Samurai Museum.
(You can complete your experience at the Samurai themed restaurant. Get a reservation in advance.*)
Address: Samurai Museum, Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, 新宿区 歌舞伎町２−２５−６ 永和第6ビル1F・2F
Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea
There are various options you can choose from to cut costs if you are backpacking Japan and are on a budget.
Choose how many days you wanna spend here and whether you want to have a combined ticket for Disney Sea.
Address:東京ディズニーランド, 〒279-0031 千葉県浦安市舞浜1-1
Japanese Cooking Class
To really understand local cuisine, its history, way of preparation and skill, a cooking class is the way to go. Food in Japan is a huge deal.
A sushi chef has to train for 5 years! You can book your personal chef for a traditional cooking session.
Here are a few dishes you could soon be able to recreate at home:
Being the capital of Japan, Tokyo sees plenty of festivals (matsuri) throughout the year. Temple festivals are generally the best way to go.
One of the biggest is Sanja Matsuri in June, where the entire district of Asakusa is full of crowds and mikoshi. Check the timetable for Tokyo’s events and festivals to plan your trip around them.
Address:浅草寺, 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草２丁目３−1
If you haven’t had enough of samurai after your visit to the Samurai Museum in Tokyo, why not train to be a samurai?
Sure, this isn’t the legit thing as that requires years and years of practice and basically is a “job” that has died out. But it’s fun!
There are many Hello Kitty Cafes in Japan but Hello Kitty Puroland takes the concept to the next level.
Fans of overly sweet cuteness need to put this on their Tokyo must see places. To make your day purrfect, why not book a Hello Kitty room as well?
The room books out fast, so make your reservation at Keio Plaza Hotel fast here.*
Address:サンリオピューロランド, 〒206-8588 東京都多摩市落合１丁目31
An onsen experience is super delightful and quintessentially Japanese. Onsen are steaming hot natural, public baths. Often, they are gender separated and you should check.
A very well established onsen in Tokyo is Oeoedo onsen on Odaiba island*. You can easily spend a few hours here. Just don’t stay in the hot baths too long or you’ll faint.
Address:お台場 大江戸温泉物語, 〒135-0064 東京都 江東区青海２丁目６−３
To find true vintage gems of manga and anime, go to Nakano Broadway. The second and third floor of the somewhat hidden shopping mall are entirely dedicated to everything manga and anime.
You might be able to find out of stock merch and art books from your favourite mangas and animes, for example. There are books, figures, accessories and games all in one handy place!
If there’s a retro item you are looking for, Nakano is the best place to start your search. I should know. I had an entire hunt around Tokyo to get my Pokémon gameboy game to start working again.
Address: 中野ブロードウェイ, 〒164-0001 東京都中野区中野５丁目５２
Speaking of Pokémon. Did you know there is a real Pokémon Center in Tokyo?
It isn’t really like the one in the game. No Pokémon come here to heal and all that. It’s a store…
But you can get tons of the latest Pokémon merch, from plushies over tiny figurines to Pokémon cards. The main one is in Ikebukuro at Sunshine City.
Address: ポケモンセンターメガトウキョー, 〒170-0013 東京都豊島区東池袋３丁目１ 豊島区東池袋３丁目１−２ サンシャインシティ2F
Super dedicated fans of manga and anime will love Anime Japan. It is the biggest anime/manga convention in the world and hosted annually at Big Sight in Odaiba.
Tickets sell out easily, so getting one in advance is a good idea. However, you can only get them from ticket machines at 7Eleven or online through a third party.
I strongly advise that you come super early to avoid the crazy lines to get into the convention space – even if you have a ticket. It took me three hours just to reach the door.
Address: 東京ビッグサイト (東京国際展示場), 〒135-0063 東京都 江東区有明３丁目１１−１
Alice in Wonderland Cafe
Alice in Wonderland is hugely popular in Japan. Needless to say, the themed restaurant has become a one of the major Tokyo points of interests because of that. You can reserve a table online.
