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Where to stay in Tokyo for tourists and first time visitors

It can be rather challenging to find where to stay in Tokyo for tourists and first-time visitors. There are several questions to ask yourself such as: Are you looking for the best place to stay in Tokyo city centre or are you happy to commute? Would you like to stay in a Japanese capsule hotel? Are you visiting with your loved ones and want to find a cheap family accommodation in Tokyo? What is the best area to stay for a first-time visitor?

Finding the best cheap Tokyo hotel proved difficult the first time I visited Japan. I spent two weeks in Japan at the time and I remember having no clue about the best neighbourhoods in Tokyo for example. Where was I suppose to sleep? What are the safe places to stay in Tokyo? I had so many questions and found absolutely no answers. In this article, I'm going to tell you exactly how to find the best accommodation in Japan.

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Where to stay in Tokyo for tourists

Where to stay in Tokyo for a first-time visitor?

Finding where to stay in Tokyo depends on several things: budget, type of visit, location and of course, personal preference. But don't worry, I'm here to help and explain how to find the best place to stay in Tokyo especially for the first time.

Below, you will find a list of my favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo, which I believe offer something for everyone. I'm going to explain why to pick a particular place, alongside hotel recommendations. Asking where to stay in Tokyo may not be the right question, as each individual place is tailored to your own preferences. For example, you might want to enjoy thriving nightlife, in which case you should get a hotel in Shinjuku. You might be visiting with your family, hence you should focus on finding a great budget hotel somewhere in a quieter area of Tokyo. So let me explain a little bit about each neighbourhood in order to find your best place to stay in Tokyo.

Japan lanterns

Where to stay in Tokyo? The best area for tourists is... Shinjuku

Before I go any further, I am going to tell you that Shinjuku is the best area for tourists to stay in Tokyo. This is where you will find those giant neon adverts, colourful lit up streets, entertainment establishments and epic street food. This is the real heart of Tokyo, and also home to Asia's largest red district. I recommend walking around Shinjuku in the evening where you can really see how bright this place really is. As always, I recommend all tourists be vigilant around Shinjuku and try to avoid going into dodgy-looking establishments, as there are a lot of places being run by the Yakuza. When you dig deep, you realise there are a lot of tourist scams going on, especially for those interested in the Japanese sex industry. Shinjuku has Japan's largest adult entertainment quarters, which include hostess bars, love hotels, and sex parlours. Don't worry, though, there is so much more to Shinjuku than its darker side, being, in my opinion, the best area for tourists, due to its epic skyscrapers, narrow and bright streets large malls and affordable shops. If you would only have time for one neighbourhood in Tokyo, then Shinjuku should be it. Oh, and there are plenty of 18+ only activities in Japan...

Why stay in Shinjuku

Shinjuku is the most vibrant district in Tokyo. There is no getting around to the fact that you can find a ridiculous amount of restaurants, amazing street food, and epic bars.

Have you ever heard of Golden Gai? It's a great place to grab a bite and have a drink like a local. The area has tonnes of small bars, whereby only a handful of people can take a seat and order. The spaces are cramped and intimate, and you have to be aware that a lot of Japanese people come here to socialise and have a drink after work. Don't be offended if the owner refuses your custom, it's because a few of these tiny bars are reserved for a loyal clientele. Watch out for menus in English, it's the best indication that foreigners are welcome.

Do you know what the Piss Alley is? It's a street dotted with tiny holes in the wall which serve food (and drinks). It's best known for its yakitori, which are chicken skewers. Don't freak out if you see some out of ordinary parts of the chicken being served to you on a stick. It's part of the culinary experience and I promise, the taste won't let you down.

We covered food and drinks, but what about having fun in Shinjuku? This is the mecca for adult entertainment in Tokyo so you can find anything you ever imagined. There are multistory malls selling all types of sex toys you might have ever dreamed off. There are massage parlours, hostess bars, and even robot restaurants where sexy girls in robotic armour fight around. If shopping if your calling, Shinjuku also has a labyrinth of narrow streets dotted with stalls selling cheap knockouts and branded goods. This is also the best place for crazy epic street food. Who doesn't want to try some magical street food in Tokyo?

Hotel Shinjuku
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Nine hours Shinjuku-North

The Nine Hours Capsule hotel is a perfect budget choice due to its location. Shinjuku is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Tokyo and this hotel is located right in the middle of it all. You will be situated just 2 minute walk away from the JR Shin Okubo Station. The capsule are comfortable and the staff is very friendly. It’s a great choice for budget traveller who want clean bathrooms, lounge areas and working spaces. Prices start from £20 per night.

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Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo

Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo is located right in downtown Kabukicho with super easy access to all transport links. It features large and clean rooms with free internet and a coin-operated laundrette. This is a 4-star hotel which is very well priced for Tokyo and couples particularly enjoy this location and hotel.As a tip, you should try and ask for the rooms on the top floors as they have amazing views over the city.

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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.

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Do you still need convincing? Shinjuku is an epic hub and home to the busiest train station in Japan. It's a great place with connections to the rest of the Tokyo neighbourhoods. Public transportation is epic in Japan, so you just need to worry about finding the right accommodation next to a train or subway station, as the rest is history.

Shinjuku is best for tourists and first-time visitors to Tokyo. Shinjuku is also fab for nightlife seekers, eateries, cheap bars and epic entertainment. Shinjuku is a must for urban photographers.

