As the largest metropolis in the world, there are too many wacky, unique, interesting, culturally important, and fun things to do in Tokyo to count! Here, we’ve prepared a list of the things you have to put on your Tokyo bucket list for your next trip to Japan! Don’t miss these 20 things to do in Tokyo!
Tokyo Station at Night
If you’re flying into Narita or Haneda Airport, you’ll probably take the limousine bus to Tokyo Station. Before going to your hotel, head to the Marunouchi exit on the west side to see the distinctive red brick of Tokyo Station. On the east side, go towards the Yaesu exit for shopping and food. Head to either Kitchen Street or Tokyo Ramen Street for the best restaurants in Tokyo Station. On the Yaesu side, you can also go shopping in Tokyo Station on Character Street, where shops sell goods from your favorite Japanese TV shows. You could spend an entire day at Tokyo Station, but don’t neglect doing things nearby like….
It’s easy to access the Tokyo Imperial Palace from Tokyo Station. From the Marunouchi Exit, it’s just a 15 to 20-minute walk to the palace. The Tokyo Imperial Palace, or Kōkyo in Japanese, is the current home of the Imperial Family so the inner palace grounds aren’t open to the public for most of the year. But, you can enter the inner grounds on the Emperor’s birthday and on January 2nd when the imperial family greets the public. On any other day, you can visit the Nijyubashi Bridge or the East Gardens. You can also find the Ginza district near the Imperial Palace.
Wako Department Store that Doubles as a Clock Tower
There’s one thing that comes to mind when thinking about Ginza: shopping! The shopping malls in Ginza are almost more famous than the neighborhood itself. From exclusive Ginza department stores like Wako to the more affordable UNIQLO, you can find the right brand name for you. Weekends are the best time to go because the shopping street that has most of the department stores in Ginza is blocked off for pedestrians. If you don’t feel like shopping in Ginza, you can enjoy traditional Japanese culture by catching at a Kabuki performance in Ginza’s Kabuki-Za Theatre. Kabuki plays are quite long—sometimes over four hours—so if you don’t have time, buy a single-act ticket. If you want to experience even more of traditional Japanese culture, head to the next place on this list.
Asakusa Sensoji Temple Main Hall
Not only is Asakusa Sensoji Temple one of Tokyo’s most beautiful temples, it’s one of the best places to get souvenirs. The temple grounds are huge and the way leading to the main hall, known as Nakamise Dori, is lined with stalls selling traditional Japanese goods. At the end of the market street you’ll find the main hall where you can get a fortune and admire the religious artifacts. The temple grounds are open 24 hours, but the shops and main hall close around 16:30 or 17:00. If you’re looking for more religious or historical sites in Tokyo, keep reading!
Meiji Shrine Torii Gate
Meiji Shrine is the final resting place of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Throughout their lives, they came here to draw spiritual strength from the Kiyomasa Well. Upon their deaths, Meiji Shrine was erected in their honor, and you can still see Kiyomasa Well in the inner garden of the shrine today. You can also see some of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken’s personal possessions in the Meiji Jingu Treasure House. As you take a tranquil stroll through the hundreds of Gingko trees, you’ll forget that you’re near busy Harajuku.
Entrance to Takeshita Street
Harajuku is the center of Tokyo’s “Kawaii” culture. You might know Harajuku as the place to get super-feminine clothes and accessories, but Harajuku has a variety of shops that can cater to anyone’s aesthetic. You can find souvenir T-shirts, traditional Japanese toys, or figurines from your favorite Japanese TV shows. Harajuku also has cat cafes and arcades which are filled with purikura machines—photo booths with a distinct Japanese twist. The cameras enlarge your eyes and lighten your skin, and at the end of your photo shoot you can decorate your pictures with stamps and drawings. Young people and families often come here for snacks and shopping. If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Tokyo for families, read on.
Cinderella’s Castle at Night
Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea aren’t quite in Tokyo, but they’re close in neighboring Chiba. Most people take trains from Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, or Tokyo Station to get to here. If you want to add a little more magic to your commute, try taking the Tokyo Disney Resort Line from JR Maihama Station to Tokyo Disneyland Station. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea require separate admission. Tokyo Disneyland is more popular for families and features your favorite rides like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, whereas Tokyo Disney Sea features the Mysterious Island and is more popular for young people and couples. If you don’t feel like making the 20 to 30-minute trip with your kids, keep reading to find out more!
