If you want to go somewhere where the food is amazing, there’s always something to do, and the culture is incredibly different from what you’re used to, then Tokyo is a good choice. This city is one of the most interesting, exciting and sometimes eccentric in the world, and it’s a place that everyone should see at least once in their lives. So, if you travel to go shopping, to eat new foods, or just to explore other ways of living, you’ll find all of that and more in Tokyo.
But all of this comes at a price. Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in Asia to travel and live in and the prices can be restrictive, particularly if you’re on a tight budget. But you don’t have to spend every dollar you’ve saved to have a good time in Tokyo. In fact, if you’re careful and you choose what you do and where you go wisely, you can have an amazing time for a surprisingly low price.
To help you find the activities, hotels, and places to go that won’t break your budget, here’s a guide to this most incredible of cities.
Table of Contents
The Best Places to Stay in Tokyo
Best Hostel in Tokyo: Space Hostel Tokyo
Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world but that doesn’t mean you have to empty your bank account to find somewhere to stay. The Space Hostel Tokyo is only a 3-minute walk from a train station, which means you can get basically anywhere you want to go once you learn the rail system.
The hostel is also uniquely Japanese. No generic white walls here as this city seems determined to prove over and over that you don’t have to go expensive to have character. All of the furniture in this hostel is carved by top craftsmen and the hostel has all the amenities you could ever want.
Best Airbnb in Tokyo: Stylish Apartment in Roppongi
Take an apartment in Roppongi! Why?
It’s the best neighborhood to stay in Tokyo for nightlife! Go out, wreck yourself, and go home to sleep it off. If you’re lucky enough to bring someone home, you got a sexy pad to sleep it off together. ?View on Airbnb
Best Budget Hotel in Tokyo: Ace Inn Asakusa
Tokyo has some of the quirkiest budget hotels in the world. This is the city where you can stay in your own room on the top floor of someone’s house or in a chain hotel for around the same price. If you’re looking for a great place in this expensive city then the Ace Inn Asakusa is perfect for you. It’s located in a popular tourist area and is a short train ride away from many of Tokyo’s best attractions. There are a variety of different sized rooms, some of them with a kitchenette for your convenience.
Best Luxury Hotel in Tokyo: Pullman Tokyo Tamachi
Hotels in Tokyo are often amazing at every price point, but when you go luxurious, you’ll really experience something amazing. The Pullman Tokyo Tamachi is in one of the best areas in Tokyo, close to a lot of attractions, and has room service, a bar and restaurant, a fitness center, and a sun terrace where you can play tennis. The rooms are beautifully decorated in dark wood and are warm, homey and welcoming while still including everything you could ever need or want during your stay.
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Tokyo:
- Shop till you drop at places like Odakyu, Lumine, Beams Japan, and Takashimaya Times Square;
- Stroll around the old-world area of Golden Gai;
- Go bar hopping in Kabukicho.
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Tokyo!
#1 – Meji Shrine
One of the most religious places to see in Tokyo
• A working Shinto Shrine where you can take part in traditional rituals.
• You can’t photograph the inside of the shrine, but you’ll get some good shots out of the outside.
Why it’s so awesome: Japan’s religions are quite different to how westerners think of their beliefs. One of the oldest religious systems in the country is called Shinto, and it’s this religion that allowed Japan to accept and incorporate western influences into their culture while still holding on to their own uniqueness. The Meji Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the city and is surrounded by a huge park that’s a striking reminder of how well the city incorporates ultra-modern architecture with the natural world.
What to do there: The Meji shrine is still a functioning shrine so make sure you take part in a ritual while you’re there. This is a serene, peaceful area, so refrain from eating or smoking except in marked areas and keep your voice down in respect to the other visitors. Outside of the shrine is a large archway called a Torii. It’s traditional to bow at these gates when you enter and when you leave.
There is also a drinking fountain inside and it supplies water to purify visitors. You can wash your hands, but don’t drink the water or allow the wooden dippers to touch your lips. When you approach the shrine itself, it’s traditional to bow twice, clap your hands twice, make a wish, and bow again. You obviously don’t have to take part in any of these rituals, but it’s a nice way to be a part of the landmark rather than just staring at it.
