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50 things to do in Tokyo for first time visitors

An exciting list of all the cool things to do in Tokyo for first time travellers and visitors. Get immersed in Japan's capital city.

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 still won’t be able to discover it all.

This is exactly why I’ve put together a list of our favourite top 50 things to do during your travels to Tokyo. And you still need more things to do, you can totally find out how to spend 2 weeks in Japan.

So pick Tokyo for your upcoming trip? In a nutshell, it's because it will change your perspective on travel. We never thought Tokyo will have such an impact on our lives, but the reality is, everything has changed after our trip there.

We learned that a city can be alive, busy yet efficient. We learned that food can be delicious and incredible. No matter where we purchased food from in Tokyo, the dishes were always done to perfection.

Tokyo is a dreamy city, full of possibilities. Japanese people know how to conduct themselves and no matter the circumstance, you'll always feel like you receive the best customer service.

And unlike many other cities, Tokyo has a little bit of everything. For example, you can indulge in food, relax in a park, stay in a traditional ryokan with an onsen or just go clubbing until dawn.

Tokyo is a like shapeshifter, waiting for you to mould it into whatever it is that you want from your holiday.

Here are some of the things to do in Tokyo during your first visit. The more you do, the more addictive Tokyo becomes.

Table of Contents

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.

Senso-Ji in Detail

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Asakusa Station, Asakusa or Ginza lines. The temple is a short 10 mins walk away from the station.

Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan

Opening Times: The temple grounds are always open.
The main Temple is open from 6:00 am to 17:00 pm (from 6:30 am from October to March)

Best Times to Visit: Weekdays, Non-public Holidays, Early Morning and late Evening.

Worst Times to Visit: Any Public Holidays, Weekends, on the week after New Year (1st Jan), Golden Week (end of April, beginning of May)

sensoji spiritual tokyo

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.

Nakamise Street in Detail

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Asakusa Station, Asakusa or Ginza lines.

Address: 1 Chome-20 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan

Opening Times: Every day from 10:00 am to 17:00 pm. These times may vary during public holidays.

Best Times to Visit: Weekdays, any time outside of rush-hour.

Worst Times to Visit: Any Public Holidays, Weekends.

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. This Asakusa Cultural & Street-food Walking Tour is offered by Magical Trip and you'll have an informative and friendly guide who will give you a lot of new knowledge. For lunch, you'll cook Okonomiyaki or Monjayaki for yourself with an instruction from your guide and taste it!

Meander around Asakusa Things to do in Tokyo

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.

Kitchen Town:

Address: 3-Chome-18-2 Matsugaya, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0036, Japan

Opening Times: Usually from 9:00 am to 18:00 pm, but each shop opening times will vary.

If you get hungry during your stay in Asakusa, why not check out one of the many restaurants in the area.

Try unagi (eel) at Kikko

Kikkō is a Japanese unagi restaurant with a lovely atmosphere, traditional low seating, stone and wooden floors.

Address: 2-Chome-2-2-13 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan

Opening Times: Usually from 11:30 am to 13:30 pm and 17:30 pm to 21:00 pm.

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50 things to do in Tokyo for first time visitors
50 things to do in Tokyo for first time visitors

Enjoy Yoyogi Park

Mainly known for its Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi park is a popular strolling and picknick 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.

Yoyogi Park in Detail

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Harajuku Station.

Address: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0052, Japan

Opening Times: 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.

Wedding Meiji Jingu

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 in Detail

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Harajuku Station and cross Yoyogi Park.

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan

Opening Times: 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.

Best Times to Visit: during winter, June because of blooms, weekdays, Non-public Holidays, Early Morning and late Evening.

Worst Times to Visit: Any Public Holidays, Weekends, on the week after New Year (1st Jan), Golden Week (end of April, beginning of May)

Buy An Ema

An ema is a Japanese wishing wooden plaque which can be found in almost all temples and 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.

There is no right or wrong thing to write on the ema. You can write in any language you like or even draw.

ema

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.

Omikuji - Credit: kalandrakas

Taste fresh seafood at the new Toyosu Market

The Tsukiji Market used to be the world’s largest fish market, open to businesses and to the general public alike. It was famed for its tuna auction and fresh produce, many came to Tokyo specifically for the Tsukiji Market, to enjoy the opportunity of tasting the amazing street food and some of the best seafood on the planet. To me, the famed Tsukiji Fish market is Tokyo's seafood nirvana.

