New Best Things to do in Tokyo, Japan
The ultimate list of best things to do in Tokyo. Here are the top attractions, the best locations to visit and most exciting activities to enjoy in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo is one of the most incredible destinations to visit, with the unique and exciting attractions to pick from. There are so many things you can do in Tokyo that you can't do anywhere else in the world. This astounding megapolis is full of jumbo neon signs, colourful streets, fast-paced district but also Zen temples and the best food in the world.
With so many things to do in Tokyo, it's understandable why you picked this remarkable metropolis as your next travel destination. You will find classic tourist attractions, delicious restaurants, but also some of the trendiest cafés in the whole world.
Tokyo truly is a unique place to visit, one of the best places in Japan, and we guarantee that you won't ever run out of things to do in the city.
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.
Tips for your trip: book your JR Pass before you fly to save yourself time and money and book your hotel in Tokyo far in advance as the best ones tend to go pretty quickly. Check how to prepare for your trip to Japan and don't forget your ultimate Tokyo itinerary.
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1. Visit Senso-Ji Buddist Temple
Senso-ji 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.
From personal experience, we recommend visiting Senso-ji 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 nighttime.
Buy a Japanese wooden plaque called an ema, an extremely traditional thing to do in Tokyo. Write your wish on one site and hang it somewhere at the temple for your wish to come true.
To dive deeper into Japanese spirituality, have fun and draw an omikuji at Senso-ji. 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.
Useful Information: 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.
2. Watch sumo players practice
Sumo is a national sport in Japan that has been practised since ancient times. 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 Japanese and can organise this experience on your behalf. You cannot just walk into any sumo stable without prior pre-approval.
Seeing sumo players in real life really is a bucket list experience. Before the practice, your guide will tell you about some ancient traditions still preserved in sumo wrestling. We learnt so much about their meals, daily routine and even average salaries for a sumo player. 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.
Useful Information: Since you are not allowed to visit a sumo stable without pre-approval, you need to book your experience well in advance. We recommend booking with Viator for an excellent experience.
3. Relax at an onsen
To experience an onsen is one of the most cultural activities in Tokyo and definitely needs to be added to your bucket list. Soaking in an onsen is a popular activity in Tokyo and one you must try during your visit. It can be a chance to speak with locals as in Japan, an onsen is the perfect place to socialise with one another.
Scattered all over Tokyo, you can find several onsens not far from major touristic metro line.
- Tokyo Somei onsen SAKURA - 5 Chome-4-24 Komagome, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0003
- Maenohara Onsen Sayano Yudokoro - 3 Chome-41-1 Maenocho, Itabashi City, Tokyo 174-0063
- Thermae-Yu - 1 Chome-1-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021
- Toshimaen Niwa-no-yu - 3 Chome-25-1 Koyama, Nerima City, Tokyo 176-8531
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.
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.
Useful Information: Visit a more modern onsen in the wonderful entertainment district of Tokyo called Odaiba and enjoy a relaxing few hours in the warm water. Please remember that some onsen don't allow people with tattoos. Get your ticket in advance for a custom hiking and onsen experience.
4. Dress up as an Oiran
Special activities are a great way to experience traditional Japan. Dressing like an oiran is a must-try cultural thing to do in Tokyo. Book this in advance because it's quickly becoming a popular must-do among first-time visitors to 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.
Useful information: We recommend booking your experience with Klook in Asakusa.
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.
5. Attend a Tea Ceremony
Attending a traditional tea ceremony was a major bucket list activity for us. As a green tea and matcha lover, this was one of the highlights of our trip.
The Japanese tea ceremony is a form of art, and locals study it for years. This is a great thing to do in Tokyo for any zen-lover.
Learn more about customs and manners around serving matcha tea. You will use unique Japanese utensils specifically created for the sole purpose of drinking matcha.
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.
Useful information: We booked with Klook to enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. During peak times in Tokyo they get really popular so many sure you book well in advance.