View from Ueno Park’s Entrance
If you’re looking for something leisurely to do in Tokyo, check out Ueno. During cherry blossom season, thousands of sakura trees in Ueno Park loom over visitors and surround them in a tunnel of pure pink petals. Outside of cherry blossom season the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo National Museum, and Ueno Zoo are popular places for travelers, locals, and families. The Tokyo National Museum not only features distinctive Japanese artworks from past and present, but works from various artists and countries from around the world. Ueno Zoo, Japan’s oldest zoo, is considered one of the best in the world. Families might also enjoy…
The Robot Soldier from “Laputa Castle in the Sky”
Even if you’ve never seen a film by this production company, the Ghibli Museum is one of the best places in Tokyo for children! The Ghibli Museum is located in Mitaka, Tokyo and the way to the museum is clearly marked by some of Studio Ghibli’s famous characters. Upon arriving at the museum you’ll see Totoro “selling” tickets, but the Ghibli Museum is actually so popular that tickets have to be bought at least a month in advance! Unfortunately, you can’t buy Ghibli Museum tickets online. Within Japan, you can purchase Ghibli Museum tickets at a Lawson convenience store, but outside of Japan, you must go through a third-party affiliate like All Japan Tours. Families and fans of anime can’t miss this place. If you’re looking for more places to enjoy anime culture, keep reading!
Day and Night View of the Gundam Statue Outside of DiverCity
Odaiba is the setting for many famous anime, manga, and Japanese dramas. You can see Fuji TV’s headquarters, or check out the Gundam statue outside of DiverCity. If you’re not interested in anime, head to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to interact with robots. For more family fun, check out the Decks building, which has the Ninja Trick Art Museum, Legoland Discovery Center, or Madam Tussauds Wax Museum. Other fun things to see and do here include the replica Statue of Liberty, Odaiba’s Ferris wheel in Palette Town, and the indoor amusement park Joyopolis. At night, you can see Rainbow Bridge lit up in all of its colorful, neon light glory over Tokyo Bay. If you want to experience more of Japan’s anime culture, then let’s look at…
Arcades and Shops Along the Streets of Akihabara
Fans of anime can’t miss out on a trip to Akihabara. Visitors to Japan particularly enjoy going to Akihabara Animate to buy figurines, trading cards, and comics from their favorite series. For lunch, try a themed restaurant like one of Akihabara’s maid cafes. The best day to go to Akihabara is Sunday when people from all over Tokyo go to Akihabara’s electronic shops. Akihabara Yodobashi Camera is the most famous which has 9 floors. The first 7 floors feature electronics like TVs, stereos, computers and other accessories, but the 8th and 9th floors have a food court, arcade, batting cage, and driving range, making Yodobashi Camera a unique experience! And speaking of unique experiences….
Shinjuku Samurai Museum Swordfight Display
Shinjuku’s Samurai Museum offers both the chance to learn about and experience the lives of Samurai. In the first part of the museum, a guide tells leads you through displays of authentic samurai armor and tells you their stories. Then, you watch a trained swordfighter demonstrate the techniques samurai once used. After the tour you can dress as a samurai, or even take a sword fighting class! Once you explore the museum, check out everything else that Shinjuku has to offer!
Street View Near Shinjuku Station
By day, travelers to Shinjuku can enjoy the show at the Robot Restaurant, walk through Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, see Hanazono Shrine, or view Tokyo from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. At night, one of the most popular places to enjoy Tokyo nightlife is Golden Gai in Shinjuku, where several mid-century pubs are squashed together along small pedestrian streets. If you’d like to enjoy dinner and drinks while reveling in post-war Japanese architecture, head to Omoide Yokocho. Like Golden Gai, Omoide Yokocho’s shops are gathered around impossibly narrow walkways, but there are more restaurants. For more things to do in Tokyo at night, head to nearby Shibuya.