Shinjuku sky night cabs

Where To Stay In Tokyo? The Best Area For Shopping Is... Ginza

Although in my opinion, Shinjuku is the best place to stay in Tokyo, Ginza is definitely a close second option. Ginza is a spectacular neighbourhood, especially during the evening when all shops tend to put up a fantastic light show. This is the luxurious and expensive neighbourhood of Tokyo, where shopping is the national sport. But we are not talking about any type of shopping, it's about expensive boutiques and crazy big brands. Ginza is also fantastic during the weekend where no traffic is permitted. This is when Ginza becomes a formidable pedestrian heaven.

Why Stay In Ginza

Ginza is by all accounts a convenient location. With several subway stations around, you can make your way around Tokyo without a problem. Although is not as crowded as Shinjuku, Ginza has a great Japanese atmosphere. Although Ginza tends to be quite busy around the national holidays, walking along Ginza's boulevards remains an epic experience, as everyone respects your space and there is no background chattering. (Yes, the Japanese know not to stop in the middle of the street for no reason, or not to talk loudly in public spaces. But don't just take my word for it, read about Japanese manners and customs)

Being a high end, luxurious neighbourhood, it's natural that Ginza is incredibly sought after, rather expensive and very safe. I would recommend staying in Ginza if you are travelling with your family or are a luxury type traveller. Don't worry, though, Ginza has some cards up its sleeve to cover the budget traveller too! You can find decent accommodation which represents good value for money. There are also several shops around Ginza which will satisfy the inner shopper for the money conscious traveller. I believe everyone needs to experience shopping in Ginza.

Imperial Hotel Tokyo
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Tokyo Ginza BAY HOTEL

Tokyo Ginza Bay Hotel is a capsule hotel with free wifi and free luggage service. This is ideal for solo travellers as female and male capsules are located on different floors. This means you can only share your shower with the same gender. If you travel in a group, you can also rent a double capsule room but for two women or two men travelling together. Prices start at £22.

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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.

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Imperial Hotel Tokyo

When it comes to luxury, Imperial Hotel Tokyo is the place for you right in the heart of Ginza. Imperial Hotel Tokyo is a prestigious hotel renowned for providing first-class hospitality for over a century since 1890. It features a fitness centre, an indoor swimming pool and a beauty massage salon. You will enjoy elegant rooms with a fantastic view over Tokyo. Prices start at £279 per night.

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You Could Travel - Discover Traveling

Still need convincing? You might not believe it, but there is a lot of nightlife going in Ginza. However, Ginza is usually tailored towards the well dressed, more mature crowd. Beyond being a shoppers' paradise, Ginza is also a fantastic spot for photography lovers. There are plenty of neon-lit streets, perfect for exploring during a lazy afternoon. There are a lot of art galleries and museums dotted all around Ginza, and this neighbourhood is full of high-class restaurants. For something seriously special, head over to Ginza and have the most epic food.

Ginza is a great choice for first-time visitors to Tokyo who have a larger budget and wish to spoil themselves. Ginza is located in central Tokyo with great connections everywhere else in the city, including the airports. I would also recommend Ginza for the family-oriented travellers, as this is a safe and epic neighbourhood to treat your loved ones.

Where To Stay In Tokyo? The Best Central Area In Tokyo Is... Chiyoda

When I first came to Tokyo, I decided to stay in Chiyoda. Although looking back I might have done better with Shinjuku (hence why I'm recommending Shinjuku as the best place to stay for tourists) but in reality, I loved everything about Chiyoda. Chiyoda is central Tokyo with the Tokyo Train Station right at your doorstep. This is probably your safest bet as Chiyoda is well suited for all type of travellers.

Why Stay In Chiyoda

Funnily enough, the most obvious thing that comes to mind is: because Chiyoda is so damn quiet. I don't know about you, but I need a good night sleep to be able to be energetic, excited and explore a new destination, hence picking Chiyoda was the best Tokyo accommodation decision. I stepped out of the Tokyo Station in the evening and whilst I made my way towards the hotel, everything was silent. It was unreal and perfect!

Chiyoda is great because you will have subway stations at every corner, hence you can make your way anywhere in the city. Being close to the Tokyo Station also means getting great food, and shopping opportunities, as well as the chance to jump on a train somewhere outside of Tokyo for a few days out.

Chiyoda is perhaps not ideal for the nightlife seeker, being relatively quiet, but it's definitely a few subways stops away from Shinjuku or Ginza which makes Chiyoda the perfect hub. I think Chiyoda is great for budget travellers, luxury travellers, couples, and families. Being close to everything, yet in a quiet neighbourhood, it enables you to explore, yet sleep well. If I'm honest, when someone asks me where to stay in Tokyo, I always direct them to Chiyoda or Shinjuku.

The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel
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Moa Hostel in Kanda

Moa Hostel In Kanda is located in Tokyo, in the Chiyoda district. This 2-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with a shared bathroom. The hostel has a lounge area and also coin-operated laundrette. For a small fee, the hostel offers washi workshops you can attend on a daily basis. Prices start at £14 per night.

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APA Hotel Hanzomon Hirakawacho

APA Hotel Hanzomon Hirakawacho is located just minutes walk from various different subway stations right in centre of Tokyo. You can book your stay in a smoking or non-smoking room in the hotel, each of them featuring free wifi and toiletries. All rooms have have private bathrooms which come with a bathtub. The hotel is very well priced for its location and star rating, with rooms starting from as little as £39.

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The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

If you want luxury right in the heart of Tokyo, then The Prince Gallery Tokyo Hotel is the place for you. You can enjoy a sake bar, a sushi restaurant and a delicious teppanyaki restaurant on site as well as a fitness centre. The hotel also has a spa and wellness centre. Hairdryers, free toiletries, slippers and bathrobes are all provided. Prices start at £275 per night.

