Being the world's largest metropolis, it's easy to see why you could find so many things to do in Tokyo. The Japanese capital is one of the most interesting places to visit in Japan, featuring vibrant districts, bizarre cafés, and wild establishments.
Tokyo’s chill pill is within its temples, shrines and large green spaces. Spend a lifetime in Tokyo and you will still find new Tokyo attractions to discover.
Wondering what to do in Tokyo? I've put together a list of our very favourite top 51 things to do in Tokyo for your next visit. We initially spent 2 weeks in Japan, then we moved to Tokyo for half a year in order to really understand what to do in Tokyo and be able to provide you with a truly comprehensive guide.
- Where to Stay In Tokyo
- The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo
- Best Places to visit in Tokyo
- Tokyo Restaurants Guide
- Best Tokyo Street Food
- The Best Spots To See Tokyo From Above
- Best Day Trips from Tokyo
We learnt that a city can be alive, busy yet efficient. We learnt that Japanese food can be delicious and incredible. No matter where we purchased food from in Tokyo, the dishes were always done to perfection.
Tokyo is like a shapeshifter, waiting for you to mould it into whatever it is that you want from your holiday.
Here are the best things to do in Tokyo on your next visit. The more Tokyo attractions you see, the more addictive Tokyo becomes.
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51 Best Things to do in Tokyo [2020 guide] - Contents
Traditional Things to do in Tokyo
Japan is known for its amazing culture. What makes Japan so appealing to visitors from all over the world are its very well preserved traditional things to do. Arts and crafts are studied for years and some of the knowledge is being passed down for generations. While Tokyo is the capital city and a more cosmopolitan, modern metropolis than the rest of Japan, there are many traditional things to do in Tokyo still, where locals still honour their history through spirituality, nature and cultural activities.
Visit Senso-Ji Buddist Temple
One of the best introductory things to do in Tokyo is to visit Senso-Ji (Sensō-Ji), one of the most significant Buddhist temples in Japan. Especially busy during Sanja Matsuri in late spring, Senso-Ji attracts countless visitors throughout the year, all keen to get an introduction to Japan’s spiritual life. Senso-Ji offers free admission at all times and it’s always open. Click to check out the best tips for visiting Senso-Ji.
As a quick tip, we recommend visiting the temple either first thing in the morning or late at night. The grounds are always open and you can take some fantastic pictures during night time.
Don't forget to draw an omikuji which is a fortune-telling strip. If you get a good fortune, keep the paper with you. If you get a bad fortune, worry not! You can wrap the paper strip around the wooden poles at the temple grounds so the spirits will take care of it for you and protect you from all bad.
Japan is not religious but a deeply spiritual country which marries Shinto with Buddhism.
Insider Tip for Senso-Ji
The best way to get there is to take the subway to Asakusa Station, Asakusa or Ginza lines. The temple is a short 10 mins walk away from the station. The temple grounds are always open. The best time to visit is during Weekdays, Non-public Holidays, Early Morning and Late Evening.
Buy An Ema
An ema is a Japanese wishing wooden plaque which can be found in almost all Shinto shrines. Simply buy one, write your wish or prayer on it and leave it behind at the temple grounds so the spirits can take care of it for you.
Find out your future - Japanese Omikuji
These fortune-telling strips are available at the famed Sensō-Ji. Grab the wooden box and shake it well. On one corner, there is a small hole, that's where a bamboo stick should fall out.
You bamboo stick has Japanese characters on it. Find the matching sign on the drawers and look for the Japanese to English translation sheet.
This paper contains your fortune.
If you get a good blessing, you are lucky. You can keep the fortune with you.
If you received a curse, make sure to leave the paper behind on the temple grounds so the spirits can take care of it for you. Look for the wall nearby where you can leave your omikuji.
Relax at an onsen
One of the best things to do in Tokyo is to relax in an onsen. To experience an onsen is perhaps one of the most incredible experiences and here's why: nobody enters the hot spring dressed, so the whole idea is that you allow yourself to be one with nature around you.
There is a ritual around entering an onsen and, although hard to believe, it isn't awkward to be naked around others. On the contrary, many Japanese consider the idea of a public bath or an onsen, the perfect time to socialise with one another. It's in a way quite similar to the Finish sauna.
Our most incredible onsen experience was at a hotel deep in the mountains in the Nikko area.
Visit one more modern onsens in the awesome entertainment district of Tokyo called Odaiba and enjoy a relaxing few hours in the warm water. You can get your ticket in advance.
There are other services alongside the onsen, like massage and spa treatments, rock salt sauna and an open-air bath. The restaurants serve traditional Japanese food and Kaiseki cuisine in private tatami rooms. It's well worth the visit.