#2 – Tokyo National Museum
• A chance for you to explore the history of this fascinating country!
• One of the biggest museums in the country.
• You’ll see everything from samurai swords to Buddhist scrolls.
Why it’s so awesome: Japan has a history that’s completely separate from western history and it’s incredibly different as well. If you’ve ever been fascinated by the stories of the samurai, kimonos, or unique pottery items, then you’ll find them all at this museum. It’s one of the biggest museum’s in the country, with over 116,000 pieces of art, so you’re bound to find something amazing to learn about.
What to do there: While you’re in the museum, make sure you explore the displays that will help you learn about the parts of Japanese culture that are most interesting to you. For most people, this would be the samurai sword display and armor or the kimonos. But take the chance to explore other facets of Japan’s history as well. It’s so different from western history and most of the art created throughout Japan’s history is staggering beautiful, so don’t miss it.
#3 – Sensoji Temple
One of the most incredible free places to go to in Tokyo
• Located in busy, local-focused Asakusa, so you can shop and eat while you’re there.
• You’ll get some amazing photos in this area of not only the temple but the incredible gardens as well.
• A popular tourist site that’s still a working temple, so you’ll see people burning incense and praying while you’re there.
Why it’s so awesome: Sensoji Temple looms out of the center of the otherwise modern neighborhood where it lives as if it’s been transported from another time. This is the oldest temple in the city and it’s also the most popular amongst tourists and locals. Dating back to 628, the temple looks old but was actually reconstructed after its destruction during the Second World War. But you wouldn’t know from being there, as it looks and smells like it’s been soaking up incense for longer that you can imagine.
What to do there: This is actually a functioning temple so be respectful of the locals you see praying and burning incense in the temple. This temple is a big part of the locals’ most deeply held beliefs and they often come to the temple to ask for healing or help. It’s a really crowded landmark, so come early in the morning or late at night if you want to avoid the crowds. But apart from that, just wander the site and take pictures from every angle. And when you’re done, take a walk and find somewhere to eat, there are plenty of places nearby to choose from!
#4 – The Imperial Palace
• The Palace has stunning grounds and you’ll get some amazing pictures.
• It’s still used as one of the homes of the Japanese royal family.
• There’s a limit to how many people can enter the grounds, so make sure you apply for a ticket rather than just showing up.
Why it’s so awesome: Japanese architecture and their sense of aesthetics are different to anywhere else in the world and they’re both absolutely stunning. The Imperial Palace is a good example of this sense of grace and beauty. And the grounds are no different. Japanese gardens are probably the most stunning in the world, and the Imperial Palace is surrounded by some of the best examples of these gardens that you’ll ever see.
What to do there: This is an important historical site and it’s also the home of the royal family today, so you’ll need to apply several weeks in advance to get admittance to the site. And you probably won’t be able to go inside the building at all, as these passes are even rarer. But the grounds here are stunning, particularly the East Garden, which is a lush, natural space that’s designed in the traditional Japanese style.
#5 – Odaiba
Cool place to see in Tokyo with friends!
• The entertainment center of the city.
• Includes enough museums and beaches and other attractions to keep you busy for days, if not weeks!
Why it’s so awesome: Odaiba is a neighborhood set on a mini island in the middle of Tokyo Bay and it’s the center of entertainment, eating and cool architecture in the city. Whatever type of attractions you enjoy you’ll find here, from museums to beaches, a Statue of Liberty and amusement parks. Whether you’re traveling with kids, family or friends, everyone will definitely find something to do here.
What to do there: What to do you want to do? If you enjoy trying all the food that Tokyo has to offer, then you’ll find eateries here to satiate every taste. If you enjoy museums, then you should go to the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. There are amusement parks where you can ride go-karts and Ferris wheels and you can even go to the Legoland Discovery Center!
Whatever you want to do, you’ll find something here that will suit your taste. And if you have the time, make sure you visit the Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari, which is a hot springs theme park where you can wear a traditional yukata and relax in a variety of different hot springs baths. It’s a perfect place to relax after the stress of the city!