Address: 〒171-0022 東京都豊島区南池袋２丁目１６−8 藤久ビル東三号館
Have you ever wondered what your name would look like in Japanese? How do simple brush strokes look so artsy?
Japanese brush art is rather excellent but if you don’t want to tackle that quite yet, start off with a regular Japanese calligraphy lesson in Tokyo.
Edo Tokyo Open Air Museum
To get a feel of the olden days of when Tokyo was still called Edo, visit the Tokyo Open Air Museum. There are recreations of traditional houses, for instance.
Address: 江戸東京たてもの園, 〒184-0005 東京都小金井市桜町３−7-1
You probably the cat souvenirs with the bobbing claw, supposed to bring you fortune? You can find thousands of these at Cat Temple in the western outskirts of Tokyo.
Gōtoku-ji is a seriously odd find but well worth the trip to the outskirts of Tokyo if you love cats. (Maybe don’t try counting them as I did with the street cats in Athens.)
Address: 豪徳寺, 〒154-0021 東京都世田谷区豪徳寺２丁目２ 4-7
Sake Brewery Tour
Japan not only produces excellent food and outstanding cuisine, it also excels in the field of alcoholic beverages.
Not that I personally know much about alcohol (I don’t drink) but you will after going on a sake tour. Plus, you can sample sake and that’s a big plus.
Here’s a tour that combines sake, whiskey and cocktails all in one tour. Get your spot here.
This one is a typical tourist thing and locals would never do it. But if you like, you can get carted around in a rickshaw around Asakusa.
Many wait for you around Senso-ji and Nakamise Shopping Street. If you don’t have much time to wait around, reserve a rickshaw online*.
Wear a kimono
You don’t have to be in Kyoto or Nara to try on a traditional kimono. In Asakusa around the Sensoji area, there are many stores selling or renting Japanese kimono and yukata.
As the area is quintessentially Tokyo, you can take amazing photography here underneath the sakura, in front of old temples and streets or the modern Skytree Tower in the background.
These 100 yen stores are absolute gold! I love shopping here as everything is so affordable but still good equality.
You can get your stationary, fake food key chains, food, dinnerware and even socks at this store. You can find them all over Japan and Tokyo has multiple of these stores, such as on Takeshita Street.
Everytime I’m in Japan, I visit this store multiple times. It’s jsut so hard to walk by and it’s my go-to place for Japanese souvenirs.
Address: ザ・ダイソー 浅草ＲＯＸ店, 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草１丁目２５−15
The latest cool thing to do in Tokyo is visiting the artificial worlds of teamLab at the Borderless Digital Art Museum. Dreamy colours, stunning animations and you right in the middle!
The space comes to live thanks to 520 computers and 470 projectors. The artwork stretches over 10,000 square metres and is fully immersive.
Avoid the queues and figuring out how to order online by getting your printable entry ticket here*.
Address: 〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto City, Aomi, 1 Chome−3−8 お台場パレットタウン
Manga and anime lovers will already know about Akihabara. It is an otaku mekka. You can find cosplay shops, manga stores and vintage merch shops underneath the flashy neon signs.
Also, this is where you can find the famous Maid Cafes. And you will definitely be made aware of those. There are many flyer girls dressed in maid costumes on the streets.
Akihabara really glows at night when the super tall neon ads light up the Tokyo sky! Also check out the free anime museum near the station. It has ever-changing exhibitions of real behind the scenes anime and character designs.
It doesn’t have to be during cherry blossom season, but if you want to experience a picnic with bento box, pick Shinjuku Gyoen.
There is a small entrance fee but the park is huge and well kept. Sit by a pond, sip tea at the pavilion or just seek shade underneath the cherry blossom trees.
It’s a vast park, so expect some time here.