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Still need convincing? Chiyoda is home to the Imperial Palace, the residence of the Emperor of Japan. Part of the Imperial gardens is open to the public, where you can spend a quiet, zen afternoon. Being so close to the Tokyo Station, you can access the shinkansen and visit places outside of Tokyo. I strongly recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass for the duration of your stay.

Chiyoda is the best place in Tokyo which can suit the requirements of all travellers. There are budget and luxury hotels dotted all around the central Tokyo. It's very close to the Tokyo Station, hence a wonderful place for those in need of day trips. The Tokyo Station is a multi-storey mall, hence you will find anything you need right in the heart of the Tokyo. Despite its central location, Chiyoda is quiet and perfect for those in need of a good night rest.

You Could Travel Japan

Where To Stay In Tokyo? The Best Area For Feeling Tokyo's Vibe Is... Shibuya

Shibuya is a great option to stay in Tokyo for tourists because it offers everything you could ask for and more. There are a lot of similarities between Shibuya and Shinjuku for example, so if you are after a vibrant neighbourhood where you could feel Tokyo's heartbeat, then Shibuya is one of the best places to stay in Tokyo for the first time.

Why Stay In Shibuya

Shibuya is known for its younger crowd, hence there are epic nightlife opportunities in Shibuya. There is no denying the fact that Shibuya is a transportation hub, thus you can access any parts of Tokyo with ease from the Shibuya station. Shibuya is a well-known meeting point and there are tons of attractions nearby, including shopping, eating and partying. I really liked sitting in Starbucks, admiring the famed Shibuya Crossing. It's actually really zen to just look at it from above. Despite the visual agitation, Shibuya has a chilled out atmosphere. It's home to many vending machine restaurants which makes it easier for tourists to order food. Shibuya is home to myriad shops and boutiques and it's not uncommon to see locals shopping in Shibuya.

Shibuya is a great place for families travelling with teenage children. Beyond the famed pedestrian crossing, there are a lot of things to do in Shibuya which you can take full advantage of if you decide to base yourself in this epic neighbourhood.

Shibuya Hotel
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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.

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Sakura Fleur Aoyama

Sakura Fleur Aoyama is located in central Tokyo, a short 5-minute walk from Shibuya Train Station. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, a video-on-demand system and an en suite bathroom. Guestrooms offer both air-conditioning and heating facilities. Each well-appointed room has a fridge, a work desk and a 26-inch flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

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Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel is a luxurious 5-star hotel with amazing views of the city. You can enjoy a spacious room and be just 5 minutes away from Shibuya Station. The bed is incredibly comfortable and the luxury private bathroom comes with all toiletries needed. Guests at Tokyu Hotel Cerulean Tower can unwind in the sauna or hot tub, or enjoy a treatment in the beauty salon. The many other facilities include a pastry shop and a nursery.

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Still need convincing? Shibuya is a fantastic location which enables all visitors to travel around Tokyo. Shibuya station has JR and subway connections as well. Shibuya is perfect for shopping, nightlife, eating local cuisine and feeling the real Tokyo vibe. Just a stone throw away from Harajuku, Ometesando and Shinjuku. You can read about the best 15 things to do in Shibuya.

Shibuya is the best place to stay for tourists because although similar to Shinjuku, the vibe in Shibuya is more youngster oriented. Shibuya is a great meeting place, which makes this district a great hub from which you can access all parts of the city and beyond. Shibuya attracts a lot of fashion and food lovers and it's a great spot to just absorbed Tokyo's colourful vibes. Shibuya is great for a first time tourist, families travelling with children (especially teens) and fantastic for couples.

Where To Stay In Tokyo? The Best Place For Budget Traveller Is... Asakusa

Do you love to shop but Shibuya or Ginza is a little over your budget? Don't worry, I got you covered because Asakusa is where you need to locate yourself. Beyond the spiritual Sensō-ji, Asakusa is home to an amazing network of streets all lined with stalls selling cheap merchandise. I loved my trip around Asakusa and really enjoyed shopping for proper Japanese products around here. This is where I bought lots of chopsticks, ramen bowls, small miso bowls, plates and bamboo spoons. It's a fantastic place for the budget traveller who is still interested in shopping and getting value for money.

Why Stay In Asakusa

Asakusa is a great place to stay in Tokyo on a budget. There are lots of budget hotels around and Asakusa is also a great place for families with children. A half an hour walk away is Ueno Park, where you can relax and stroll on a lazy afternoon. You can shop till you drop around Asakusa and find decent eateries which offer great quality food for cheap. Many first time travellers to Tokyo go to Sensō-ji, to get a proper introduction into the spiritual life of Japan.

ENAKA Asakusa Central Hostel
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ENAKA Asakusa Central Hostel

ENAKA Asakusa Central Hostel is located 3 minutes walk away from the Asakusa Subway Station. Every room comes with comfortable mattresses, safety deposit box and a desk. The bathrooms are shared and towels are provided free of charge. There is free wifi and you can enjoy an on-site bar. You will find a shared kitchen and lounge at the property. Free luggage storage is available, and laundry and dry cleaning services are offered at a fee. A rooftop terrace offers views of Tokyo Skytree Tower and Asakusa. Prices start from £19 per night.

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APA Hotel Asakusa Tawaramachi Ekimae

APA Hotel Asakusa Tawaramachi Ekimae is a 3 star hotel located just 10 minutes away from the famed Senso-Ji Temple. You can enjoy an on-site restaurant, private parking and free wifi. The rooms are fitted with a private bathroom with a bath and bidet, with slippers, toothbrushes and free toiletries provided. This hotel comes with open-air bath available. Prices start from £36 per night.