#6 – The Ginza
A great place in Tokyo if you love to shop!
• One of the best shopping areas in the city.
• Take advantage of high-end shopping as well as small, quirky shops that sell things you’ll only find in Japan!
Why it’s so awesome: Most cities have one shopping area that dominates over all the others and for Japan, it’s the Ginza. You’ll find big name shops like H&M, design houses like Armani and Cartier as well as traditional stores that sell all the souvenirs you could ever want to take home. There are also some quirkier choices, such as stores dedicated to buttons and charcoal beauty products, so make sure you check everything out.
What to do there: If you enjoy shopping, you don’t need to be told what to do in this area. Shop until you drop. Make sure you look for souvenirs like kimonos and incense as well if you have people back home you need to buy gifts for. And even if you’re not a big shopper, there’s still a lot to do in this area. There are more than 200 art galleries in the area, some of the best eateries and restaurants, and theaters where you can catch one of Japan’s famous kabuki performances!
#7 – National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology
Awesome place to visit in Tokyo with kids!
• A place that will prove to you just how innovative and technology-focused Japan is.
• Contains more interactive displays then you could imagine.
• No matter what part of science you’re interested in, you’ll find something fascinating to do here.
Why it’s so awesome: This museum is one of the best in the world and it was born from and highlights Japan’s obsession with technology and innovation. It’s a fun and fascinating place to spend some time in regardless of whether you’re a child or just a big kid, and you could spend hours here exploring every facet of Japan’s interest in technology!
What to do there: if you’re interested in space, try the Explore the Frontiers display, where you can walk into a model of the International Space Station, complete with autographs from history’s most famous astronauts. You can learn about robots in the Create Your Future exhibit, explore an LED Earth sculpture in the Discover Your Earth exhibit or enjoy an educational movie at the Gaia 3D home theater. Basically, this museum will make you feel like a big kid, rushing around too excited to choose just one thing to look at. And recapturing that feeling is amazing on its own!
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Tokyo
Tokyo is an incredibly safe city – one of the safest in the world. The crime rate in most of Japan is much lower than it is in most US cities, and chances are you won’t have even the smallest amount of trouble while you’re in the city. In fact, there are even stories about how safe this city is. The story goes that you can leave your wallet on a bench in a park in Tokyo and come back an hour later and it’ll still be there. And this isn’t really an exaggeration.
However, there are some parts of the city where the crime level is higher and there are safety concerns other than crime, so we’ve put together a Tokyo safety guide so you can read be sure to stay healthy and out of harm’s way while you’re there.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
#8 – Edo-Tokyo Museum
One of Tokyo’s coolest historical sites!
• If you want to learn more about Japanese history, this is where to do it.
• A gigantic museum that’s designed to help you enjoy learning.
• A fascinating look at Tokyo all the way from its beginnings to the present day.
Why it’s so awesome: If you’re interested in Tokyo’s past, this is the best way to learn about it. This museum contains the whole history of the city explored through large- and small-scale models. You’ll be able to experience the city’s many architectural moods and changes as well as how life changed through the centuries. And there’s no better way to learn about another culture than to see how the past influenced and shaped what it is today!
What to do there: This is a quieter place to visit and not all of it is nice. You’ll be able to walk through a life-sized Nihonbashi Bridge from the Edo period and see how Japan moved from a more traditional to a modern society. However, you’ll also experience the devastations that occurred through the World Wars. As with the history of most countries, it isn’t always pretty, but it is vitally important if you want to understand how Japan came to be.
#9 – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Tokyo
• A beautiful, natural place in the middle of the city.
• Japan has a talent for including huge swaths of nature in the middle of cities and this park is one of the best examples of that.
• Take photos or just relax and enjoy the scenery!
Why it’s so awesome: Japan is a city that loves technology, skyscrapers, and modern everything and yet the designers if it recognized that nature was vital as well and incorporated lots of amazing parks in the city. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one example of that foresight and it’s also one of the best parks in the city. The gardens within are landscaped in 3 different styles, Japanese traditional, French Formal and English Garden, and exploring these natural surroundings could probably take you a whole afternoon!
