Hello everybody ! Having spent 2 weeks in Japan in April, I made a list of things to do in Tokyo. I really recommend going to Japan and especially to Tokyo. It’s a really extraordinary capital. As you can imagine, I loved it. However, Tokyo is really extensive so it is complicated to make visits choices. What to do in Tokyo ? Here’s my advice 🙂
1 / Shinjuku
Shinjuku is one of the most famous districts of Tokyo. If you want to discover Tokyo, you have to go through Shinjuku. It is a business district with many restaurants and bars. This district perfectly represents the vastness of Tokyo. Personally, I preferred going there at night to enjoy the restaurants and bars (get off at Shinjuku subway station). By the way if you go around 7PM the shops are still open. I recommend you to:
♥ Do karaoke: There is a lot of karaoke in this district (ex: Shidax). Karaoke is a must do in Tokyo. Frankly, you’re going to have some memorable laughs.
♥ Go to the restaurant: Shinjuku is a neighborhood with a vibrant nightlife. There are many restaurants: curry, sushi, traditional restaurants, etc .. (I will release next week an article about my addresses of restaurants in Tokyo).
♥ Shopping: Shinjuku is one of the central areas of Tokyo where you can find many shops. There are all the luxury shops you dream of. Moreover, Apple has just opened a shop there. Basically, if you want to go shopping this neighborhood is for you.
♥ Have a drink in the Golden Gai district: Gay Golden is a few alleys with typical Japanese bars. In general, there are no more than 10 places in the bars. Some are forbidden to foreigners (so be careful to read the signs before you enter.) This area has a unique atmosphere because the restricted space of the bars encourages visitors to talk to each other and I recommend it if you like to share with foreigners while having a drink. Golden Gai comes alive at 20h approximately. I recommend you to wander in these lanes before choosing your bar. The doors of the bars are all open so it is funny to discover the different themes (yes because some bars have themes).
2 / Shibuya
Shibuya is the district where to go shopping. It’s a place full of people. I have rarely seen a place like that … maybe at the animation level, I can compare it to Times Square (New York). We had the bad idea to go to Shibuya after getting of the plane. Honestly, I do not recommend it because there are so many people and noise for a tired person.
Nevertheless, know that Shibuya is really a milestone in Tokyo. You need to :
♥ Get lost in the crowd on the memorable crossroads that is even more impressive in reality. You can film at the crossroads or go to Starbucks in front (places are hard to get).
♥Going shopping: this district is full of shopping centers and shops. Personally, I recommend the Shibuya 109 shopping center. It is on 8 floors and only for women (there is one for men too). Frankly, there are really cool clothes. Stroll around this shopping center which is 3 minutes from Shibuya subway station.
♥ Go to the restaurant: as I said, this district is really central. So you will find multiple restaurants there.
This district is in the heart of the city, not far from Harajuku, Cat Street and Yoyogi Park. By the way, I advise you to leave Harajuku and walk down to Shibuya.
3 / Harajuku
When you leave the Harajuku subway stop, you will be caught in Takeshita-dori street. This pedestrian street is known for its eccentricity. Between young people in cosplay, tourists and sellers coming out of their shop to attract people you will be surprised by this atmosphere. This street is crazy. You can also enjoy crepes (specialty of this area – see all the details next week in an article about my addresses in Tokyo.).
The Harajuku district is part of the Shibuya district, so after going down Takeshita-dori street, take Cat street to get down to Shibuya station.
Honestly, Cat Street is one of my favorite places in Tokyo. Between the fashion shops, the restaurants serving pancakes and other good dishes … :).
I also discovered in this street the sticker shop B-Side Label that I presented in my article My purchases made in Japan.
The B-side Label shop offers unique and water resistant stickers.
Frankly, I recommend you stroll down this street that quickly became one of my favorites in Tokyo.
4 / Ueno Park
Ueno Park is a beautiful park full of cherry trees, containing many tourist attractions. You can easily spend a morning or a day if you decide to do everything:
♥ Go to the Ueno Park Zoo: This is a major attraction of the park (it is really big, 10% of the park). It contains many species and is really well organized. You will see the pandas :). However, be aware that if you want to see the baby pandas, you have to take a special ticket. Frankly, if the weather is nice and you have time, I recommend it. The ticket for an adult is 600 yen.