Address: 新宿御苑, 〒160-0014 東京都新宿区内藤町11
Akihabara is the place to find Maid Cafes. For many these are borderline creepy and others rank them among the best places to go to in Tokyo because of their odd cuteness. Maids are there to serve and entertain. There is an entrance fee and you are encouraged to buy additional drinks and menus to be able to stay.
Address: Cure Maid Cafe, 〒101-0021 東京都千代田区外神田３丁目１５−5 ジーストア・アキバ
The Japanese are absolutely obsessed with baseball. Because of that, baseball games not only happen in official stadiums, like Meiji Jingū Stadium, but also in smaller circles. I once saw one by Edogawa River in Shibamata, for instance.
In case you are a fan as well or just want to experience that sheer joy and passion the Japanese have for this sport, attend a local game. Tickets are available here*.
Address: 明治神宮野球場 ,〒160-0013 東京都新宿区霞ヶ丘町３ 新宿区霞ヶ丘町３−１
Traditional matcha tea is best consumed during a tea ceremony. You can get those in pavilions, like at Harazuka Park in Ginza. Afterwards, afterwards you can buy matcha tea.
Tokyo Station is listed as one of the best things to see in Tokyo because of its beautiful architecture and central location. It’s close to the Imperial Palace and Takarazuka Revue and a short walk to Ginza.
The station is actually so big, it is divided into two sides and, not surprisingly, the busiest station in all of Japan. Over 3000 trains pass through here every day.
Address: 東京駅, 東京都千代田区丸の内１丁目
They say Elvis isn’t actually dead and if you head to Yoyogi Park on a Sunday, you might think for a second that it’s true. Rockabilly certainly is alive and well with the Tokyo Rockabilly Club.
Most members are men dressed from head to toe in black leather and with wild 50s Elvis hair. If you’re lucky you can see Rockabilly women as well and witness 50s dancing scenes.
Address: 代々木公園, 〒151-0052 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町２−1
If you love art but aren’t too much into contemporary pieces, check out Nezu Museum. Here, the Japanese artworks.
Exhibitions, such as calligraphy workshops, sword fitting insights, iris prints and more, change regularly. The area also includes a garden, museum shop and café.
Address: 根津美術館, 〒107-0062 東京都 港区南青山６丁目５−１
80s kids rejoice! There is a cafe where you can delve right into your super Nintendo retro dreams!
In Shinjuku, somewhat hidden in an unassuming commercial building, you can find the quirky 80s style 8Bit Café filled with merch, comics, posters and games.
You can even play on the consoles while you wait for your ‘Dr Mario’ drink.
Address: Q Bldg. 5F, 3-8-9 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
During cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Meguro River becomes a sakura lover magnet.
The tree lined alleys around Meguro River turn a soft shade of pink on both sides. Pink sakura lanterns line the then busy streets and make for mesmerising photos.
Address: Meguro Station, 〒141-0021 東京都品川区上大崎2丁目２
Odaiba Seaside Park
Odaiba Kaihin Koen, as this seaside park is called, is a great location for Tokyo skyline photos. Plus, Lady Liberty is also just around the corner as are great shopping facilities and museums.
You can relax along the sandy beach and admire the busy city centre from afar. It’s perfect if you need a breather from all the Tokyo attractions.
Address: お台場海浜公園, 〒135-0091 東京都港区台場１丁目４
Sailor Moon Live Show
Besides the many locations that are set in Tokyo, there’s a new Tokyo attraction in town. It’s called the Tokyo Pretty Guarding Sailor Moon Restaurant Show and the name says it all.
You’ll get to eat sailor scout themed dishes and drinks – in the colours of the warrior girls – and enjoy a live musical show! Snatch a coveted ticket here.
Address: 〒106-0045 Tokyo, Minato City, Azabujuban, 1 Chome−10, ジュールＡ
Japan’s capital is a very walkable city. Public transport reaches plenty of areas, too. However, since there are plenty of things to see in Tokyo, why not slow down the pace?
