The ikebana or the art of flower arrangement, the origami or the art of paper folding, and of course, anime – these stuff about Japan known worldwide are just some of the things that make the country remarkable. Japan is regarded as the “Land of the Rising Sun,” and in this place, you will find tradition and modern marvels in a perfect symphony. Many travelers know Japan for its beautiful cherry blossoms, majestic ancient temples, and neon-lit streets. One of the most popular cities you can explore in this East Asian nation is Tokyo. There are so many things to do in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a megacity that is unlike any other cities in the world. In fact, this city that became a major player during the Second World War is a place many capitals look up to. Why? The city fuses timeless history with the grace of the future, intertwined with the trendiest fashion found from its people and places where one can find serenity. Things to do in Tokyo are the ultimate package, the past and the future together as one. No wonder it is a top tourist destination for travelers.
What Are Some Of The Best Things To Do In Tokyo?
We’re not going to stall you any longer. Let’s get started with the best things to do in Tokyo right now. Hold on tight, it’s going to be an amazing ride.
1. Meet The Tokyo Crowd At Shibuya
The first to tick off on your list of the best things to do in Tokyo is exploring Shibuya. Crowds here are literally everywhere. It’s Japan’s equivalent of Times Square in New York or Mong Kok in Hong Kong.
Shibuya is a special ward in Tokyo. Being a major commercial and finance center, it houses two of the busiest railway stations across the globe, the Shibuya Station and Shinjuku Station. As of April 2022, this special ward has an estimated population of over 220,000.
Shibuya is also touted as Tokyo’s youth mecca, where they go all out for some shopping, art, music, and visit to the bars, among many others. You don’t need to shell out a lot of money while you are here in Shibuya, since a lot of what there is to see and do is on the streets.
Here, you can watch and take pictures of the crowd; say “Hi!” to Hachikō, the statue of Shibuya Station’s famed dog mascot; immerse yourself into great artworks, such as at the Diesel Art Gallery or the outdoor exhibitions at Inari Bridge Square; and shop such as at Shibuya 109, the shopping haven favored by teenagers, or at Parco if you prefer to own high fashion goods.
2. Admire Impressive Views Of The City From And Sip Authentic Japanese Tea At Tokyo Tower
The famous Tokyo Tower is, indeed, a dead ringer for Paris’ Eiffel Tower, well not really exactly a duplicate, but almost. This tower is Japan’s remake of the Eiffel Tower, but the difference? It is more than just a spectacle for tourists, but it serves a practical purpose.
Rising 1,092 feet into the air, Tokyo Tower serves as a radio and TV broadcasting structure that supports, get this, 62 miles of frequencies. If you wish to explore Tokyo Tower, it also caters well to travelers.
Tokyo Tower has two observation decks. One is the main observatory at 490 feet, and the other is the special observatory at 819 feet. These decks offer 360-degree views of Tokyo’s magnificent cityscape and skyline.
If you want, you may also sip authentic Japanese tea in Tokyo Tower’s very own coffee shop while admiring the views of the city. You can also visit Club 333, a music venue that hosts daily performances, or buy souvenirs for your loved ones from the shops at the tower.
3. Take A Selfie With Mount Fuji
You’ve probably seen social media photos of your friends who have been to Japan where they show their selfies with Mount Fuji. Well, this is one of the must-try things to do in Tokyo.
Mount Fuji is a famous peak in Japan, an active volcano located around 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. It is the country’s tallest peak, at 3,776 meters. It has also been considered a pilgrimage site for centuries, and is one of Japan’s three sacred mountains. If you are a lover of art, you are familiar with this as it has become a subject of various works of art, particularly the Edo Period prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige.
From certain parts of Tokyo, such as at Tokyo Tower, you’ll be able to spot Mount Fuji in the distance. If you do, be sure to take the opportunity and snap some great photos with it.
But, if you find yourself right there at Mount Fuji, there are various activities you can do here, such as climbing and visiting the Fuji Five Lakes.