♥ Discover the 3 museums of the park: Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Western Art.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to do them. I would have loved to do the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum of Nature and Science.
5/ Ameyoko Market (next to Ueno)
After finishing our walk in Ueno Park, we discovered the nearby Ameyoko Market. These narrow streets full of stands and shops are really typical. You can find street food (eg takoyaki) but also sweets, spices etc. I think that spending 30 minutes to 1 hour is enough but it’s really worth it.
We ended up buying bentos in a konbini (something to do in Japan at least once) and we went to eat them in Ueno Park.
6 / Senso Ji Temple
Do not miss going to the Asakusa district where the Senso-ji Temple is located. This temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Its colors and architecture are really beautiful. However, as you can imagine, it is also very touristic. I advise you not to go late.
During our visit, we also discovered the many souvenir shops in Nakamise-dori Street (near the temple). You can find small souvenirs for your loved ones (ex: the maneki-neko cat).
7 / Geeking Akihabara (electronic district)
If you like mangas, video games, game centers and bargains this neighborhood is for you. Being a geek, I admit that with my husband we loved this neighborhood. It really has a unique atmosphere that we do not find in France. We went there twice: once to discover and another to go shopping.
I recommend you to:
♥ Make at the moment a game center (ex: Club Sega).
♥ You lose in different alleys to discover electronic and geek shops (ex: Super potato for retro video games, kotobukiya if you are looking for figurines)
♥ Discover the Japanese curiosities in the Don Quijote store
♥ Do some duty free shopping in the huge Yodobashi Camera store (electronics, computers, cameras, suitcases, etc.).
8 /Shimokitazawa – The hipster neighborhood
We hesitated to go to the Shimokitazawa district which is known in Tokyo for being the hipster district. I do not regret a minute for doing it. This district has a different atmosphere from other parts of Tokyo. We find ourselves in a place full of thrift stores, vintage shops and restaurants (including restaurants pancakes 🙂 … you know my love for pancakes).
This neighborhood is really a breath of fresh air in a city as noisy as Tokyo. It seems that this district also has a nice nightlife (bar, cinema, theater, concert). Having gone the day, I will not be able to give you my opinion on the subject.
I recommend this area which is a few minutes by train from Shibuya.
9 / Yoyogi Park
This large park is located between Shibuya and Shinjuku. Beyond the fact that it is very beautiful especially during cherry blossoms, I discovered that many Japanese go there to picnic. Frankly, the number of picnics impressed me. Also, there were a lot of big picnics (over 20 people).
This gives the park a truly family atmosphere on weekends. I recommend you to stroll in this park the weekend with the inhabitants of Tokyo.
10 / Not essential option: Odaiba and Nikko
On Sunday we went to Odaiba, the artificial island located in Tokyo. It is a popular place for Tokyoites on weekends. You can spend a day without worries. During your visit, you can:
♥ Go shopping in one of the gigantic shopping centers (ex: Venus Fort)
♥ Eating in a food court with the Tokyoites (ex: DiverCity Tokyo Plaza Shopping Center)
♥ Discover the statue of Gundam
♥ Take pictures of Tokyo as you walk around the Sea breeze park.
♥ Geeking at Sega Joypolis (attraction on 3 floors – ticket = 700 yen for an adult)
- photo de Lyndon Li
Unfortunately, I did not have time to do Nikko which is a city outside of Tokyo that you can reach via train (pay attention to the route if you want to use the JR Pass as the Tobu train is not included in your package). It is located about 2 hours from Tokyo. As you might expect, it’s a day trip.
This city is known for its temples and shrines classified by Unesco (ex: Toshogu Temple, Futarasan shrine). Do not hesitate to tell me if you went there and what you thought about it. Guests can also explore Shikyo Bridge, Kegon Falls or Ryuzu Falls.
Tell me if you have been to Tokyo and especially if you have discovered other places to see in Tokyo.
I hope this article will help you prepare for your stay in Tokyo 🙂