Watch A Game Of Sumo
Originated in Japan, it is the only country where sumo is being practised professionally. Many ancient traditions have been preserved in sumo wrestling and countless tourists come to Japan to watch sumo games.
Sumo is very much loved and appreciated worldwide. We have had the chance to see the morning sumo practise and learn about the life of the wrestlers.
When sumo wrestlers don't participate in tournaments, they practice every day. You can visit one of these sumo practices at a Sumo Stable and learn about this unique Japanese sport.
The most well know sumo hall in Tokyo is the Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. There are six sumo tournaments every year, each lasting for 15 days.
Dress up as an Oiran
To really understand the history of the Oiran in Japan, one must try this experience for themselves. During this make-over, your guide will explain the full tradition and history of the Oiran so you can learn about what it was like to be a desired woman back in the days. Oiran don't exist in Japan anymore, but when they did, they had to ensure a lot of hardship.
They would go to special training but at the end, the Oiran was vested the Senior Fifth Rank by the government. The Senior Fifth Rank was equivalent to the feudal lord. The colour of the Senior Fifth Rank was red so by showing the red collar, the Oiran could display her rank. Oirans were women of pleasure, but they were proud courtesans with a higher rank than ordinary citizens.
You can check out this Facebook page for more details on how to do an Oiran make-over. You will support a local business.
Enjoy A Public Bath
In most parts of the world, people go to the pubs in order to relax and socialise after a long day at work. Yet again, Japan does things differently.
There are many public baths available throughout the streets of Tokyo. You have to pay a small fee and you are good to go.
There are of course several rules to follow before you can enter the baths, but essentially all you need is to bring yourself, get rid of your clothes and spark a casual conversation.
Note, that tattoos are strictly not allowed in the public bath. Look for 'foreign friendly' signs which usually indicate that the bath doesn't mind if you have a tattoo.
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Attend A Tea Ceremony
Escape Tokyo’s agitation by attending a soothing tea ceremony. This is a great chance for anyone interested in Japanese traditions to learn more about customs and manners around serving tea.
Although may seems so trivial to some, the Japanese tea ceremony is a form of art.
There is a great Tea Ceremony in Kyoto which you can attend privately. Kyoto is a great destination for a day trip from Tokyo.
Unique things to do in Tokyo
Tokyo is a unique city and once you spend some time visiting it, you will realise that there's no other place in the world quite like it. And that's brilliant because there are so many unique things to do in Tokyo, you will have what to do in the city for several weeks. From crossing the famed Shibuya scramble to experiencing the unusual high tech toilets, there are so many interesting attractions in Tokyo.
Cross The Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble
You’ve probably seen many time-lapse videos of the Shibuya Crossing, but nothing can prepare you for the real Shibuya experience.
The busiest pedestrian scramble in the world gets crossed by over a quarter of a million people every day or about 2500 people every time the lights turn green.
Prepare for loud jumbo adverts and neon lights flashing from all directions as well as tonnes of people crossing in all directions.
Why so busy? Shibuya Station which is one of the largest transportation hubs in Tokyo handling over 2 million people a day is right next to the scramble. Many large office buildings, shops are also in this area. The square in front of Shibuya Station is a popular meeting point for locals.
Venture beyond the famed crossing and find out what are the best things to do in Shibuya.
Experience The High Tech Toilets
One of the coolest things about Japan is how super high tech their toilets are. Almost all hotels offer these music signing, sci-fi toilets which automatically warm the seat for you. Some auto-clean themselves after you used them and most of them can be used as a washlet and dryer.
After visiting Japan you will wonder how come that the rest of the world hasn’t yet adopted these crazy cool bathroom devices. And I promise, there are so many more things nobody told you about Japan.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Buy A White Japanese Strawberry
Did you know that Japan is #1 strawberry eater in the whole world? There is no surprise many strawberry farmers came up with new ideas on how to sell their precious strawberries.
From boxing them in glowing packaging through making them as alluring as possible a producer came up with the idea to create the white strawberry. Through tireless experimentation and artificial selection, he managed to grow the perfect white strawberry.
These unique berries now sell for $10 to $15 each and they are delicious.
Fruits are very popular gifts in Japan. Find these especially thought after fruits in the basement of large department stores. Alongside the seasonal strawberries, you will find mangoes, oranges, peaches, melons and other exotic fruits.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Walk Around The Timeless Tokyo Station
Tokyo Station is a city on its own located right in the heart of Tokyo. It features several storeys of shops, restaurants, bars and boutiques - and, of course, a train, subway and bus station.