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The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic

The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic is just 2-minute walk away from Asakusa Station. The open-air terrace offers a perfect spot for guests to unwind while viewing Tokyo Skytree. The Restaurant & Bar serves stylish French cuisine for 24 hours, and guests can choose to dine in the open-air terrace space. Guests with a breakfast plan can enjoy a hearty breakfast buffet. This four-star hotel is definitely worth it if you are interested in luxury for decent prices. One night start at £145.

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Still need convincing? Asakusa is a fantastic option for the budget traveller because you will find a great concentration of hostels and cheap hotel rooms in the area. Asakusa might not have the proximity you need to the Yamanote line, but I promise you, if you go to your nearby station and learn how to use the Tokyo subway map, you will actually love that you get to save money in Asakusa.

I recommend Asakusa for the budget traveller or the first time tourist to Tokyo who wants to save money. Asakusa is a great choice for those interested in value for money and doesn't mind getting the subway for a few extra stops to get around the city. Asakusa is a fantastic option if you are wondering where to stay in Tokyo on a budget.

Where To Stay In Tokyo? Best Area For Electronics Lovers Is... Akihabara

I've already stated that you either love or hate Akihabara. I still maintain that opinion because when I visited this neighbourhood, I found things I loved (like shopping and eating epic food) and things I hated (grown men seeking attention from rather young looking girls).

Why Stay In Akihabara?

Akihabara is the best place for electronic lovers. There are shops upon shops which sell so many gadgets, figurines, and weird items. It's unreal really, and you will probably need months to explore the whole shopping side of Akihabara. There are lots of people waiting in line first thing in the morning to play something in a Japanese pachinko for example. There are people waiting to be taken to a maid café. There are lots of entertainment quarters in Akihabara too. But all in all, Akihabara is the electric heart of Tokyo, where people come to shops for electronic equipment, anime, and manga.

Akihabara Hotel
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Grids Tokyo Akihabara Hotel&Hostel

Grids Tokyo Akihabara Hotel&Hostel offers dormitory type rooms with free wifi throughout the property. The hostel is located just 10 minutes away from the Akihabara station. With a 24-hour front desk, GRIDS AKIHABARA TOKYO offers free luggage storage and a shared kitchenette equipped with a fridge, a microwave and kitchenware. The communal lounge is ideal for socialising with other guests. Guests can enjoy a coffee from Streamer Coffee Company situated on the ground floor, run by a latte art world champion. Prices start from £19 per night.

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Akihabara Washington Hotel

Akihabara Washington Hotel is right next to the Akihabara station and all air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a refrigerator, a work desk and a tv. Services offered by the 24-hour front desk includes luggage storage, currency exchange and safety deposit facilities. Laundry services and valet parking is also available. Prices start at £88 per night.

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Dormy Inn Akihabara

Dormy Inn Akihabara offers free wifi and a fantastic open-air bath with sauna. Dormy Inn has coin-operated laundry machines with free detergent. Tumble dryers are also available on site for a small fee. There are separate open-air baths for men and women available at the property. It’s a great option for those who want to enjoy a reasonably priced onsen and a nice hotel. Prices start at £95 per night.

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Need more convincing? Akihabara is home to one of the Don Quixote stores, a multi-level shop which sells virtually anything and everything. You can find face masks, clothes, electronics and even food items. It's a fantastic option for shopping lovers who want to explore a cheaper side of Tokyo. I bought a talking fridge Penguin from this shop. Yup, you read this right: a talking fridge Penguin. When I open the fridge door, my little penguin simply talks to me. One of the great and weird things you can only find in Japan.

Akihabara is a great place for young ones interested in anime and manga. I would recommend it for travellers who want to have an adventure and are into electronics and cutting-edge technology. It can be a great district for families travelling with kids who watch lots of cartoons, as you could find lots of figurines.

Where To Stay In Tokyo? The Best Area For Kawaii Is... Harajuku

Did anyone ask where is the mecca for kawaii in Tokyo? Harajuku, of course. This is the place for you if you love everything cute... or everything weird. I absolutely L-O-V-E Harajuku, because it's full of teens who really want to express themselves. There is so much to do in Harajuku, where do I even start?

Why Stay In Harajuku?

Harajuku is the place to stay in Tokyo if you are young and want to explore an alternative side of Japan. Harajuku is colourful, vibrant, unconventional and a little bit weird. This is the place where I saw teens dressed as lolita girls and Goths. It's the place where pink contact lenses and kitten hoodies are welcome and cactus shaped iPhone cases are encouraged. Harajuku is epic, and after a few hours in this neighbourhood, I guarantee that Japan will change your life forever.

Still need convincing? Harajuku is central and not far away from Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku or Shibuya. It's a great place for those young at heart who want to experience a new Tokyo, where teens are getting out of their shells and are not afraid to express themselves.

I would recommend Harajuku for young travellers or for any families travelling with their teenage kids. Harajuku is also home to the Harajuku crazy pancakes, one of the best things I've eaten in my life. Harajuku has a lot of cheap fashion available for all budgets, as well as boutiques for those in search of a cool brand.

So what is it going to be for you? Do know now where to stay in Tokyo? What area did you pick and why? Let me know in the comments section below.


24 Dec 2016

Super comprehensive and helpful, Cory! When I went to Tokyo I basically followed your advice: I stayed in Shinjuku, and it was really convenient. There was also one night in Akihabara, and I agree it is definitely kinda polarizing! Accidentally wandered into the Hentai section of an anime store and saw some weeeeird stuff O_O

26 Dec 2016

Hi Monica, thank you for your reply. Yes, Shinjuku is great for tourists whilst Akihabara is a little different, isn't it? Definitely not your ordinary place, but still had some charm in its own way.