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4. Shop Hello Kitty Finds At Ginza
Hello Kitty is a very familiar figure in pop culture, and Japan is where she all started. Hello Kitty is a character of a cat created by Yuko Shimizu, and owned by the Japanese company, Sanrio. Hello Kitty merchandise are almost everywhere in the world, but if you happen to find yourself in Tokyo, take the opportunity and grab your Hello Kitty finds from Ginza, where Sanrio’s flagship store is located. But there are more things to do in Tokyo while you are in Ginza.
If New York has Fifth Avenue and Paris has Champs-Élysées, Tokyo has Ginza. This neighborhood is a shopper’s paradise, housing all kinds of brands, from the more affordable retailers like Zara and H&M, to upscale design houses like Dior and Armani.
And if you are looking for other items like traditional Japanese products such as kimonos, incense, and chopsticks, Ginza has also got them all for you. For your little ones, you can visit the massive Hakuhinkan Toy Park for some toys.
5. Take A Go-Kart Tour Around Shinjuku
Shinjuku is also another special ward of Tokyo, featuring its eastern part’s buzzing clubs and karaoke rooms, and its Skyscraper District’s upscale hotel bars and restaurants. Many tourists explore Shinjuku in the most traditional way, by foot.
However, if you are looking for one of the quirkiest and most fun things to do in Tokyo touring around Shinjuku, you can choose to take a go-kart tour of this place from Viator. No doubt, this is the best way to have fun with your friends or relatives while seeing the sights of Shinjuku and making memories you will never forget. Plus, you can also don a cartoon character costume while on your go-kart tour for the ultimate experience.
6. Get A Taste Of Authentic Japanese Food
This time, you can follow what other travelers do when they visit a particular place: they try out the local food. Sure, you can practically “travel to Tokyo” or “travel to Japan” when you get to try Japanese food from the many Japanese restaurants all over the world. In your country, for sure, there are a lot of Japanese restaurants. But nothing could be better than getting a taste of authentic Japanese food from the land where they are.
Japanese cuisine is all about the food you are most probably familiar with – as the country’s recipes have successfully made a mark anywhere in the world – such as the sushi, tempura, ramen, and yakitori, just to name a few. And in Tokyo, you can experience the most authentic Japanese flavors from various places, such as at Makimura, Oryori Shunso, Shunsai Oguraya, Azabu-juban Kanazawa, and Kappo Tonbo.
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7. Treat Your Kids To An Unforgettable Experience At Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo is also a very family-friendly city. Kids who visit here and try the different things to do in Tokyo cherish all the memories even when they grow older. If you are traveling to Tokyo with the kids, there are several places for them here, such as at Kidzania Tokyo, Tokyo DisneySea, and Tokyo Disneyland. Tokyo Disneyland may be the most popular amongst all.
Tokyo Disneyland is a 115-acre theme park that is named such, but actually not located in Tokyo. It is within Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, which is just a few minutes drive or train ride from Tokyo. Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney theme park to be built outside the United States.
Some of the most popular attractions here are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and taking a nighttime rail ride.
8. Experience Traditional Japanese Art Forms Such As Kabuki
You are already in Tokyo, so why don’t you make the most out of your trip and immersion with Japanese culture by experiencing traditional Japanese art forms, like kabuki or the classic Japanese theatre.
In Tokyo, you can watch a kabuki performance at the Kabukiza Theatre in Ginza, then eat a traditional multi-course kaiseki meal while watching geishas perform in Asakusa, or admire some Japanese treasures showcased at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Japanese traditional arts will for sure introduce you to how Tokyo used to be before they embraced everything that is modern.
9. Mingle With Cosplayers And Find Everything Tech At Akihabara
Japan is known for animes and cosplaying, and one of the best spots to witness them live and in-person is at Akihabara. This place caters to serious lovers of everything gaming and anime. Here, you’ll find rows of gaming arcades, and shops and street stalls selling comics and action figures. If you look closely, you’ll also be able to spot and mingle with cosplayers frequenting the place.
Aside from anime and gaming, Akihabara is also a haven for tech lovers. Actually, it is dubbed as the nirvana for techies. Akihabara is Tokyo’s premier district for electronics. It has gadgets of all kinds found from street stores and mega department stores.
If things at Akihabara overwhelm you too much, you can start at the Yodobashi department store – referred to as the largest electronics store in the world – or venture around Chuo Dori, the neighborhood’s main street, which becomes car-free every Sunday.
