With so many things to do in Tokyo, it's understandable why you picked this incredible sprawling metropolis as your next travel destination. You will find classic tourist attractions, delicious restaurants but also some of the trendiest cafes in the whole world.
Visit some of the oldest temples like Senso-Ji, eat ramen in the cheapest Michelin star restaurant called Tsuta and shop in multi-story modern shopping centres like Don Quixote.
Immerse yourself into zen activities like tea ceremonies and ikebana and take cooking classes from locals, to learn how to make sushi. Experience the chaotic side of the city with its unconventional nightlife, maid cafes and futuristic parlours. Tokyo truly is a unique place to visit and we guarantee that you won't ever run out of things to do in the city.
With so many attractions, Tokyo is a great tourist destination for all ages, budgets and interests. Tokyo is suitable for families with kids, young adults, couples and solo travellers alike.
With so many bucket list experiences, it's only natural to feel overwhelmed when planning your trip to Tokyo. We know this because we felt the same way the first time we visited. But that's why we put together this comprehensive travel guide on everything you should do on your trip to Tokyo, to ensure you don't miss anything at all!
Our deeply researched list of things to do in Tokyo is based on our own personal experiences and includes traditional activities, must-see locations and unique eateries. The more Tokyo attractions you see, the more you'll love the city.
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Cultural Things to do in Tokyo
When visiting Tokyo, you can dig deep into cultural activities in order to learn about customs and traditions that have been alive for generations.
While Tokyo is a modern metropolis tailored for the cosmopolitan tourist, there are many traditional activities kept alive by locals. Engage in local arts and crafts, dress up like a geisha or participate in a tea ceremony. These are often activities perfect for a first time tourist in Tokyo who wants to immerse in a more traditional Japan.
Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium
Sumo is a national sport in Japan that has been practised since ancient times. There are six Grand Sumo tournaments each year and only three of them are held at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo (in January, May and September). If you happen to visit outside of the sumo season, you can still be close to a professional sumo player, during one of their morning practices.
When sumo wrestlers don't participate in tournaments, they practice every day. Visit one of these sumo practices at a Sumo Stable and learn about this unique Japanese sport.
Visit sumo practise in the morning, around Ryogoku, near the popular district of Asakusa. To attend, you will need a local tour guide to accompany you, who speaks the local language and can organise this experience on your behalf. You cannot just walk into any sumo stable without prior pre-approval.
We recommend booking the experience here, in advance.
While not the cheapest activity to do in Tokyo, it really is a bucket list experience you should absolutely try. Before the practice, your guide will tell you about some of the ancient traditions still preserved in sumo wrestling. At the end of the visit, you may have a chance to talk to the sumo players and even take a fun picture with them.
Senso-Ji Buddist Temple
Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, located in the historical district of Asakusa. See the famed Kaminarimon gate, photograph the sake barrels at the temple and use incense sticks to purify your soul. This cultural activity is very popular with locals as you will see many Japanese follow their Buddhist spiritual traditions.
This was the first place we visited when we first arrived in Tokyo, being so close to other major attractions like the Tokyo Skytree and Ueno Park. Being so popular with tourists, it's natural to expect Senso-Ji to be fairly busy. Remember that it's especially crowded during Sanja Matsuri in late spring.
From personal experience, we recommend visiting the temple either first thing in the morning or late at night. The grounds of the temple are always open and you can take some fantastic photographs at night time.
Insider Tip: 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. On your way, you will pass the wonderful Nakamise Dori, a long touristic street lined with food stalls and souvenirs shops.
Relax at an onsen
To experience an onsen is perhaps one of the most cultural activities in Tokyo. There is a ritual around entering an onsen. Most onsens are separated by gender because nobody is allowed to enter the water dressed. You have to soak in the onsen completely naked.
Soaking in an onsen is a popular activity amongst locals but it's slowly becoming a bucket list experience for tourists in Tokyo too. It can be a chance to talk with locals as the Japanese consider an onsen, the perfect place to socialise with one another.
Scattered all over Tokyo, you can find several onsens not far from major touristic metro line. On our first trip to Tokyo, we chose to stay in a ryokan with an onsen. Ryokans can be expensive but they are a once in a lifetime type of experience, so we do think you should add it to your travel plans. If you are on a budget, rest assured that you can find an array of ryokan options for all budgets. Here's a list of the best ryokans in Tokyo.