Unfortunately, the Tsukiji fish market on October 6, 2018 and moved to a new site.

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 tune 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.

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Shijo-Mae Station, Yurikamome Line

Address: 6-Chome-3 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan

Opening Times: 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.

Best Times to Visit: to catch the tuna auction, it's advised to arrive early.

Worst Times to Visit: Sundays, as the market is closed. Also, expect larger crowds the later in the day you arrive.

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.

Odaiba Onsen Experience

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.

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Telecom Center Station, Yurikamome Line

Address: 2 Chome-6-3 Aomi, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0064, Japan

Opening Times: daily, from 11:00 am to 9:00 am (next day)

Important: No tattoos allowed in the onsen.

Japanese Onsen Ryokan

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.

Takeshita Street

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.

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Harajuku Station, Yamanote Line

Address: 1-Chome-17 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Opening Times: daily, from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm but the opening times might vary shop by shop.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando

Best way to get here: Meiji-jingumae ’Harajuku’ Station (Chiyoda Line)

Address: 1-Chome-17 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Opening Times: daily, from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. the Starbucks is open from 8.30 am to 11:00 pm.

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.

Santa Monica Crepes

At the very end of Takeshita Street, this pancake shop has a large selection of pancakes.

Address: 1-Chome-8-5 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Opening Times: 9:00 am to 21:00 pm daily.

Harajuku Food Tour

If you would rather not miss anything in Harajuku, take a guided tour and experience the colourful Harajuku through cute foods and desserts.

Harajuku crazy pancakes

Buy Kawaii

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.

Japanese kawaii stationary

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.

Read about shopping in Ginza in more details.

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.

Best way to get here: Ginza Station (Ginza, Hibiya, Marunouchi Lines)

Address: Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan

Opening Times: shops usually open between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. Closing times vary but most shops are open until late, between 21:00 pm and 23:00 pm.

Explore Ginza with a local guide

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.

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.

Best way to get here: Ueno Station (Ginza, Hibiya Lines)

Address: 5-20 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan

Opening Times: The park is open 24/7. The museums usually open at 9:30 am and close at 17:00 pm.

Best Times to Visit: during the Cherry Blossom season and autumn to see the autumn leaves. Visit in the evening for the lights.

Worst Times to Visit: as usual, parks are very busy during the weekend and public holidays. The Cherry Blossom season brings in locals and tourists alike.

Ueno Park

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.

Tokyo National Museum in Detail

Address: 13-9 Uenokōen, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 110-8712, Japan

Opening Times: from 9:30 am to 17:00 pm on Sun-Thu and 21:00 pm Fri-Sat.

Entry fee: 620 yen

Official Website: Tokyo National Museum

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.

Best way to get here: Akabanebashi Station (Oedo Line). The tower is about 10 mins walk.

Address: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan

Opening Times: from 9:00 am to 23:00 pm, daily (last entry 22:30 pm)

Entry fee: Main deck: 900 yen, Top deck tour: 2800 yen

Official Website: Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Night Japan

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.

Check other fun things to do in Shinjuku

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.

Best way to get here: Akabanebashi Station (Oedo Line). The tower is about 10 mins walk.

Address: 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001, Japan

Opening Times: The observatory is open on weekdays only.

North Observatory: from 9:30 am to 23:00 pm

South Observatory: from 9:30 am to 17:30 pm (until 23:00 when North Observatory is closed)

Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.

Entry fee: Free. Check signs for entrance.

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.

Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in details

Best way to get here: Roppongi Station (Hibiya, Oedo Lines). The station is connected to Roppongi Hills via underground tunnels. Check signs for the entrance.

Address: 6 Chome-10-1 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan

Best Time to Visit: During the evening, after dark, you will have amazing views of the city.

Good to know: Prepare a 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.

Tokyo City View (Indoor)

Opening Times:

Weekdays: from 10:00 am to 23:00 pm. (last admission at 22:30 pm)

Fridays, Saturdays, days before holidays:
from 10:00 am to 01:00 pm (next day). (last admission at 00:00 am)

Entry fee: 1800 yen - Includes the Mori Art Museum

Sky Deck (Outdoors)

Opening Times: from 11:00 am to 20:00 pm (last admission: 19:30 pm)

Entry fee: 1800 yen (Tokyo City View) + 500 yen (Sky Deck), 2300 yen in Total.