6. 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. It's wonderful and awesome, and you're going to love it. We loved it so much, we still look at photos and videos of the Shibuya Crossing and smile with excitement.
Know that Shibuya Crossing is 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.
Shibuya crossing is very popular among 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, cafés, restaurants, and souvenirs shops. It's also an excellent shopping district and a great location to stay in Tokyo. Don't forget to check the Hachikō Memorial Statue in front of the crossing.
Here are the best locations to see Shibuya Crossing from above:
- Shibuya Scramble Square - a rooftop observation deck named Shibuya Sky. Fee: ¥2,000 (Adults), ¥1,600 (Students), ¥1,000 (Elementary Students), ¥600 (Children from three to five), Free (Under two). Open: 9 am – 11 pm
- Starbucks (Shibuya Tsutaya) - They are just a handful of chairs overlooking the crossing, so note that this is a very busy spot. Fee: Cost of a cup of coffee (and a lot of patience).
- JR Shibuya Station - This is our favourite location to enjoy Shibuya crossing. Head to the large walk-through which takes you from JR Shibuya Station to the department store Shibuya Mark City.
7. Visit the Yayoi Kusama Museum
You've definitely seen the Yayoi Kusama famous yellow pumpkin on pictures of Naoshima Island. Great news, you can now see the entire Yayoi Kusama collection in Tokyo. 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, especially if you're looking to snap some unique photos in Tokyo.
More Details: Make sure you reserve tickets from the official Yayoi Kusama Museum well in advance. Tickets usually sell out months in advance! Tickets cost JPY 3,200 for adults, and you can only book a 90-minute slot.
8. Go to teamLab Planets
You've heard of and seen pictures of teamLab Borderless, the cool digital art museum that showcases all sort of moving, digital art. The exhibitions are full of colour and motion and have been featured in places all around the world. Currently, you can only visit the teamLab Planets in Tokyo, which is open until the end of 2023.
Useful information: teamLab Borderless in Odaiba closed on 31st of August 2022. The new exhibition teamLab Borderless is working on is due to be completed in 2023.
Book your tickets for teamLab Planets in Tokyo well in advance, as tickets sell our very fast. Tickets cost JPY 3,200 for adults. Don't forget to visit the Vegan Ramen UZU Tokyo for the most interesting ramen and ice creams with creative twists.
9. Spend time in the Tokyo Station
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. Plus this is very likely where you will stop on your way from the Tokyo airport.
We loved the station so much, we decided to come back to explore it all. And let us tell you, this place is huge!
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.
When we first visited Tokyo, we discovered just how incredible the Tokyo Station is. We discovered thousands of stores, restaurants, bars, and department stores. We promise you will find a lot of interesting, truly unique Japanese gems.
Useful information: Eat in Tonkatsu Wako for one of the best Tokyo dishes, or take your morning coffee with a side of pancakes at Bubby's Yaesu.
Outside 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.
10. Buy unique souvenirs in Tokyo
The joke goes that we recommend everyone to arrive with an empty suitcase in Tokyo to fill it up with everything Japanese. There are so many unique souvenirs to buy from Japan, you won't even know how to carry them!
For truly unique gifts and purchases, head to Asakusa Kappabashi (Kitchen Town). This is a great place for shopping for household items including bamboo and miso bowls, chopsticks, and norens. This whole street in Asakusa is special because most shops are dedicated to the restaurant industry. Prices are very decent and products are authentic.
For high-class purchases, head to Ginza, where you will find luxurious gifts and items. 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.
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.
Useful information: For a traditional Japanese souvenir, visit Kyūkyodō, a Japanese retail store founded in 1663 that specialises in paper goods, incense, Asian calligraphy supplies and books. Address: 5 Chome-7-4 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
11. Walk in Yoyogi Park
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 many 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 during the cherry blossoms. 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 gorgeous and we had the privilege of seeing one during our time in Yoyogi Park.
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.
Useful information: Meiji Shrine is called Meiji Jingu in Japanese.
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 God's attention. Say your prayer for a few seconds.
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.
12. Visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
One of the best things to do in Tokyo is to visit the gorgeous Shinjuku Gyoen. A large green space and a popular hanami spot, the Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful landscaped Japanese garden. Located just in the popular touristic Shinjuku neighbourhood, not many are aware of this breathtaking gem in Tokyo. We recommend bringing a blanket to enjoy a relaxing picnic right in the heart of Tokyo.
To get to Shinjuku Gyoen, 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. It's a must-see spot in Tokyo!
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 500 yen.
Insider Tip: Visit during the Cherry Blossom season in April or when the Rose Garden is in full bloom in May.
13. See the Imperial Palace
Make sure to add the Imperial Palace to your Tokyo bucket list. Located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Naruhito is the Emperor of Japan. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019, beginning the Reiwa era.
Although the Palace itself is closed to the public, you can enjoy a walk through the East Gardens.
Useful information: There is no admission fee to visit the Imperial Palace. You can go to the beautiful Eastern Garden free of charge.
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.
14. Visit the Ueno Park
I said it before, and I'll say it ago: no trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the 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. There are so many things you can do in Ueno Park:
- Take a boat ride on the pond in one of the swan-shaped boats. The price is JPY 800 for 30 minutes ride.
- See the Hanazono Inari-jinja Shrine, with its small path of vermilion torii gates (admission is free).
- Don't miss the Kiyomizu Kannon-do - built in 1632 this particular temple is known for its special platform overlooking a circle made from a pine tree. It's called the pine tree of the moon (tsuki no matsu). The admission is free.
- 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.
Visit all the great museums located in Ueno park, including the Tokyo National museum (admission fee: JPY 1,000), the Tokyo metropolitan art museum (admission is free) and National Museum of Nature and Science (admission fee: JPY 630).
15. Go to the Ghibli Museum
Calling all Studio Ghibli fans: you can experience the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo! Meet Totoro, take the cat bus through the Ghibli Forest and take photos of Laputian Robots.
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.
Important information: 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. If you want to visit independently, note that right now, it's not possible to buy tickets from overseas. You can, however, visit a Lawson store in Japan to reserve your slot as soon as you arrive to Japan.
16. Join the Harajuku craze
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 candy floss 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. It's one of my favourite places in Tokyo because there is so much colour and motion everywhere.
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 gorgeous space during summer and one which we visit every single time we go back to Tokyo. On our last visit there, we saw Mount Fuji during sunset and it was incredible.
Our recommendation: You can wander around in the many narrow streets surrounding Takeshita Shopping Street. For the best experience, take a guided tour to learn about the kawaii culture and Harajuku fashion from a local.
17. Visit Akihabara
Experience the otaku culture right in the heart of Tokyo. 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.
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.
Top 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 typically very busy, weekdays are less so.
- Go to 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. Tip: Ask at the reception about their English books. Most shops cater to the Japanese audience only but some now have English books.
- Rent a room in an anime shop - 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.
- Visit a 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. 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.
Useful information: 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.
18. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
Many who visit Tokyo also take a day to enjoy the many attractions of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
Whether you have kids or just want to enjoy one of the best activities in Tokyo, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are a must. The park in Tokyo is better and bigger than either of the Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai. We think it's even better than the one in Paris!
The Tokyo DisneySea is an award-winning park that has been internationally recognised for its design and concept. Even if you don't have any affinity for Disney movies, you will 100% enjoy this wonderful theme park with epic rides.
Useful information: 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. You can stay in one of the official Tokyo Bay hotels for easier access to the park.
Weekdays are usually less busy, but let's face it, this is Disneyland...
Important: Make sure to book your tickets well in advance. We recommend buying your tickets via Klook. If you are looking for a convenient transfer from downtown Tokyo to Disneyland and want to skip the line at the entrance, consider booking skip-the-line tickets.
19. See Tokyo from above
You cannot appreciate just how impressive Tokyo is without seeing it from above. Luckily there are many ways to see it from different tall buildings. The first time we saw Tokyo from above was from the Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower. It was the most incredible thing we've ever seen in all our travels. Tokyo really is massive, and it expands beyond the line of the horizon.