Cherene Saradar
24 Dec 2016

I always love learning about different neighborhoods before visiting a big city. I can't decide for Tokyo...they all have so much to offer! But the magical street food....mmmm.

26 Dec 2016

Oh the street food is divine! I mean I can't think of something better than just wandering around Tokyo and eating lots of food hehe

06 Mar 2017

Hello Cory, great article. We are interested to go to Tokyo somewhere this year. It seems to me that near Tokyo train station would probably best for us as we need a more traditional and quiet area. But a lot of articles most suggest Shinjuku as the best for Tokyo first timer. Any suggestion for traveler wanting to stay in more traditional and quiet place but yet easy access to go around Tokyo: Chiyoda or Asakusa or Ueno? And what about the transport, between JR Yamanote vs subway 3 day pass? Which one is more advantageous or more practical? Thanks a lot !!

07 Mar 2017

Hi Andreas, Thank you for your message. I would say Chiyoda was the quietest for us. We stayed 2 minutes away from the metro station. As long as you have a subway at your doorstep, I'd say go for Chiyoda. Alternatively, Asakusa is a great option for sure. Ueno can be a bit busy at times because it's a major station and people do change a lot. In fact, most Shinkansens stop there anyway.
Shinjuku is recommended because that is where the heart of Tokyo is. You can see everything you imagined about Tokyo...the lights, the ads, the busy streets, the fun food. I'd say maybe stay in a quieter place and take the subway to Shinjuku. The sub is incredibly clean and reliable.
I would just get the Pasmo card and pay as you go for the subway. If you plan on getting our of Tokyo and travelling around Japan, get the JR Pass. You can also use it on the Yamanote line (but not on the subway).
For flexibility, I would rely more on the subway though. :) I hope this helps. Any questions, please let me know.

09 Mar 2017

Hi Cory, thanks for your reply. Chiyoda seems to be convenient for us. No, we don't plan to go anywhere else outside Tokyo. We only have around 7-8 days in total, not too long. Probably we'll go to Mt. Fuji but not farther than that. One more question: what would be the easiest way to go to Mt. Fuji?

To be honest, Tokyo really seems to us to be very complicated. The subway system, JR train system, areas in Tokyo for where to stay and what to visit, etc. End 2016 we went to Hong Kong and the planning was pretty simple. That's why now we are gathering all information that we can about Tokyo.

09 Mar 2017

Hi Andreas,

No worries, I am here to help. Chiyoda is a good option as long as you are relatively close to the subway. I remember the first time I planned for Japan, scary stuff! Everything is sooo different.
I recommend getting the Shinkansen to Mount Fuji. It will take virtually no time to get there. You can visit either the Lakes or Hakone (most go for Hakone). But the train is the best (fastest and most convenient) option. From the Tokyo Station (Chiyoda is super close to it) ask for tickets to Fuji. They will direct you to the right line, plus there are virtually signs everywhere showing you which Shinkansen to board.

There are so many things you are going to love about Japan and the moment you get to understand it, you will become addicted to it. I know, I did!
Don't be too worried about the subway. In fact, I have an article explaining how it works.
The idea is to remember that each line is colour coded, so it makes it a bit easier to navigate. When two colours touch on the map, it means you can change lines.

There are a few things I recommend for first-timers in Japan.

1. make sure you have internet on your phone. If your roaming is not that awesome, order your sim card directly to your hotel. Now, I appreciate they don't come cheap, but having internet around Tokyo is a life saver. Streets don't tend to have names on them, which makes it pretty difficult to navigate. So having google maps handy is the best thing ever :) We ordered our sim from these guys:
Just give them your hotel address. Then, let the hotel know there is a small letter arriving for you. The hotel staff will set it aside.

2. Pasmo Card. When you go to the machine, you can change the language to English. It's really easy to understand. Top up the card right away and simply tap at the subway gates. Easy peasy. Note that all stations in Tokyo have signs everywhere showing you where to go. Most arrows are also colour coded for the actual lines you need, so you can navigate with ease without getting lost. You will get the gist of it in no time!

3. Make sure you read a little bit about the Japanese manners. We made so many not understanding why there are no bins, or how to properly eat sushi. You, of course, don't have to adhere to the Japanese standards, but it's nice to try to integrate as much as possible to have a better experience.

4. Please make sure you have cash on you. Japan is a cash based society and chances are your card won't be accepted anywhere. The good news is that Japan is super safe, so you can carry your money around without any worries (of course be vigilant as always). Alternatively, some 7/11 shops will have some international cash machines.

If you have any questions, I'm super happy to help so let me know. And enjoy Tokyo. Honestly, it will change your life. Have lots and lots of fun.

Best, Cory

Rob Taylor
30 May 2017

This is great. Every time I start researching Japan, and Tokyo specifically I get overwhelmed. Seriously.

31 May 2017

Hi Rob, thank you for your message. I am very glad I could help. I really hope you enjoy your stay in Tokyo. You will love it.

Ryan Biddulph
07 Jun 2017

Hi Cory,

Super write up! Tokyo fascinates me. Unlike any city on earth. My wife taught English for a month in Hiroshima but never made it to the big city. Trip there soon, for sure.


18 Aug 2017

Hi Cory,
Thanks for Sharing Information about Tokyo Nightlife.

19 Aug 2017

Hi Cory,
Great write up, I'm planning to stay in Tokyo for 3 days, and I was hoping to do day trips to Mount Fuji and Kamakura. What would be the best & safe location to stay in Tokyo for my plans?

