101 things to do in Tokyo

1. Shibuya Crossing. This is a good place to see the bright lights of Tokyo and has been featured in countless movies, television shows and music videos. It is arguably the most famous spot in Japan. Make sure to check out the little statue of Hachiko located in the square. Hachiko was a dog in the 1920s who came to meet his owner every night at the station, his owner died but Hachiko continued to come each evening to wait for his return for over 10 years. In the evenings, you will see hundreds of people standing around Hachiko waiting for friends. The statue of Hachiko is the busiest meeting spot in all of Japan. After taking some photos of the crossing (much more photogenic at night). Take a walk up Sentagai (the street the crossing leads in to). Shibuya is a good place for shopping, dinner and drinks.
tokyo transportation

2. Yoyogi park on a Sunday. Bring a few beers and your bento-box (lunch box). Yoyogi park attracts plenty of interesting people on Sunday including Harajuku girls decked out in some funky fashions, Rockabilly hipsters, hippies and anyone else you can imagine.
Yoyogi Park on Sunday

3. Odaiba. Take the Yurikamome Monorail to Odaiba to check out some great views of Tokyo Bay. Odaiba is a large artifical island that has many attractions, restaurants and shopping complexes. Attractions include Fuji Television Building (one of Japan’s most popular TV stations), a huge Gundam statue, a smallish replica of the statue of liberty, a largest ferris wheel and countless shopping and entertainment complexes. It is a popular spot for young Tokyo couples to go on a date.
tokyo sightseeing

4. Shimbashi Drinking. Drinking seems to be the national recreation of the Japanese. Even if you are not a big drinker you should check out Tokyo nightlife. A good place to start is Shimbashi, a popular spot with Japanese business men after work. Check out the outdoor yakitori (chicken on sticks) restaurants in the area. There are some under the JR Yamamoto line train tracks.
Shimbashi Drinking

5. Shopping in Ginza. Ginza is the most famous luxury shopping area in Asia. Even if you are not in the market for Tiffany’s diamonds or Cartier watches it is a interesting place to go for a walk. If Shinbashi is popular with Japanese Business men it is Ginza that is popular with Japanese office ladies. There are many fancy restaurants in the area that cater to Japanese women on a night out with their friends.
Shopping in Ginza

6. Shopping in Omotesando. Omotesando is another luxury shopping area that, like Ginza, is very famous. Omotesando has wide sidewalks and some appealing architecture. It is a great place to go for a walk on a sunny afternoon. There are many good restaurants and cafes in this area. It is also an easy walk to Harajuku, Shibuya and Yoyogi park.
Shopping in Omotesando

7. Go to a love hotel. Love hotels are an interesting experience especially if you can find a nice one. You have to be a male – female couple to go in. Depending on the time of day they have different plans from three hours to all night. There are love hotels all over Tokyo and they should not be hard to find. Check out Shibuya, Shinjuku or Shin-Yokohama.
love hotel

8. Sensoji Temple. Sensoji is a ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa. It is the oldest temple in Tokyo and site of Tokyo’s biggest festival: the Sanja Matsuri for 3 days in late spring each year. The street leading to the temple is a shopping street and one of the best places in Tokyo to pick up Japanese souvenirs.
tokyo vacation

9. Inogashira Park. A large park in Tokyo dedicated to the vengeful god of love. It has a large pond and boat rentals and is a popular place to have cherry viewing parties (hanami) in spring. The nearby Kichijoji area also has plenty of shopping, restaurants and night life.
Inogashira Park

10. Electronics Shopping in Akihabara. Akihabara is paradise for nerds, it is the best place in Tokyo to find the latest electronics, Japanese manga related stuff and maid cafes.
Electronics Shopping in Akihabara

11. Shopping in Shimokitazawa. Shimokitazawa is a young and trendy neighborhood with loads of Japanese street fashions, quirky little shops, live houses (concert halls), cafes and bars.
Shopping in Shimokitazawa

12. Kappabashi . Ever wonder where all those plastic models of food in front of Japanese restaurants come from? Kappabashi is the mecca of Japanese kitchen supplies. Sounds boring but people claim its actually engrossing. Recently, it is increasingly popular with tourists.