Here are the best places to see Tokyo from above. And yes, this really is a must during your visit in Tokyo.
Tokyo Tower - This communication and observation tower allows tourists to enjoy epic views over Japan at either 150 or 250 metres above the ground. Standing at 333 metres, it is 13 metres taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. Seeing Tokyo from above is, in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
To get there go to the Akabanebashi Station (Oedo Line). The tower is about 10 mins walk. It is open from 9:00 am to 23:00 pm, daily (last entry 22:30 pm).
Tokyo Metropolitan Building - 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.
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. This was our favourite thing to do in Tokyo and in our opinion the best place to see Tokyo from above, at night.
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.
Insider Tip: 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 outstanding 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.
20. Feel the vibes in Shinjuku
Arguably, Shinjuku is Tokyo's most colourful ward and also one of the best places for activities in Tokyo. Home to Asia's largest red district, countless street food vendors and a huge vibrant market, Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative centre. It's the perfect place for nightlife and for a Tokyo pub crawl.
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 we will show you all the fun things to do in Shinjuku.
For something truly unique in Tokyo, head to the Kabukicho, Tokyo's red district and Asia's largest adult entertainment quarter. It features many hostess bars, massage parlours, cuddle cafés and love hotels. Many of these places are run by the Yakuza; hence travellers are advised to be careful when drinking in the area.
To get to Kabukicho, 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) without a local guide.
Useful information: Discover the Red Light District and Golden Gai neighbourhood with a guided tour. We recommend that you book a nightlife tour in Shinjuku.
21. Experience nightlife 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. And yes, it's still a must-do for every tourist that visits Tokyo!
The establishments are so small that usually, no more than 5 people can fit in. Establishments, who serve foreigners, display an English menu outside. The rest of the places are reserved for locals so don't be offended if you can't get in.
It can be intimidating to enter one of these super tiny places. If you are not comfortable going there on your own, join a guided tour around the Golden Gai neighbourhood to experience the best of the unique izakaya, bar stall and pub nightlife. This is something we did during our first trip to Tokyo and we learnt so much about the local culture. Besides, you will get to try popular Japanese dishes as recommended by your local guide.
Insider Tip: 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.
22. Walk on Memory Lane (Omoide Yokochō)
Located in Shinjuku, the Memory Lane is a small, cramped alleyway with many eateries and tiny bars. For foodies, this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo. And one we strongly recommend!
The memory lane (sometimes called piss alley) is a cool place with numerous 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.
Our recommendations: Join a guided tour around Shinjuku and learn not just about Memory Lane but also explore Shinjuku and the entertainment district of Kabukichō. A guide can help you navigate the Japanese food menus to make sure you try the best skewers.
23. Join a Japanese cooking class
Did you know that Tokyo has the largest number of Michelin star restaurants in the whole world? Sometimes named the world's kitchen, this epic city is home to some wonderful restaurants. And you can learn how to make Japanese food in a cooking class led by a local.
Take a Bento class to learn how to make the best bento boxes at home. Or if you want to know how to make the best sushi, a Sushi Class is a must. Lessons are in English and are very educational and delicious.
If eating sushi in a restaurant is not your thing, you might want to consider making your own! Book your Tokyo cooking class in advance.
24. Try ramen at Tsuta
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. And we're recommending a special ramen restaurant with a great story.
Tsuta is Tokyo's first small ramen place to win a Michelin star. The restaurant, originally located in Sugamo, is now located in Yoyogi-Uehara. To get in, you will just need to queue, but occasionally, you can expect to queue for over an hour. It's worth it tho!
Useful information: Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta is located a 3 minute walk east of Yoyogi-Uehara Station. The address is Frontier Yoyogi Uehara B1, 3-2-4 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
There are just 23 seats in the restaurants. The ramen price is JPY1,300 (the equivalent of $9). Not only this is the most affordable Michelin star meal you'll have but also probably the best ramen ever!