22 Aug 2017

Hi Valencia,

So cool you are going to visit Tokyo! I would position myself as close to either the main Tokyo train station (or within 10 minute subway ride to it) or close to Ueno Park as most trains tend to stop there as well. Another option is to position yourself around the Yamanote line and use your JR Pass to access the main train station and take your shinkansen to Mt. Fuji from there.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have any more questions.

Elou S
22 Aug 2017


Very informative article! I was hoping to see any recommendation for the best airbnb in Tokyo. Do you have recommendation, first time for the family (with 3 kids) to Tokyo and first time to use airbnb in our travel. Would love to know best ones in Shinjuku, Asakuza, ChiyodaThank you.

22 Aug 2017

Hi Elou, thank you for your message. Unfortunately, the legal status of Airbnb in Japan is not very well defined. In fact, most airbnb listings in Japan are illegal, hence I am reluctant to offer advice on the matter to my readers. I strongly suggest checking out various options in Chiyoda area as that is the quietest and relatively well off. However, I strongly suggest considering a hotel or an apart-hotel for your own safety.
Kind Regards, Cory

05 Sep 2017

I use to travel to Tokyo for work and we always stayed at the Hilton in Shinjuku. I always wanted to stay in the Park Hyatt but it was not within budget. If I go back for fun, I think I would try to stay in Shibuya. I just love that area.

06 Sep 2017

Hi Anisa, yes! I would love to be in Park Hyatt. It's the dream :P Shibuya is so epic, isn't it? The right amount of fun, classy and colour.

12 Sep 2017

I really love your post! I went to Tokyo last year and I am very impressed about this amazing country. Thank you for this beautiful article :)

23 Sep 2017

Hi Cory!! I will go in a month to Japan and I am very undecided where we can stay, I mean the area in Tokyo. We are 4 travelers, one is 16 years old. We have 10 days in total. I am considering 7 in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto, what is the best way to transport us to Kyoto? Do you think we need to buy JR pass? Can I buy one way Shinkansen tickets? I appreciate you being able to help me. Greetings from Mexico.

24 Sep 2017

Hi Alethia,

Thank you for your message. I recommend staying in Chiyoda, Shinjuku or Shibuya areas. Especially because you are travelling with a 16-year-old who probably wants to be more in the middle of it! (in which case Shibuya or Shinjuku are best). Chiyoda is excellent as it is well connected and very quiet at night.
The JR Pass covers the trip to and from Kyoto. If you have 10 days in Japan, I would recommend buying a Japan Rail Pass and using it a little more.
For example, I would do 5 days in Tokyo, 1 day going to the Snow Monkey Pass, 1 day in Nikko, 3 in Kyoto. This way you get to visit more of Japan and utilise your JR Passes a little more.

Here are some links:

and here is info about the JR Pass plus where we got ours from.

Any questions, please let me know.

Kind regards,
Cory :)

Colin de Souza
03 Nov 2017

Hi Cory,
We are Australian Seniors (65 Year’s) travelling to japan in. April for 8 days. We intend staying in. Tokyo for 3 night then Osaka for 4 nights and using Osaka as the base to do 1 or 2 day trips to Kyoto then returning to Tokyo for 1 day flying out from Haneda airport..
Can you please advise:
1) where we should stay in Tokyo where transport,food and shopping is available?
2) best way to go to Mt. Fuji and is it a whole day trip?
3) what is the best way that we can easily catch a rain from Tokyo to Osaka and from Osaka to Kyoto for the day trips?
4) what train passes should we purchase?
In short base on our itinerary how woulld you plan our travel. Hopper yo. Can assist as I’m quite worried about this trip. Thanks!

05 Nov 2017

Hi Colin,

Thank you for your message. You are going to love Japan and April is a perfect time for your trip.
Let me address your questions:

1) Transport, food and shopping are available anywhere in Tokyo. If you are interested in being in the middle of it all, I would aim for Shinjuku. However, since you are seniors, I would recommend Ginza as it is a little more refined and less noisy during night time. As long as you are 5-10 minutes walk from a subway station, you are absolutely fine as Tokyo has an amazing infrastructure.

2) Mt. Fuji is a whole day trip indeed. The easiest thing to do is to get on a pre-organised tour (I can send you more info on this if you are interested, just let me know). Alternatively, you can take the Shinkansen towards the Five Lakes, change to a local train and go to Lake Kawaguchi). I am writing an article about this, so stay tuned!

3) From Tokyo station, take the shinkansen straight to Osaka. The super speedy train will be incredibly comfortable so all you have to do, is present your JR Passes to the ticket counter and reserve your allocated seats. Ideally, you will do this a couple of nights before your trip. You won't have to pay extra for your seats and you can pick the time most suitable for you). Same applies for Osaka to Kyoto. You will get the Shinkansen from the Shin-Osaka station straight into Kyoto Central.

4) Please have a read:
As you are going for 8 days, you should get a 7 day JR Pass. Remember, you need to order it no longer than 3 months before your trip. The JR Pass will arrive at your home, so you need to order it BEFORE arriving in Japan.

Here is some super useful info for you:

Any questions, let me know.
Have fun in Japan!

Kind Regards,


Wendy F
06 Nov 2017

HI. My boyfriend is going to Tokyo for a week and like everyone we're overwhelmed by the options. What's your opinion of staying in Ueno? I found Ryokan Sawanoya that looks good, but am unsure if this is too inconvenient tranist-wise. Also found Kimi Ryokan in (I think) Ikebukuro, is that a good spot?
Your help is most appreciated!