13. MOS Burger. MOS Burger is a quality Japanese fast food chain. A lot of the burgers have mounds of sauce on top and are pretty challenging to eat.

14. Ueno Zoo. A smallish zoo in Ueno park. Japan’s oldest and most famous zoo.

15. Tokyo Disney Land. Might seem more like American culture than Japanese but Japanese people love it so why not give it a try. Avoid weekends and national holidays.

16. Tokyo National Museum. The biggest and oldest museum in Japan with Japanese and Asian art and archaeological items. Located in Ueno park.

17. Ghibli Museum. Museum featuring the Japanese Anime of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. If you are a fan of Miyazaki’s wonderful films you will enjoy the museum. The museum is located in Inogashira park. You need to buy your tickets in advance because the museum is incredibly popular with Japanese people.

18. Mori Art Museum. The Mori Art Museum is atop one of the largest and most famous buildings in Tokyo: Roppongi Hills. The museum has different exhibitions and tends to focus on Asian modern art.

19. Eat Sushi. If you go to Japan everybody’s going to ask you how the sushi was when you get back. There are good sushi restaurants all over Tokyo but Tsukiji is the most famous neighborhood for fish. I recommend kaiten zushi (conveyor belt) sushi both because it tends to be reasonably priced and it is easier to order when you don’t speak Japanese.

20. Tokyo Tower. At 333 meters Tokyo Tower is the tallest self-supporting steel tower in the world. You can go to the top for views of Tokyo.
tokyo tower

21. Tokyo Summerland. Tokyo Summerland is a theme park within the Tokyo city limits but about an hour and a half from central Tokyo. It’s large wave pool is popular and sometimes insanely crowded.

22. Jiyūgaoka . A trendy residential neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shopping.

23. Roppongi Clubbing. Roppongi is the expat party district of Tokyo and has numerous clubs that are open all night with names such as Gas Panic. If you are still in the mood for clubbing when clubs close at 6 AM there are a few after hours clubs in the area that run until 10 or 11 AM.

24. Sing Karaoke. This is a must for any visit to Japan. Best done in a large group. There are Karaoke all over Tokyo in neighborhoods such as Shibuya or Shinjuku. Look for characters カラオケ and try to find a modern looking place because they will be more likely to have a wide selection of English songs.

25. Purikura. Purikura are sticker photo machines seen all over Japan. It is fun to give this a try. Everyone looks much better in Purikura photos; it’s magic.

26. Shibuya Clubbing. Shibuya has several large clubs catering to a young Japanese crowd.
Shibuya Clubbing

27. Tsukishima Monja. Monja is Tokyo’s answer to Okonomiyaki (Osaka’s most famous dish). Monja are essentially Japanese pancakes that you cook yourself. There is a bit of a technique to it so its best if some Japanese friends can show you the ropes. Tsukishima is the most famous area for Monja restaurants.

28. Hibiya Park. A large park sandwiched between the Imperial Palace, the government district (Kasumigaseki) and the Shinbashi business district. Before 1903, Hibiya Park was a military training ground. It has an intriguing Gothic structure called Shisei Kaikan, a large concrete square and some gardens and ponds.

29. Freshness Burger. Freshness Burger is a Japanese Fast Food/Cafe chain. The food is great but they never have a non-smoking section and are often smoky.

30. Sugamo. Check out Sugamo on JR Yamanote line. It is like Shibuya for people over 90. This is where Japanese grandmothers buy clothes and if you are looking for some Japanese fashions for the 80+ set this is the place. It is an fascinating neighborhood to take a walk and their are wonderful photo opportunities abound.

31. Harajuku Shopping. Harajuku has long been a popular shopping area for young teenagers. More recently, Harajuku has become a popular destination for foreign tourists armed with cameras looking for Harajuku girls.