25. Go pancake crazy in Tokyo
Japan is synonymous with awesome food. Skip conventional dinner, explore Shinjuku's streets and try amazing street foods. Or go to Ueno and ask for octopus balls (takoyaki), special fish-shaped cakes (taiyaki) and all sorts of mochi on a stick (dango). You are going to love the street food in Japan and this is the best way to savour Tokyo.
And I'm going to say it: eating street food in Tokyo is simply the ultimate best thing to do in this city!
The latest must-do in Tokyo is ordering as many crazy pancakes as you could possibly eat. These wonderful 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!
Alternatively, try Tokyo's best fluffy pancakes, which are souffle pancakes with excellent toppings.
Places to try pancakes in Tokyo:
- Eggs`n Things -- 4-20-2 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Bills -- Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 7F, 4-30-2 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Moke`s -- KRK Bldg. 1-17-8 Kamimeguro Meguro-ku, close to Nakameguro Station
- Cafe Kaila -- Gyre B1F, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya
- The Original Pancake House -- Marui Kichijoji 1F, 1-7-1 Kichijoji-Minamicho, Musashino
26. Taste fresh seafood at the Toyosu Market
The Tsukiji fish market closed on October 6, 2018, and moved to a new site called Toyosu Market. Visit the new market to enjoy wonderful fresh food and some of the best seafood on the planet. To me, the famed Toyosu Market is Tokyo's seafood nirvana.
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 visitor's badge. This allows you to check the tuna auction from the viewing platforms above.
Our recommendation: Book a guided tour to see the auction. The tour gives you a glimpse into the fast-paced world of the 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.
27. 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 in Tokyo. These hotels feature “capsules”, small, one-person spaces where you can sleep.
Did you know: capsule hotels were created because of the need for one-night stop hotels in Tokyo on a budget? Real estate is incredibly valuable in Tokyo, and therefore many hotels cost a lot. However, with capsule hotels, visitors, and tourists can save a lot by sleeping in a simple capsule.
There are common amenities available like showers and toilets outside the capsule. The capsules are comfortable and clean and have internet and a plug. Some capsule hotels are suitable for couples too.
While they are now a must-do activity in Tokyo, before they became popular with tourists, capsule hotels were mainly used by businessmen who needed a small and cheap place to sleep in for the night.
Recommended capsule hotels:
- 9 hours Hamamatsucho - 105-0013 Tokyo-to, Minato-ku Hamamatsucho 1-25-20
- Akihabara Bay Hotel (Female Only) - 101-0022 Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kandaneribei-cho 44-4
- Anshin Oyado Ogikubo (Male Only) - 167-0043 Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Kamiogi 1-11-2
- MyCUBE - 111-0051 Tokyo-to, Taito-Ku, Kuramae 2-6-7
Yay! You now have a giant list of epic things to do in Tokyo! You are ready to commence the most awesome holiday in Tokyo!
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.
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
More about Japan
- 7 days in Japan itinerary
- 2 weeks in Japan itinerary
- 3 weeks in Japan itinerary
- Things to do in Japan
- Things to do in Tokyo
- Where to stay in Tokyo
- 7 days in Tokyo itinerary
- Things to do in Kyoto
- Where to stay in Kyoto
- 5 days in Kyoto itinerary
- Things to do in Osaka
- Where to stay in Osaka
- 4 days in Osaka
- Is Japan expensive?
- Planning a trip to Japan
- What to pack for Japan
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I managed to surprise my mom with a quick girls’ trip to Tokyo during cherry blossom season and she was blown away. The street food was a nice surprise too, I never expected this kind of variety.
Wow! That's the coolest thing to do in Tokyo for sure. I hope my husband will surprise me with a trip to Tokyo again :D
How cute! I’ve noticed my mom has a Pinterest board full of pictures with Tokyo cherry trees, this would be such a nice birthday gift! Thanks for the idea! For her, a walk there would be among the really cool things to do in Tokyo.