See the official website for more details, ticket prices and opening hours.

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 here: Take the subway to Shinjuku Station, pretty much any lines.

Cabs night time Shinjuku

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.

Golden Gai in Details

Best way to get here: Take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Golden Gai area is about 5-10 mins walk.

Address: 1 Chome-1-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021, Japan

Opening Times: Hours vary from place to place. Some are open 24/7 some open from afternoon until late.

Best Times to Visit: During weekdays, the area is less busy

Worth Times to Visit: 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.

Akihabara in Details

Address: Taito City, Tokyo 110-0006

Opening Times: the opening times of department stores, attractions and independent shops vary. However, they are usually open until late at night.

Best Times to Visit: Akihabara is best after dark when all the lights come up. Weekends are usually very busy, weekdays are less so.

Go-Kart Guided Tour

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.

Akihabara Train Station Tokyo

Eat Cute Food In A 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).

Anime & Manga Culture Guided Tour

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 cute girls dancing with cyborgs and robots.

The show is 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.

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.

Tokyo Station in Details

Address: 1 Chome Marunouchi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo, Japan

Opening Times: the opening times of shops vary.

Best Times to Visit: Any time after rush hour is ok.

Tokyo Shinkansen Station Cory

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 practice and learn about the life of the wrestlers.

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.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Address: 1 Chome-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0015, Japan

When to Visit: There are three tournaments in Tokyo in January, May and September.

Other tournaments are held in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November).

Sumo Practice

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.

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.

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.

Don't forget to have a look at our where to stay in Tokyo guide.

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.

Cat Cafe Nyankoto

One of the best-rated cat cafes can be found in Shinjuku, about 10 mins walk from Takadanobaba Station. The cafe is on the 2nd floor. You will get free WiFi and drinks included in the entry fee.

Address: 2-Chome-14-6 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 169-0075, Japan

Opening Times: usually between 11:00 am to 22:00 pm, but this might change on holidays.

Entry fee: One hour is 800 yen. Every extra 15 minutes costs 200 yen. You can also buy a 3-hour pack for 2000 yen. Snack for the cats cost 100 yen.

For more information visit their official website.

Cat Cafe Tokyo

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.

Moomin Bakery & Cafe

How to get here: Take the subway towards the Tokyo Dome, get off at Korakuen Station.

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0003, Japan

Opening Times: Weekdays from 09:30 am to 22:30 pm; Weekends 8:00 am to 22:30 pm

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.

High-tech Japanese Toilet - Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoon/

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.

Additional services include dream counselling, hugging and other, strictly non-sexual interactions.

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.

Akihabara Japanese Dancing

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.

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. Check out the details of Tea Ceremony 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.

Tsuta Ramen

How to get here: Take the subway to Sugamo Station (Mita, Yamanote Lines)

Address: 1 Chome-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0002, Japan

Opening Times: from 11:00 am to 15:00 pm; Reopens from 17:00 pm to 20:00 pm.
Closed on Wednesdays.

Tickets can be picked up from 7:00 am on weekdays and 6:30 am on weekends. The tickets are normally gone by 10:00 am.

Dedicated Twitter account showing how many tickets left for the day.

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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.

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.

Pasmo Card

Official website: https://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/

Suica Card

Official website: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html

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.

Ghibli Museum

How to get here: Take the subway to Kichijoji Station (Chuo Line). The park is about 20 mins walk on Kichijoji-dori avenue.

Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan

Opening Times: from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm. Check times during national holidays.

Entry fee: 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/

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.

Tokyo Disneyland

How to get here: Take the subway to Maihama Station.

Use the Resort Gateway Station to board the Disney monorail to easily get around the park.

Address: 1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031, Japan

Opening Times: The park opens at 8:00 am and closes at 22:00 pm.

Best Times to Visit: weekdays are usually less busy, but let's face it, this is Disneyland...

Worst Time to Visit: public holidays, weekends, school holidays. Waiting times can be very long when the park is full. Note, that there is a limit on how many visitors are allowed in the park at any given time.

Entry fees: Adult: 7400 yen; Junior: 6400 yen; Child: 4800 yen

If you are looking for a convenient transfare from downtown Tokyo to Disneyland and want to skip the line at the entrance, consider signing up with this tour.

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.