07 Nov 2017

Hi Wendy,

How are you? I checked both hotels and they are awesome. The first one is just 7 minutes walk from the closest subway station which is great. By subway, it will take your boyfriend about 30 minutes to reach Shibuya. Ueno is a great location, quiet and nice.
The second option is 10 minutes walk from the subway station. By subway it will take around 15 minutes to reach Shibuya. The second option is a little better because it's closer to Shibuya, Shinjuku and because you can book it with free cancellation:;sid=...

In conclusion, they are both excellent choices, but because of proximity, I would go with the second option for the first visit to Tokyo.
I hope this helps.
Any further questions, please let me know.

Kind Regards,


03 Jan 2018

Hello Cory, I plan on visiting Tokyo mid to late July. My problem is where to stay. I'm in my late 20's and I'll only in there for about 3 nights total and from there I plan to somehow get to Misawa to visit family. What would you recommend. I'm super nervous because I've never traveled abroad alone.

04 Jan 2018

Hi Alex, how are you? Tokyo is going to be exciting and I don't think you can go wrong with either area as the city is safe. I would say to pick either Shibuya / Shinjuku area if you want a more vibrant Tokyo or Chiyoda if you want quiet and proximity to the main train station. You are honestly going to love it and once you get over the initial "omg this is so busy" you will feel epic! Tokyo really is impressive.

12 Jan 2018

Hi Cory! Thank you for anwsering comments - that's very sweet of you !

I must admit that the transportation system in Japan is very confusing to me :/ I'm going to Japan this April for 7 days. I want to go directly to Kyoto when I arrive to Narita Airport. When I arrive to Kyoto I will only stay there for 3 days and then I want to go back to central Tokyo.
In those 3 days in Tokyo I want to see; ‣ Harajuku ‣ Shibuya ‣ Shimokitazawa ‣ Kimoji ‣ Shinjuku ‣ Ueno ‣ Akasuka ‣ Akihabara ‣ Roppongi ‣ Daikanyama.

What do you recommend for tickets and transportations?

....I am actually considering not to visit Kyoto, I don't feel 3 days there is enough and I think I will feel more stressful about going back and fourth.
But if I make up my mind and choose to only be in Tokyo, what would you recommend for tickets? I am arriving to Narita Aiport and from there I'm going to Tokyo and check the places out there:)

I have researched it, but I still feel lost.

I hope you can help.


18 Jan 2018

Hi Yeliz,

Thank you for your comment. I would still get my Japan Rail Pass and visit Kyoto. It's such beautiful city and 3 days will suffice to at least get to see its main attractions. The food is so varied and so incredible, it would be a shame not to.
For Tokyo only, you can simply get a PASMO card and top it up at the subway as needed. I usually put about 5000 yen on it and use it until it runs out, then top it back up and so on. You said you are arriving in Narita. Where will you stay in Tokyo? From Narita you can simply board the Narita Skyliner into the city. It's the easier way.Upon arrival, simply go to the information desk (they speak English) and they can help you get your ticket. They are very nice and helpful.

Any questions, let me know. Happy to help


19 Jan 2018

Thanks for your reply! I have decided to only stay in Tokyo, because I don't want to be stressed out, so I am going to stay in Shinjuku (close to the station) for the whole week. Do you think it's best to buy a Suica/Pasco card? or should I buy two 72h pass and just purchase single tickets on one day? I am not sure how many times I have to take the subway :/

20 Jan 2018

Hi Yeliz, You can get a Suica or a Pasmo. They do the exact same thing. We had a Pasmo, but honestly, it makes no difference. With Pasmo, you have to top it up as needed. With the 72h passes, you can use them as much as you want, of course. The only thing is: if you want to travel by subway a lot, then a 72h pass makes more sense so you can get your money's worth.
If you are in Shinjuku, I assume you want to travel to other parts of Tokyo quite a bit, like Shibuya, Ueno, Harajuku etc to just enjoy the city. If that's the case, then I assume you will rely on the subway quite a bit.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday, I reckon it's going to be epic!

20 Jan 2018

Thanks! Have a nice day :D

20 Jan 2018

Likewise! Enjoy your trip and tell me how it went once you are back! x

Jun Cua
03 Feb 2018

Hi Cory. My family and I are planning to go to Japan next year. Where and when would be the best time to go there if the kids want to see snow. Also, we are traveling with my special needs daughter, are the trains and establishments accessible to PWDs?

05 Feb 2018

Hi Jun,

I hope you are going to have a lot of fun in Japan. The Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is held during one week every February in Hokkaido's capital Sapporo. You might want to consider it next year where you can definitely see snow. Alternatively, you can try the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route or visit a winter skiing destination such as Nagano in Japan.
You will find lifts everywhere pretty much everywhere and at every train and metro station. I suggest reading more on

Enrique Salamat
03 Feb 2018

Hi Cory have a great day first of all. your blog is really so helpful and amazing for those 1st timer to travel in Japan. I have plans to visit Japan for 15 days by April month with my family so I would rather stay in Tokyo as this city really famous at all. Japan is my dream country ever. My only scares is to take trains especially the bullet one. thanks a lot.

05 Feb 2018

Hi Enrique,

Japan sure is the best country in the world and you and your family are going to have an excellent time. Why are you afraid of taking the Shinkansen? They are very easy, and once you familiarise yourself with the train station and how everything works you will be just fine :)

14 Mar 2018

Hi Cory,
Just stumbled on your article and this thread. We're going to Japan for the first time this August.
Can't wait.
Thanks a million for posting everything and for creating a thread.....
So delighted that's it's a 2018 article.