Insider Tip: Visit 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, a 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.
Enjoy A Public Bath
To socialise in Tokyo, you can go to a pub or you can go to a public bath. Public baths are a very traditional way of socialising in Japan. Public baths might seem a little weird at first, but they are a great cultural experience.
There are many public baths available throughout the streets of Tokyo, and you are never too far from one, even in the most popular touristic districts. To access a public bath in Tokyo you just need to pay a small fee (around 500 yen). Some public baths, like Kotobukiyu Sento located right next to Ueno Park, even offer a sauna for an additional 250 yen. If you forget to bring a towel, you can always rent one on location.
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.
Insider Tip: 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.
Dress up as an Oiran
Special activities are a great way to experience traditional Japan. Dressing like an oiran is a must-try cultural activity in Tokyo. Book this in advance because it's quickly becoming a popular must-do amongst first-time visitors in Tokyo!
The makeover takes up to 4 hours, and a professional will recreate your makeup, hair and pick the best kimono just for you. It's a great girly activity for girlfriends travelling together or for couples who want to dress up together.
Oirans were women of pleasure, but they were proud courtesans with a higher rank than ordinary citizens. Oiran would go to special training but in the end, the Oiran was vested the Senior Fifth Rank by the government. The Senior Fifth Rank was equivalent to the feudal lord.
We used this company for our kimono dressing which is located in Edogawa City, in Tokyo. To get there you just need the Shinjuku line from central Tokyo.
During this traditional experience, I was dressed as an oiran and my husband as a samurai. The ladies who run the business don't speak much English but after all these years, we still keep in touch and use an online translator to communicate.
Buy An Ema
Do you have a wish you need to come true? Buy a Japanese wooden plaque called an ema, an extremely traditional thing to do in Tokyo.
An ema is a Japanese wishing wooden plaque, on which you can write your wish or prayer. Find your ema at any Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Every Shinto shrine was erected in honour of a kami, which is the Japanese for God. Depending on which shrine you visit, the ema plaques will have their own kami depicted on them.
Simply write on your ema in any language you like or even draw your future and wishes. Many locals do this as you will see many ema left behind at the Shinto shrines around Tokyo.
Find out your future - Draw a Japanese Omikuji
To dive deeper into Japanese spirituality you must draw an omikuji at a Buddhist temple. An omikuji is a fortune-telling paper strip. Drawing an omikuji is not intended just for tourists. You will see locals drawing omikuji at the temples all the time. It's part of life in Japan and is seen as a non-touristic activity.
These fortune-telling strips are available at the famed Sensō-Ji, for example. 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.
Your bamboo stick has Japanese characters on it. Find the matching sign on the drawers and look for the Japanese to English translation sheet.
If you get 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.
Attend A Tea Ceremony
A traditional Japanese tea ceremony is one of the most popular cultural experiences in Tokyo. The Japanese tea ceremony is a form of art and locals study it for years. This is a must for any zen-lover.
Attend a soothing tea ceremony as a form of relaxation. This is a great activity for families, couples and solo tourists to Tokyo. Learn more about customs and manners around serving matcha tea. You can use unique Japanese utensils specifically created for the sole purpose of drinking matcha.
Of course, you can order a matcha tea at almost any cafe in Tokyo, but it's not the same as attending the tea ceremony which is a specialised ancient ritual.
A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes many hours but if time is precious, you can attend a shorter, slightly more informal tea ceremony created to accommodate tourists in Tokyo.
Indulge in a matcha tea served alongside Wagashi (traditional Japanese desserts, made exclusively by hand) while wearing a kimono.
Unique things to do in Tokyo
There's no other place like Tokyo. This is our favourite city in the world, where you'll always find yourself entertained by interesting and unique activities. There are so many unique things to do in Tokyo, like crossing the famed Shibuya scramble, listening to a singing toilet or eating a white strawberry. These experiences can be enjoyed by all types of seasoned tourists and also first-time visitors to Tokyo.
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 half a million people every day or about 2500 people every time the lights turn green. When you visit Tokyo, make sure you are one of them! Shibuya truly is a unique activity in Tokyo, as there's no other place like it in the world!