Not many tourists expect Tokyo to be so bikeable and there are guided tours in which you can join other travellers in their Tokyo sightseeing. Especially East Tokyo is often sadly overlooked but rich in history.
The Yagiri no Watashi
One of the most unique –albeit rather boring – things to do in Tokyo is crossing the Edogawa river over to Chiba.
There’s nothing to see on the other side of the river but it’s very popular, mostly due to a famous song. Shibamata is the only location that does this traditional river crossing in a non-motorized ferry.
Address: 矢切の渡し, 〒271-0096 千葉県松戸市下矢切1257
To see an interesting combination of old and new in Tokyo in the form of bridges, check out Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge).
The original wooden bridge was built in the 17th century but replaced by its current brigde. Then, in the 80s, a new and much more modern highway was constructed on top.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
One of the cutest places to visit in Tokyo with full on sugary overload is Monster Cafe. The Tokyo cafe has various rooms that look like a toddler was hired as the interior designer.
Giant rainbow coloured sitting cups, adorable monster figures and more. You have to choose and book in advance.
Address: カワイイ モンスター カフェ, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 4 Chome−31−１０ YMスクエア 4F
Kameida Tenjin Shrine
This shrine is a major hotspot during wisteria season, one of the most popular flower festivals in Japan.
Come early in the day to avoid the massive tourist crowds and get the beautiful wisteria tunnels around the ponds to yourself. In the background, you can see Skytree.
Address: 亀戸天神社, 〒136-0071 東京都江東区亀戸３丁目６−1
This one is a no brainer but true Japanese karaoke is a must. You can rent your private booth at a karaoke bar and then go crazy – with our without company.
Eat blue ramen
Ramen is a staple dish all over Japan and quite affordable and straightforward. It really is always good but if you want a very special twist, why not try blue ramen?
There’s a super little blue ramen restaurant located on the way between Asakusa and Oshiage station. Factor in possible queues because this place has become rather popular.
Address: 3 Chome-1-17 Azumabashi, Sumida, Tokyo 130-0001, Japan
The best ramen, by the way, can be had at Fūunji.
Address: 渋谷区代々木２丁目１４−３ 北斗第一ビル 1F
One of the coolest, albeit most touristy, shopping locations is Shibuya 109. Located next to the Shibuya Crossing, you can hardly miss it. On multiple floors you can shop your heart out and stock up on all things kawaii.
From pastel coloured tull skirts to fruit themed jewellery and Disney-style Lolita dresses, Shibuya 109 is the perfect place to window shop.
There’s usually just one size fits all, so if you don’t fit into the regular Japanese body type, you might not leave with too many bags. Also, photography isn’t allowed.
You can learn all about kawaii fashion and the best spots around Tokyo in a guided tour by a local expert. Check out this one*, for example.
Address: SHIBUYA109, 〒150-0043 東京都渋谷区道玄坂２丁目２９−1
Moomin House Cafe
Everything cute and fluffy is all the rage in Japan. So naturally the Finnish Moomin trolls are heavily embraced and you can buy their stationary, mugs and plushies in multiple shops.
The most prominent place to have a somewhat immersive experience is the Moomin Cafe, similar to those in Finland. You need to put yourself on the guest list onsite and can wait between 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Address: ムーミンハウスカフェ, Japan, 〒131-0045 Tōkyō-to, Sumida-ku, Oshiage, 1−1−2 東京スカイツリータウン・ソラマチ
Bullet train watching
Shinkansen are kinda a national treasure. The bullet trains are the fastest in the world and come in different kind of designs.
For their anniversary especially, the Japanese went crazy and you could buy brochures, DVDs and even cookies about Shinkansen. On weekends families gather to train watch for a while.
An ideal spot for that is the bridge towards Nippori station. (If you have a JR Railpass, you can even do your own Japanese trail travel from here.)
Address: 日暮里駅, 東京都荒川区西日暮里２ 丁目
I don’t know about you but I absolutely love visiting cemeteries in different countries. They are so vastly different and interesting.