Right? I'm the same! Take me back to Tokyo please
Wow, DisneySea is amazeballs! I never knew there was a Disney Park in Tokyo as well…
If you have kids this is the place to be, honestly! We don't have kids but still loved it!
Amazing place but just the flight there and back will drive me nuts; my toddler barely stays put for a two hour flight, there’s no scenario in which I can get him to behave for 11+ hours.
Joshua, you'd be surprised how many can fly with toddlers. Of course, it takes some practice but for all the things you can do in Tokyo, it's all worth it!
The toilet warmer option should be the norm by now on all toilets. I’ve known for years about it and yet it’s not available commercially at a larger scale. Japan is truly the land of all possibilities!
Are you telling me about it? I can't imagine anything else but warm toilet seats right now :| Why is it not the norm in Europe?
Yes, my father visited Tokyo 5 or 6 years ago and he was stunned! He’s not a very tech guy, he still uses Windows XP, so you imagine he was left speechless when he found himself surrounded with all that technology. Reading this now makes me want to add Japan to my list of destinations to book as soon as travelling gets a bit safer. Already started making a list of top 10 things to do in Tokyo.
Ahaahaha I was at the Tokyo airport when I saw this first high tech toilet and was honestly so confused by all the buttons haha
Japan is big on vending machines and the fact that they’re basically everywhere makes it so much easier. Left home without an umbrella? Look for a vending machine. Craving fruit? Look for a vending machine.
Super true. In fact one of the best things to do in Tokyo is to just be out and about and enjoy all these quirks!
YES! I remember falling down a Youtube rabbit hole a few years ago and watching several videos on this. I live in a rural area and the only vending machine we have here is for local fresh milk #theirony
haha and banans too!
I plan to visit Tokyo in the near future and just stumbled upon your blog while trying to draft my itinerary. So many cool places to visit in Tokyo. This clearly isn’t a city where people take it chill haha. Takeshita Street will be first on my list; I've been fascinated with Harajuku culture since I was a teen and listen to Gwen on repeat.
Takeshita is super cool. It's not all quirks though, you can do some solid shopping there too!
Same here! First time on your blog while aimlessly browsing for some cool hotspots. I’m thinking of spending a month in Tokyo once this pandemic lets us go back to “normal”. Thanks for all the tips, I’ve found a ton of gems!
Really happy to help. We are obsessed with Japan and travelled and lived there for quite a while...
Nakamise Street is one of the places to visit in Tokyo. You must do it! There is so much of the Japanese street food culture there… It’s one of my faves and whenever I’m in town I make time to visit it and have a bite to eat.
It was the first thing I did when I visited Tokyo for the first time. I was taken aback by how cool it all was. You will love it.
@Anne, NS is truly something special even though the prices are bigger now.
@Craig, I am also a big Ramen fan and try something new each time I’m there. I always end up leaving with a big belly :))
@Maria, yeah, isn’t it? It’s one of our go-to places with the kids and they love it! Yakitori is my boy’s fave while Lisa, my girl, prefers Dango. She would actually eat them all day long if she was allowed.
Who doesn’t like Dango, right? I love Matcha cakes and Dango a lot and my kids enjoy Dango, Yakisoba and Tonkatsu.
OMG dango is divine...with matcha on the side
Going to Nakamise Street is among the best things to do in Tokyo with kids. Why? Because they will absolutely love the food. It doesn’t matter what kinds of foods they enjoy, they’ll find something nice here.
I saw many travellers with kids there actually. Didn't know it was because of food, I thought they were just visiting in general but now it makes sense. How to keep the kids entertained: with sugaaaar!
So many types of Ramen and it’s all so good there! I often go there to stuff my face with Ramen or Miso. Delicious! For me this is one of those cool things to do in Tokyo #sorrynotsorry :))
We should write an article about things to do in Tokyo: eat ramen, eat ramen, eat ramen again and eat more ramen!
Agreed. Nakamise Street is amazing! The prices have gone up a bit since it’s so well-known now but it’s still so well worth it.