You will very likely visit Tokyo Station many times during your stay in Tokyo as it is one of the largest transportation hubs in the city.
For the full experience, allocate a few hours to discover the secrets of Tokyo Station. The station building is massive and spreads on all directions underground via subterranean streets.
Don't be shy to wander around and check the thousands of stores, restaurants, bars and department stores. We promise you will find a lot of interesting, truly Japanese gems.
Outside of the modern station building, in front of the twin Marunouchi Buildings, you will find the Old Tokyo Station built in a strikingly Western architecture style.
Relaxing things to do in Tokyo
One of the best things to do in Tokyo is to actually relax in its many large green spaces. It may sound bizarre that such activity is even possible, given that Tokyo is the largest metropolis in the world. Yet, Tokyo locals know how to balance the busyness of the day to day life, with the zen of their parks and relaxing neighbourhoods.
Meander Around Asakusa
Although mainly associated with Sensō-ji, there is more to Asakusa than meets the eye. A walk through its narrow streets will reveal independent markets, shops, and boutiques selling clothes, souvenirs, pots and pans.
Asakusa is one of the most popular destinations among tourists coming to Tokyo for the famous Kaminarimon gate and Sensoji temple. However, if you want to learn something about Asakusa or Japanese culture, it'll be better if you have a local guide.
Asakusa is a great place for shopping household items including bamboo and miso bowls, chopsticks, and norens. In fact, Asakusa is known to have a special street which has niche shops dedicated to the restaurant industry. It's called Kappabashi (Kitchen Town). One shop will sell all the pots you can imagine, the next will sell those beautiful lanterns you see in restaurants and the next will sell all the norens which welcome you at the door.
Asakusa has many household items too, which makes it the perfect place for those in need of local Japanese souvenirs.
Enjoy Yoyogi Park
Mainly known for its Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi park is a popular strolling and picnic destination especially during the summer months.
Surrounded by 10,000 trees, the forested paths of Yoyogi park will lead to several zen gardens, perfect for a chill-out afternoon or reading a book. In my opinion, Yoyogi Park is one of the greatest free things to do in Tokyo.
If you visit Yoyogi in the weekend, you will probably see lots of locals performing in the park, doing yoga or just having a picnic together.
Yoyogi's shrines have many weddings, so if you are lucky, you might see a traditional Japanese wedding. Of course, make sure you don't disturb the ceremony and if you take any pictures remember to respect the privacy of the couple. Japanese weddings are very beautiful and we had the privilege of seeing one during our time in Yoyogi Park.
The best way to get there is to take the subway to Harajuku Station. During summer, the park is open 24/7. during winter it's open from 5:00 am to 20:00 pm. These times may vary during holidays and special festivals.
Visit Meiji Shrine
Located in the heart of Yoyogi Park, this incredible Shinto Shrine offers visitors the opportunity to dive deep into its rich history and learn about its uniqueness.
Meiji Shrine is called Meiji Jingu in Japanese.
You can see colourful sake barrels around the temple. The sake in these barrels was offered to the gods every year after the new sake was ready and during festivals as part of the celebration. The sake didn't go to waste, of course, it was consumed during the ceremonies and many festivities.
During your visit, don't forget to leave an ema at the temple grounds with your wish. An ema is a Japanese wishing wooden plaque. You can purchase one at the temple, write your wishes on it and leave it behind so the spirits can take care of your wish on your behalf.
When visiting a Shinto shrine here is what you need to do: At the offering hall, you can throw a coin into the box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow once more and ring the bell or gong to get the God's attention. Say your prayer for a few seconds.
Remember that you can take photos around the shrines or temple grounds, but please be polite and respectful and don't take pictures of people when they pay their respects.
Meiji Shrine Insider Tip
The best way to get there is to take the subway to Harajuku Station and cross Yoyogi Park. The shrine opens at sunrise and closes at sunset so the opening hours change every month. It's always open between 7:00 am and 16:00 pm. Check the Meiji Shrine official opening hours.
The best Times to Visit is during winter, June because of blooms, weekdays, Non-public Holidays, Early morning and late evening.
Go Zen In Shinjuku Gyoen
A large green space and a popular hanami spot, the Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful landscape garden. Usually quieter and more relaxing than Ueno or Yoyogi, many choose to buy an annual pass to enjoy this garden all year round.
The Shinjuku Gyoen undertakes a beautiful transformation during the sakura season as well as in mid-autumn when all tree leaves change colour.
Take the subway to Shinjuku-Gyoemmae Station and make your way towards the "Shinjuku Gate". If you arrive at the Sendagaya Station, the Sendagaya Gate is just right outside. The 3rd option is the Okido Gate which is also close to the Shinjuku-Gyoemmae Station.