To get a feel into a typical Japanese-style cemetery, try Yanaka cemetery. It’s one of the prettiest and best known cemeteries in Tokyo and right next to Yanaka Ginza and Nippori station.
During spring time, there are beautiful cherry blossom tree alleys to look at.
Address: 谷中霊園, 〒110-0001 東京都台東区谷中７丁目５−24
Yokohama harbour day trip
Yokohama is a harbour city just a little off of Tokyo and a lot of cruise ships land here.
The city itself isn’t all that exciting but it has a nice little street food street. You can even go on a Kirin beer tour AND harbour cruise.
Ichiran Ramen restaurant
This is for all the people who are antisocial, currently introverting or just want to avoid the language barrier. At ichiran you place and pay your order at a vending machine.
(There are photos so your choice is easier). Put the ticket on the counter and then sit back in your little cubicle and enjoy the silence. It’s open 24/7 Try the tonkotsu ramen soup.
Address: 1 Chome-4-16 Dotonbori, Chuo • +81 6-6210-1422
Panty vending machines
On every corner on Japan’s streets you will find vending machines. Most of them offer drinks for 100 yen, sometimes ice cream or hot food, for instance.
But then there are the rare kind, the used panty vending machines. I have been on the lookout for them – for strictly field research purposes of course.
Stock up on all the Kit Kat
It doesn’t matter if you are not the biggest Kit Kat fan in the world, Kit Kat in Japan are an essential rollercoaster ride of flavour. What started as a big marketing gig for Japan has now produced over 200 kit kat flavours.
Most of them are regional and cannot be bought in every store, such as Fuji apple or shichimi spice. The essential flavours, however, are green matcha and cheesecake.
Fun fact: the similar sounding phrase “Kitto Katsu” means “You will surely win” in Japanese.
You know Japan is expensive and this applies to food as well. While there are tons of affordable skewers and other street food items that won’t break the bank, fruit isn’t it.
To be ultra fancy and classy, try the giant Fuji apples. A 6-piece set of white strawberries can cost $60.You can find them in a speciality fruit store in Shibuya or in select metro station malls.
Address: Shibuya Station渋谷駅, Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Sake is a staple alcoholic drink in Japan. (You can even get it as a Kit Kat.) But have you ever had Japanese whiskey?
Get the Best Mochi
Mochi is a Japanese dessert staple. It’s basically a sweet rice cake from short-grain japonica glutinous rice. It’ shaped into a ball and dyed with colours and/or filled with fruits or jam.
One of the most beloved and traditional Tokyo confectionery shops is Seigetsudo Honten in Ginza or Tokyo Station Ichibangai. Try the Goma Mochi, made with black sesame and fille with azuki beans.
Address: Seigetsudo Honten, 7-16-15 Ginza Chuo Tokyo
Udon is a delicious thick noodle made from wheat flour. You can eat it with or without soup and the texture is just wonderful, if you ask me.
One of the best places in Tokyo for udon is Udon Shin in Shinjuku. (Shinjuku in general for restaurants, bars and izakayas.)
Address:うどん慎, Japan, 〒151-0053 Tokyo, 渋谷区代々木２丁目２０−１６ 相馬ビル １F
When the temperatures rise in Japan, kakigori comes to the rescue. This traditional icy summer dessert is basically shaved ice cream with syrup for flavour.
This will also colour the otherwise transparent ice and with sprinkles and extra on top, it looks super cute. Pair your sweet treat with ramen at Bum Bun Blau Café.
They have this special technique so the ice won’t melt so quickly and place housemade condensed milk ice cream between the shaved ice and toppings for extra deliciousness.
Address:ブンブンブラウカフェウィズビーハイブ, 〒142-0064 東京都品川区旗の台３丁目１２−3
Best Rooftop Bar
There are amazing vantage points to experience Tokyo from, such as Tokyo Tower or Skytree.