32. Ebisu. Ebisu is a popular upscale neighborhood with lots of restaurants and entertainment. It is the home of Ebisu beer (a premium Japanese brand available nationally). Check out the Ebisu beer garden for a taste.

33. Yasukuni Shrine. Visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan’s war dead including war criminals that were enshrined here.

34. Kasumigaseki. Kasumigaseki is where Japan’s Diet buildings and various government offices are located. It is an interesting place to walk around.

35. Komazawa Olympic Park. A nice park with lots of trees and some decaying remnants of 1964 Tokyo Olympic buildings.

36. Imperial Palace. Take a stroll around the outside of the Imperial Place home of the Emperor of Japan. The palace is located in Kudanshita and is closed to the public. Imperial Palace

37. Meiji Jinju. Meiji Shrine is one of the nicest Japanese shrines in Tokyo. It is located in Harajuku near Yoyogi park and often seems to be closed.

38. Daikayama. A upscale neighborhood of luxury boutiques and cute cake shops.

39. Marunouchi. There several department stores in this area. A quieter place to shop than Shibuya or Shinjuku.

41. Kabukicho. This is the biggest and most famous red light district in Japan located at JR east exit in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is a dangerous place but should be okay for a stroll. Don’t go with any of the touts promising erotic misadventure as there are often scams run in the area.

42. Sangenjaya. A small but popular neighborhood with a few shops and restaurants.

43. Futakotamagawa. A upscale residential area with a department store and various restaurants.

44. Sumo. Check out a Sumo match in the Ryogoku area. Sumo is not that popular with Japanese young people and you may find the audience are mostly tourists and Japanese over 60.
living in tokyo

45. Korakuen. A Japanese amusement park in central Tokyo.

46. Japanese baseball game. Tokyo has two professional baseball teams the Yomiuri Giants (both the most popular and hated team in Japan) and the Yakuri Swallows.

47. Ramen. No trip to Japan is complete without a big bowl of oily Japanese Ramen noodles. Ramen shops are found anywhere in Tokyo and are usually small and packed with men. If you really like Ramen check out the Ramen museum in Tachikawa.

48. Toshimaen. Another big amusement park in Tokyo.

49. Ikebukuro Sunshine 60. Sunshine 60, at one time the tallest building in Japan, is constructed on the former site of an infamous Japanese prison in which several Japanese war criminals were executed. There is a popular urban myth that Sunshine 60 is haunted. Sunshine 60 has some shopping and restaurants and a popular observation deck where you can see 100 kilometers on a nice day.

50. Shibuya 109. A department store targeted at young women in the 14-24 age range. Famous in Japan for its outlandish fashions popular with Japanese girls of this age, it is often featured in Japanese magazines, TV, movies and manga. If you are a man or a women over 30 you might not feel comfortable here as it is a young female domain.
Shibuya 109

51. Tokyu Hands. A urban hardware store popular with artists, graphic designers and young creative people. The massive flagship store in Shibuya might be a good place to find some unique souvenirs.

52. Showa Kinen Koen. A large park near Tachikawa open most days 9:30 to 16:30. Has numerous gardens, ponds and sports facilities. It a nice place to view the leaves changing color in Autumn.

53. Aoyama Bochi. This is a old and large Japanese cometary located in Aoyama on some of the most expensive land in the World. A great place to go for a walk. Located near Aoyama-Itchome station on Oedo, Hanzomon and Ginza lines.

54. Shinjuku Gyoen Park. A large park once owned by the Emperor between Shinjuku and Shibuya. It has several large gardens in French, English and Japanese styles.

55. Internet Cafe. Japanese Internet cafes provide private booths with comfortable seating or lay-flat-mats. You can use Internet, watch dvds, read from their large manga and magazine collection, order food and have free drinks. Many have extra features such as showers. Internet cafes are a great place to relax away from the noisy Tokyo streets and write some people back home.

56. Kagurazaka. One of Tokyo’s oldest entertainment areas with exclusive invitation only restaurants some of which featuring Geisha. Some restaurants in the area are open to the public.