The park is open from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm (gates close at 16.30 pm). The park is closed on Mondays and National Holidays. There is an entry fee of 200 yen.
Visit during the Cherry Blossom season in April; when the Rose Garden is in full bloom in May. During autumn when the leaves turn red.
Visit The Imperial Palace
Located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Although the Palace itself is closed to the public, however, you can enjoy a walk through the East Gardens.
To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.
Relax In Ueno Park
A Tokyo must do, Ueno Park is home to countless museums and several shrines. During the summer months, there are many street food vendors dotted throughout the park to satisfy your appetite for freshly prepared snacks.
Ueno Park is a popular hanami (Cherry Blossom) spot, during which, many come to picnic and spend a relaxed afternoon, chilling and making new friends. For more information, you can read more about the amazing 15 things to do in Ueno Park.
Don't forget to take a boat ride on the pond or simply chill on the bench. In front of the park, there is a network of streets dotted with vendors selling some of the best street food I had in Tokyo.
Learn about Japan at the Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest Japanese National Museum. Admission is about 620 yen and you will be rewarded with a vast collection of cultural items and national treasures.
We are not normally museum people, but when it comes to learning something so new and interesting as the history of Japan, we couldn't skip the opportunity.
The Tokyo National Museum is huge so be prepared to spend at least half a day exploring it. Take your time to learn about the history of the city, it truly is very interesting and unique.
We are true Japan lovers so there is no surprise we wanted to understand more about the history of our favourite place on earth.
Ride The Subway
Amongst the best Tokyo things to do, riding the subway is a given as there is no better and faster way to explore the city. Grab a Suica or Pasmo card and embark on a subterranean adventure.
Tokyo has the biggest, most intricate and most intuitive map one can even come across. Although it can look overwhelming at first, take a second to familiarise yourself with the Tokyo subway map and you will realise how user-friendly it really is.
There is not much difference between the two cards. We prefer Pasmo as it looks better but usually, where you can use one of them, you can always use the other.
Buy your card at any subway station when you arrive in Tokyo. The card has a basic fee which you can get back when you leave Japan. You can also personalise your card. This is not just a nice souvenir, but you can replace your card if you lose it.
Check Out The Ghibli Museum
Located on the western side of Tokyo, the Ghibli Museum is a popular destination for all Studio Ghibli fans.
A walk around this museum will enable you to get a closer look at how animation really comes to life.
To get there take the subway to Kichijoji Station (Chuo Line). The park is about 20 mins walk on Kichijoji-dori avenue. It is open from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm. Check times during national holidays.
Ticket prices are between 100 yen and 1000 yen based on age. Tickets are usually sold out weeks or even months in advance. It is a good idea to join a guided tour or purchase your tickets online, well in advance.
Guided Tour: Ghibli Museum and Hayao Miyazaki Movies Tour
Official website: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
Fun things to do in Tokyo
Tokyo is quirky, Tokyo is weird...but one thing is for certain: Tokyo is the capital of fun. With so many fun things to do in Tokyo, you will be forgiven for wanting to further immerse yourself in the Japanese alternative culture. From anime, through unusual cafes and establishments, to crazy colourful costumes, Tokyo has something for your alter ego.
Join colourful Japan in Harajuku
Many come to Harajuku to experience the famed Takeshita Street, a pedestrian shopping street dotted with malls and independent fashion boutiques featuring super colourful outfits. For the complete kawaii novice, Harajuku is also a great introduction to the Japanese latest cute crazes.
We recommend spending a whole day exploring Harajuku. This is the place where you can queue for half an hour or more to get the most colourful cotton candy you will ever try. You can also enter the many colourful shops and get mermaid nails, or purchase the most bizarre fashion you can possibly imagine.
Special tip: from Takeshita street, go to Omotesando Plaza and head over to the top floor. There is a Starbucks there with a top floor garden with benches and beautiful views over Tokyo's street. It's a really beautiful space during summer and one which we visit every single time we go back to Tokyo.
You can wander around in the many narrow streets surrounding Takeshita Shopping Street. We recommend taking a guided tour to learn about the kawaii culture and Harajuku fashion.
Buy A Book In An Anime Shop
Mainly found in Akihabara, these anime shops are more than meet the eye. Some offer memberships where you can book a room and have access to a computer as well as their whole library of anime and manga collection. These establishments are usually fitted with showers and even nail salons.
Most shops cater to the Japanese audience only but some now have English books.
Visit An Owl cafe
You visited cuddles cafes, cat cafes and Moomin cafes. What about something a little wilder, like an owl cafe?