Agreed! I paid something like 50p for some chopsticks some 5 years ago...can you believe it?
"Tokyo is like a shapeshifter, waiting for you to mould it into whatever it is that you want from your holiday." - so true! Last time I was there I wanted to relax and just unwind after a messy divorce and Tokyo gave me just that. On my previous trip I wanted adventure and craziness and Tokyo delivered ;)!
We miss all the cool things to do in Tokyo. Like, we are ready to go right now!
That’s great to hear! I’m planning a visit to Tokyo and would like a little bit of both worlds. I now know some of the things to see in Tokyo and I will have to prioritize them by importance.
You will love Tokyo
And if you want to do a bit of shopping and if you’re with your wife, then make sure to check out the Takeshita Shopping Street. She will love it! This is a perfect shopping related activity in Tokyo. Just be ready to spend because you (she) will ;)!
Yes, my wife will probably love to do some shopping. Also, did you visit the Akihabara area? The wife is a big Anime fan so I would like to take her there as well.
And there is no trip to Tokyo without lots of shopping!
Akihabara will be perfect for her. Take a guided tour to learn more about the area. Going in without a guide is not the best way to do things, at least not at first.
Is it crazy if I love going to Tokyo to experience the high tech toilets? Am I the only one who loves this kind of thing? What to do in Tokyo? Go and see some fancy toilets :))
Not crazy Simon! It's one of the best things to do in Tokyo. We want to go there to just buy one!
Alone? You must be joking, mate! I have at least 10 friends that can’t wait to get to Japan (and
Tokyo in particular) to get to use these toilets.
haha and buy one! Come on guys, am I the only person who wants to buy a Japanese toilet?!
You are definitely not alone, Simon. Lots of people are crazy about this. And yes, it’s so weird that many more countries have such toilets. Once you try one in Tokyo you won’t want to go back to your regular one.
For some “strange” reason I’m so into sleeping in a capsule hotel. I’ve tried it a few years back and loved it. I’ve even built something similar at home and sleep in it from time to time. I don’t feel anxiety when sleeping there, quite the opposite. For me, this is one of the fun things to do in Tokyo because their capsules are great and I have fun sleeping there.
I'm with Victoria on this one. We couldn't do it. We went to see them and check them out but even the ones for couples were too tiny for us. But they are super practical and def a must in Tokyo if you can
I can’t understand how you can feel so comfortable sleeping in such a tiny space! I can’t even imagine doing it! I would die! I like love hotels that are fully automated so you don't have to talk to anyone to get a room.
From the many cool things to do in Tokyo for adults only, love hotels and visiting the Red District are my absolute must-visits whenever I’m in town. It’s exciting and always interesting to go there even if just to browse.
I agree! Love the red district. It doesn't have to be all weird. It can be really fun!
My kids love Tokyo because there are so many cool things to do in Tokyo. From going to a cat cafe to play with the lovely cats to eating all the ramen we can eat or going to a Japanese arcade, there’s always something fun to do in this town.
One of the best things to do in Tokyo. I will say it over and over! It's clean, fun, well organised!
Next time when we’re in town, we’re going to the Tokyo DisneySea. My kids can hardly wait! They’ve seen some videos on Youtube and are now dreaming of this place. There are plenty of things to do in Tokyo with kids and we’ve done some of them, but DisneySea will probably be their favorite.
They are going to LOVE DisneySea! My kids went insane while they visited it! They talk about it even after 3 years. If you are also taking them to Disneyland make sure to book the tour they link to in this guide. It’s so well worth it.
WOW! What a wealth of information on Tokyo! This has got to be one of the best pages on things to do in Tokyo. It's impressive how many things you cramped in here. Thanks for taking the time to do so. It must have taken you ages. Page bookmarked :)
It’s one of the most complete pages on fun things to do in Tokyo I found online. I love the design of the site and it shows that you put a lot of effort in documenting these things. It’s always nice to find someone who puts soul into their work. I’m preparing for a Tokyo trip and your guide was very helpful. Congrats!