Prepare for loud jumbo adverts and neon lights flashing from all directions as well as tonnes of people crossing in all directions. But that's the fun of it because you feel the beating heart of the city: chaotic, yet organised.
The reason why the Shibuya crossing is so busy is thanks to its key location, right next to the Shibuya Station which is one of the largest transportation hubs in Tokyo handling over 2 million people a day.
Shibuya crossing is very popular amongst young locals, who use the square in front of it as a meeting point. Shibuya is a popular touristic district too, where you will find many shopping malls, cafes, restaurants and souvenirs shops. It's also an excellent shopping district and a great location to stay in Tokyo.
Venture beyond the famed crossing and find out what are the best things to do in Shibuya.
Experience The High Tech Toilets
We are not joking, because using a Japanese toilet is a pretty unique activity. 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.
Beyond using a high tech toilet in Japan, you can also visit showrooms that display TOTO toilets and devices. This activity sure is for the quirky traveller who wants to explore an unconventional side of Tokyo.
Wondering how to make your toilet sing? Depending on the model available in your hotel, simply click the button for privacy and listen to either music or the peaceful sounds of a river stream. Weird and wonderful Tokyo!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo
Yayoi Kusama is a unique Japanese artist who focuses on dots as art patterns. Visiting the five-floor museums located in Shinjuku is a must-do activity while in Tokyo. This should be very high on your bucket list so make sure you reserve tickets well in advance.
This museum is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike so it's essential that you prebook your tickets for the desired time slot.
This fun and unique experience in Tokyo is especially suitable for young adults and couples who want some cool and unusual Instagram photos.
You will transit through the main 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 unique secrets of Tokyo Station. The station building is massive and spreads in all directions underground via subterranean streets.
Wander around and check the thousands of stores, restaurants, bars and department stores. We promise you will find a lot of interesting, truly unique Japanese gems. For example, eat in Tonkatsu Wako for traditional katsu, or take your morning coffee with a side of pancakes at Bubby's.
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 simply walk around the many parks scattered throughout the city. 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. Explore the secret gardens and discover some of the best zen gems in Japan.
Meander Around Asakusa
Asakusa was the entertainment quarter in the Edo district and is known for its theatres and events. Nowadays Asakusa is one of the most popular destinations among tourists coming to Tokyo for the famous Kaminarimon gate and Sensoji temple.
We recommend allocating a few hours to just stroll on Asakusa's narrow streets to discover independent markets, shops, and boutiques selling clothes, souvenirs, pots and pans. Asakusa is a fantastic place for the foodie traveller too, as many restaurants here are well established and specialised in traditional cuisine like ramen, sushi and tempura. What's best is that most of the restaurants here can offer quality on a budget. Asakusa is also very close to many tourist attractions, like the Ueno Park, Tokyo Skytree and the Sumida River.
Insider Tip: Asakusa is a great place for shopping for household items including bamboo and miso bowls, chopsticks, and norens. In fact, Asakusa is known to have a special street that has shops dedicated to the restaurant industry. It's called Kappabashi (Kitchen Town). Asakusa is simply 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.
Visit Yoyogi at the weekend, so you can see lots of locals performing in the park, doing yoga or just having a picnic together. Explore the area and take photos during the Sakura or Koyo season.
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.
Insider Tip: 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 never goes to waste, of course, it is consumed during the ceremonies and many festivities.
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.
A large green space and a popular hanami spot, the Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful landscape garden. Located just in the popular touristic Shinjuku neighbourhood, not many are aware of this gorgeous gem in Tokyo. We recommend bringing a blanket to enjoy a relaxing picnic right in the heart of Tokyo.
To get to Shinjuku Gyoien, 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 Shinjuku Gyoen undertakes a beautiful transformation during the sakura season as well as in mid-autumn when all tree leaves change colour.
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.
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.
We recommend visiting the Imperial Palace year-round because each season is worthy of your photographs. The Imperial Palace is a popular tourist attraction so make sure to explore as early in the morning as possible.
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.
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.
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.
Insider Tip: 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
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.
Explore Tokyo with ease by riding the subway everywhere you go. It's punctual, affordable and convenient. It enabled us to visit so many attractions all around Tokyo. Grab a Suica or Pasmo card and embark on a subterranean adventure.