16 Mar 2018

Really glad I could help Jude! Have lots of fun in Japan, you will love it <3

08 Apr 2018

Hi Cory,

My wife and I are in our 50's and will be in Tokyo for 4 days. we plan to stay in Chiyoda area and looking at Hotel Niwa or APA hotel Kanda ekimae for our accomodation. any thoughts on these hotels. we will be arriving at Narita airport and plan to take the bullet train to Tokyo and departing Tokyo to Haneda by monorail. we also like to squeeze in a day trip to Kyoto. is it worth buying the 7 day JR pass?

appreciate your help

09 Apr 2018

Hi Alex,
Both hotels are great. Chiyoda is def the place to be in my opinion. It's very quiet at night but central enough to access the rest of districts without any issues. I'd say it is better to enjoy your full days in Tokyo and not squeeze Kyoto in there. 4 days will barely scratch the surface of Tokyo and the journey to and from Kyoto will be long and tedious to enable you to see enough of Kyoto to worth your while.
If there is any way to extend the trip to 7 days, I recommend spending 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto. I hope this helps!

Mabel Low
07 Jul 2018

Hi Cory,

I plan to travel within Tokyo + Mt. Fuji for 10D8N with my hubby and 2 kids (5YO & 9YO). Mid-June seems the only option for me since its a mid-term school break.
1) worth to visit during June, rainy season?
2) plan to stay in Hotel 3000 Jyuraku, Asakusa - good metro accessibility to Disneyland, Shibuya, Shinjuku?

10 Jul 2018

Hi Mabel,

You will love Japan!
1) totally worth it. Just have a few umbrellas with you :)
2) The hotel seems to be very close to the Asakusa station, hence good connection with everything in Tokyo ;)

You can book it here->

Please let me know if you have any other questions, always happy to help.

Ruth Graham
07 Sep 2018

Hi Cory .... thank you so much for all the info - extremely helpful. I've been reading lots of other blogs & Lonely Planet books on Tokyo and where to stay - but to be honest found your blog the easiest and most informative for me. We are husband, wife and 16yrs old son from Australia. So it's been narrowed down to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Chiyoda (I think ... so many options). We only have 8 nights so will spend time only in Tokyo. But we'll be back I'm sure!!

Many thanks. Happy travels!! Ruth

07 Sep 2018

Dear Ruth,

Thank you so much for your message. That's very kind of you to say, I'm very grateful, thank you.
Shinjuku, Shibuya and Chiyoda are all wonderful areas. To narrow it down:
Shinjuku - crazy but awesome and colourful
Shibuya - a bit posher
Chiyoda - perfect location, very quiet at night, but close to the metro to access everything quickly.

Have a lovely holiday in Tokyo, you will love it there.

Kind Regards,

25 Sep 2018

Hi Cory,

First of all, thanks for putting up this amazing article, it has been absolutely helpful!

I have an upcoming business trip to Japan, more specifically to Fukushima between the 2-9 of November, however, I'll be landing/staying in Tokyo the 1st and flying from Haneda the next day at 2 pm. Although I was planning to stay near Tokyo Station, after reading your article, I believe that at least for that short time, the best place to stay is Shinjuku. I'm not planning to party or anything like that since I will be having an 11 hour trip, but I would like to have the opportunity of seeing at least the nightlife and part of the area a couple of hours in the morning before heading to the airport.

This being said, I would really appreciate your advice and comments.

By the way, if you have any recommendations of what to do/visit in/nearby Fukushima, it would be great too!

Thanks a lot and keep up this good work!

Sue Zaan
28 Sep 2018

Great info on Tokyo. Question for you Cory please. I am going to the Rugby World Cup for a match in Yokohama stadium - I will make Tokyo my base for 8 days - Is it worth making Yokohama my base - age 60 + husband? Prefer somewhere not so loud. Thanks

04 Oct 2018

Hi Sue. I would make Tokyo your base so it doesn't take you long to get to and from Tokyo. Yokohama is a great place but not for a base to visit Tokyo :)
I hope this helps.

Steve Saliente
19 Dec 2018

Thanks for the very informative blog. We are family of 7 with 1 child (3yo) & planning to visit tokyo (1st timer) on 12-18 feb 2019. itinerary includes disneyland. Can you please recommend any air bnb around shinjuku which is convenient for us to go disneyland? Will it be shinjuku or ginza area that is suitable for a 5 day stay. Thanks a lot.

30 Dec 2018

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your message. We don't recommend airbnbs in Japan. We only recommend staying in a hotel. Apartments are usually very small is just as expensive and you can get into an illegally run one. Airbnbs in Japan don't really come with cooking facilities either (usually a mini fridge and a microwave). For a large family of 7, it will be a bit tricky to find something in the centre. Japanese apartments are incredibly small (talking 10-20 sqm).

Since you have a small child, I recommend Ginza or Chiyoda (calm area with quiet nights, close to the subway).
You are going to love it!

Kind Regards,


28 Dec 2018

Hi Cory, i am travelling to Japan with my hubby and a 15 months old kid in May 2019. We have total of 9 nights. How many days do you suggest at each city if we were to go to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara?

Any recommendation for hotels preferably less than USD$150 per night. Thanks alot!

30 Dec 2018

Hi Victoria,

Thank you for your message. We recommend this hotel in Tokyo in Chiyoda. We stayed there and we thought was great. It was very quiet which I think is essential for you and your small baby.
I suggest:
4 nights in Tokyo
5 nights in Kyoto (with one day trip to Nara and one day trip to Osaka).
Trains are incredibly fast and reliable so rather than move your base from Kyoto to Osaka, it's best to just take one day trip. Same for Nara (located less than 1 hour away from Kyoto by Shinkansen).

Here is a great hotel in Kyoto as well: (not super cheap but Kyoto tends to be quite expensive)

Have lots and lots of fun.