For about 1500 yen these quirky cafes will allow you to befriend a wildling for about an hour. Due to their popularity, pre-booking is essential.
Harajuku is a well-known mecca for kawaii shops. After going in and out of stores displaying only cute merchandise, I can guarantee you will end up buying yourself at least a cactus-shaped phone cover or something similar.
In fact, pretty much everything in Japan is kawaii. If you glance at their posters or signs at the subway station, you will realise that things are very cute. The characters depict manga and most posters have cute animals on them to appeal to the general public.
This truly grabs one attention and makes us want to read the announcements properly. Shops are full of kawaii items and things as simple as a toothbrush stand is made to be cute and adorable. Stationery items, pillows and even mundane items such as paper clips are simply irresistible.
Shop In Ginza
Ginza is a shopping district, home to some of the world’s best-known fashion brands. For luxury travellers, shopping in Ginza is one of the best things to do in Tokyo. The streets of Ginza really come to life during the evening, when all the shops put up a luminescent spectacle.
As a tip, we recommend visiting Ginza during the weekend because the main boulevard is closed for traffic and the street becomes a pedestrian paradise. This makes Ginza an amazing place for photos. During sunny days chairs and tables are placed in the middle of the street and you will see people chilling, eating and having a laugh. The whole place becomes really cool with a nice atmosphere.
If you want to experience Ginza past the luxury shopping, sign up for this personal guided tour.
Discover traditional stores, such as Kyukyodo, where the beautiful Japanese paper, cards and fans are made by hand.
Visit a super cute Maid Cafe
Mainly found in Akihabara, maid cafes are a sensation in Japan. Cute girls dressed as maids will serve you all sort of kawaii desserts and dishes.
Remember that usually, you need to “meow” at a girl to grab her attention as normally they don’t respond to “sumimasen” ("excuse me" in Japanese).
What better way to learn about the quirky Anime and Manga culture in Japan than signing up for a guided tour around Akihabara. You will visit all the important parts of Electric Town and have lunch at a maid café with your personal tour guide.
See The Future In A Robot Restaurant
This is another quirky Japanese invention. The Robot Restaurant Show is not about being served by robots as one would initially think, but it’s essentially dining whilst watching locals dancing with cyborgs and robots.
The show is in Kabukicho, an entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku and it takes about 90 minutes.
Experience this world-famous show during your visit to Tokyo. You can get your tickets here. Please note, that tattoos have to be covered up as they are not allowed.
Stroke a cat in a Cat cafe
A beloved attraction in Japan is the cat cafe, an establishment which allows you to eat, drink and play with cats. These are perfect for animal lovers not allowed or able to have their own pets at home.
Usually, there is a small entry fee and several rules which need to be followed whilst indoors.
One of the best-rated cat cafes can be found in Shinjuku, about 10 mins walk from Takadanobaba Station. It is called Cat Cafe Nyankoto. The cafe is on the 2nd floor. You will get free WiFi and drinks included in the entry fee.
Celebrate Pets At The Hachiko Statue
There is much more to Shibuya than just its iconic pedestrian scramble. Whilst in the district, visit the statue of Hachikō, located right outside the Shibuya subway station.
Hachikō was an Akita dog which came to greet his owner daily. Even after the owner died, the dog continued to show his devotion by arriving at the train station at the same time, every evening, for the rest of his days.
The statue is meant to celebrate devotion and friendship.
Never Eat Alone With The New Moomin Cafe
Are you a solo traveller? If you need some company the next time you sit down for a coffee or tea in Tokyo, head to a Moomin cafe.
This is a new experience, where you will be seated next to a plush character from the famous Finnish tv series, "The Moomins", as your companion.
The Moomins are very popular in Japan, many Japanese tourists travel to Finnland just to see their favourite characters.
The Moomin cafe became an instant hit amongst Moomin fanatics. Take the subway towards the Tokyo Dome, get off at Korakuen Station. The cafe is open during Weekdays from 09:30 am to 22:30 pm; Weekends 8:00 am to 22:30 pm.
Get cuddles at a Cuddle Cafe
Although innocent enough, these crazy Japanese establishments allow men to sleep next to girls (and cuddle them). For an extra fee, you might even be allowed to stroke the girl’s hair. Creepy or fun?
The new “co-sleeping speciality shops" are targeting men who don't have time to date and have no relationships. Customers can pay to sleep in the arms of a beautiful girl or guy - with no strings attached.
Try an Arcade or Pachinko Parlour
These are Japanese arcades, where people go and play the slots, pinball, drum, music, dance games and other computer games. These arcades are incredibly loud and usually full of smoke. Some of the games are fun depending on what you are into.