What to do there: There is a small entrance fee to this park, but once you’re in you’ll probably want to spend all day there. Make sure you check out the different landscaping styles, and if you’re there in spring, definitely take a picnic and sit out under the cherry trees. This is a traditional spring activity in Japan for a good reason! Mostly, this is a place to sit and relax from the busyness of the city. Take a walk, have a picnic, or find one of the park’s teahouses or eateries and have a snack surrounded by nature.
#10 – Tokyo Metropolitan Building
• You can get a bird’s eye view of the whole city from the top of this building.
• Getting up to the observation deck is quick, easy, and there’s no waiting for your turn and no time limit on how much time you spend there.
• And it’s free!
Why it’s so awesome: The Tokyo Metropolitan Building has two observatories that are the highest in the city, so basically, you’ll get the best view of Tokyo when you spend some time in this building. It’s also really easy to get up to the observatories. There are no lines, no admission fees, a fast elevator and great customer service. And on a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji from the building!
What to do there: One of the biggest draws of this building is the fact that there isn’t a limit on how long you spend there. So you can take as many photos as you want and then just relax and take in the views with no one hurrying you along. And when you’re done with the view, there are some great restaurants on the same floor, so stop in for a meal. For an extra bonus, time your visit to coincide with the sunset for some truly spectacular views and photographs.
#11 – Ghibli Museum
• If you know anything about Japanese animation, this is its home.
• A chance to experience the magic and the mystery of Japan’s unique creative spirit and its most famous dreamer.
Why it’s so awesome: If you’ve ever watched Japanese cinema then you’ve probably seen a movie by Studio Ghibli. They make some of Japan’s most popular and magical animated films including Spirited Away, which won an Oscar for best-animated movie in 2003. This studio is headed by Hayao Miyazaki and the museum is just as quirky as the films.
What to do there: It’s notoriously difficult to get tickets to see the museum, but if you’re a fan of the movies then it’s worth making the effort because you’ll have a magical visit. Make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy this informal, unusual museum. There’s a play area for kids that includes a cat bus from one of the movies and a rooftop garden with sculptures of popular characters from the movies.
You should also make sure you see the short film they have featured because it changes every month and you won’t see it anywhere else. Just be aware that this museum doesn’t cater for tourists, so most of the signs are in Japanese, and you might find it a little difficult to find your way around.
#12 – Akihabara
An awesome place to visit in Tokyo for half a day!
• The center of Tokyo’s tech frenzy!
• A great place to visit if you’re a gamer or interested in getting your hands on the latest technological marvel.
• This area also caters to anime lovers, so if you enjoy this genre then you should definitely explore it.
Why it’s so awesome: This suburb is where you can buy almost any piece of technology or game that’s on the market at the moment. It’s basically street after street that’s dedicated to computers and gadgets. You’ll find gaming arcades, shops that sell anime and cosplay goods, and more neon signs than you could ever read. Also you can feel like you are in a video game by dressing up and riding the streets in go-karts!
What to do there: If you’re headed to Akihabara to buy something specific, make sure you do your research beforehand. The shops and streets full of tech shops are vast and it’s easy to get lost and walk away empty handed. Also, be a little careful about bringing young children to the area. Anime culture isn’t all clouds and pretty graphics and it’s quite different to how people in the west think of cartoons. Because this area is dedicated to anime, you may see some of these elements in the streets. And not all of them will be appropriate for very young children to experience.
#13 – Tokyo Tower
• A great place for a photo op.
• Relaxed, varied dining area on the lower floors where you can pick up snacks from all over the world.
Why it’s so awesome: This building is a landmark. Standing 1,092 feet above the city it actually has a very practical purpose and transmits television and radio over the city. The building was modeled on the Eiffel Tower and it does bear more than a passing resemblance to this famous structure. But the tower isn’t just practical. It has observation decks where you can get a great view of the city and a shopping and restaurant area in the lower sections where you can pick up souvenirs or have a great meal.