However, the highest bar to sip your cocktail on underneath a canopy of stars is The Andaz Hotel’s Rooftop Bar. It sits on story 52 and has a laid back Eastern style vibe. It’s an epic place for travel photographers.
Address: Rooftop Bar, 1-23-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Stay with dinosaurs
Did you know that there are robo hotels in Tokyo? They really have robots staffing the reception, for instance.
One step further is Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay, which has dinosaur robots at the reception!! Now that’s an unusual hotel. View it here*.
Address: 5 Chome-3-20 Fujimi, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0043, Japan
Power nap on the metro
If you don’t need a bed, try power napping on the metro, while waiting for your train, or standing in a corner. This is a real thing.
It’s utterly fascinating how alert Japanese power nappers still are. They will jolt back awake when their destination arrives, for instance.
If you haven’t been on the Tokyo transportation before, there are a few things worth knowing in advance by clicking the link.
Take a Selfie in a Purikura
What happens when you combine the Japanese love of all things kawaii with the selfie? You get a purikura, selfie vending machine.
It’s basically like an elaborate photo booth, where you can adjust the filters. Make your eyes ginormous, get your cheeks to glow red and your skin all white, shape the form of your face and add cute little frames and images.
Such machines can be found in most bigger arcades, such as in Akihabara or Ikebukuro.
Address: High-Tech Land SEGA Shibuya, Japan, 〒150-0002 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya, 1 Chome−14−14 EST
Woman’s Only Train Car
There are specific hours when certain train cars are exclusively reserved for women to help reduce discomfort and approaching pervs.
That’s a great idea (and somewhat sad that it’s necessary). During other times throughout that day, the car is open for everyone.
Try and Find a Trash Bin
You will notice plenty of vending machines selling drinks and sweets around the street corners of Tokyo. Next to them, there are small bins to recycle the drink packaging.
(You aren’t meant to consume the drink on your way.) They are not for regular rubbish!
If you do actually want to discard anything, you have a hard time finding a bin. Convenience stores are your best bet. Until then, keep your rubbish in the plastic bag you were given upon checkout.
Lost in Translation
Many popular movies were shot in Tokyo, including the uber iconic Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola.
You can even stay at the original hotel*. Take a tour around town looking for the main spots.
Address: Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2, 西新宿 東京都 163-1055
Locations for Sailor Moon
If you pay close attention, you can see various real life spots in Sailor Moon. Most of them are around the district of Azabu-Juban.
Here, you can find the street signs seen in Sailor Moon Crystal and Rei Hino’s temple. Tokyo Tower is the most obvious landmark in Tokyo that was featured in Sailor Moon though.
I even made a video with the best Sailor Moon locations in Tokyo!
Snoopy is so cute, he has his very own museum in the outskirts of Tokyo. It takes like an hour to get there by train. To make your trip worth it, the museum also features a themed cafe and merch shop.
Address: 3 Chome-1-1 Tsuruma, Machida, Tokyo 194-0004, Japan
If you are travelling with wigs or love cosplay, a cosplay shop should definitely be on your list. There are plenty in Akihabara and Ikebukuro, such as ACOS.
Get wigs in all kinds of colours and lengths as well as pro tips at handling them. Of course, there are also full on costumes and styled wigs to match your fave anime and manga character.
Address: ACOS池袋本店, 〒170-0013 東京都豊島区東池袋３丁目３−2-1 アニメイトサンシャイン
Tokyo has not only one but two Gundam Cafes, one in Akihabara and Odaiba. It is a definite must for all fans of Gundam and officially serves as a kind of “heaquarter”.
The cafe design is futuristic bu the food rather normal. You might want to try a pancake with a Gundam comic panel if you want to take a fun photo.
Address: ガンダムカフェ 秋葉原店, 〒101-0028 東京都千代田区神田花岡町１−1
Tokyo has the Ghibli Museum and of course, there is also a Totoro Cafe. This beloved character deserves its own cafe!