Street View of Shibuya Crossing
Right outside of Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit, you’ll see the famous Hachiko Memorial Statue, and you’ll have to cross over the “Shibuya Scramble” intersection to get anywhere else. Across from Shibuya Station is Shibuya 109, a department store that features local and underground designers from Tokyo. At night, you’ll want to make dinner reservations—Shibuya's restaurants fill up quickly and can have long wait times. After dinner, tear up the dance floor and bump to the sound system in one of Shibuya’s famous nightclubs like Womb, which was featured in the movie Babel. But for the best clubbing in Tokyo, head to Roppongi.
Mori Tower and “Maman” the Spider
Most people go to Roppongi to find the best bars and nightclubs in Tokyo. Roppongi is also a famous neighborhood for expats to live, so the cuisine here comes from all over the world. Head to the Roppongi Hills complex during the day. Roppongi Hills has everything: restaurants, shops, a hotel, offices, apartments, and the famous Mori Tower. Most of the floors inside of Mori Tower are office spaces, but the first few floors have restaurants and the top floors house the Mori Arts Center. From Mori Tower’s 238-meter-tall observation deck, you can catch a great view of Tokyo Tower, and nearby Akasaka!
Akasaka TBS Headquarters
There are plenty of luxury hotels in Akasaka to choose from during your stay in Tokyo. Visitors often enjoy visiting the Toyokawa Inari Temple and the Akasaka Sacas buildings. Akasaka Sacas houses the Biz Tower and the TBS headquarters, a major television broadcaster in Japan that also supports the music venue Akasaka Blitz. For dinner, try Akasaka Ninja. Akasaka Ninja’s cuisine is multi-cultural and served in courses, but the real draw here is the theme: Ninjas! When you enter, a Ninja guides you through a dark hallway over bridges and traps to your hidden table. Ninjas serve your courses (usually ranging between 7-10 dishes) while performing tricks and adding secret Ninja ingredients! After you enjoy your dinner, head to Tokyo Tower.
Tokyo Tower at Night
Inspired by the Eiffel Tower's design, Tokyo Tower stands at 333 meters (1092 feet) and was the tallest satellite tower in the world when it was built in 1957. If you take the elevator 150 meters up to the main observatory deck, you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji on clear days! Tokyo Tower also recently renovated a higher observatory platform called “Tokyo Top Deck,” but you’ll have to buy separate tickets to experience this. Or, head to Tokyo Skytree on the other side of town for another great view!
Tokyo Skytree at Night
Accessible from Oshiage Station or Asakusa Station, Tokyo Skytree is currently Tokyo’s tallest tower. The observatory deck is 634 meters (2,080 feet) high! At the foot of Tokyo Skytree there are many shops and restaurants in the Solamachi Shopping Center. The 5th floor has an aquarium that features deep sea creatures and a large penguin display! On the 30th and 31st floors, you can enjoy dinner and a view at one of the restaurants. The 8th, 9th, and 10th floors feature gardens and outside seating where festivals are held throughout different parts of the year. Be sure to check the dates and times of these festivals! Try not to stay here all night because you’ll need to get up early for the next activity on our list.
Tsukiji Fish Market in the Early Morning
You can get to Tsukiji Fish Market by taking the Hibiya Line to Tsukiji Station. If you plan on watching the Tsukiji Market’s famous tuna auction, be sure to get to the waiting room early! Very early! Tours of the inner market auction area take place from 5:25 am to 5:45 am and 5:50 am to 6:10 am. Only 60 people per tour are admitted, and entry is first come, first serve. After the auction, grab a Tsukiji Fish Market sushi breakfast in the outer market, because Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the best places to eat sushi in Tokyo! Afterwards, browse the stalls where wholesalers sell fruits, vegetables, snacks, and seafood. You’ll have so much fun eating sushi, you might get inspired to learn how to make it!
Note: Part of the Tsukiji Fish Market is closing in October 2018 to reopen in another location. Subscribe to our blog to get the latest updates!
A Sushi Master Teaches Class
You may know that Japan is the place to eat sushi, but did you know you can make it here as well? Through third party affiliates like All Japan Tours, you can experience a class with a real sushi master. Watch as the chef slices a fish and teaches which parts make for great tasting sushi, then sit down with your sushi rice and learn how to press your own pieces of sushi or make sushi rolls. Impress your friends back home when you hold your own sushi party!