What to do there: The Tokyo Tower has two observation decks at different heights, so make sure you go up during the day or night to take photos of the city. They also have guides on these decks who can point out important buildings on the Tokyo skyline. If you want to take in the view and have a coffee at the same time, you can visit the café there or go downstairs to the lower floors. The restaurants in Tokyo Tower are great and there’s also a floor dedicated to stalls selling a wide variety of different snacks and foods from other countries. So if you go there for a meal, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice. And it’s all amazing.
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#14 – Alice in a Labyrinth Restaurant
One of the more unique places to visit in Tokyo!
• A unique dining experience in a country that’s known for unique things!
• A chance to visit a world you probably remember from childhood.
Why it’s so awesome: Japan has a knack for taking people’s favorite things and bringing a new twist to them and they do this very well in this restaurant. Based on the iconic Alice in Wonderland books, this is a restaurant that serves great food in surroundings that could have come straight from the books.
What to do there: If you have some time and loved the books then you definitely need to have a meal in this restaurant. In the main dining room, you can sit and eat surrounded by scenes from the story such as the hedges from the Queen’s garden, chairs shaped like roses, and a roof covered in playing cards. And even the food is themed, with desserts shaped like the Cheshire cat and appetizers that look like decks of cards.
#15 – Nakagin Capsule Tower
• An architectural marvel and a stark warning of the problems that come with an ever-increasing population.
• If you like photos of unusual things, this would make for a great shot.
Why it’s so awesome: This building was designed by Kisho Kurakawa as part of a time of architectural experimentation in the mid-20th century. It includes two towers that support 140 capsules that are basically tiny little homes. The idea behind this building is that the capsules can be removed and updated as time goes on so that the residents always have up to date tiny homes.
What to do there: As strange as it sounds, these tiny capsules may reflect something about the future of living in big cities. And the idea is a good one in the abstract because each capsule is a tiny little home, with a bed, kitchen and all the amenities you would need to live comfortably. But the people who tried to live there found it dehumanizing and claustrophobic. As a result, the style was abandoned, and the building’s future is undetermined at the moment. It’s still in use, partly as residential apartments and partly as business offices, but you can take a tour through the building and experience life as it could be in a capsule.
#16 – Tsukiji Fish Market
A must-see for foodies!
• If you like seafood, you’ll be spoiled for choice in this market.
• A perfect place for people watching.
Why it’s so awesome: The fish markets in Japan are famous and this is one of the oldest. It shut down in 2018 and then reopened as 2 separate parts. At the original location, you’ll find food stalls that sell a range of seafood dishes and snacks and down the road, you’ll find the other half of the market, known as Toyosu Market, which has some of the best sushi bars in the city.
What to do there: Eat seafood! You’ll find the freshest seafood you’ve ever eaten in this market and also some of the most inventive dishes. Try the seared tuna, sushi or squid ink sticky buns if you’re feeling adventurous. And other than that, make sure you wander around. The fish market draws locals from all walks of life, and it’s fascinating to watch an event that’s so integral to everyday life in Japan.
#17 – Shibuya Crossing
• One of the most iconic and photographed sites in Tokyo.
• If you’re looking for that defining photograph of Tokyo, you’ll be able to take it here.
Why it’s so awesome: Tokyo is one of the most crowded cities in the world and that makes the Shibuya Crossing one of the busiest crosswalks in the world too. It’s actually really fascinating to watch. The lights change and suddenly people are walking from every direction, a crowd of crisscrossing shoppers, students, and men in business suits. Go at dusk to get the best light for pictures.
What to do there: The Shibuya Crossing is located in the center of a busy city street and it’s surrounded by flashing neon lights and shops of every description. It’s the perfect place to people watch, so pull up a café chair, or just sit on one of the benches around the area and watch the controlled madness. There are also a lot of good restaurants and eateries in the area, so when you’re done make sure you stop for a snack.
#18 – The Tokyo National Museum
• The oldest museum in the city.
• Set in the middle of the beautiful Ueno Park, where locals and tourists come to soak in nature.
• There are a variety of attractions throughout the park including shrines, graves and food stalls, so you could spend a whole afternoon just exploring!