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.
Insider Tip: If you want to experience the busiest railway station in the world, head over to Shinjuku station which is on the Yamanote line. Expect close to 4 million people per day, dozens of platforms (53 in total), and over 200 exits.
Located on the western side of Tokyo, the Ghibli Museum is a popular tourist destination for all Studio Ghibli fans. Walk around this museum and learn how Japanese animation really comes to life. It's an ideal thing to do in Tokyo for everyone who wants to experience Spirited Away but in real 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 is full of cool experiences. Here's what to do.
Join colourful Japan in Harajuku
Visit 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's 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
For the ultimate geeky experience, venture into a real Japanese anime shop. Located mainly in Akihabara, these shops are more than meet the eye. Tourists can simply browse around the multi-storey shops or can get short term memberships and gain access to a specialised private room.
Anime fans can get access to specialised libraries of anime and manga collections and read them in their own private rooms. Some rent these rooms to spend the night relaxing and reading their favourite manga collection.
If you want to spend the night in an anime shop, you can rent a room with a computer so you can watch your favourite anime collection. In the morning, you can take a shower as these establishments come with all facilities, some even have nail salons.
Insider Tip: Ask at the reception about their English books. Most shops cater to the Japanese audience only but some now have English books.
Visit An Owl cafe
Are you a Harry Potter fan who always wanted to see Hedwig in real life? For about 2000 yen you can visit an owl Caffe right in the heart of Tokyo. These quirky cafes will allow you to befriend a wildling for about an hour. Due to their popularity, pre-booking is essential. This is also to keep the owls from getting stressed.
Located in Akihabara, we recommend Cafe com Coruja Akiba Fukurou, home to 36 different owls. You can take advantage of the on-site photographer who will take a photo of you to take home as a memory. You can reserve your spot here.
For shopping enthusiasts, Harajuku is a well-known mecca for kawaii shops. I can guarantee you will end up buying so many kawaii souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones.
Kawaii shopping is a fun activity in Tokyo, where you will discover a whole new world of the meaning of cute. Japan uses kawaii signs in an everyday life even for official signs and posters.
For kawaii seekers, we recommend visiting specialised stores like Loft or Shibuya 109, both located in the popular Shibuya district.
Find yourself mesmerised by everything adorable like stationery items, pillows and even mundane items such as paper clips.
Shop In Ginza
Ginza is a luxury 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. Visit Ginza during the evening, when all the shops put up a luminescent spectacle. The district is almost always busy as walking around Ginza is an experience everyone enjoys while in Tokyo.
As a tip, we recommend visiting Ginza during the weekend because the main boulevard is closed for cars 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. Sit down and people watch and see how the locals enjoy Tokyo on a weekend.
Discover traditional stores, such as Kyukyodo, where the beautiful Japanese paper, cards and fans are made by hand. Ginza is also the best place to shop for expensive souvenirs like handcrafted chopsticks. Read about shopping in Ginza in more detail.
If you want to experience Ginza past the luxury shopping, sign up for this personal guided tour that can teach you about the history of the district.
Visit a super cute Maid Cafe
Mainly found in Akihabara, maid cafes are a sensation in Japan. Japanese waitresses are dressed as maids who serve kawaii food and desserts. Initially created as great places where kids come to celebrate their birthday parties and order bunny-shaped milkshakes, maid cafes are now popular with tourists too.
Maid Cafes are a great experience for tourists who are in the Akihabara district. During special evenings and events, you can sign up to listen to the maids sign special kawaii songs. To make sure you visit the right establishment, we recommend signing up for a guided tour around Akihabara where locals can show you specialised stores and cafes. You will visit all the important parts of Electric Town and have lunch at a maid café with your personal tour guide.
To order in a specialised maid cafe, you might have to “meow” instead of saying “sumimasen” ("excuse me" in Japanese). This is a special Tokyo experience, which many tourists find entertaining and fun.
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 that allows you to eat, drink while playing 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 that 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 on 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.
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 that are sure to keep your inner child going for days to come.
The Tokyo DisneySea is an award-winning park that 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 for 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.
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. The 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 line.
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 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 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 is 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 of 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 pancake 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 that 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!