57. Naka Meguro. Yet another neighborhood that is trendy and has lots of shops and restaurants.

58. Capsule Hotel. Capsule Hotels were a fad in the 1980s in Japan for tiny hotel rooms that resemble beds on a submarine. There are still a few of these around in Tokyo and there is a big one at Akihabara. Men and Women are strictly segregated.

59. Tokyo River Cruise. There are various dinner cruises available of Sumida river and Tokyo Bay.
Tokyo River Cruise

60. Hanegi Park. A small park famous for its plum tree festival held annually from the middle of February to March. Nice park well off the beaten path.

61. Tokyo Bay Fireworks . The Tokyo Bay Fireworks are held each summer, check the web for the schedule. There is a major fireworks display somewhere in Tokyo almost every weekend of summer. The Japanese love fireworks and the atmosphere is always a party.

62. Sento. Go to a Japanese bathhouse (sento). Definitely a memorable experience. Any of Tokyo’s old neighborhoods will have a bath house. There are several in Ueno for example. Sento can be identified by their tall chimneys.

63. Musashi Koyama. Musashi Koyama has a very long shotengai (shopping street with a roof). There are plenty of little shops and restaurants. A great place to shop on a rainy day.
Musashi Koyama

64. Shinokubo. Tokyo’s little Korea. If you are craving spicy food this is your place.

65. Yokohama. Yokohama station has plenty of shopping and restaurants and you can see famous Yokohama bay.

66. Hostess Clubs. Hostess clubs are about talking not sex. Sometimes gaijin are not allowed. Also, since it is all about communication it might be a waste of money if you don’t speak Japanese.

67. Japanese Soccer. If the national men’s team is playing while you’re in Tokyo try going to a popular sports bar and watching the game. There are several around Tokyo station for example. Japanese fans are really enthusiastic.

68. Maid Cafe. There are several Maid Cafes in the Akihabara area. Girls dress in elaborate maid costumes and sometimes spoon feed the customers. They refer to customers as “master” in polite Japanese.
Maid Cafe

69. Uniqlo. Think of Uniqlo as the Japanese GAP. Clothes are cheap and high quality.

70. Edo Tokyo Museum. The Tokyo Edo Museum is a good museum that seeks to explain various aspects of Japanese culture. It is located at Ryogoku station.

71. Cherry Blossom Viewing (hanami). The best weather in Tokyo is in late April and early May after the winter but before the rainy season. This is when cherry blossoms all over Tokyo bloom and the city comes alive. Cherry blossom viewing sounds like a quite introspective event but in fact it is just an excuse to have huge parties in the great outdoors. Coworkers and friends come out early to Tokyo’s many flower viewing spots such as Inogashira Park and Shinjuku Gyoen to reserve choice spots under the trees. Vendors set up food stalls in the parks and much alcohol, food and fun is had by all.

72. 100 Yen Shop. Japanese dollar stores are amazing. It is surprising how much interesting stuff you can pick up for 100 yen including souvenirs.

73. Kabuki. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese drama that includes elements of dance and comedy. Men play all the female roles in a Kabuki play and Kabuki is known for its elaborate makeup. Try Kabuki-za in Ginza.

74. Muji. Muji is a popular chain of Japanese stores that carry clothing and home furnishings. Muji is known for its plain, simple, functional designs.

75. Yokohama Chinatown. The best place in Japan for Chinese food.

76. BBQ. From about April to October it is popular to have BBQs beside Tokyo’s many rivers. Both families and young people love BBQs. BBQs normally involve copious amounts of beer, fireworks and meat. You need some equipment such as a hibachi BBQ and a plastic mat. BBQs are best done in large groups. Try the river near Futako-Shinchi station. There is a large bridge that provides shelter in case of rain.

77. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building . The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tokyo city hall) at Shinjuku west exit has a free observation deck on the 45 floor that is worth checking out on a clear day. The west side of Shinjuku has more skyscrapers than any other area in the city and is a treat for architecture buffs.
tokyo nightlife

78. Family Restaurant. In Japan, the term family restaurant is used to refer to chains of value restaurants. Like coffee shops, people tend to go to family restaurants to study or talk endlessly with their friends. Family restaurants are the type of place you can order a coffee or desert and sit for hours without feeling guilt. Popular chains include Denny’s, Johnathans and Skylark.