As gambling for money is illegal in Japan, so you win tokens in Pachinko Parlours which you can 'sell' at a nearby shop for goods.
You will find pachinko parlours everywhere just look for the large, red signs and follow the loud music. Archades can mostly be found on the top floor of Don Quijote shops and other large department stores.
Take Your Kids To Tokyo Disneyland
Many who visit Tokyo also take a day to enjoy the many attractions of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
What better way to enjoy a summer day than by visiting the Tokyo DisneySea, a theme park with Disney characters which are sure to keep your inner child going for days to come.
The Tokyo DisneySea is an award-winning park which has been internationally recognised for its design and concept.
To get there, take the subway to Maihama Station. Use the Resort Gateway Station to board the Disney monorail to easily get around the park. The park opens at 8:00 am and closes at 22:00 pm.
Weekdays are usually less busy, but let's face it, this is Disneyland...
If you are looking for a convenient transfer from downtown Tokyo to Disneyland and want to skip the line at the entrance, consider signing up with this tour.
Things to do in Tokyo at night
Tokyo really comes alive at night. If you are wondering what to do in Tokyo, then going out at night is one of the best things to do. You'll see a different personality of the otherwise busy yet organised metropolis. The city shines with its neon colours at night, yet, like the best cities in the world, each neighbourhood holds something different. Meander around Shinjuku for its colours or relax in the very centre of Tokyo, in Chiyoda, and be amazed by how quiet the streets really are.
Check the views from the Tokyo Tower
This communication and observation tower allows tourists to enjoy epic views over Japan at either 150 or 250 metres above the ground. Standing at 333 metres, it is 13 metres taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. Seeing Tokyo from above is, in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
To get there go to the Akabanebashi Station (Oedo Line). The tower is about 10 mins walk. It is open from 9:00 am to 23:00 pm, daily (last entry 22:30 pm)
Views from 45th Floor - Tocho
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building or Tochō for short can be found in Shinjuku and it features an observation deck on the 45th floor. It is free to visit the building and the observation deck.
There is also a lovely bar and restaurant so you can enjoy the incredible views of the city with a glass of champagne or sit down for a lovely dinner with your loved one for a truly romantic experience.
The observatory is open on weekdays only. North Observatory is open from 9:30 am to 23:00 pm. The South Observatory is open from 9:30 am to 17:30 pm.
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Sky Deck In Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills feature Tokyo’s most amazing Sky Deck. Located on the 54th floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, the Sky Deck is an open-air observation terrace.
You can set up your tripod and photograph 360 degrees views over the city. One of the top things to do in Tokyo is to check out the Sky Deck right before it closes when it’s dark and admire the lit up, futuristic capital of Japan.
The indoor observation deck is 250 meters above sea level and a Sky Deck outdoor observation deck is 270 meters above sea level.
In the same building, you will find the Mori Art Museum, which is a contemporary art museum with many temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists.
To get there go to Roppongi Station (Hibiya, Oedo Lines). The station is connected to Roppongi Hills via underground tunnels. Check signs for the entrance. Best time to visit is during the evening, after dark, you will have amazing views of the city.
Good to know: Prepare warm clothes if you planning on visiting the Sky Deck. During the summer it's just windy, but during any other time, it can get very cold.
Feel The Vibes In Shinjuku
Arguably, Shinjuku is Tokyo’s most colourful ward. Home to Asia’s largest red district, countless street food vendors and a huge vibrant market, Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative centre.
Usually associated with jumbo adverts and crazy neon lights, Shinjuku is Tokyo’s most vibrant district.
Shinjuku is a whole new city within Tokyo and there are many things to do. We have created a separate article where will show you all the fun things to do in Shinjuku.
Best way to get there: Take the subway to Shinjuku Station, pretty much any lines.
Drink In Golden Gai
For an epic night out, head into the maze of several narrow streets of Golden Gai. With over 200 bars and small restaurants, Shinjuku’s district, Golden Gai will make you feel as if you stepped into a friend’s kitchen.
The establishments are so small that usually, no more than 5 people can fit in. Establishments, who server foreigners display an English menu outside. The rest of the places are reserved for locals.
It can be intimidating to enter one of these super tiny places. If you are not comfortable going there on your own, join the 3 hours guided tour around the Golden Gai neighbourhood to experience the best of the unique izakaya, bar stall and pub nightlife.
To get there, take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Golden Gai area is about 5-10 mins walk. Hours vary from place to place. Some are open 24/7 some open from afternoon until late. Visit during weekdays as the area is less busy. Right after work, locals head to this area to drink and have food. With the tourists, it becomes crowded. Fridays are obviously crazy.
