What Are the Best Districts in Tokyo?
Are you planning a trip to Tokyo? Well then, you are in for a treat! Tokyo is a very large, cosmopolitan city and there is a lot of ground to cover! You will want to be strategic and choose Tokyo tourist sites that interest you. That said, the best neighborhoods in Tokyo are some of the most colorful and unique.
When deciding where to stay in Tokyo, it’s a good idea to take into account all of the places you’ll be visiting and choose areas near those places. This decision depends on your budget, type of visit (personal, business or a bit of both) and personal preference. Tokyo should be considered not just a big city, but a collection of different neighborhoods, each with their unique contribution.
The following are the Tokyo districts not to miss.
1. Shinjuku Neighborhood
To truly be in the center of things, Shinjuku should be one of your first stops after you arrive in Tokyo. With incredible city views and wondrous nightlife, Shinjuku certainly gets a lot of attention with tourists. This neighborhood also has the busiest train station in the world. Shinjuku station sees around 3.5 million passengers a day!
This is the area of Japan where young people rule and love to express themselves by dressing up in fantastic costumes – it is one of the more colorful areas of Tokyo. Explore the great variety of shops, depaato (department stores) and great food. For great views of the city, we recommend heading up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
2. Okutama District
When you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city into wider open, greener spaces, come to the Okutama District. This is the west side of Tokyo, which caters to hikers and nature lovers. Wonderfully picturesque and green, one can hike, go whitewater rafting, and even soak in a hot spring.
There are even options for camping! And yes, even the elusive Asian black bear can be found here, in Tokyo city limits. Some hikers like to wear bear bells, to help ward off the bears. But not to worry, the bears are not a threat to visitors. This is a completely different side of the city, and further away from the city center, yet definitely worth checking out.
3. Shibuya District
For tourists seeking a party atmosphere in Tokyo, Shibuya is the place to be. This is a great option for night owl tourists, and it can be said there are similarities between Shinjuku and Shibuya. For example, both are vibrant neighborhoods where the younger generation comes to play, and both are considered to be the “heartbeat” of Tokyo. That being said both areas are still unique in their way and worth a visit.
Shibuya is the place to discover great fashion, great nightlife, and perhaps a bit of Japanese madness. Here is where you can witness the famed Shibuya crossing. Neon colors and funky shops abound, and you can also find many shops catering to fans of Japanese pop (J-pop) and anime.
4. Asakusa District
While Tokyo is undoubtedly a foodie destination, it is the Asakusa area where you will find the highest concentration of the best places to eat in Tokyo. Restaurants to satisfy any palate and any budget can be found here. With Tokyo’s high food standards, you cannot get a bad meal no matter where you go.
If you try anything, it should be the Soba and tempura – two traditional Japanese dishes that will surprise and delight your taste buds. And for those with a more conscientious food requirements, one can find all manner of vegetarian, vegan and halal restaurants in this district.
5. Marunouchi/Tokyo Station Neighborhood
This is the heart of Tokyo’s financial district, and with the recent renovation of the Tokyo Station, it is now more than simply something to pass through – but a destination unto itself. It is one of the best areas to stay for tourists in Tokyo, and it is the perfect home base for day trips outside the city. Tokyo Station is located in Chiyoda, which is actually a city within the city of Tokyo! The station is so large, it is divided into two parts.
If you are headed for Tokyo Bay (Yokohama, Kamakura) and traveling between cities, this is likely where you will be catching the train. You can also ride the shinkansen (bullet train) from here, to destinations such as Kyoto and Osaka. The Imperial Palace and East Gardens is a mere 10-15 minute walk from here. And while you’re in Marunouchi, do not miss Ramen Street – world-renowned for its tasty ramen noodle scene, located right inside the station building.
Be sure to visit Black Fence Alley, where you will find some of the best street food in the city. An authentic Japanese style merges with gourmet design. Then check out Gransta Mall, where designer brands can be found, and there is also a food section with some pretty impressive fresh offerings.
6. Ginza Shopping District
Home to most of the high-end fashion and dining spots, Ginza holds many of Tokyo’s most coveted addresses. Top luxury brands all have a storefront here, as well as Japanese luxury brands you may have never heard of. If your tastes run more upscale, you will no doubt find your next big purchase here. Even better, on the weekends, the main street Chuo Dori is closed to vehicles and becomes a pedestrian heaven.
Along with the high-end shopping come the expensive restaurants, with some of the best sushi on the planet. And when the sun goes down, most of the shops remain open, with fantastic light shows to bring in the shoppers. When you have shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, get a drink and take your pick of some nightlife in the varied bars around the area.
If you will be staying for longer than a few days, it is always a good idea to choose 2 or 3 of these districts to stay in, so that you will be able to get a good feel for the varied neighborhoods of Tokyo and savor them fully. Whichever ones you choose, you are sure to have one of the most enjoyable trips, and no doubt have some favorites to visit again when you come back to Tokyo.
Getting Around Tokyo
As you prepare your list of where to go in Tokyo and plan your itinerary, make sure you know how to get around this incredible city. A private taxi service can save you time and trouble and will come as a breath of fresh air. Especially for those who don’t wish to waste any time getting lost.
Getting around Tokyo and making your way from one Tokyo district to another can be made much easier with the help of a friendly Tokyo car hire service. One that provides you with professional English-speaking drivers, especially when they also offer 24/7 customer support. Make sure to book your car in advance and share your itinerary with them so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.