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10. Escape To Meiji Jingu, Where The Spirits Of An Emperor And Empress Are Enshrined
Japan holds a rich religious heritage, and if you are in its cities like Tokyo, you cannot help but to include visiting temples in your things to do in Tokyo list. Literally, there are several temples in the area that the list is seemingly endless. But if you ask which among these temples are the best, we recommend Meiji Jingu.
Located just a few minutes from Harajuku Station, Meiji Jingui is a tranquil shrine home to lush greenery, and also where the spirits of Emperor Meiji, a Japanese emperor during the 19th century, and his consort, Empress Shoken, are enshrined. Sounds eerily and giving you goosebumps? It really does.
Here, you can stroll around its sacred grounds if you feel like you want to escape from the overwhelming madness of the neighboring Harajuku. The place also hosts several festivals throughout the year.
Don’t miss your visit to Meiji Jingu without dropping by the Inner Garden, which boasts a colorful iris field that blossoms during early summer. Certainly, it is one of the best things to do in Tokyo you should not miss.
11. Head Over To Tokyo’s Fish Markets And Get A Taste Of The Pacific
Japan is an archipelago on the Pacific Ocean, endowed with waters around, so it is just natural for the country to offer and showcase the best seafood. One of the best places to get a taste of the Pacific in Tokyo is at Tsukiji. Its alleyways are filled with the saline aromas of the ocean, as if the seas are brought here.
Some of the culinary delights you can try here are the fist-sized seared scallops, tamagoyaki or rolled omelet, and uni sushi or sea urchin. Or, you can head over to the largest seafood market in the world, at Toyosu.
12. See The Country’s Sakura
Seeing Japan’s cherry blossoms or sakura has become a tradition for travelers who frequently visit the country. Every time they travel to Japan, they make sure to include seeing the cherry blossoms on their list of things to do in Tokyo and other places in the country.
Japan’s national flower, cherry blossoms are the delicate and beautiful flowers that bloom on cherry trees. They are famous for their ephemeral nature, representing the arrival of spring.
If you are in Tokyo and want to tick seeing cherry blossoms off your things to do in Tokyo list off, you’ll be treated to several places to witness these beautiful flowers. Some of the best places in Tokyo to see the sakura are the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi, and Inokashira Park.
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Things To Do In Tokyo: Travel Tips To Remember
To make the most out of the exciting things to do in Tokyo, you’ve got to know where you’re headed and what you’re doing. Especially helpful for first-time visitors to Tokyo, this guide will also take you to the most important tips to remember, so your Tokyo trip will be hassle-free and just pure fun. Here are some of the travel tips to remember if you are traveling to Tokyo.
- Travelers to Tokyo are strongly advised to choose Haneda Airport, instead of Narita Airport as their point of arrival. Narita Airport may be the most famous and bigger airport in Tokyo, but it is actually located within the Chiba prefecture, on the eastern outskirts of Tokyo. Haneda Airport is located in the city itself, so preferring this will save you time and money.
- Many would recommend that you get the Japan Rail Pass if you are visiting Japan, but this may actually be an expensive option if you are just exploring Tokyo.
- Japan is a cash country, and many businesses, even the top-tier sushi restaurants, prefer cash over cards, so be sure to prepare loads of cash with you.
- While in Tokyo, get used to everything being small (we may be overstating, but we’re serious). You’ll find hotels that have smaller sizes of beds and bathrooms than usual, and restaurants that only cater to two to four people per group. So, make sure to pack lightly, and do your research of the restaurant you are planning to visit.
- Rush hour is more serious in Japan than in any other part of the globe. So, if you do not have the patience for such a massive crowd, avoid train stations between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and shortly after 5 p.m.
There you have it. Now, you are more than ready to enjoy the various things to do in Tokyo.
Ready, Jetset, Go!
Japanese culture is now literally everywhere, from your favorite channels on TV to your local malls. There are restaurants that serve Japanese food, and store chains that sell products made in Japan, yes, right there in your locality. But if you want to experience Japanese culture right from the country where it came from, one of the best places to start is Tokyo. There are several things to do in Tokyo. You can discover Tokyo through its temples or its cherry blossoms, but definitely, there is more to the city than it meets the eye.
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