Go Electric In Akihabara
Also known as the electric town, Akihabara is home to Tokyo’s largest electronic department stores. Many come here for the high concentration of anime and manga stores and cosplay cafes. I believe there is something strange about Akihabara and you either love it or hate it.
As tourism is growing and Akihabara is reaching 'world-famous' status, locals slowly moving to a new neighbourhood to get away from the crowds.
Nakano Broadway in Nakano City, about 10km West from Akihabara is a quickly emerging new geek centre in Tokyo. Many visit Nakano for their anime fix, purchase collectables and enjoy the Jpop culture.
This Super Mario themed Go-Kart tour has become a must-do in Tokyo. You can dress as your favourite Mario character and drive around in Akihabara in a Mario Kart. The ride is between 1-2 hours and it's worth signing up quick because it tends to sell out.
Insider tip for Akihabara
The opening times of department stores, attractions and independent shops vary. However, they are usually open until late at night. Akihabara is best after dark when all the lights come up. Weekends are usually very busy, weekdays are less so.
Buy Something From A Vending machine
Each street corner in Tokyo is guaranteed to have a vending machine. Some vending machines sell hot and cold drinks only, whilst others have bananas, hot pots, milk, fruit and many other bizarre things you can only find in Japan.
If you are short on cash, use your Suica or Pasmo card to pay for your goods.
Please note, that eating and drinking on the street is not customary in Japan. You should consume what you purchased right next to the machine and discard any rubbish, cans in the bins provided.
Some restaurants have a vending machine outside the door which allows you to purchase your food before entering. Once you selected what you like to eat, paid and collected your tickets, go inside, take a seat and give your tickets to the waiter. Your food will be served shortly.
Release Your Inhibitions In The Red District
Located in the heart of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s red district is Asia’s largest and the world’s most peculiar adult entertainment quarter.
It features many hostess bars, massage parlours, cuddle cafes and love hotels. Many of these places are run by the Yakuza, hence travellers are advised to be careful when drinking in the area.
Don't forget to check out some adult-only activities in Tokyo.
Kabukicho, Red Light District
To get there, take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Kabukicho is about 10 mins walk away. Definitely visit after dark, however, don't stay until very late (eg. after midnight) as the area is not the safest in Tokyo.
Discover the Red Light District and Golden Gai neighbourhood with this guided tour.
Sleep In A Capsule Hotel
The capsule hotel might be the best choice for the budget traveller and it will definitely be an unforgettable experience. These hotels feature “capsules”, small, one-person spaces where you can sleep.
Some have associated them with morgues due to their uncanny appearance. Most capsules are large enough for one person to sleep comfortably, and are equipped with an alarm clock and wifi.
Take A Walk On The Piss Alley (Omoide Yokocho)
Located in Shinjuku, the Piss Alley (also known as Memory Lane) is a small, cramped alleyway with many eateries and tiny bars.
Unlike the name suggests, the Piss Alley is not a smelly back street, but a cool place with lots of bars and small shops stuffed together as tightly as possible.
To get there, take the subway to Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station or the main Shinjuku Station.
The best time to visit depends on what you are after. If you would like to take pictures, we recommend visiting during the week, after dark or just before sunset. If you want to have a night out with friends, Fridays and weekends are the best time.
Join a guided tour around Shinjuku and learn not just about the Memory Lane but also explore Shinjuku and the entertainment district of Kabukichō.
Rent A Room In A Love Hotel
Love Hotels are hotel rooms rented out for short periods of time only. They come in many shapes and sizes from very basic to themed, luxury. Usually, they have a double bed and the hotel provides you with outfit rental facilities. Some hotels are fully automated so you don't have to talk to anyone to get a room. Afterwards, who knows what happens behind closed doors...
As usual, be vigilant when using these facilities as they are mostly run by the Yakuza.
Foodie Things to do in Tokyo
In love with food? Then Tokyo won't disappoint as to us this is the food capital of the world. Here are some of our favourite foodie things to do in Tokyo. Wherever you end up eating, you will enjoy your dish, that's for sure.
Eat On Nakamise Street
Dotted with almost 50 shops, this shopping street leads right to the Senso-Ji Temple. An attraction on its own, this is the perfect place to get the taste of the Japanese street food culture.
Nakamise Street (Nakamise Dori) has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional snacks, dishes, and souvenirs for centuries. It is one of the oldest streets for vendors in Tokyo.
In fact, Asakusa used to be a fantastic entertainment centre back in its days. We recommend trying some of the many sweets you can find on this street. You can find street food ranging from ice cream and soy doughnuts to delicious noodles and ramen. All you have to do is show up willing to try a little bit of everything.