Tokyo is probably one of the top 5 cities in the world. So many things to do in Tokyo whether you’re looking for adventure or just to find yourself.
Tokyo is indeed one of a kind. It is so diverse. You just have to travel a few miles to find a quiet, relaxing place and then travel another few miles to find a vibrant street. When your time is limited the question becomes: what to see in Tokyo first? Where do you start?
New fan here :) I’ve discovered you through Instagram and this post has awakened my travelling appetite, I can’t wait to go back to globetrotting. Guess I need to write down some of the things to do in Tokyo for when I get there.
We were flabbergasted when we learned what rush hour looks like if you ride the subway. Granted, everything is clean and user-friendly but by golly, sardines in tins doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I would come back with a suitcase packed with kawaii stuff I never knew I needed haha!
I wasn’t aware cat cafes are a thing there! I’ve adopted two strays last year and I couldn’t imagine my life without them now. Such a cool concept!
Guys, this is so documented, I actually managed to pick more than 10 places, can’t wait to book those darn tickets. Also, talk about being committed and moving there for half a year, congrats!
Plenty of nice things to see in Tokyo and it has always been on my bucket list but being so far away I kept postponing, I don’t do that well on long flights.
My niece loves everything owl-themed so the owl cafe would be a dream come true for her. Now that I think of it, a girls-only trip to Tokyo would be the perfect gift for her graduation next year.
Wow, a cuddle cafe where you can stroke someone’s hair? They really strive to satisfy all demands. A bit eerie in my book but I would die to be a fly on the wall there, I can only imagine… Top Tokyo attractions for me: be a fly on the wall there.
I had no clue eating in the street is a no-no in Japan. Truth be told, I’m not the kind of tourist that enjoys a quick snack in the town’s square or on the museum steps because I find it odd but I might munch on a Mars bar while waiting for the bus.
One of the top Tokyo attractions for me would be the The Ghibli Museum, Spirited Away was breathtaking, I’ve rewatched it a million times, it never gets old.
Relaxing at an Onsen is one of the top 10 things to do in Tokyo. I’m telling you: this will change your life! It’s so relaxing and you can find all sorts of different Onsen like gender specific ones, mixed, private open air baths and so on. There’s something for everyone.
I literally LOLed as soon as I read “Piss Alley”, I thought you were joking! If I get to enjoy traditional and exotic cuisine you can sign me up. I almost never visit fancy restaurants while travelling, I love experiencing local cuisine.
I’ve landed in Tokyo for a business trip a little while back and it blew me away, an amazing city with amazing people! No matter what part of the town you’re in you will enjoy it. Who knows, perhaps I might get back and explore it more. Lots of places to visit in Tokyo.
No matter how comfy they are, no way I will EVER sleep in a capsule hotel! I’m claustrophobic, just the thought of it makes me queasy. I love their approach towards minimalism - I got a lot of inspiration for my small Brooklyn apartment - but it ends here haha.
I’m planning on surprising my fiance with a Tokyo trip and I can bet he’ll love it. Your section with things to do in Tokyo for adults only will surely take him by surprise.
Going to Tokyo soon and I’ve used this guide and a few others to plan things. Going on a business trip but my wife will be coming along as there will be some free time to explore. So a list of things to do in Tokyo for couples is helpful.
This is a really comprehensive and impressive list. I can see you've taken effort to include something for everyone too. Well done!
Thank you so much. We hope you found your awesome things to do in Tokyo during your visit. Safe travels!
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.
Tokyo is one of the best. I hope you got to visit it, Amanda <3
Awesome listing, thanks for sharing! it makes me want to come back to Tokyo :) ;)
We love Tokyo and all the cool things to do in the city. Epic place
Best things to do in Tokyo that it's interesting, your article really inspiring to my vacation in Tokyo later, hope this is fun
I'm so excited! Awesome things to do in Tokyo for everyone to do. I hope you returned to the city.
Tokyo looks amazing1 i cant wait to visit!!
I can't wait to read about your Tokyo travels.