79.Shopping in Shinjuku. There are quite a few good department stores at Shinjuku south exit.

80. Shiodome. Shiodome is a new business district that was a redeveloped from rundown warehouses in the 1990s. Some of Japan’s top companies are headquartered here. Shiodome features some fine architecture and the usual assortment of restaurants and bars targeting business people.

81. Shiatsu. Get a Japanese massage. There are a few places around Shibuya station.

82. Product Showrooms. Most of the big Japanese manufacturers have huge showrooms to promote their latest products. The showrooms have attractive female staff and various product displays. Check out the Honda and Sony showrooms at Aoyama-itchome station.

83. Ameyoko . A street market in Ueno.

84. Kiyosumi Teien. A Edo-era Japanese garden open to the public.

85. Kasai Rinkai Koen . A big park on the shores of Tokyo bay that features various attractions such as Tokyo Sealife Aquarium.

86. Tokyo Motor Show . One of the largest and most popular motor shows in the World. Held every two years in Chiba.
tokyo auto show

87. Mount Mitake . Mount Mitake is a popular hiking destination within the Tokyo city limits that also features a Shinto Shrine.

88. Tokyo Dome City. A entertainment complex located at Tokyo Dome.
Tokyo Dome City

89. Nishiazabu . Take a stroll around Tokyo’s most expensive residential neighborhood. There are plenty of embassies in the area.

90. Drinking in Shinagawa. Shinagawa is a business area and attracts lots of Japanese salary men every night in the area’s many Izakaya (Japanese pubs).

91. Climb Takao Mountain Takao-san is a mountain within the Tokyo city limits (an hour and a half from Tokyo station at Chuo line Takao station) that is popular with hikers. If your feeling lazy there is a ropeway to the top. There is a beer garden and monkey park at the summit.

92. Sanrio Puroland. Another Tokyo amusement park. It focuses on insanely cute characters like Hello Kitty, Pochacco, Keroppi.

93. Shinagawa Aquarium. Dozens of huge fish tanks with 300 species including dolphins, turtles, mana rays, sharks, sea lions and penguins.Shinagawa Aquarium

94. Koenji. A traditional Japanese neighborhood with many live houses and used clothing shops.

95. Japanese Arcade. There are numerous entertainment complexes in Tokyo filled with UFO catcher, popular video and gambling games. These complexes are sometimes five or six stories high and are interesting to walk though even if you don’t play any games. There are several in Shinjuku and Shibuya.

96. The Museum of Criminology. Japanese torture techniques and such. It is a bit grim but interesting nonetheless. Presented by the Meiji University of Criminology.

97. Japan Sake Center. History of Japan’s most famous drink in Nishi-Shinbashi.

98. Pachinko. Pachinko is a popular and pseudo-legal form of electronic gambling in Japan. It is a massive industry run by organized crime and there are thousands of Pachinko parlors in Tokyo.

99. Zojoji Temple . An old temple (1393) right beside Tokyo Tower.

100. Tokyo Matsuri. There are hundreds of Japanese festivals (matsuri) held at Tokyo Shrines and Temples according to various schedules throughout the year. Most of these happen at New Years or in Spring but there are festivals for all seasons. I recommend attending a festival when you come to Tokyo if one matches your schedule.
Tokyo Matsuri

101. Get out of Tokyo. This list is specific to Tokyo so I did not include anything outside of the greater Tokyo area. If you are in Japan for a week I really recommend going to Kyoto for a few days. If you are tied to Tokyo for business or just in town for a short time try a day trip to Kamakura, Hakone or Nikko.

For more information about Tokyo check out:

Tokyo Shopping Guide
Tokyo Travel Guide
Japan Travel Guide

SOURCE: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/guide/101-things-to-do-in-tokyo


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