Therefore, check out Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory for the cutest little cream puffs. Granted, it’s a little bit outside but if you are a true foodie and Ghibli fan, it might be worth it for you.
Address: 白髭のシュークリーム工房 , 〒155-0033 東京都世田谷区代田５丁目３−1
Trick Art Museum
If you like optical illusions, magical tricks and just weird and wonderful things, this museum might have to go on your must see in Tokyo list.
Takao Trick art museum is especially popular for its paintings that you can “step into” or that seem to fall out of frame.
Address: 東京トリックアート迷宮館, Japan, 〒135-0091 Tokyo, 港区台場１−６−１ デックス東京ビーチシーサイドモール 4F
Ashikaga Flower Park
No matter what season you visit Ashikaga Flower Park, you will be able to find flowers and/or wonderful light installations. The park is insanely popular during wisteria season.
If you can visit both during the day and night to see the wonderful colours in all their splendour. It really is worth it to stay until after sunset.
Address: あしかがフラワーパーク, 〒329-4216 栃木県足利市迫間町
Odaiba Statue of Liberty
Did you know that there are several statues of Liberty in Japan? If you can’t be bothered to find them all, make at least the Odaiba one one of your places to visit in Tokyo. It can be found next to Rainbow Bridge. The statue itself is much smaller than the original.
Address: 自由の女神像, 〒135-0091 Tokyo, 港区Daiba, 1−4, 台場海浜公園内
Eat at Sukiya
Ok, this one might seem odd because Sukiya is a Japanese fast food chain. But you have no idea how much I adore their simple gyudon dishes.
Guydon is basically stripes of beef on rice and there are many variations you can choose from. Their breakfast menu is vegetables with rice and everything is super affordable and filing.
I ate here 10 times in eight days. It’s that good. (Yoshinoya sells basically the same food but it’s not as flavourful.)
Try the Shinkansen
In case you are using your JR Railpass* or just take the shinkansen anyway, be sure to pack a bento box.
You can often buy them on the train as well but they are so much more expensive – and they aren’t cheap to begin with. You can get them at Japanese train stations or in supermarkets and metro malls.
See an Idol Concert
JPop and JRock are a huge deal in Japan. It’s a big dream of many young girls and an idol’s life can change overnight – both at the beginning and end. It’s a fast career but one showered with love.
So if you want to experience the craze firsthand, why not attend an Idol Concert? You mostly can only buy tickets while in Japan or through a third party.
If you can’t be bothered, try a local show at the AKB48 Cafe and Shop in Akihabara.
Address: AKB48カフェ&ショップ 秋葉原, 〒101-0028 東京都 千代田区神田花岡町１−1
Watch a Boyband at SoLaDo
To see upcoming boybands while sipping on rainbow coloured soda and eating giant fries, sit down at SoLaDo.
In the food court on the top floor, you might be lucky and get to see a live performance. Just know that photos and videos aren’t allowed.
Address: SoLaDo, 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目８ 渋谷区神宮前１丁目８−２
Eat Giant Rainbow Cotton Candy
You might have seen it on instagram, foodies flock to Harajuku for giant fairy floss orbs in rainbow colours. They are bigger than your head!
Ironically, you can get them along one of the busiest roads in Tokyo, Takeshita-dori. Look for Totti Candy Factory and have about $9 ready.
Address:トッティキャンディファクトリー, 〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前１丁目１６−5 RYUアパルトマン
You don’t necessarily need to visit Sanja Matsuri for this one. Most temple festivals will have plenty of food stalls as well as goldfish catching facilities. The latter are typical kids games.
You are given three rings onto which thin rice paper is attached. With that, you need to try and catch goldish into a plastic bag filled with water.
You can take your trophies home. I managed to catch eight on my second try. If you visit in August, try and attend the Tanabata Matsuri Festival
Which of these top things to see in Tokyo was already on your wishlist?
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