Why it’s so awesome: The Tokyo National Museum contains the largest collection of Japanese artwork in the world, with more than 110,000 displays in 5 buildings. The displays are rotated regularly because the museum owns more art than they could ever show at once, so every time you go, you’ll get the chance to see something different.
What to do there: The Tokyo National Museum is contained in five buildings, so if you’re interested in art you’ll be spoiled for choice. The displays are huge and fascinating and will give you a clear picture of Japanese art as it changed through time. And when you’re done, take the time to wander around Ueno Park and see beauty of a different kind.
#19 – Nezu Museum
• A temple of traditional Japanese Art.
• The artworks inside the building are stunning, but the building itself and it’s garden are just as amazing.
Why it’s so awesome: Spread over 40,000 feet, the museum contains more than 7,400 pieces of traditional and contemporary Japanese art. But it isn’t just the artwork inside that’s incredible. The building itself was redesigned by acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma and it manages to convey age, grace, elegance and welcome all at once, which makes it really worth the experience.
What to do there: This museum is a study in contrasts. It covers more than 40,000 feet and yet by some wonder of architecture, it still feels welcoming and intimate. You won’t find the cold, almost anesthetic feel of some museums in this building. Instead, it welcomes you to stay and enjoy the traditional art, so follow your impulses and take your time. And make sure you check out the outer areas too. The museum has a private garden that’s just spectacular.
#20 – Ryoguku Kokugikan
• There are 3 sumo tournaments a year at this site, drawing more than 11,000 fans.
Why it’s awesome: Sumo is a big draw in Tokyo, and you might be surprised by how popular it is among the locals. There are 6 official sumo tournaments in Japan every year, three of which are held at this location, and the tournaments themselves last for weeks. Obviously, this means that there can’t be tournaments all year round, which is why this venue holds other sporting competitions like kickboxing too. But if you’re in Tokyo when there’s a sumo tournament on, it’s really worth seeing.
What to do there: Sumo is an iconic and much-loved sport in Japan. So, if you get the chance, buy a ticket and attend one of the matches. Not only is it a uniquely interesting sport to watch, if slightly unusual to western minds, it’s also exciting to be among the crowd as the locals cheer on their favorites and get swept up in the challenge and competition.
#21 – Yoyogi Park
One of the most incredible free places to go to in Tokyo
• A park for the active traveler, where you can take part in any sport under the sun.
• The perfect place to hang out in nature and get away from the city.
Why it’s so awesome: Japan has some amazing parks and Yoyogi Park is one of the best. It’s 134 acres just a short distance from Shibuya and is always full of picnickers and performers. There is always something going on in this park. It’s probably the only place in the city where you can see people playing badminton, the banjo and amateur dancers all in one area.
What to do there: This is a park where you can relax, sit back, and enjoy yourself. Take a picnic or grab some snacks from a nearby stall and watch the performances. In the northern areas, long walkways stretch across lush lawns, so get some exercise and breath in the sweet-smelling air. Or just wander and explore whatever takes your fancy, it’s all up to you.
#22 – Ueno Park
• A huge and stunning natural area with lots to do.
• You’ll find everything from museums to grave sites and statues in this area.
Why it’s so awesome: Tokyo has a lot of amazing parks and Ueno Park is one of the most popular among the locals. No matter what time of day you go there you’ll find school kids in large groups chattering their way along the path, older locals playing games, and workers eating their lunch. This is where a lot of the locals in Tokyo go to take a breath of fresh air and enjoy the quiet. And if you need this during your holiday, then Ueno Park is the perfect place to get it.
What to do there: Ueno Park is the perfect place to relax, take in the scenery, and pretend you’re not in a big city at all. You can wander from museum to museum, explore the shady, dappled walkways, take photos next to the grave sites of samurai’s from another time, or just sit on a bench and relax near a water feature. Basically, if you need restoration and quiet, this is the place to get it.
#23 – Origami Kaikam
• A chance to see one of the most familiar Japanese art forms in the world.
• You really won’t believe what people can make with a simple piece of paper!