There are many souvenirs to be purchased, but prices are a little higher given that this became a major tourist attraction in the last few years.
The best way to get there is to take the subway to Asakusa Station, Asakusa or Ginza lines. It is open every day from 10:00 am to 17:00 pm. These times may vary during public holidays. The best time to visit is during weekdays, any time outside of rush-hour.
Eat Sushi (or make your own)
Japan has long been associated with sushi, and no sushi experience can match the Japanese desire for perfection. In Japan making sushi is a form of art and the itamae (sushi chef) takes their jobs very seriously.
Many open their own sushi restaurants to ensure the service and food quality are always up to standards. For casual dining, try a sushi train restaurant.
We would love to recommend you a sushi restaurant in Tokyo but, to be honest, there are so many, it's impossible to pick just one. The best thing to do it to look for either a traditional sushi place or a sushi train restaurant.
If eating sushi in a restaurant is not your thing, you might want to consider making your own! Book your Tokyo cooking class here!
Go To A Ramen Place
By now, you probably tried all Tokyo’s street food, enjoyed plenty of sushi and ate in several restaurants. If you haven’t tried a bowl of ramen, now it’s the time to do so.
Tokyo’s first small ramen place to win a Michelin star is located in Sugamo. You need to go there very early in the morning to grab a ticket valid only on the same day for lunchtime. Some serious dedication and patience are definitely required here.
In the end, you will be rewarded with some of the best ramens you’ve ever tasted.
However, there is a ramen place at every single corner so if you just want to taste the soul of Tokyo, just visit any ramen bar, sit down and slurp those noodles.
Savour Harajuku Pancakes
A must-do in Tokyo is ordering as many crazy Harajuku pancakes as you could possibly eat. These amazing desserts are cone-shaped pancakes filled with your idea of heaven: choose from the vanilla cheesecake, fruits, cream and matcha tea cakes. You can also get savoury crazy pancakes. Delicious!
Harajuku pancakes became a huge craze in the last few years so do expect long queues. There is a special crazy pancake shop located in the Akihabara subway station as well. They have fewer flavours to pick from, but there is hardly any queue there. However, because of the recent demand, Harajuku has now more crazy pancakes stands. We recommend trying them all. We promise you won't regret it.
If you would rather not miss anything in Harajuku, take a guided tour and experience the colourful Harajuku through cute foods and desserts.
Try Japanese Street Food
Japan is synonymous with awesome food. Although home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world, it is the street food which makes Tokyo so unique and fun.
Skip conventional dinner, explore Shinjuku’s streets and try these amazing street foods.
Taste fresh seafood at the new Toyosu Market
The Tsukiji fish market closed on October 6, 2018, and moved to a new site called Toyosu Market. Visit the market to enjoy amazing street food and some of the best seafood on the planet. To me, the famed Toyosu Market is Tokyo's seafood nirvana.
Meet the new Toyosu Market near Shijo-Mae Station, (take the Yurikamome Line), in Tokyo’s Koto Ward.
The new market is almost twice the size of the old Tsukiji. Two large buildings are used for selling wholesale seafood and one for fruit and vegetables.
There are many new restaurants in the market selling literary the freshest seafood you will ever try. There is no entry fee to the market, but you will have to pick up a visitors badge. This will allow you to check the tuna auction from the viewing platforms above.
The tuna auction takes about 2 hours but this doesn't include, of course, the time you will spend sampling the super delicious seafood at every turn.
Tuna Auction at Toyosu Market
Book a guided tour to see the auction. The tour takes about 2 hours and gives you a glips into the fast-paced world of Japanese Seafood Industry and the life of the market.
To get there, take the subway to Shijo-Mae Station, Yurikamome Line. The wholesale market is open from 5:00 am to 17:00 pm. Some restaurants only open from 7:00 am. The market is closed on Sundays and some public holidays.
Accommodation in Tokyo
Apart from love and capsule hotels, there are plenty of great accommodation options in the heart of Tokyo. If you want to enjoy proximity to most of the city's main attraction, finding a hotel in Shibuya or Shinjuku might be a great choice. Alternatively, you can enjoy the quiet quarters of Chiyoda or immerse yourself in a more luxury option in Ginza. Whether you are a budget, midrange or luxury traveller, we curated our favourite accommodation in Tokyo to make sure you are comfortable and enjoy your stay. For a detailed guide on where to stay in Tokyo click here.
Did you make a list of all the things you want to do in Tokyo? What did you pick from the article? Or maybe we missed a really cool activity you want to add? Let us know in the comments section below!