Here is the list of the best streets for street food in Tokyo:

Cat Town - Yanaka Ginza Shotengai

Address: 3 Chome-13-1 Yanaka, Taito, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan

Opening Times: from 6:00 am to 20:00 pm

The longest shopping street - Togoshi Ginza

Address: Togoshi, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 142-0041, Japan

Opening Times: each shop has individual opening times, usually open from 9:00 am.

The shopping street is closed for vehicles during these times:

Monday to Saturday: from 15:00 pm to 18:00 pm; Sunday / Holidays: from 14:00 pm to 19:00 pm

Kawaii & Fashion - Harajuku

Address: 1-Chome-17 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Opening Times: each shop has individual opening times

Traditional - Nakamise Dori, Asakusa

Address: 1 Chome-20 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan

Opening Times: each shop has individual opening times

Flee market - Ameya Yokocho, Ueno

Address: 4-9-14 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan

Opening Times: from 10:00 am to 20:00 pm

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.

How to get here: Take the subway to Shinjuku-nishiguchi Station or the main Shinjuku Station.

Address: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan

When to visit: It 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.

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

How to get here: Take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Kabukicho is about 10 mins walk away.

Address: Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021

When to visit: Definitely 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.

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Go Zen In Gyoen Park

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.

How to get here: 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.

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan

Opening Times: from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm (gates close at 16.30 pm)

The park is closed on Mondays and National Holidays.

Entry fee: 200 yen

Best Times to 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.

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.

Shibuya Crossing

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.

Eat Sushi

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 one. The best thing to do it to look for either a traditional sushi place or a sushi train restaurant.

Perfect Sushi Rice Japan

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.

How to get here: Take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away.

Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan

Opening Times: The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.

Entrance fee: Free

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.

Read more about the adult only Tokyo in this article.

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.

Books Kinokuniya Tokyo is a large Manga and Anime bookstore in Shibuya.

Manga Art Hotel Tokyo is a Manga Hotel where you can read comics during your stay.

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.

Ikefukurou Cafe

How to get here: Take the subway to Ikebukuro Station

Address: 1 Chome−17−1, Minamiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo, 171-0022 Japan

Opening Times: Monday to Friday: 13:00 pm to 20:00 pm; Weekends: 12:00 pm to 19:00 pm

Fees: 1600 yen for 1 hour, 1 drink is included.

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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. Please check where to stay in Tokyo for more options in other, quieter neighbourhoods.

Hotel Shinjuku
Check The Millennials Shibuya on Booking.com

The Millennials Shibuya

The Millennials Shibuya is located just 400 metres away from the famed Shibuya crossing. Each room comes with shared bathroom and free toiletries. A very nice buffet service is served each morning at the property and it is included in the price. The rooms are super clever and can be used as day lounges as well bedrooms due to the reclining capability of your bed. Prices started from £23 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

HOTEL UNIZO Tokyo Ginza-itchome

This is a new hotel which opened in 2015. This property offers restricted access for female guests with an exclusive tea lounge and a free relaxing aroma oil samples for in-room use. You can access the business centre at your convenience as well. The interior is modern and the rooms come with cleaner/humidifier. Hotel Unizo is in an excellent location. Prices start at £65 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo is a 5 star hotel located in Shinjuku Skyscraper district. This can only mean one thing: amazing views over Tokyo. The comfortable rooms all come with free wifi and 21 dining options. You can enjoy a fitness centre, swimming pools, convenience stores and even a business centre. The hotel also provides a free shuttle to Tokyo Disney Resort. Unlike other luxury Tokyo hotels, Keio Plaza is actually really well priced, with rooms starting from just £150 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

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!

Responses

j
jamie maycock
21 Aug 2016

Tokyo looks amazing1 i cant wait to visit!!
Safe Travels

-Jamie Maycock

C
Cory
22 Aug 2016

I can't wait to read about your Tokyo travels.

a
adam
26 Apr 2018

Best things to do in Tokyo that it's interesting, your article really inspiring to my vacation in Tokyo later, hope this is fun

G
Guillaume
27 Apr 2018

Awesome listing, thanks for sharing! it makes me want to come back to Tokyo :) ;)

A
Amanda Chua
23 Jul 2018

What an amazing and a fascinating place to visit. I really didn't know much about this but after reading this post I will surely visit one day. Thanks for sharing such an amazing post.