Why it’s so awesome: This is a shop and an art gallery in one. There are several floors in this building, with a shop on the ground floor, an art gallery on the second and a workshop at the top and it all explores the art of origami. You’ll not only see the familiar crane shape, you’ll also see some creations that might seem impossible! The art rotates seasonally, so if you visit more than once, you’ll experience something new every time.
What to do there: When you visit this site, you don’t just have to look at the paper creations, you can also learn to make them as well. There are classes on site as well as specially dyed paper, so get involved and make your experience that much more rich.
#24 – Tokyo Station
• A historic building.
• Great shopping options, particularly if you’re looking for souvenirs.
• Some of the best fast food options in the city are in this building, and they’re far healthier than western fast food options too!
Why it’s so awesome: It might sound strange to say that a trip through a train station can be an awesome experience but this is Japan, where nothing is as you might expect. Tokyo station is an historic icon that’s a symbol of Japan’s rush to modernize. It’s over a hundred years old and is home to a huge variety of shops and restaurants. That’s what makes it the perfect place to spend some time before and after your trips out of the city.
What to do there: You can take a tour through the station if you like but you can also explore it on your own. There are a huge variety of shops within the building as well as some food stalls that serve famous Japanese snacks. Try the Tokyo Ramen shop to try a wide variety of ramen types all in one handy location.
#25 – Kabukizaka Theater
A great place to visit in Tokyo at night
• This theater has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, but it’s still a historic landmark and home to great kabuki shows!
• There’s also a gallery on the fifth floor with costumes and other related exhibits.
Why it’s so awesome: This theater was first built in the late 1800s, but war and fire and other disasters have destroyed it repeatedly throughout time. The most recent incarnation was built in 2013, which proves just how important this art form is to Japanese culture. Kabuki is a form of Japanese theater that uses song and dance as well as highly dramatized language and actions to convey stories. The plays can be historical dramas, more contemporary stories or dance pieces.
What to do there: This theater has shows running constantly so make sure you get a ticket while you’re in the city. You don’t even have to sit through a whole play if you aren’t sure if you’ll like it because there are single act tickets that you can buy at the door. Make sure you have a look at the souvenir shop afterwards for some awesome gifts or trinkets that are sure to raise eyebrows back home.
#26 – Uenosakuragi Atari
• A historic and fascinating look at old Japan.
• If you’re interested in history, you’ll get some great shots in this area, which looks like it belongs to a previous age.
Why it’s so awesome: This area contains 3 traditional houses that were renovated into one complex. They now contain stores, houses, and workshops, all of them eclectic and cunning fit into such as small area. You can have a craft beer in a bar that looks like it came straight off the set of a Japanese film and eat break in an eclectic bakery. Basically, this area is like a small town all in 3 buildings, and you’ll get some amazing pictures while you’re there.
What to do there: Just explore. The design of this building is eclectic and it has a lot of nooks and crannies where there are shops and stalls that you wouldn’t expect. And they have great seasonal events too, including beer festivals and tea ceremonies, so check their website before you go to see what’s on.
#27 – Rainbow Bridge
• The city’s most famous bridge.
• It looks amazing in the day, but it’s even better at night when it lights up.
• Make sure you get lots of photographs!
Why it’s so awesome: The Rainbow Bridge crosses Tokyo Bay and looks like its name. It manages to carry cars, people and the Metro across the river and look spectacular at the same time, which you can really say about too many bridges. It’s particularly awesome at night, when it lights up with the spectrum of the rainbow, making it look exactly like its name promises.
What to do there: The bridge carries cars, the Metro and people across the water, so if you want to get the full experience then walk over the bridge to Odaiba. The views of the bay and the different parts of the city are amazing in the day time. But make sure that you find a good spot to see it at night as well because the lights are truly spectacular.
#28 – Ninja Akasaka
• Perfect for a fun night out with friends.
• Great food, served in surroundings that are reminiscent of an ancient Japanese castle.
Why it’s so awesome: Everyone likes ninjas but nobody really thinks of them in connection with food and yet that’s exactly what you’ll get in this restaurant. This is a fun, quirky place to have dinner while ninjas jump around and bring you dishes in a building that’s designed to look like the interior of a Japanese castle. It’s a great place for a fun night out, as only Japan can do it.
What to do there: This restaurant serves Japanese food with western tweaks, but the real draw is the ninjas who serve the food, bring the menu, and jump out unexpectedly at you. Make sure you check on the showtimes for the magician as well, as this will add another layer of fun to an already interesting night.
#29 – Akasaka Intercity Air
• Great for shopping.
• There are some awesome restaurants in this new complex.
• And if you get tired of the glass and concrete, there’s also an indoor park where you can take a little break.
Why it’s so awesome: The Akasaka Intercity complex has recently expanded to add even more restaurants and cafes to the premises. No matter what type of food you enjoy, you’ll find a restaurant in this complex that does it well, which makes it the perfect place for a relaxing night out. And it even has a faux indoor park, where you can relax and marvel at the ingenuity!
What to do there: Choose a cuisine and then find a restaurant that makes it. No matter what you enjoy, from steak to French food or sushi, you’ll find something to eat in this complex and it will all be good. And go to the indoor park afterwards to walk off the food.
#30 – Sippo
• The best place for bargain hunters.
• Everything at Sippo is made in Japan or to the Japanese aesthetic, so take home some trinkets as a reminder of your trip.
• And when you’re hungry, there are some awesome food places in this area too.
Why it’s so awesome: Shopping in Japan can be an expensive endeavor but not in Sippo. This huge shop has an incredibly wide and eclectic range of goods, with a selection that seems almost random. You’ll find gourmet food items, antiques, and fashion all in the one area. That’s why it’s all too easy to spend a whole day at Sippo looking for that perfect bargain.
What to do there: Sippo is the place to hunt for Japanese goods or foods at a lower price than you would find anywhere else. There are also outside shelves with items for the house, like pottery and tableware, all at incredibly low prices. And when you get tired, there’s an in-house café with set meals so you can refuel before your next shopping bout!
#31 – teamLab Borderless
One of the most amazing places in Tokyo!
• Tokyo’s hottest art show.
• Technology and art combine here for an experience you’ll never forget.
Why it’s so awesome: This show opened in 2018 in Odaiba and is a digital art museum created by a technology group called teamLab. There are more than 60 artworks on display and they’re all interactive so you can touch and disrupt. Actually, you’re encouraged to do so, because your participation is part of the art!
What to do there: There are five sections in this art display so make sure you spend time with each one. And don’t just look either, touch and explore and see what happens! You’ll be surprised by the reaction. Also, make sure you check out the Sketch Aquarium, where you can draw your own image and watch as it starts moving across the walls!
Buy your tickets here before you go.
#32 – Nonbei Yokocho
• Japan’s bar alley where you can get a drink in atmospheric surroundings.
• The perfect place for a night out.
Why it’s so awesome: This is a tiny and untidy alley filled with tiny bars, many of which only fit four or five people at once. The area dates back to the 1950s and since then the alley has been filled with eateries and yakitori shops, all of them close to the Shibuya station.
What to do there: Explore the alleys and try the eateries. The eatery known as Okasan is particularly popular. It’s a no-frills place that serves traditional meals and has been popular in Japan for generations. Also, if you can fit into any of the bars, make sure you grab a drink too and really get the most from the experience.
Get insured for your trip to Tokyo!
Final Thoughts on the Coolest Places to Visit in Tokyo
Japan can be an expensive place, but don’t let that stop you from spending some time in this city, because it’s absolutely worth the money. It’s one of the most interesting cities in the world and offers all the best parts of Japanese culture as well as the most incredible food you’ll ever eat. To make your trip easier, and so that you don’t go outside of your budget, use the attractions we’ve explored here as your guide to the city and have the trip of your dreams.
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking in Japan – Travel on any Budget
- Tokyo Travel Guide: Epic Itinerary, Travel Tips, Things to Do
- 15 Unique Airbnb Rentals in Tokyo
- The BEST Hostels in Tokyo
- Where to Stay in Tokyo • No Stress Guide
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.